Our experience in Puerto Rico has been somewhat like a dream. Maybe that’s because it really was a dream of ours to move here, but it just seems like a sort of magic occurs more often than not. It’s a convergence of people, energy and just simply being at the right place at the right time mixed together to form experiences that even in the moment you know are special.
The most recent magical experience happened just this week when we recorded one of our band’s original songs. Our singer/guitar player wrote a great, funny song called No GMO (We Want Natural). It is super catchy and fun and we all believe in it -both the message and the song itself. The chorus goes: We don’t want no GMO, just go outside and grow your own! We don’t want no GMO in our food….we want natural!
Anyhow, he made some arrangements with some big names in the musical industry even on a non-existent/ shoestring budget. And we were on our way.
We spent the last week or so before recording practicing to a click track which is much harder than you might imagine if you’ve never done it before. It is the most annoying metronome sound you can imagine and we had TICK TOCK in our heads for hours on end. Probably is some form of torture. If not it could be!
Finally the moment came for us to record. We had two full days set aside to do this. We recorded at Spectra Studio in Aguadilla where the owner Habish Rosario welcomed us. It took a while to get all the equipment ready and so there was a lot of hanging out before each of our parts.
One of the special guests of the recording was retired sound engineer Corky Stasiak. Corky’s resume in the musical industry is crazy impressive. He has worked closely with Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Beatles and so many others. He has been retired now for nearly 30 years and lives part time in Rincón. To have him come out and help with our production was quite simply amazing!
So not only were we recording in a top-knotch studio where some of the best bands in Puerto Rico have recorded, we were also working with world-renowned industry heavyweights.
What was really cool was that our producer/friend Giovanni could totally hang with them. He knew just what and how he wanted things and kept the schedule moving at a great pace.
In the studio with Britton, Habish, Chris, Mark and Giovanni
Making a studio song is nothing like making live music. It is all deconstructed and then put back together again. We started with the rhythm which meant Rob on drums, Britton on bass, Chris on guitar and Chris and I on scratch vocals. Scratch vocals mean that they use it just for keeping the reference in the song. We would record our full vocals the next day and dub them over.
Britton made the comparison that this first stage is sort of like the batterboards in building a house. You want the song to be right on beat and time to the metronome just like you want your house to be straight and level. Everything else will build from there so it is very important. This was a tough stage and we took many takes. At one point we were so frustrated we had everyone except the band members and Giovanni leave. We finally decided to play it without the click track and we rocked it -but to a slightly higher beats per minute! So Giovanni reluctantly turned up the beats and we were able to finally get a great rhythm base to build the song on.
The day was just flying by! We basically camped out and had a couple of food runs but spent the entirety of the day at the studio. From 10am to 12midnight on day one! We got all the rhythm including some fun stuff like my tambourine part, stomps, and claps.
Day 2 was another long day. We got through a lot though! We did the lead guitar part, trumpet part, lead vocals from both Chris and me, gang vocals, keyboard and backup vocals. It is sounding awesome!
I was pretty nervous doing my part solo. When I was with Chris it was a little easier because we are always joking around. But alone it is a little intimidating to have people behind a window that can hear you but you can’t hear what they are saying unless they pipe through to you. I took a few takes and overall I think it went really well. I tried to have fun with it.
On day one when Corky was in the studio I received probably the best compliment about my voice that I have ever heard, especially coming from him! He said I sounded a little like Kate Pierson of the B-52s and that I have a really upbeat bright sound that is fun and will carry in a band because it adds such personality. It’s probably partly because I really do just have so much fun with this band and the music we make! We are always making silly jokes, wittisms and double entredres. So I am constantly cracking up.
Day two ended pretty late as well at around 11pm. When we were in between parts there was a lot of just chilling out in the barn area or under the tree.
What an incredible, dream-like experience! We can’t wait to see where this dream takes us next! Yesh. Tiptop indeed.