Photo by Chris Ciesiel
Our recording sessions at Phantom Manor began with an entire Saturday and Sunday blocked off - February 23 and 24 of 2008. We had no idea how much time we needed, but I think we estimated about 3 weekends (6 days). HAH. Anyway, our first weekend was definitely an interesting but of course fun and rewarding experience.
As you can see in this photo, we weren't sure as to how much equipment to bring, so we brought nearly everything except the amps. Setting up and miking the drums ate up a lot of time, but the fact that we could let the drums ring out in the old vintage wooden room, while all playing and tracking rhythm was exciting – remember that our previous recording experience although fun was a lot more rigid and stale, with each of us tracking one at a time in a small box. Here with Mike Lust we played as a group, live.
Photo by Ciesiel
Our goal for the weekend was to get drums, bass and as much usable guitar tracked as possible. To get things going we started with “The Bored,” a simple enough track that we had been playing nearly as long as “Chicago,” or “The Shakeup.” It was written on acoustic guitars one evening in the kitchen of the since-demolished/rebuilt former Casa de Simon on Wrightwood, on the same night and in the same setting that we wrote “I’ve Been Meaning to Say.” The style and sound of both “The Bored” and “I’ve been Meaning to Say” couldn’t have turned out more different on the record, but both had roots from an acoustic weekend evening. (Note to self: get new acoustic guitar and have more nights like that).
Photo by Ciesiel
After a few takes of “The Bored” we moved on to “(You Can’t) Control Her,” which was also not too difficult to get down in a few takes. We then tracked “Infernal Machines,” one of our more difficult songs to this day, especially in the drum department. Jannotta did especially well on this track, and his perfectionism and quality control played a major role in getting the crisp, clean take that moves the track as you hear it now.
Our good friend Chris Ciesiel made an appearance that Saturday morning, taking some of the photos you see here in this post.
It’s not too hard to get comfortable in the Manor, and it’s equally easy to get distracted by the music magazines, books, movies, instruments and of course the fridge. Oh, not to mention – Mike Lust! Bloody Mary in hand, Mike was a pro at getting a bunch of over-excited visitors to focus on being musicians. With plenty of anecdotes, jokes and stories, he helped us balance between serious playing and relaxing and enjoying ourselves. Throughout the first weekend, in addition to “The Bored,” “Infernal Machines” and “(You Can’t) Control Her” we tracked “Bar Wrought,” “Steal The Wind, It’s Free,” “Chicago,” “I’ve Been Meaning to Say,” “Experience by Osmosis” and “The Shakeup.”
The song “Another Lover” hadn’t been written yet, and Kennedy’s arrangement of “Across the Bar” wasn’t tracked this particular February weekend – but more on that later!