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Day 14 – More computer problems!!

Again this morning there was a problem with the back-ups. It seems like the computer did not see the firewire bus and suddenly froze. Rich uses an older Powermac G5, and I think it is just dying. I really hope that it will make it at least through to the end of our project…. Finally after a hard reboot it started back-upping. But after 15 minutes of copying the files it suddenly stopped again. What?? I had to reboot the computer again and tried to start the back up again, only with no success. After some troubleshooting it seemed that the new drive was causing the problem, and I had to take it back to the store.
While Rich was working on our music I went back to the Apple Store in Pasadena with the studio assistant Jeff. Luckily they had enough of these drives in stock, so I bought an extra drive to be sure and we raced back and at the end of the day I started the back up again. This time triple backups (one drive of Rich, two of mine). All went well with the back-ups, but we lost almost a day of work because of these problems.
All in all these computer problems have cost us about three days of work, so we really need to hurry up. I might even have to let the label know that I won’t make the deadline. That would be a problem, as they said that if we don’t make the deadline, we will look at a september release. That is way too late, so we really want to get this music released asap!
But forst thing’s first. It’s nearly 02:30 am so I need to get some sleep. Rich will be in early tomorrow, as he will have only a half day to work on our CD as other clients will come in.

Day 13 – Back-up problems

This morning I went down to get some breakfast and checked on the backups, only to find the computer screen cluttered with error messages. Hhmm… somethings wrong here. After some investigation it came clear that one of the Firewire 800 outputs of the Master disc drive was fried. And since we used that port to hook up my back-up drive and other drives, those drives now had a fried Firewire 800 port as well.
So after doing a full backup of the main computer drive (which took for ever) Rich finally was able to start with mixing. Man we have lost so much time…
We continued working on effects. Deciding on the type of effects needed, dialing them in, and processing them. We did the last drum room recordings, that we could not do yesterday, as I forgot to clean the tom tracks for the last song. Man, it is so clear how that live-natural-reverb-drum-recordings improve the overall drumsound. It’s massive! Love it.
Of course in a analog realm (or at least as much as we can) we HAVE to use the Echoplex. Love the sound of a tape-echo and it’s on all the vocals and some guitars. The real deal! 😉 Of course we use some digital effects & plugins, but whenever we can we use an analog one. To me it gives the digitally recorded tracks much more beef and feel and depth, even when after processing, it gets printed back into ProTools, so it’s digital again. Still it makes a big difference.
When Rich was doing his little tweaks I decided to make another bonus track. The orchestra tracks are by itself so beautiful, that it’s very enjoyable even just by them selfs. So I’m making a sort of compilation of all those tracks. A sort of short Orchestral Suite. Hopefully it works out, so we have some extra’s to put in there.
Around 8pm Rich finished the second track of the album, called Salvation. We did some intensive listening and tweaking, and around 10pm it was ready to send to the others. Hopefully they like it!
I’m now touching up the orchestra outtakes edits, starting the back-up job (hope for the best) on the main computer and then it’s off to bed.

Day 12 – Drum Effects

Had a great night, good sleep and got up rested. Enjoyed a nice time of worship from Jesus Culture, watched a good sermon by Kim Walker on Youtube and chatted with Jessica via Skype. Totally enjoyed the warmth of the sun while sitting outside at the pool for a short moment. It must have been 23 degrees Celsius, and it was only 11am. I love it. Back at home Jessica (my wife) is in wintertime with freezing cold, snowy weather. I know it’s unfair, but still I enjoyed the sun for a moment. But as there is a lot of work to do, I dove right back into some last edit work and worked the rest of the morning on the text for the artwork, bio, website etc. Rich came in around noon and started that what we call effects day. The first day of choosing all the effects we are going to use on the album. All the tracks have been edited, processed and brought in balance with each other. Now it is time to play around with some effects.
I told you earlier that we want to mix this album as analog as possible, to get that nice, warm, full & rich sound. Today we was the day to lay down the drum effects. Instead of using a digital reverb or a reverb plugin we will use a super analog, natural reverb.
The main recording room of The Mouse House is well known for the awesome drum sound that can be achieved there. The room has a great natural reverb, and is very well balanced over the whole frequency spectrum. So we have set up a PA system that is playing my drum tracks at loud volume in the big main recording room. With 4 microphones, set up at specific positions at ground level and upstairs Rich is recording the natural reverb and reflections, as if my drum kit was played in his studio. After a few initial test runs we decided that this was the way to go, and we started to dial in everything and start to track the drum reverb. This process took most of the day.
As Rich had to leave early, I got the evening to myself in the studio to finalize some of the last edits and listened through what we have until now. With those remarks tomorrow we start finalizing the mixes after we have recorded the last few drum track reverbs.
Well, it’d past midnight, so off to my bunk, but firstly turn on those important back-ups. Hope all goes well tonight.

Day 11 – Mix day 3

This day was filled with more edits and with organizing the remarks made by Daniel & Ted. They had some good ideas and remarks and it is always good to have a few fresh ears listening to the mixes, so we can improve them. We worked until 4pm and then drove to Santa Monica for a night off. Rich, his wife and his daughter went to a party of friends living in Santa Monica, and I came along for the ride. They would drop me off at the boulevard, so I could have some shopping/sight seeing etc. I had a great time on 3rd street. A lot of artists where there performing on the streets, and they where all really good. So it was really fun seeing all these free concerts in the street. I went to an Apple Store there and I bought this beautiful G-Drive Mini 750 Gb, 7200 rpm drive. Gorgeous to see, and fast and reliable. I will use that to make back-ups of all we do. Better safe than sorry!
We closed the day at the Cheese Cake Factory, a nice restaurant and when I came home it was already 2 am or so. Time to catch some sleep.

