Well another holiday season has gone by. A very busy time of year in both a wonderful way and “I’m ready for the end of the holidays” kind of way. I wanted to get in a post about a band we saw back on November 20, Hoots and Hellmouth. Another band I’d highly recommend seeing if you get the chance. High energy and greatly entertaining, they play a combination of Americana, rock ,country and a bit of folk sound rolled together. Their show held my attention from start to finish. I’ve added some pictures from the show and a video to give you a taste of the show.
I’d also like to add how much I enjoy seeing shows at the Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem. The views of the stage and the sound are amazing. The people who work there are helpful and friendly and the crowds are attentive and enthusiastic. Really look forward to seeing another show there in the near future.
As for ChurchHouse Productions, 2016 ended up being a somewhat slow year for us. A lot of outside distractions, both good and bad kept us out of the studio a lot more than we’d like. But there are a lot of irons in the fire for 2017, recordings being prepped for release, videos being finished and the hope for some collaborations with other artists. 2017 looks to be a strange and unsettling year for America, but sometimes that type of atmosphere produces the best art. Hoping the best for everybody this year.
I had the pleasure of seeing The Steel Wheels at the Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem, PA on September 9th. One of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. The band is an amazing group of musicians playing riveting and fun Americana. I’ve always loved listening to a variety of different styles of music and have played and recorded a lot of different types over the years. Over the last couple of years Americana and bluegrass has exerted a pull on me the same way punk and post-punk did years ago. The Steel Wheels show had all the points I love in that style. The instrumentation’s sonic mix is wonderful. Each instrument has it’s own voice and blends together like a vocal choir. As a result, the instruments don’t step on each other and can each be heard clearly even when everyone’s playing at full throttle. Standup Bass, guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin is a great mix. No real need for percussion since the style played is so rhythmic. The band also had incredible vocals and harmonies. For someone who is in to recording and sonics I loved that all the vocals were done live on one mic. The sound mix is controlled by the musicians by where they stand in relation to the mic and how much volume they give to their part. That’s not an easy thing to do, especially live. The Steel Wheels nailed it and the result gave you chills in the best possible way.
I’ve added some photos from the show and a few links to videos below. If you ever have a chance to see the band live or buy a CD I highly recommend it.
…and a live performance video…
After I finished writing the last post I sat down to read through it and listened to ‘Heroes’ again. And again. Beyond the beauty of the song itself I was intrigued by a lot of the recording technique in it. I did a little searching on the internet and came across an article on the recording of ‘Heroes’ in Sound On Sound where they cover the recording of different ‘classic’ tracks. I really recommend reading the entire article. It’s not just nuts and bolts tech info; they cover the production of the song and how the recording ideas came about. I won’t rehash the whole article as I’ve attached a link to it. But since we were speaking of vocals the info on them was pretty amazing. The entire vocal part was written and recorded in five hours. The main vocal was recorded on a single track in one take (with a few splice ins here and there). For the main vocal there were three mics: one close, one about 15 feet away and a third at the other end of the very large room they were recording in. The close mic had heavy compression; the other two mics were gated and only opened up as the volume hit a certain level. As the vocal gets louder another mic in the room would open. So towards the end when the vocals are almost ‘shouted’ all three mics have opened up and all the reverb is natural from the room – and all three mics were recorded to the same track. Truly Amazing. Genius always finds a way.
Also check out how Robert Fripp got those high guitar feedback parts (they almost sound like a synth) by measuring the distance he stood from the amp to get the perfect feedback sound on each individual note.
Here’s the link to the Sound On Sound article:
Here’s another link to ‘Heroes’ sound you don’t have to go back to the last post to hear it:
This winter seems like a good time to lock myself in the studio and start to get some work done again. We’ve spent a good deal of time working on song ideas and turning some of them in to song demos. Now it’s time to focus in and work on the production tracks. Which in turn allows me to focus on the recording process from both technical and artistic points of view. As always finding a way to nail the vocal recording process is a high priority.
The first article I’ve attached is a quick and simple overview of some different methods of recording vocals. This really speaks to the performance aspect of recording as compared to the nuts and bolts tech of mics, mic placement, preamps etc.
Personally I like to record takes all the way through. It gives the singer a chance to have the full feel of the song and decide how to vocally connect the song together. But I’ve also worked parts of the song separately, maybe verses separate from chorus or separating vocal parts after an instrumental break. I think it really depends on the song and the vocalist. You have to be open to trying different approaches on different songs.
The next article discusses comping, which is mentioned in the first article (I don’t know if I’d call it a ‘little known’ recording trick) .
