The "Tiki" Album

 

I wanted to document the process of this album coming together in a secret place, so where better than the front page of my website.

December 18 

It’s amazing how things can fall through the cracks. I have been doing work on the tiki album but I haven’t been blogging about it. Nothing specific to mention, just a lot of, “Oh, that needs fixing. Better fix that” 
I did take a little detour to finish up a Christmas song idea I’ve had for a while. “The Real Drummer Boy” came about from a gag I would do onstage. When possible, after they would do The Little Drummer Boy, I would pipe in, “I thought the little drummer boy went like this..” then play a bit of Wipeout. The song is a Venture’s style mash-up of Wipeout, The Little Drummer Boy, Walk Don’t Run, and Good King Wenceslas. Give it a listen and Merry Christmas: royholdren.com/the-real-drummer-boy

December 8 

Looks like I was a little optimistic on my last entry. A day and a half into cleaning up bad tracks and fixing mistakes, and I’ve only worked on two songs so far. This is where the real work begins and makes me wish my engineering skills were better. If you make an error setting up the session initially, it’s multiplied by the number of tracks. Just grinding off the rough edges...

December 4 

Whoo hoo. The video for my single “Alcoholiday” comes out today! https://youtu.be/Fwa4rYFKhyE   
Primary tracking is done for the tiki album. Finished up the lead guitar parts on the surf side of it yesterday. A little editing and a few parts to re-record and it’s time to begin mixing down. I’m excited to see this coming along.

November 29 

My wife and I were listening to the tracks after Thanksgiving and she mentioned that the song “A Spy Walks Into a Bar” didn’t have the mystery or suspense that the title suggests. I gave it a listen with fresh ears and she was right. All it took to give it a more mysterious sound was tweaking the drum and percussion tracks and changing the arrangement. Changing the drums just a bit made the different sections stand out better and now it ends on an unresolved chord that leaves the listener hanging…….

November 25 

I am hitting the wall on the last two songs and can’t seem to make progress. After spending a good amount of time on “Tiki-La Beach” I figured out the reason. I had done the bed tracks in a late night session and, though it sounded good at the time, it didn’t make musical sense. It switched from section to section too fast to let a melody develop and there were too many similar sections. I re-edited the song and that should help. 


“Into the Volcano” has me stumped. I know what I want it to do but I can’t get out of my own way. I have ingrained bad habits in the way I play guitar and all the tracks I’ve done so far sound like senseless noodling. I have a few ideas I’ve come up with to fix it but I think I need a few days away from it to let them percolate. Going to have a good Thanksgiving and start back into things afterward. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21 

Found some royalty free jungle sound effects to add to the tiki songs. Did a test listen and they will sound good. "A Spy Walks Into a Bar" sounds pretty good with an organ and I may add a cheesy organ to "Hey Groovy Cats, Let's Go Swinging". Starting Monday I'll be working mainly on the surf songs. "Into the Volcano" is arranged and charted out and "Tiki-La Beach" will get bass and lead. Then I'll start trying to improve any weak guitar parts.

When we lived on the farm in South Dakota, My brother and I would play "race". We'd take every toy car and Tonka truck we had and, starting at the house, have a giant road rally that would finish up at the north end of the tree belt. We'd play with four or five cars at a time making up how their race was going and then move on down the line to the next batch until we reached the end. Then we'd start at the front of the pack again.

That's kind of how I'm approaching this album. Almost daily I'll listen to it in it's entirety noting where something sounds out of place or needs attention. I try to focus my days on which songs need the most attention in the studio. My nights I tweak midi with earbuds. I think I'm about 80% - 85% done with the tracking and the way I'm dealing with the whole album at the same time the mixing should go pretty smoothly. I can't wait for you to hear it and I can tell you're on the edge of your seat.....

November 18 

Making progress. Decided “A Spy Walks Into a Bar” needs to be done with guitar or some other instrument. Otherwise the front half of the album is overloaded with Vibraphone with no contrast. Tried to do a virtual saxophone but it sounded pretty bland. 

On the surf front, “Welcome to Surf Island”, “The Dude” and “Hey Groovy Cats, Let’s Go Swinging” are recorded and are ready for editing and mixing. “Into the Volcano” is starting to take shape and “Tiki-La Beach” is ready for lead guitar. I hope to have the Stratocaster back to Dan Lund by Thanksgiving.

November 11 

Happy Veterans Day 
Progress is being made and problems are rearing their head. My wife is working from home in the living room right next to the studio. Even though I’m using the Drum Kat instead of live drums and going direct into Logic instead of amps, the impact of the sticks and even the unamplified guitars are a bother. Yesterday I worked on “Surf Island” and “Hey Groovy Cats, Let’s Go Swinging” and the steady pick on the bass eventually gave her a headache. The rhythm section is done on those though.
The solution I plan to try is to record shorter sections and loop the good ones rather than do take after take of the whole song. I edited the test version of “Crashing the Crest” and, with a little tweaking it should work. I have been working a lot at night on the laptop and the “Tiki” section of the album is about 85% done.

Two more (maybe three) surf songs yet to write. The climatic battle between good and evil, either a love song or chilling on the beach song, and possibly a theme song for a character in my mind called “The Dude”. But those songs aren’t going to write themselves here so I guess I better get back at it.

November 5 

Was finally able to free up time to play with the Drum Kat. It’s very responsive. Recorded a test version of “Crashing the Crest” which will be a duel between two different drum sets, setting up the first surf song. Now I’ll dig into it and see if there are latency timing issues. Progress…

November 3 

I was not happy with the drum feel I was getting by programming so I dug my Drum Kat midi trigger out, set it up, and synced it up with Logic. Now it should be faster to get the ideas from my head onto “tape”. The surf songs are going to be recorded with drums, bass, the Gibson 330 and Dan’s Stratocaster.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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