Tuesday, November 3, 2009


....and i'm about to puke.

But i dropped it off at Play-It Direct Productions today where they'll reproduce it, package it, and everything.


First off, in my humblest of opinions-
for a budget of $1000?
on a $90 mike?
recorded in my bathroom?
and mixed on garage band?

with all that considered.....


rest assured that all of you who have pre-ordered-
it is definitely worth $15.
No doubt.

Which I am so RELIEVED to say.

Fuckin'-A, on THAT.

and while I know that this is not even remotely a good idea-
nor is it even remotely my style-
some disclaimers.

totally breaking a huge rule right now in marketing-
and auditioning, for that matter-
never ever walk into a room where you're selling something and point out the flaws because that's all anyone will ever see.

it's like going to a show that you loved-
and then the reviews come out and tell you that it's a big steaming pile of poo-
and you go back and you think,

"holy shit! that IS a big steaming pile of poo. WHAT was i thinking?!!"

when really.....it's not.
you've just been told it is so....
that's how you see it but....
screw it.

this blog is really about letting you all know the real deal about trying to put this thing together on your own for a piece of straw and a wet napkin so...
here we go.

I have labored over this thing for weeks-
the artistic part?
so much fucking fun I can't even put it into words.
I have not been that happy in years.
I absolutely 100% recommend it.
Even if you're not going to sell it.
If you want to make a solo CD?
it's the most satisfying thing I've done since college.

Do it do it do it.

however, the mixing....
oh Jesus H's baby blue bathrobe...
the fucking mixing.

While satisfying for the control freak in me-
mixing your own shit causes some artistic damage to your psyche.
I'm not gonna lie.
And while i love love love LOVE all these songs I've chosen-
and chose then because I loved them and never in a million years thought I would ever tire of them?

Ohhhhhhhh, so very tired.
So so so so so, wearily tired.
love them still.

And I have all the qualities a mixer needs-
I've got a good ear-
i know instruments and arranging-
I have a decent feel for levels...

But besides whatever experience and training professional mixers have- 
which is obviously eons more than I had when i started-
there are plenty of short cuts, bells and whistles, things in garage band that I'm not even aware of and most importantly MUCH better equipment out there than I possess-
which, I'm sure makes the actual job of mixing much more bearable than it was for me

I mean there's shit like, 'compressing', and 'EQs', and 'doubling', and tea bagging, and monkey-poo flinging, i mean....
tons of special mixer secret-decoder ring stuff that I was completely oblivious to.

So heads up-
if you're going to mix and master your own solo CD be warned.
Mixing, which i learned the hard way, is a science.
Yes, you can learn by rote....
experientially, like i learn most things anyway-
but mother PUSS bucket, is the learning curve ENORMOUS.

if you're going to do it yourself-
at least take a class, or find people who know what they're doing to walk you through it.

But most importantly- 
KNOW now-
that by the end of the mixing process where it is absolutely your responsibility and your job to identify every single possible flaw in every moment of every second of every bar of every song on the album-
that you will-
by the end-
be convinced that you are without a doubt, the biggest hack that ever lived.

And if that doesn't happen to you?
You're a freak.
Or a complete douche.

And I'm not writing this so that people will write in and tell me how talented i am.
that's not the point of admitting this to you.
So please don't do that.
I don't need bucking up, per se.
I sure as hell could use an Rx of Xanax right now but....

I am admitting this to you all as fair warning to every fellow artist....
IF POSSIBLE, to maintain some sanity in this process-
if you can find the money in your budget for a mixer-
or someone who will do it for you for free....
ABSOLUTELY take them up on it.

While i am extremely....
EXTREMELY proud of this CD-
and there have been some moments where I have literally wept at the satisfaction of a musical moment- 
or even strutted around my apartment in a totally cheesy victory lap of sorts-

Ok twice.
I did that.
only twice.
But still.
I totally did that.
I'm a dork.
I don't care.

ultimately, this whole process has instilled me the deepest appreciation for the jobs that everyone does that usually makes a solo CD cost a bajillion dollars.

The sound engineers.
God bless them.
Every one.

Because there were moments where I would have given every cent in my bank account to have just handed the mixing process over to someone else.
Someone with much more experience, training and talent in this area.
Someone more objective and much less judgemental than myself.
Someone with a setup that didn't have cobwebs and Howdy Doody on it.

As a result-
I have really ONLY one aspect to this album that I am not completely satisfied with.
And that's the volume levels between the actual tracks.
Which is kind of amazing, that there's only one aspect that chapping my ass.

While I truly feel that every track as it's own entity is mixed extremely well...
the overall level of each track to each track does vary volume wise.
Which really bothers the Type-A Perfectionist part of my personality.

I tried everything to rectify that.
I really did.
Ironically, the WORST thing was to use Itunes 'playback' setting where it's supposed to play every track at the same level?
Because I sing so softly and so loudly in the same track...
it can't identify where to find the median so it's just all jacked up crazy over here with the sound.

