session log, part two – craig bancoff overdubs at kawari

so, with one session down, i found myself on my way to kawari for another day of overdubs for the new craig bancoff album, still workingly titled eden.

craig bancoff posing with my 6120. :)
craig bancoff posing with my 6120. 🙂

i’ve been having a blast working on craigs’ album…i love working on his songs, and i love working with adam winokur and matt muir in the studio, too. they’ve been the rhythm section on each of the songs we’ve cut for this project so far, and adam and matt have been splitting engineering duties, as well.

that’s not to say that the project doesn’t have its complications.

for one thing, the whole thing is being done in an analog/digital hybrid environment. what this means is that the project travels between kawari and cliff hillis’ studio (where craig does most of his comping and editing) as digital protools files. craig has also cut some guitar and vocal stuff with cliff as well, going straight to digital. but at kawari, everything gets bounced from protools to their immaculate studer two inch 24 track analog machine, where it remains while tracks are being cut. then, when the instrumental work has been completed, it gets bounced back into protools, where the tracks have to be synched with the originals yet again.

if it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is…especially the job of lining up the tracks and making sure everything is where it’s supposed to be once it gets back to the digital domain. for lesser men, it could be maddening…but everyone involved has been doing a great job.

this day, we were splitting time between two engineers – adam winokur, whos’ been doing most of the console manipulation during the time that i’ve been working on the record, and matty muir, whos’ been present for the sessions as the drummer and one of the principles in the studio, but i hadn’t been there for any of the time matty had spent behind the console.

"these are not MY settings!"
"these are not MY settings!"

matty is one of those guys who brings an infectious enthusiasm to a project, and even if you’re not sure you like something initially, matty will love it so much that you won’t be able to help but love it yourself. adam was there for the first part of the session, as there was one more track that craig had added to the mix that they needed to do a rhythm section pass for, but then he had to run out to a rehearsal…so it was matty, craig and myself for the rest of the night.

i don’t personally have a preference between either adam or matty…they both bring different things to the table. there was one moment that matty caught on tape of craig and i in the cutting room downstairs, while craig was running through a song that i was about to cut dobro on…i was sitting on the piano bench while craig was running through it and i just started playing these sparse, george winstonish passages over what he was playing, and matty ran downstairs and put up a mic and cut us playing the song, on a single mic. it sounded phenomenal, but craig had something else in mind for the direction of the song, so it will probably be consigned to the archives…it was a great moment, though – and that’s the job of a great engineer and producer…to capture things like that.

we got a TON of stuff done on this session, including things like the national resophonic on sleepsick, which i had to fight for..a little.

i wanted to cut it direct, but craig was past skeptical about it…but after we plugged it in and i played through it a couple of times, i managed to sell him on it. it sits really well in the track, underneath craigs’ acoustic guitar part…i was going for a lindsey buckingham feel with the part that i played, a fingerpicked, world turning kinda thing, and i think it worked pretty well.

later that night, my buddy bob stirner stopped by the session. i had cleared it with the guys, and they were cool with it (because it is, after all, a HUGE faux pas to have people stopping into someone elses’ session without warning). bob had an amp that he’d been holding on to for me for a while, and he agreed to stop by with it for me, and he had a couple of other things for me to look at as well…he wouldn’t tell me what they were before he got there, but they turned out to be an old single pickup, single cutaway Kay hollowbody with a dearmond pickup in it, and a four pickup beverley hollowbody with a tremolo on it, which i plugged in and used for some distorted, overdriven atmospheric buddy millerish stuff on the last thing we cut that night.

everything we’ve done thus far with craig’s record has been a blast…this session had a couple of tense moments while we were cutting, but that sort of thing is welcome sometimes…if there weren’t those kinds of moments during the sessions, you’d have to wonder if everyone working on the project was as passionate about it as the folks driving the bus.

we’re all good. 🙂

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