Thursday, March 25, 2010

Who's Dog Is This?

Sitting here listening to the rough mixes for the new record and I wanted to write about some of the times we had creating this thing. First off I should say that I am more proud of this record than anything I’ve done creatively, ever! I went in with the intention of making an old style “album” (remember album’s from your ancient history books kiddies?). 10 songs, a side A and a side B, and you can drop the needle (figuratively of course) on the first track and listen to it all the way through, or you can embrace the iTunes world we live in and sequence it any old way you choose!
We recorded in Minneapolis, at The Terrarium, with my band and co-producer Truth on keys, (anybody remember Machine Gun at Shaw’s that night???). My friend and amp guru Tim O’Brien made up the third member of our production team and with the help of our ninja – engineer Rob Oesterlin, we cut 13 tracks in 6 days, counting all overdubs!! 8 songs the first day alone! Trust me, that’s pretty quick. A friend pointed out that I always say the latest record is my best yet, so while I say that again this time, I really mean it!! I’ve never been involved with a record project that has this much soul in it. Every single person involved with this record gave 110%.
Things I learned and observed while making this record;
1. The human body can exist on a scone and 3 gallons of coffee with a quart of black tea for dessert per day for a period of 6 days!
2. You can haul $100,000.00 worth of really cool vintage amps into the studio and set them all up and if you use O’Brien amps, it will be a waste of time.
3. Start every project with a prayer. Invite God in on the deal and you’re guaranteed to have an environment of positive energy and creative bliss.
4. The following things are nuisance in the studio; sleep, food, chairs.
5. Unusual but necessary items for this record; Big Nasty, Dave Gardner albums, a shotgun, iPhones, WD-40, lighter fluid, a really really (really) nice pen!
6. Making records is supposed to be fun.
7. Truth is the best vocal/acting coach in the world!

We started planning this record about a month ago. Truth, Tim and I set up a Skype thing and had several pre-production meetings on line, picking the tunes and getting them into shape. (Our last meeting was supposed to be at 10:00pm on an off night at home for me and I fell asleep and missed the meeting!!). We drove in from our last gig in Vegas to my business partner/manager’s house in St. Paul and spent the next two days rehearsing the songs (and basically destroying his house in the process! Seriously, both toilets, washing machine, garbage compactor…it was pretty amazing considering we were being really careful!) First day in the studio, we cut 8 songs. Our rule was simple; no more than 3 takes. Anything more and the vibe’s in danger of being lost. If we couldn’t get it in 3, we left it. We never had to do more than three takes!
So what did we end up with? A record like nothing I’ve ever done before. The best thing I’ve ever done and a record that I am so proud of that it’s hard to explain. Stay tuned for more info soon! LIG!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010 kind of town...

Here we are in Las Vegas, getting ready for the last show before we hit the studio! I love Vegas; the Rat Pack, Elvis, Howard Hughes, Liberace, Wayne Newton... My wife finally explained it to me once, when I told her I didn’t know why I loved Vegas so much, she said, “It’s because it’s on ‘11’ all the time.” TRUE!! So how did we get here you ask. We drove straight out here from Nashville and what a trip!! The first day was a good drive and we got to Oklahoma City by 2:00 am and decided to stop for the night. The next day it was a killer lunch at the Cattlemen’s Cafe (16 oz. Porterhouse w/salad and potato and a piece of coconut cream pie the size of my head!) and on to Vegas...or so we thought! Just outside of Albuquerque the weather went from mild and breezy to wild and freezy!! After dodging our share of wrecked vehicles on the interstate, we finally went into a ditch about 17 miles outside of Gallup NM. The only real damage was a flat on the trailer. Gallup NM closes at around 10:00 p.m. and no one was interested in helping the SHB get to Vegas before 6:00 am. Unfortunately, this information didn’t become clear until we had exhausted 3 hours or so trying to find help. Get yet another hotel room, this one for roughly 3 freezing hours of sleep (by the time the room started to warm up it was time to hit the road). We find a tire store to fix the tire, find a roadside service to get the tire on (yes I can change a tire, but it’s too many details to explain why!) and we hit the road at 9:30. Now, here’s the challenge; We have to be in Vegas by 3:00 p.m. local time to go do some local television, it’s 365 miles to Vegas, after getting my MF brother Keith to help me figure out the mathematical formula to determine what our consistent speed should be (yes we really did use an algorithm!) We started rolling at said speed (not the legal limit per se...)which, on dry clear surface, would be no trouble...then it starts to snow...again. Then, it stops snowing, the sun comes out, the roads are clear and we get up to speed. Then it starts to sleet...the roads are solid white, which could be just a covering of snow or something slicker! Then it stops snowing, clears up and we think, “whew!” Then it starts to hail...I’m on the phone with my wife and she mentions that sometimes hail is a precursor to a tornado...Dan, who’s driving, says “look in the rearview mirror” know what it is, A TWISTER!!! At this point, we are committed like the proverbial pig at breakfast, so I decide that if the next things falling out of the sky are frogs and locusts, we are NOT gonna be late to Vegas. By this point we’ve called the PR people and assured them we’ll be on time. It is live TV so it’s kind of a big step to be 235 miles away and say, “We will be there for sure.” but if you’ve been following us you know the SHB is not easily dissuaded. I am proud to say that even with a trailer search at the Hoover Dam and more rain and traffic, we pull up to the front of the hotel at 2:58 p.m. local time! We celebrated with dinner and a trip to the strip for a while. Marshal was fortunate, Dan was wise, Milburn was giddy and I was reassured that guitar should remain my focus rather than professional gambler! Tonight, if you’re in Las Vegas, and why wouldn’t you be, I hope you can make it out to see us. Tomorrow we start making our way to Minneapolis to record our next record tentativley titled; “Who’s Dog Is This?” (no that’s not the title, but it would be a mysterious one don’t you think? The phrase comes from one of my favorite movies, that’s your clue...western...John Ford...John Wayne...that’s all I’m saying!!) L.I.G.