Ken and I arrived at the studio just after noon on Sunday to find two Matts: Muir would play drums and engineer this session, with the assistance of Matt Spitko. So, Spitko was at the kit while Muir was upstairs dialing in the mics. We tried to forget about the great weather, the first day of 2015 where temps spiked well into the 80s. And once the drums were set, we got started with Fretz… After listening to the shell for the last couple of weeks, we worried it was a hair too fast. Rather than waste time discussing and contemplating the technical difficulties involved in slowing down the recording, MM & Kenny attacked the song with a ferocity that quickly pushed away any questions about the right tempo. That song grooves now, like never before…
Next up was Shooting Stars– MM dampened the toms with some towels and swapped out the snare for a certain sound that initially found its way out of Liverpool. While Kenny was thinking Ziggy, Matt was feeling Walrusy. I had fun just listening, while those two played a bunch of run-throughs, evoking thoughts in me of “What would Sir Martin do here?” The Canvas is wide open on this one.
When we left Britain for Gettysburg, there was no mistaking the direction–with the push/pull of this song there was only one way to play it, and Ken and Matt knew it. While recording I swear we could hear Sweet Jennie’s dog barking out his remorse.
5 hours in now, and Mr. Spitko had to leave for a gig in Manayunk, and the rest of us had to eat – I ran for Chinese take out, Elkins Park is quite the mecca for culinary delights……NOT! After inhaling the meal, it was back to work and Bitter Thing was the victim, the victim of post gastro syndrome – In addition to being stuffed with shrimp and rice, I was tasked to man the board (actually I was given instruction on how to hit record and stop, I already knew how to man the slider for Talk Back – I learned a bunch from Matt #2). Bitter Thing was calling out and it took a few passes for MM to figure he was overcooking the bird, but in the end, he let it ride.
Now the sun was firmly set and night was upon us, we were back to the initial quagmire with another shell recorded at a problematic tempo, Into the Night. This time we thought the shell was too slow, I convinced MM to stretch the recording – to hell with the vocal and guitar scratch tracks, because now the song was on fire. I think we did 4 takes back to back, purely for the fun of it and also to enlarge the landscape of juicy stuff to pick from. And Kenny — with his new Suhr bass — was killing it!
At 10PM we realized Ghost of Yesterday was still waiting in the wings. MM knew to let this one breathe, the chorus is, in fact, a waltz… While Matt oscillated to and from the 6/8, Kenny changed things up accordingly. In all of the years I have known Kenny, I never heard him change on the fly as much as he did during this session.
By 11:15 it was finally time for me to get to work – I had to load my car back up with my 2 pedalboards, 2 guitars and amplifier, all of which had been sitting by the door since we arrived. Guitars will have to wait. Now that’s how you cook a bird!