Monday, December 07, 2009

Another Song on Hold

"Till Somebody Loves You" has been put on hold by one of the bigger male country artist (who btw is up for a Grammy this year). Can't say who it is, but it's a big enough artist that I'm PUMPED that he might record the song!

The writing thing keeps going pretty well...let's hope this one gets cut. After 2 straight high profile holds and then passes ("love is Strong Enough" & "Wouldn't Change a Thing"), it'd be nice to see this one go all the way! Cross your fingers and pray!

Thursday, December 03, 2009


On Monday, I woke up bright and early and packed up a bunch of my guitars, amps, pedals and my computer and headed over to Steve Bishir's studio, where Jon Skaggs, Clint Milburn, Tommy Lee and I set up and spent 3 days recording rough demos of all the songs that will be on the record. The plan, as we went was to work out arrangements, rework arrangements as needed, and simply start to work through a pile of ideas of parts that everyone could play.

I was both excited and nervous as I headed in with MY band. It's unusual in this business to use your own fact a lot of actual bands don't actually play on their albums...they hire session players to record for them. Obviously, when we play live it feels like we're really tight...but you never really know until you get into a room, play through songs and then listen back. Any nervousness I had has been wiped away. These guys are remarkable and after almost 2 years on the road together, we ended up being very tight as we listened back on tape. That's a good feeling. To play with guys that have become your friends and listen back and realize that, man, this sounds really good!

Anyway, we did a basic set up: all of us in one room, me playing electric guitar; Clint, of course, playing electric guitar (our amps were in isolation booths off to the side of the live room); Tommy on bass through a direct box straight into the system; and Jon on drums with just 4 mics set up (2 overheads, 1 on kick, 1 on snare). These aren't the real recording that will end up on the record, obviously...the goal was really just to get to hear how everything sounds and to come up with basic parts, as I said before.

On Monday, we took most of the morning getting everything set up and getting basic sounds. By about 11:30 we finally started working on our first song. One by one over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we went through the 14 songs that would make up the album, plus the 2 songs that we plan on recording for iTunes exclusives...

I can't begin to tell you guys how excited I am about how everything is sounding. As we went through all the songs and worked out arrangements, I was so happy with several things:

1) The songs stand up. Sometimes when I demo something on my own, it just doesn't translate when you get real players playing it. I program stuff and play what's in my head...but when you get it out to other people, they don't have the affection for the song that I did. Maybe they just don't get it. Maybe they just don't like it. Maybe the song just stinks to begin with. But for some reason it doesn't work. Every song I thought worked ended up working with everyone playing.

2) We're not settling for "stock" parts and arrangements. The mantra throughout the whole 3 days was don't think like session players. Session players are the guys who play on most Christian records. Incredibly talented and perhaps WAY more talented than my guys (though I could argue they aren't). However, they play on different records every day of every week. Eventually, they develop a "thing" that they do and you know (for the most part) what you're getting with a certain player. As we worked this week, we really tried to treat the songs as a band would treat them...not how a session player would treat them. I know it sounds nominal, but the difference is phenomenal. My goal with this record is to create a record that stands up 20 years from now. Obviously, I want success on radio now...but I think you can make records that have radio hits while at the same time doing something interesting and different. And a lot of that comes back to how the players arrange their parts: how the drummer approaches his parts; how the bass player gets in the groove; how the guitar players parts interact with the rhythm section. Obviously we're just getting parts worked out, but what was encouraging was how the guys caught what I was going for immediately...

3) We have radio songs. Nothing is guaranteed with radio, obviously. But as we worked out arrangements, we were all struck with how commercial songs like "Only You Can Save", "In the Weak", "I'm Ready" and "One" ended up turning out. Even the demos just sounded like radio waiting to happen. That is exciting! We need radio to sell records...we need to sell records to get people to come out to shows (and THAT is the most important thing, of course!)

4) The diversity of this album is cool. The album has an overall "Sound"...probably most described as synthy pop rock. But we throw in some surprises. There's some acoustic stuff. Bells make an appearance. Choir pops up. String sections ranging from single cellos to quartets to a full string section will be on several songs. A banjo will probably be played on at least one song. Lots of little synth parts. I mean...I think this record is going to be so much ear candy it won't be funny! You will want to listen to this album on headphones!

So...all that to say: I'm pumped. I can't wait until we actually record these songs and you get this album in your hand and ears!!!