Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back in the Belly of the Beast


The Paper Arrows project is back in the studio creating what should turn into a second full-length record... Which is exciting.

Whereas the last (first?) record was recorded in an attic in the winter, this one is being recorded in a studio in the summer.

Whereas the last record was quiet and close, this one already feels loud and wide.

Whereas the last record was about loss, this one is about recovery... is about putting yourself and heart back together after loss...

Whereas the last record was comprised of material written before and during the fall (although the material from before was frighteningly prescient, I'm coming to understand), this one will be comprised of material written during and after the fall... all of it over the course of about a year.

Whereas the last record started with 5 tunes and was augmented to 10, this one started with 26 tunes and has been diminished to 11...

Whereas I had no idea what to expect going into the recording of the last record, on this one... well, I think I know what to expect. Somewhat.

We started with two full days booked at I.V. Labs studios two weeks ago... Jay ran the sessions, and both days were dedicated to letting Darren run wild... that is, taking advantage of the fact that he can play almost any instrument more than capably.

First task for Darren was drum parts... I spent a couple hours with Jay laying down acoustic sketches of 9 of the 11 songs we decided to record. As we did for the last record, we decided to build the songs up around these sketches, which consist of just acoustic guitar and vocals. By the time I stopped in on the evening of the first day, Darren had already knocked out 5 full drum tracks. Which is bad ass.

Similar to Look Alive, hearing the first step away from the acoustic demos, the groundwork of adding the drums, is nothing short of exhilarating. On some of the tunes, Darren and Jay made decisions that I expected. On several others, the drums radically changed the approach and character of the songs... all for the better.

That, is the beauty of creating in the studio... the songs become fresh even to the person who wrote them. The second day, I had set aside to spend with the guys in the studio and watch them work/add my two cents... I believe I've waxed poetic about the studio before but I can't do justice to how awesome it is... like a laboratory.

And I.V. has such a great vibe to it... very comfortable and welcoming. By the time I arrived at about noon on the second day, Darren had already knocked out two more drum tracks. The decision was made that the four remaining songs would wind up having little or no drums, so we moved on to recording organ, keyboard, and harmonium. I even got to play a little bit of Wurlitzer on a song.

By the end of the second day, we were in great shape. All the drums were done, a lot of keyboards were done... despite having no guitar, no bass, and scratch vocals, the songs were already starting to sound like... well, songs. Like songs that mean something and need to be heard.

We discussed the next step, and settled on booking another full day at Gravity Studios to record acoustic piano and also to try to record one song, Til I Couldn't Cry No More, more or less live with a fuller ensemble.

We'll be lucky enough to be joined by my friends Anthony on stand-up bass (who played bass at the PA live shows) and Drew on piano (who played keys live). I'll play guitar, Jay will play mandolin, and Darren will play banjo. And we'll be going for an Appalachian/Hank Williams thing... all playing in a circle and recording live.

Then, we'll spend the rest of the day working on more piano and probably guitars. The final sessions will take place back at I.V. for more guitars, vocals, and whatever else we think the songs need. 

So... Good times. More soon.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008



Just too much going on here...

A new place to live, a new album...

New is the new old.

Or so I've heard...