Credits, Stories, and Thanks

May 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm (Uncategorized)

Credits:

Weaks In The Waves was recorded and engineered at the Colfax Attic by Adam Krinsky. Drums recorded at Waterbury Studios. Mixed by Graham O’Brien and Adam Krinsky. Produced by Graham O’Brien. Mastered by Greg Reierson at Rare Form Mastering. Tracking contributions on Weaks In The Waves are credited to Graham O’Brien: Auxiliary Percussion, Drums, Programming, and Sampling; Ben Rengstorf: Accordion; Chris Salter: Guitar, Lap Steel, Vocals; Karen Salter: Glockenspiel, Vocals; Adam Svec: Guitar, Vocals; Eric Blair: Vocals; Robert Mulrennan: Guitar; Casey O’Brien: Bass. Art Design by Zach Koss. US and European distribution by Draw Fire Records (drawfirerecords.com).  All songs by Adam Svec (c) 2011.

Stories:

Chris Salter and I have been playing together, formally, for almost 11 years. As Ted Held would say, Chris is a guitar scientist. He can put progressions together in his mind like no guitar player I’ve ever met. His virtuosic playing is coupled with a bit of a mysterious affinity for bands like Insane Clown Posse and Hanson. I have no idea how he keeps such an open mind about new music, but Chris constantly surprises me with the depth and breadth of sonic space in which he allows himself to indulge. I commented on how much I liked Chris’ part on ‘Burns To The Center’ the other day in rehearsal, and I asked him what he had changed since we first started playing that song. He admitted that he was playing about half as many notes as he had originally been playing. You know you are a master of your craft when you can cut the quantity of your performance in half and exponentially improve the quality.

If you’ve ever heard Karen Salter’s singing voice, you’ve probably burned with jealousy for a little while and then asked her to be in your band… or… maybe that’s just me. As well as being a fantastic musician and music educator, Karen is one of the most delightful people I know. Even throughout her pregnancy (Owen is due in early June), she has consistently compromised her comfort to help us get things accomplished. Especially on this new release, Karen’s performances are stronger than ever. During the recording session in January, she sang with the confidence and robustness of a pop star veteran.

Ben Rengstorf and I have been friends for about 13 years. After a childhood spent at the piano, Ben picked up the accordion a couple years ago. He actually took accordion lessons for a while just to get a knack for coordinating both sides of the machine. One day, he invited me along to his lesson to meet his instructor and talk about amplification options. As we walked into the second floor studio of the instructor’s (Dan) space, we were met by a room lined with accordions from floor to ceiling on three sides. Apparently, in addition to giving accordion lessons, Dan is also building some sort of giant accordion army. I really felt like I’d stepped into a 1930’s Parisian film. Since Ben has been my roommate for a number of years, he has to put up with me more than the other band members. Last Summer, Ben and I played guitar and accordion in the attic multiple days per week, and it inspired me to start and finish a lot of the songs that made the record.

One of the most unique and memorable contributions on Weaks In The Waves comes from Mr. Joe Horton. I’ve known Joe for a couple years, and I’ve been more than pleased to see him grow into his art and define his role as a man who belongs on the stage. I’ve also been fortunate enough to join Joe, Graham, Bobby, Peter P, and Casey for a couple improv sessions across the city in the last year. We asked Joe to riff over the wordless chorus of ‘Christopher’ one very cold January day when he and Bobby stopped by the tracking sessions. He and Adam (Krinsky) laid down some options later that week. I think his addition makes the song ‘jump off the page’ so to speak. Joe also added some beautiful rhodes parts on a number of tracks.

Graham often enlists musicians for added textural components of his recording process. Bobby (Robert Mulrennan) laid down some beautiful space-y guitar takes that you will notice in the transitional periods of many songs if you listen ever-so-closely. If Bobby had a motto, I would imagine it goes something like, “look cool, never overstate my guitar tones, but stab and attack when necessary.” Casey O’Brien was originally enlisted for texture, but his bass parts were so fresh that I had to ask him to play the release show. Casey: “Hey man, what key is that in?”; Adam: “Uh… E? ish?.” Since I’m kind of a chord structure idiot, Casey had to figure out most of his parts by listening to these tunes only a couple times, and figure it out he did.

I met Adam Krinsky at Common Roots last Autumn to talk about guitar tones. We talked about recording in general, but I kept bugging him about how well he recorded guitar tones. His response was a calm and casual, “Yeah, I think I can get you the guitar tones you’re looking for.” At the time, I guess maybe I wasn’t fully aware that I was talking to an IPR instructor and accomplished engineer that had worked on records with the likes of Pieta Brown, Peter Wolf Crier, The Alarmists, Boyz To Men, Kristoff Krane, and of course No Bird Sing. When Adam and I carried all his gear up to the third floor, dialed in some tones, and started listening to what we were getting; I realized that my questions probably sounded a little juvenile. Not only could Adam capture the essence of an amplifier, he could maximize the potential of any room to sonically work to his advantage. With microphone placement and positioning, he made every take sound gangster (“gangster” is Krinsky’s version of “good,” which I have since adopted).

After the tracking was finished (which also included a couple of days of drum tracking at Waterbury, where Krinsky and Graham woodshedded all the parts), Adam passed the files over to Graham. Graham O’Brien is a dry-humored citizen of West Saint Paul that likes to surf the internet, play drums, and mix the hell out of some songs. If he has other hobbies, he has kept them a secret from me. Graham has probably volunteered more time to this project than any other player. He wrote drum parts, co-mixed the album, worked on licensing contracts, and is playing the release show with us. I can’t thank Graham enough for joining the team. If you’re looking for someone to record your songs, I recommend the dynamic duo of Adam Krinsky and Graham O’Brien.

Thanks:

Brenda Rengstorf has been overly gracious this year. Not only did she allow the team and I to track a record in her bedroom, she also let my friend John Paul Burgess and I shoot a film in her living room. For her troubles and her patience, I try to update her liquor cabinet when I think of it, but she asks for little else.

Although I spent the last year finishing the structure of the songs that appear on the album, every player contributed massively to the outcome. The distribution of effort will hopefully be reflected in the ASCAP assignments. Thanks to Graham O’Brien, Adam Krinsky, Ben Rengstorf, Chris Salter, Karen Salter, Owen Salter, Joe Horton, Robert Mulrennan, Casey O’Brien, Holly Munoz, David & Carol Rachac, and Brenda Rengstorf.

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