Yesterday we arrived at Atlas Studios around noon. Matt, the engineer, wolfed a junior whopper with some fries that were deemed “better than McDonalds” by the end of the meal. Chris had a veggie sandwich from this place called ‘the goddess and grocer’ (I know, such a terrible name….good sandwiches though, and surprisingly inexpensive wine). I don’t know what Neil or Justin ate. I had a turkey sandwich at home and then a blueberry and granola parfait yogurt cup, just to keep things punk rock and aggressive.
We set up to record the bass and drums live with scratch guitar, which, if you aren’t familiar with the jargon, means we all set up to play, but only neil (our drummer) and I (the bass player) were being recorded. The guitar is a sound you really have to fuck with to make interesting (so are the drums and bass, but we got those sounds set the night before) and is just in general a more specific and layered process than the bass and drums, so we figured this would be the best way to go. God, this shit is boring, isn’t it? It’s almost like BEING in the studio, but for someone else’s music, where you aren’t bound to the impossibly eternal minutiae by the undeniable lure of seeing your vision through. Let me skip to the visceral parts that I think would be interesting:
It’s been so long since I’ve recorded, the longest break in my life since I first picked up an instrument, that I no longer have what I would call “studio ears.” This is the ability to see how the little ditty that you crank out on your shitty acoustic guitar in your living room will eventually sound when it’s finally laid meticulously to tape. Of course, a great and dedicated engineer and producer can always supercede even your loftiest ideas of how shit’s gonna sound, regardless of if you or the songs are good or terrible, that’s sort of their job. They’re like makeup artists. They hide your receding hairline and your gut and your wrinkles and make you perfect. That’s why Good Charlotte sounds (and looks) how they do.
At the end of last night, we had the bass and drums on all five songs done, and we had laid down the rhythm guitar on one and that one, wow. It really came to life. This is a song that I’ve played acoustic before and it’s met an extremely split reaction. Some people love it and some hate it, but man, I can promise that NO ONE is expecting it to sound quite like this. What was a breezy little almost ska like number in the world of me just sitting on my porch playing it to my baby on a wooden guitar is now a big, burly, punchy really dynamic sounding song. I had forgotten that this is why we go to studios like Atlas and pay guys like Matt to be there and guys like Justin to run to the store and get us coffee and goldschlager…Because it makes all the fucking difference in the world.
We worked nonstop from noon to midnight yesterday, no small task for five notoriously lazy men. I play guitar on one of these tracks, and for reasons too dull to get into here, let’s just say that I HAD to do it live, with the drums and bass and I HAD to do it perfectly. There would be no way to go back and just fix a bit of it, if I fucked up, it was all the way back to the beginning. Well, I fucked it up in this way that I love, and so I’m keeping this shaky, crappy sounding guitar because it’s so much cooler than anything I could have ever done on purpose. That’s exciting. It’s just awesome and I don’t know where it came from. They say that kind of shit about kids. One day they’re just great at something that you’ve always sucked at, and supposedly you just go “holy shit! Where the fuck did that come from?!” and then you sit back and smile and slowly let your pride harden into jealousy. That’s when you get drunk and fight ‘em I guess. Hey, that’s what it says in my parenting magazines at least.
Man, those little accidents can really make you think, huh? Heh. Well, I’m jealous of neither my kid nor my song as of right now. Today, I head in in a moment to hear Chris blaze down the axe (which is nerd slang for ‘play the guitar’) and then we sing. I hope I can sing (and I hope the songwriting is) up to par with the instrumentation we’ve laid down. I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, but it’s a big challenge, and as I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t sang in a studio for three years, and that wasn’t even the Lawrence Arms. Jesus, I just read over this again and besides the part about food, it’s insanely dull…Allow me to spruce up the gash a bit:
We ordered a pizza from this place in wrigleyville last night around ten. A large pepperoni and an extra large half sausage/half cheese. It was pretty good, but that place uses brown sugar or something in the sauce and it’s more like a desert pizza to me, which isn’t typically my favorite course for pizza. We ate pretty much the whole thing, and when I got home, around 1230, full to the brim with pizza, my wife had left the remnants of her pizza in the fridge for me. Pizza pizza pizza. It’s the summer of pizza. Actually, I think that’s what we’re changing our band name to. “The Summer of Pizza.” It’s good. Yes it is, assholes! See, the Lawrence arms have been around too long, no one’s giving us a chance now…we’re doomed to just ride out the clock, Samiam style, but with a new band name and a new look (I’m thinking Red Baron style just to keep shit classy and well, pizza themed) I think we’ve really got a chance at the big time with this EP. Okay, that’s it. It’s decided. The Lawrence Arms are officially breaking up and starting a new band (all the same members) called “The Summer of Pizza.” Don’t tell anyone it’s us though. That’s gonna ruin our fucking chances in Hollywood. I can pass for nineteen, right?