Friday, June 09, 2006

Into the Studio

Wow. I was in Ray's garage looking for a soccer ball, when what should I find under a sheet but a huge mixing table, a bunch of recording equipment, a big Pearl drum kit, and a bunch of Pro Tools software! He had about fifty grand worth of gear in there, so I asked him if he was planning on doing anything with it, since I've really been itching to lay down some tracks.

RAY: Téodor! Doggie, you find that soccer ball I said about?

ME: Yeah, but it was flat. It looked like a rat had been eating one of the panels.

RAY: [thinks] That's right. Damn. I put that ball away with a slice of sandwich ham stuck to it. I shouldn't have done that. [Shakes head] Man, what if Coach Dan saw me doin' somethin' so—

ME: I saw a ton of recording equipment out there. [Pretends to give Ray benefit of doubt] Are you starting a recording project?

RAY: Don't talk to me about that stuff, man.

ME: What? I'm sorry.

RAY: Hell of annoying, dogg. Bad times.

ME: Bad, huh. I'm sorry.

RAY: Bad, dogg. You want a soda? Amstel?

ME: You don't want to talk about it, do you.

RAY: Well, I got kind of burned.

ME: Damn.

RAY: Yeah. These dudes from East side, you know, they played me this demo with this fat track on it, some real delicious wax, you know, but they said it was produced on equipment that had recently been stolen from them. I said I'd procure new gear and they had this thing where it was getting to be dinnertime, and they kept mentioning dinner, and I was like, I'll get on these dudes' good side, take 'em under my wing, get 'em some dinner. So we went and had steaks down at The Chophouse, and I dropped on some good wines, to kind of start grooming them for the limelight, and then afterwards real quick they said they had to go to bed because of all the food and wine, so I chuckled and they rolled off. I tried their pager the next day but no deal, it was fake, you know, and I played their demo for a friend of mine and turns out it was just the new Krass Medik single that got leaked onto the Internet that I hadn't heard yet. These dudes just burned that onto a CD and pretended it was them. Meanwhile I had ordered all this gear Next-Day Air. I feel like a stone idiot about that.

ME: Wow. Damn. Conniving, you know?

RAY: That's exactly it! They were conniving! Exactly!

ME: So you gonna sell all that stuff back on eBay?

RAY: I don't know. I'm kinda hopin' some new act will come along and need it.

ME: Why don't I take it to my place, and hook it all up, and learn it, and that way if a good act comes along, but they aren't too technically proficient, I can kind of serve as their engineer. A lot of times these guys can't tell an RCA jack from a USB port. All they know is straight mic.

RAY: [gets real quiet for several seconds] Damn. I had about sixteen thoughts just now. But yeah, yeah. That is a real genius idea for a service. A lot of these dudes had no advantages. There is this one guy, Kareem Kara-mell, his whole thing is that he can't use any digital technology, he is so poor. He can only use analog technology. He's warped. He's out there, but his sound is so odd, I can see it in like a Cingular ad. Old Navy at least, or like if Old Navy started to sell ringtones.

ME: Awesome. How you have a flatbed we can use to get the gear to my place?

RAY: I'll take care of it. Business expense, you know. Nice. Thanks, T. This is real smart.

ME: Alright. Let's set that up right now.

RAY: Cool. [makes phone call]

Now I'm here in my room with tons of gear and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I'm now able to produce studio-quality sound. It's a heavier burden than you'd think. Imagine when Simon & Garfunkel went in to record "April Come She Will," with just one voice and one guitar: that guitar's tone would forever define the feel of the song. Think also of the distinctive Stella that Kurt Cobain used here and there on Unplugged. Do I have a unique instrument like that? One that's got a sound worth recording?

Aw, crap. I'm acting like every note I set down will be angel-kissed. I'm probably gonna toss 99% of this stuff, then re-record later. Simon & Garfunkel probably threw out enough tape to rig a thousand Cutty Sarks. It's such a rookie move to act like every early project is worth saving, like it's going to be featured in a documentary twenty years from now. Do I watch too many "rockumentaries," or do I just think too highly of myself? Can someone please help me plot a realistic Venn diagram.