So i had to abandon that option entirely.
and without that 'playback' option...
which i relied on the idea  of much too much when i was all willy-nilly with the mike levels as i recorded from day to day...
as a result...
i was a tad bit on the fucked side.


while i'm sure it's probably not even going to bother any of you-
and if I hadn't even mentioned it, you wouldn't have really even noticed...
some tracks are louder than others.
and in those moments where you might be reaching for the volume button I already apologize to you and encourage you to look at it as a charming and quaint byproduct of this whole adventure.

I'm not kidding.
Let's practice shall we?

end of track ten at a level 6....

As you reach for the volume on your remote you think,

"Ohhhh how charming and quaint this whole ghetto set-up CD is. My God, it's amazing this only cost $1000! I think i'll buy another one!"

See you at opening.


I COULD have had the CDR place 'master' the CD for me.
Mastering is basically just what I needed.
Someone to take all the 'mixed' tracks-
and then 'master' the entire CD to make sure that all the levels aren't completely ass-jacked volume and quality wise.

And they can do this and I can't because they have awesome equipment and knowledge and experience in this arena that I just do not possess. And i really considered it very seriously. I am well aware that people are paying good, hard earned money for this and I am adamant about producing the best product I can.


The cost would have been over $200 just for the mastering... 
and I just didn't think that it was ethical considering, again- 
that part of this whole adventure was to not only create the CD for $1000 to show it can be done- 
but to also offer a very honest and realistic byproduct of what you might end up with if you choose to do this yourself.

I'm pretty sure honestly, none of you are even going to notice this-
but again.
my mindset via post mixing = absolutely bat-shit crazy

With all that said...
As i explained in my earlier post....
I would listen and mix on my computer-
because according to my mixing consultant extraordinaire Chris Nichols of WERQ, Inc,
as we spent a lovely sunday in his new home while he schooled me in the hard knocks of mixing like a bad ass....

"Headphones LIIIIIIEEEEE!"

Apparently, you can't mix with headphones and you MUST mix with speakers because of the length of the sound waves.
They literally need the distance to travel that headphones obviously do not allow for accuracy.

crazy right?
Total 3-2-1 Contact kinda stuff.

another fun exchange from Sunday:

"Chris...is there....anything we can do about the hiss? What IS the hiss? Why is it hissing? Why, with the hiss. Why?"

"well. the hiss. That's. Basically. You recording in your bathroom."

"oh. right. Good point."

"Yeah. That's....why normal, non-crazy people record in studios."


--and scene.

by the way tho?
No hiss anymore.
Don't worry about the hiss.
We kicked the hiss' ASS.

i had to mix all this without my headphones which was an unexpected problem for me.
because while i have slamming fancy assed BOSE headphones that cost some hundreds of dollars...
the only speakers i have in my apartment are:

1) my computer speakers
2) some crappy ipod speakers i got as a Christmas gift 4 years ago
3) the relatively decent speakers on my SONY TV that I play my CDs through.

Unfortunately, there was no way to attach my computer to the speakers on my TV so I had to mix by burning individual CDs.


That's right.

Repeatedly burning CDs.

I burned through about 26 'takes' on CDs alone.

It goes a little somethin' like this:

Take notes.
Pray for death.
Resist urge to throw computer against the wall.
Pray again for death.
Search apartment for Draino to swallow.
Take notes.

...until i would rather shoot myself in the face than listen to myself singing one more time.

In addition, while i love Garage Band and think it's a kick ass program-
it is limited, obviously compared to the toys that serious sound-grownups play with.

For example, if i want to take an accordion line down 3 ticks in volume in two bars.
It might let me take it down 2.6 ticks or 15.
depending on where it already is, and whether I've bought it dinner, or taken it to the movies, or called it fat....whatever.

So then i have to figure out,

"well if i take it down 2 ticks- i can bring up some other lines and see if it matches...
or, i can bring it down 15 ticks and then bring everything ELSE down as well..."

Obviously, this involves a degree of math which was why I spent most of my music theory classes doodling "Mrs Michael J Fox, Donna Lynne Fox, Mrs Donna J Fox", instead of creating preludes and fugues based purely on numbers and intervals.

if you stick with anything long enough-
and love it hard enough-
a trick I've learned over the years with unruly props and hideous wigs-
anything and everything will acqueisce to kindness and respect.


Me and the mixing fairies reached an agreement somewhere out there in Mixieland...
I pushed through it...
and as of a few days ago....
things just started to gel.

And all the vanilla wafers in the world.

Now, i realize...
i have been lax in posting about the actual tracks and tunes.
And, now that we're in the PR phase, people are asking for the list of song tracks.

But i love the game now of giving each track pseudo-nick names so...
I'm gonna really to machine-gun a post about each track over the next couple days-
why i picked it-
how it was to put it together...

once i've done that-
we'll release the names of the actual tracks.

This is fun for me.
waiting to release the actual names of the tracks.

This is....

my idea...

of fun.



I go back to BILLY ELLIOT on Friday and it's DONE.

And now.
I will sleep the sleep of many sleeps gone by in the magical land of sleeping.

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween.