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Dayton, OH
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Poptek Recs is a simple label with big pop songs.


Recording Journal

XL427- Thee Attack (Vol. 3): Studio Rage

Andy Ingram

Day Three of this recording session was by far the most productive. I avoided making another bloody mess by drumming Quiet Riot-like, with a glove on my left hand. It wasn't exactly Glam Metal cool as it was a winter glove rather than a batting glove. The glove was striped though, so there's still hope of this catching on as a trend.

Finishing the drum tracks for "Sunlight + Water", "Needles", "Stone Washed Jeans", "Ideas", and "The (Surprise) Party" actually happened pretty quickly. I only have drum tracks remaining for "Nasa, Arizona" and "Back Beat". The relatively quick recording process was not without drama. Remember that eternal battle with "The Metronome" that I wrote about yesterday? Well, it broke me. It got to me. The Machine made me snap.

While recording my last song of the day "The (Surprise) Party", I wrongly reacted to the combined pressure of "The Metronome" and another failed take by angrily throwing a drum stick into the floor.

16th beats on the hi-hat are really really difficult, especially while fighting against your avowed enemy.

I know that's not an excuse for my behavior though. So I humbly take this blog posting to ask for your forgiveness and grace. I know what I did was wrong and I take full responsibility. I did have a brain-injury though, remember that? That really screws with a man and causes him to behave in bizarre ways. So maybe I'm only partly responsible. I will take this time to apologize to all those who I have hurt and disappointed.

To the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, I am sorry that my temper has left me unsuitable to mentor anyone.

To the Boy Scouts of America, I am sorry for failing you as a role model.

To the Girl Scouts of America, I am sorry for not buying cookies from that one little girl outside of Krogers. You have to admit that she was putting the guilt-trip on pretty heavy.

To the United Way, I am sorry for that one year I submitted a donation envelope with nothing in it. I won those airline tickets fair and square, so you owe me.

To the American Cancer Society, I am sorry for eating that Pop Tart last week.

To the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I am sorry that I am broke.

To the National Rifle Association, you scare me.

To the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, what do you really do?

To the United States Food and Drug Administration, I am not apologizing to you, you frauds.

To Greenpeace, I am sorry for never donating to your efforts to preserve the planet. You do have to give me credit for being friendly with your many high-pressure representatives walking the streets of Seattle. Maybe you should change your tactics?

To the Livestrong Foundation, I am sorry about Lance Armstrong.

To Food for the Hungry, I am sorry for letting my debit card bounce all those years back.

To the great people of Greece, I am sorry for making so many economic jokes.

To everyone else in the universe, I am sorry!

XL427- Thee Attack (Vol. 2): Andy Versus the Metronome

Andy Ingram

I've heard it said that Evil (or Satan or Lucifer or whatever you want to call it) creates nothing new. It just distorts, diminishes, or contradicts the truth. I completely believe that and the physical proof I have of that distortion is named "The Metronome".

These robotic time-keepers do nothing other than shame me, mock my natural ability to sense the vibe, mess with my emotions, lie about my identity, and overall make me want to quit creating music. "The Metronome" is the literal "Voice of Evil".

If you can't tell, today was intended to record drums for "Thee Attack". Playing with a metronome really is as dramatic a struggle as I make it out to be. I never feel as inadequate a musician and human being as when I am in that psychological war with "The Metronome". Like all the other lies we believe, the battle is just to one-by-one pick them out and compare them to the truth. I am a good drummer and no Demonic Bleep Track is going to tell me otherwise.

With all the tweaking I did yesterday, I dialed in a pretty big drum sound. I'm talking Weezer "Pinkerton"-era big. I love huge drums. And no, that is not I pick-up line.

It may be too big though. The floor tom is out of control. I'll have Brenna take a listen, now that she is trained in the technicalities of the recording process that I am not.

So the first song I worked on was "The Covenant". This may be my favorite song of this batch of songs. I don't remember where this song came from but I remember it coming quickly in two parts. The bulk of the song was formed when the idea came. I added a bendy vocal in the chorus to cap it off.

It's funny and sometimes frustrating that even within a normal 2/4 time signature, just an odd rhythm on the kick bass or floor tom can add to that struggle to keep on time. My tendency is to speed up. This song has both but after a few failed attempts and some more dial tweaking, I nailed it. And no, that's not a pick-up line either.

I was ready to move on to "Nasa, Arizona". This is a newer song that we have never played live. I am really happy with the vocal medlodies and the guitar chord progression that I have but I have yet to figure out what I want to say. The drum line has a Psychedelic Furs "Love My Way" inspired delayed crash in it. It was going to take me playing through the song to figure out how exactly what I want.

So I started and went through a few unsatisfactory takes. That was when I noticed bizarre marks on my pants. It was blood, on my nice demin!

Everyone who knows me knows that that is a problem. I am Easy Queasy, even at the thought of blood. While I was drumming on "The Covenant" I guess I was following through on my snare hit by hitting my upper leg. The middle-knuckle on my left hand was raw and bleeding. Even though the small amount of blood seeping from my knuckle wasn't enough to bother me, there was still blood on my jeans. A lot of blood. Like a murderer.

I tried a couple of more drum takes, changing the direction of how I struck the snare. The amount of blood streaks on my jeans just kept increasing. Oh my Lord! That's what got me. What did I do? Who did I kill? What would people think? I have a dark imagination and I was too distracted by the blood to continue drumming.

So what was intended to be a day all about the drums and "The Metronome" dissolved pretty quickly. I moved on to record some guitar/vocal guide tracks and called it a day. Longsuffering is just not my talent.

For all you Gear Geeks, here is the set-up I am using to record this album and specifically the drums:

2 PreSonus Studio Channel pre-amps
Mackie Onyx 1220 12-channel board (only 4 channels have XLR inputs though)
Apple Logic Pro 9

Mlasko Custom Drums (24" Kick Bass, 16" Floor Tom)
Tama 8" Snare
Sabian AAX 16" Dark Crash
Sabian 21" Hand-Hammered Raw Bell Dry Ride
Evans Heads

Rode K2 (Overhead Microphone)
Blue "Spark"(Floor Tom)
Shure SM7B (Snare Drum)
Shure Beta 91a (Kick Bass)

XL427- Thee Attack (Vol.1): Tweaking the Dials

Andy Ingram

So today I start recording the next XL427 album. Obviously, I get easily distracted.

My last album was in 2008. I take forever to write my own songs. And as much as I have enjoyed producing and recording the Jill + Micah record, drumming and making a great record with Kris N., making a two great records with L'Albatros and Second Best that no one will ever hear, my previous work drumming with Ruetschle, and my recent daliances into fashion and dating advice, I still have that desire to write and create something soaring and beautiful. That is what a perfect pop song is to me. A heavenly melody.

So I start again on "Thee Attack", what I have so far entitled the XL427 record. I recorded some guide tracks months ago, but then . . . I . . . got distracted. So now I am isolating myself in Our Arsenal, the Poptek recording studio we built at The Last Stand Farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This time is to force myself to finish these songs and to say what I want to say.

We call it The Last Stand as it is perfectly situated on a hill, isolated from society, but strategically advantageous for that inevitable day when the Red Cross shows their true, evil intentions by manipulating their international connections and control of the global blood supply into world domination. Not that I am paranoid. The facts are out there. And we at Poptek will be prepared.

In times of desparation, humans act in ways they wouldn't otherwise. I learned that about myself in fighting and recovering from the West Nile Virus and the resulting enciphilits. And I actually hope to replicate that in a way, to remember some of those fears and emotions, as I lock myself away recording this album. Most of the songs came out of that time, a time that challenged me in the worst possible ways but also showed me how tough and faithful and stubborn and loyal I can be. So there will be no running water, no toilets, the bare minumum of electricity, no human conversation. I'll have to sleep under the stars. I may even have to kill something for food. Or learn what leaves are edible. Or order pizza from that over-zealous townie. It's going to be intentionally rough, both in process and in the level of honesty in these songs, but I promise the songs will be catchy.

And now I'll get on to work. Today brings the tedious- channeling in the drum tunings, mic placements, and EQ levels that will make the sound of this recording going forward. I usually get tired of details like these. I'm a big picture dreamer. Yet I choose to let myself get excited today. I mean, I am making music afterall. Free of restrictions, expectations, financial parameters, and any pressure outside of what I put on myself. This is a wonderful place to be in.