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Tracking done

posted Jul 19, 2011, 10:27 PM by Frank Adrian   [ updated Jul 21, 2011, 9:19 AM ]
Well, it did work out in the end. We finished the tracking for the CD this evening at 9pm after a noon start today. We spent about 27 hours in all at the studio over three days and got all of the parts done. The schedule finally looked like this (times are approximate):

Day 1
Start: 10am
Setup: 10am-11:30am
Tracking of six songs by Dave, Gary, and Frank: 11:30-5:00pm
Tia tracks scratch vocals on two songs, does vocal takes on two other songs: 3:00pm-7:00pm

Day 2
Start 10:am
Overdubs and retakes by Gary, Dave, and Frank, interspersed with rough mixing: 10am-6:00pm
Frank and Dave track backing vocals (where appropriate): 5:00pm-7:00pm

Day 3
Tia tracks lead vocals (including retakes/punch-ins on parts of songs she did during Day 2): noon-4pm
Phil records guitar parts: 4pm-7:15 pm
Gary records final guitar part: 7:15pm-7:40pm
Dave records backing vocals: 7:40pm-8:10pm
Frank records backing vocals: 8:10pm-8:40pm
Final equipment load out (done while I'm in the vocal booth): 8:15pm-9:00pm

However, I think that we could have saved about seven hours of time doing this. Gary spent most of his time on Day 1 duplicating what Phil plays so we would have a basic rhythm guitar track to work from. If the session had been scheduled such that Phil had been available at the initial tracking session, at the end of our takes we would have had all of the rhythm guitar tracks done and we would have saved about four hours of Gary's time on Day 2 doing his rhythm parts in addition to the leads. We would also have saved the time that Phil was recording on Day 3 - another three hours or so. If Tia had been available during the tracking session, we probably would have had scratch takes done at the end of Day 1, saving the two hours of initial tracking on Day 1. At least two of the songs Tia sang had good enough scratch vocals that we could have used them as a basis for retakes and punch-ins on Day 3. I don't think this would have saved us much time, but we would have had more time (had Tia been available) to actually do vocals over a longer time period. We could have saved time in mixing because less vocal tuning would be needed.

In any case, the tracking is done. We've got good instrumental tracks that seem to move pretty well. The vocals are surprisingly good for the amount of time spent on them (and have needed surprisingly little tuning so far). Brad Wager, our engineer at The Vault, was great fun to work with, as well as being a wizard at getting good instrument sounds in his room. He works really hard for his customers and is a wiz at comping and tuning things on the fly, so you come out of tracking with what is pretty much an initial mix (modulo final editing of parts). Everyone in the band had a great time with the process. He does live sound, too, so if you need someone for that, contact him at The Vault. So, on to the mixing...

Dave thinks this can be mixed in one day. If our engineer goes off and does drum replacement, vocal tuning, and editing for 6-12 hours, I think that we can do final edits/initial tweaks for the songs in a day. But I think we're going to need another two-to-three hours per track tweaking mix automation, giving us a grand total of around 60 hours to complete the project (about 7.5 eight-hour days).

Had we saved time as described above, we would have saved about seven hours in tracking and about another five or so in tuning work. That would have come down to 48 hours or about a day per song (which is what I estimated for Dave going into this).  Plus, we might have had better quality on the vocals. Oh well, c'est la guerre... So things take a few more hours. The main point is that This, Not This! will have a set of well-recorded and -mixed songs that reflect our abilities at this point in our musical careers (but I still think my Rose Festival mix of Flotsam and Takeaway Kick ass).

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to the mix process.