After three and a half days in a windowless bunker, you lose track of time. Have I been here for an hour? A day? A week? There’s no way to know for sure.
The bunker that played set to the recording of our new album felt like the set of a horror film. Bare concrete walls, long hallways with flickering flourescent lights and rows of closed metal doors. Every once in a while a creepy doomy metal band would practice for a few hours and provide an appropriate soundtrack. At first I was kind of scared to go to the bathroom—located across the stairwell and a long hallway away—by myself. But after a few days of doing so without being murdered, the place started to grow on me. I’ve always liked the smell of basements, and this place smelled like a basement even on the second floor.
A lot of people romantcize the process of making music. And maybe some parts of it live up to the fantasy. But recording is not one of those parts. Before I had ever recorded anything myself, I would imagine performers in sequins, bright stages, and live energy when I heard canned music. But the process couldn’t be any more disjointed from any of that. It’s just about the most unromantic thing you could do with your time and with your music. All in the name of trapping the sounds on little plastic discs.
When we record, we do all the instruments “live.” Which means all the instruments playing together. Which means if one person fucks up, everybody has to play the whole song again because you can’t just delete the bass track (or the banjo or the guitar or whatever) and replay it as it has been recorded on everybody else’s microphones as well. This is a pain in the ass. Some people record one instrument at a time which divorces the whole process even further from the heart of the matter, but can save you a hell of a lot of headache when the same guy keeps fucking up the same part and everybody looks like they’re plotting a murder.
But for better or for worse, that’s how we do it, and so the first days of recording always start with a whole lot of waiting for anyone doing vocals or adding any other extra trimming. I parked myself on the couch and sang along in my head during each take to make sure nobody forgot to play a verse that would fuck me up later when I added the vocals on top of the music. We went through the usual ups and downs, but managed to get ten songs recorded by Saturday morning. Two days of overdubs (that’s what you call whatever you play over the main track that you’ve recorded) followed, and let me tell you, recording the singing saw was a huge pain in the ass. Damn that instrument and damn me for not being better at playing it. But in the end, we all prevailed.
Every night we returned to the Au—an enormous squatted house/concert venue/vokü location/generally awesome place with a Wagenplatz out back—to sleep in the cozy bunks set up for the touring bands that play there. It’s the first place where the Beard and I slept cuddled together the night that we met, and sleeping there since has always felt a little festive because of it. Despite the fact that every night we’d pile into the sleeping rooms and pass the fuck out. And because that’s not very exciting (kidding—wait for it…) I shut the Beard’s hand in a car door on the second night, creating a mass panic that I’d broken his hand and promptly put an end to our chances of finishing the album before Peanut arrives. I feel like I owe the universe big for not letting that turn into the disaster it could have become. Physically hurting someone you love is pretty much the worst thing ever, and yet the Beard and I seem to have a talent for maiming each other. Go figure.
Today, back at home at last, I stayed in bed until noon recooperating. And then, breakfast and computer in hand, I stayed in bed some more. As tiring as the weekend was, however, I can barely fathom the fact that we’ve finally gotten the ground work laid for our second album (next up: mixing and mastering and label hunting). !!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to share it with all of you. Yihaw.