I think there are things to consider if you’re going to do a lot of cut and paste comping on a vocal track. If I’m going to put together smaller pieces of the vocal tracks I’d like to get them recorded in the same session. A person’s voice may change slightly from day to day. It’s not like setting up a guitar amp and then leaving the settings stand for another session. That’s not as much of an issue if you’re putting together larger pieces of the song. It’s also not as much of an issue if you’re going to multi-layer several vocal tracks on top of each other. Again, work with the vocalist and see what brings the best out of them. I think we’ll be putting down a lot more vocal tracks then usual in our upcoming sessions for both layering and comping.
Finally, I couldn’t let the passing of David Bowie go by without comment. For many of us music is much more than something we listen to. I grew up from a young age playing music and living music. It informed my life and many life choices. For those of us who grew up in that era, Bowie melded music with life and style. And showed that you could stop on a dime and change styles if you wanted to. Be fearless in your ability and right to change to whatever moved you. I picked the song ‘Heroes’ to put here because it shows the most important part of vocals – emotion. I feel the build in emotion created by the vocals in this song every time I listen to it. If you do it right it’s captured forever.
We had debated writing an article on this, but felt that it was important to do because if there is anyone out there who can benefit from things we have learned the hard way, it is worth it. While the names of the not-so-innocent have been withheld – the message is clear, so take heed.
We were contacted by a PR firm on the west coast via a social music site. This was their original email:
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: PitchFork Music Festival PR Inquiry
Date: 2014-07-07 23:17
From: The Not-so Innocent
To: Electrostatic Rhythm Pigs
I am trying to reach REDACTED. Not sure if this is a general band email but I had a chance to check out your Electrostatic Rhythm Pigs EPK
One of our music interns turned me on to your profile and forwarded it to me to check out. I’m not sure if anyone on our end may have contacted you yet about our PR Campaign and REDACTED series but I had a few questions that I was hoping to speak to you about.
First off all, I’m not sure if you currently have PR representation but I wanted to set up a conference call to discuss a PR Campaign we are offering new clients that includes a Press Release Campaign, a Two Week Social Media Campaign and a spot on our REDACTED MIxTape Series that will be distributed during Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this July. We have two spots still open on our Pitchfork Campaign this month in Chicago so if you are interested, we would need to speak with you this week.
The PR Campaign including the press release Campaign, Two Week Social Media Campaign and the spot on REDACTED is a flat fee of 295.00. Here’s an overview of it:
- A professionally written, approximately 600 word customized press release about your current music related news and artist happenings.
- Automatic submission of your press release to over 7500 syndicated newswires, media outlets and music journalists.
- 20 guaranteed online media placements of your press release in newspapers, blogs, magazines, etc with links provided.
- A money back guarantee that your press release will be error free, published and with 20 verifiable guaranteed placements.
- A spot on our REDACTED. It will be distributed at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this upcoming July 2014. You will also receive download codes and cards that you can use to distribute to your fans at shows and online.
- A 14 day Social Media Campaign. You will be assigned a social media manager who will write, schedule and post compelling material on your networks including Facebook and Twitter.
- Content posted by your Social Media Manger gets tracked and recorded in an easy-to-read report showing you how many retweets, comments and new followers your social content is getting. Also, so you know–REDACTED is not for sale. It is handed out as a free download card to festival goers. We will be handing out over 3500 download cards at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this upcoming July.
YES. They did do this.
NOPE. Never got this.
NOPE. Never got this.
NOT REALLY – press release was error free but never got any kind of “verified placement”.
NOPE. If they did – we never got confirmation of it. Still to this day – cannot find where this supposedly is.
NOPE. Never got this.
NOPE. Never saw any of this, or that it was ever done.
To give you an idea of the quality of press releases we produce and the media outlets where we often secure coverage in, you can check out these links:
REDACTED. Put it this way – we saw like two client testimonials. That should have been a red flag right there.
All of our work is results-driven with a money-back guarantee. Here are a couple of testimonials our music clients have recently given us:
I would love to discuss what your specific PR needs are and the details of this campaign, along with what song we would like to include on REDACTED. I can set up a time to call you to discuss it. Let me know if you have availability this upcoming week and the best number and time frame to reach you at.
Wishing You Success And Nothing Less!
1. ALWAYS get it in writing.
2. Even if you get it in writing, what will you do? Sue them for 295.00? You’d spend more in legal fees – scammers are smart in that regard – low fees mean a lot less likelihood of actually getting sued.
3. Verification of services should be offered at every step – you shouldn’t have to ask.
4. When you call like four times and don’t get a return call, it is probably a good indication that they are weasels, not serious PR providers.
I got some new stuff in the studio which is always cool – mostly just some new pedals. I also found some new effects tucked away in some software for recording. ERP is re-doing some music that we have had on the back burner for awhile, but the four songs are pretty near done – ready to be pressed. In the mean time, had some stuff for Steaming Mulch re-mixed and ready for digital distribution – will be putting those up on the main VWW site in the next couple of weeks. In addition, Dr. Kreed’s music is up (the songs have been cleaned up and one addition added)–> Go check them out here. Anyway, back to spreadsheets… *grumbles*