Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blinkin' Lights, episode iv


a recording memoir by Leo McClusky and Gordon’s Gin

During intermission we scrapped the bass DI and threw a mic on Kevin’s amp. I really like the Electro Voice PL95a. It’s a large capsule dynamic mic and Ron’s (another garage sale find) is the only one I’ve ever seen. Now we’d have all the bass tone we need.

So, we’re hanging out by our station, waiting for Set 2 to commence, when I hear

“Look at you with all the blinkin’ lights!”

It was another pal from high school. That was really his only comment, but it burrowed in my brain and cultivated new doubt. We really did bring a SHITLOAD of gear. Was I dooming the whole operation with my overkill?

Probably. Scooby dooby doo…

The second set opened with “Winter.” We used to play this song in the Evelyn Situation – it’s lyrically stark and compelling and I always got chills hearing the girls sing it. I was stoked to hear it in its new instrumental form – like visiting an old friend.

I realized I could no longer ignore the growing smell of metal and heat. It was the Akai tube deck – most likely just giving off a little olfactory reminder that it was on and tubes were glowing. Not to worry. Swing and bop.

A little while later Elaine got my attention.

“I think there’s smoke coming out of that thing,” she whispered.

I scoffed. “What thing, the Akai? Nah, it’s just a little hot.”

She was not convinced.


Her incredulity led me to have my own doubts. I asked Ron. Ron thought everything was fine. He also said he was prepared to unplug the fucking thing and run it out the door.

Barely a minute went by. Elaine persisted.

“I saw smoke. Don’t you see it?”

Now I’m getting a little annoyed. After all, is she a Recording Engineer? Ha.

Oh, wait a minute. Smoke is FUCKING POURING OUT OF THE TOP OF THE AKAI. I tapped Ron and in seconds we had it unplugged and Ron ran out of the theater with it.

Thankfully the audience didn’t seem to notice this little fiasco. Thankfully we didn’t burn down the 90 year old theater. That just might have exhausted Lenny’s calm.

And now we had no kick drum going to tape for the last 3 minutes of “Winter.” We didn’t get the kick mic patched into a new preamp until just in time for the next song.

Sweet freaking crap. I can’t not mix “Winter.” What to do about the kick drum, though? I figured I would wind up relying on the editing ease of Pro Tools to fix the problem. I could copy one or two of the cleanest kick hits from the early portion of the song, and, by listening for Dan’s kick hits on the overhead tracks, paste them in accordingly.

I wasn’t overly enthused about this idea. Have you ever read “Pet Sematary?” Looks like the cat, sorta sounds like the cat, but brother, that cat smells a wee bit of the undead. Such was the best I could hope for with “Winter’s” kick drum. Ultimately I wound up scrapping this idea in mixdown. Dan’s kick drum part seemed to vary measure by measure – it would’ve taken weeks for me to learn, and by the time I finished it would most certainly reek of the Micmac burial ground. Instead I opted to choose my favorite sounding overhead track, compress the beejesus out of it, turn it way up, and mute the other drum tracks. Voila, a one-mic drum sound. To this day I really like the way this mix came out.


Jeff said...

I must say how much I am enjoying this... even if I am merely reduced to "another pal from high school." :-)

(Twas my only comment because Leo looked hard at work, and it didn't seem an apt time to socialize.)

Andrew said...

Nice! Glad you like it...

Jeff said...

I guess I should put that DVD in the mail, then...