…..been known to burn a bridge and we shared a lethal wit,
They called us Scott and Zelda, but we didn’t give a shit
So we finally come to tracking day, the sounds are set, guitars tuned yet again.
I find a comfortable Anvil case to sit on with clear sightlines to drums and booth, my office for the next 10 hours.
It’s just Nick and me in the room, a new experience for us: tracking the basics without the bass.
Anthony has to, of all things, show up at the day job-pfffft. Whatever.
We shall lay down the magic, me and Nicky, and let him add the bottom end whenever they let him off the deep fryer station.
It’s an exciting time, those few surreal moments before count off. You just know the first take is gonna suck, but the tape is rolling nonetheless. Gotta hedge the bets that this will be one of those rare one take wonders, that mythological beast that is never witnessed in person.
Chances are, we will grind this song again and again. Racing toward a finish without dropping a stick or forgetting a bridge.
Why do we put ourselves through this torture, trying to document a precious slice of time as the definitive edition? A rare bug caught in amber, to be dissected by future scientists, its DNA inspected for clues of the day of death.
We put on the headphones and nod at each other now, each of us bobbing our heads up and down to the visceral tempo that we’ve conjured for the track.
Just before downbeat, Jim hits the talkback, an air controller trying one last time to divert disaster.
“So no click track on this, ya sure now?”
Well, we really didn’t think of that did we? In all these weeks of preparation, songwriting and pre production, we never really discussed if we would record to the metronome or not.
To commit the song to grid, it is really a courtesy to your future self.
In this day of copy and paste, how convenient it is to commit your music to binary code, and manipulate the 1’s and 0’s on the Mac monitor.
A sucky verse? Delete it.
Flat note? Nudge it.
Of course back in those days of actual tape, we would all hold our breaths as the engineer would cut and splice tape with actual razor blades and sticky stuff! Somehow it was fitting, this physical act of separation and wedding, the results tested with manual rolls back and forth against the tape head.
An ancient art we like to romanticize, oh, like public telephones or smoking on airplanes, things better left to the past.
But what is rock and roll, if not a breathing thing, allowed to stumble and race? Like a dog straining against master’s leash, a good song bumps right against its countoff clock, and usually breaks free.
A wild run through the neighborhood, the threat of rolled up newspaper beating be damned!
Me and Nick look at each other and shrug, then shake our heads.
Nah man, let’s just play the goddamned thing!
We watch Jim and Jay talk it over in the control booth for a minute, a distant pantomime of grown up conversation. Whenever a conversation conducts in the booth without courtesy of the Talky button, it becomes a silent movie: Did he just say sucks?
Finally Jay leans over the board and hits the button:
Producer will allow it. Proceed.