Day 10 – Mix day 2

So it’s the 10th day of this trip and we have two mixes ready of the first two songs. It’s great hearing everything fall in place and it sounds awesome! The way we will work is that we will finish up a mix. Then send it off to the rest of the band, and have them give remarks on it. When all the mixes are done, we will go back to them with fresh ears and the list of remarks and then tweak on it some more until all the remarks are fixed. Then we’ll record the mix to 2-inch analog tape, and do the mastering through analog tape. So the first two tracks are uploading now, and I can’t wait to hear what the rest thinks of it.

Day 9 – Mix day 1

Today is my birthday. And it is the longest birthday I ever had. It started at 00:00 in The Netherlands, and ended 33 hours later at 24:00 in LA 😉 Great to have timezones in this way. If only I could have a party of 33 hours.. 😉 It came down to a 14 hour studio day – which was great as we got to get a lot of work done.Some of you may think, man for an album with 11 songs and around 78 minutes of music, you take a great deal of time. And yes, you are right. But remember, since we are half in the analog realm, all effects printing, listening back, playing, recording, processing etc is all done real-time. With plugins you can take a plugin, put it on as much channels you want, tweak it, and every time you play the track, it’s there.
Since we have to print all the effects real-time back into Pro Tools it’s taking a looong time!

Day 8 – Edit day 5

This morning I sat down with Rich to talk about the progress and what was needed to be done, before we can start mastering. Well, enough to be done here, and as we both think we should not make this a ‘hurry-up-job’ – as we want the best possible results. But this meant that I probably have to stay a little bit longer in LA, as we will not make it before my return flight of February 1.
The other challenge was that Rich has a client coming in on Feb 1st to do 9 days of vocal recordings and a day of bass recordings with Robert Trujillo (Metallica). So we had to find a way to work around that. And luckily the singer will not start recording before 16:00 and will do so for about 5 hours a day, and he will be recording for 2 days, and then take a day off to spare his voice. So that means that there will be time enough to work on the Affector mix around those times.
But then another problem arose, since I wont be home before February 8, and the deadline for all the material is February 9. So I need to finish this album while I’m here in LA. So I definitely need to make a picture here, and get a lot of paperwork ready.
So enough to do for the coming weeks 😉
 

Day 7 – Edit day 4

Today I got another email from Leif, our rep at Inside Out Music, our label, and he asked if we had any bonus tracks. In the past I have thought many times that we should have recorded some bonus tracks, but because of everyones schedules it just never happened. Well, here comes the label asking if we have any. And I see the benefits of it, so I emailed Daniel to record some acoustic tracks. He immediately dove into his home studio and recorded New Jerusalem and Harmagedon, both in an alternate, shorter version. He sang both songs himself (he got a great voice as well), and it sounds great!
Listening through them I had an idea of adding the orchestra to Harmagedon, since he played it in the same key & tempo as the original, album version. With a bit of Pro Tools magic I flew in some of the orchestra tracks, and it really worked well. Great stuff! Maybe later this week I have a change to lay down some percussion tracks, if I can find any instruments. Hopefully Rich can get his hands on a Cajon or something, that would be killer!
The rest of the day was filled with more of the same like yesterday and the day before. Lots of editing, tweaking, aligning, listening, re-tweaking and enjoying life in the Mouse House. Did not see a lot of the outside world, but hey, at home I can do that every day. But I’m not everyday in the Mouse House mixing Affector with Rich Mouser 😉

Day 6 – Edit day 3

Today was more of the same really. Got up early, started editing, processing & mixing all day. Weather outside is lovely, but not for us, as we are inside mixing. We are doing days of 12+ hours – so we get a lot of work done.
The good thing of Rich is that he is really a perfectionist. He just zooms all in, and is really getting the minuscule problems out so in the end when all those tracks are summed to just a stereo output master, it sounds great!
Some of the hours I left Rich do his thing, and I got into artwork, label-stuff etc. The label just told us that they will move the release date forward, so we have a new deadline for the master, artwork, bio, pictures etc, etc. Moved it up from February 27 to February 9th!! Now that’s a change… That messed up my whole schedule, so now we need to get going on this…
Getting a band picture will prove to be difficult, as we are just spread out over the globe, and especially, since I will be going home on Feb 1st, it just leaves little space for errors and fixing them. It’s going to be a challenge, but hey! What’s new 😉
Maybe I’ll just have to hire a photographer over here in LA – probably crazy expensive though….
Well, it was a long day of studio work, better get some sleep now.

Day 5 – Edit day 2

Although I would have expected to have a great sleep after such a few tiring days that did not happen. Pffff, stupid jet lag… Any way, I got up around 7am after some nice Skype-time with Jessica and some cereals I continued my work on the album.
During this pre-mix production we will process all the tracks through Rich his analog and vintage outboard gear. As if the whole band was in the studio with us. All the tracks will go through some great sounding Neve channel strips, Manley and Ultimate Audio analog compressors and many other outboard gear.
But when working through the tracks Rich and I decided that we needed to have more layers of strings in the orchestra. So while Rich started programming strings I was getting back to sorting through the tracks and getting the rest of the songs mix ready.
This whole process took all day, and again when I was laying in bed trying to get rid of that annoying jet-lag, Rich and Jeff went on until 1pm.
 

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