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.

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.

Back Story 

This album began as a stress reliever from the Covid pandemic. I started writing little tiki music ideas in the evenings using midi on my laptop as escapism. I gave them inventive names like “Tiki #1”, “Tiki #2”, etc. About the time I got to “Tiki #5” I began thinking about fleshing out the ideas further. 
Another aspect of tiki music is the surf sound. I thought what if I did an old style album with tiki music on one side and surf music on the other? While juggling the idea of surf music versus tiki music, the germ of this concept album came together. Sure, why not? I still have a concept album in the can waiting to be funded and finished, another one can't hurt. So I began writing some surf songs. One thing I was missing was a guitar with a whammy bar for that surf sound. Dan Lund came to my rescue by loaning me a beautiful, hand built Stratocaster with incredible tone. Holy Ventures Shadows of Dick Dale! Time to get serious. 


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