AndrewThomas.net
sign up for the ATML newsletter
NewsProjectsAboutStudio
In this section
Current News
News Archive

02/05/2009 @ 06:25 AM: Six Songs In Six Weeks: Week One

"It Ain't Easy"
Written, Produced, Recorded & Performed by Andrew Thomas

MP3 Download: "It Ain't Easy" (5.1 MB)

I'm quite proud to present the very first song in the Six Songs In Six Weeks project. "It Ain't Easy" was written and recorded from Sunday, February 1st to Wednesday, February 4th. It started in my head as a simple groove idea and was recorded entirely in my home studio. I manufactured drum sounds by banging several household items together and then manipulating the frequencies to better match actual drum tones. I then synced each "drum" up to a temp drum track and built loops. Most of the rest of the instrumentation is all real--bass, electric and acoustic guitars, and vocals. (For more detail on the other various "fashioned" instruments, check out my production journal and photos.)

I am still too saturated from the creative process to have any kind of objectivity with regard to this song. I can say it was based more on groove than a chord progression, and it is not groundbreaking in any sense; it even has a very ordinary name. I admit to feeling some pressure to make Song #1 a bigger production so as to keep interest in the forthcoming songs. When listening I definitely look forward to some pieces of performance and cringe just a little at others. And at one point I started to think it strongly resembled a Billy Idol song. But, alas, the point of this project was to produce, good or bad. So please have a listen, and feel free to offer feedback.

Below is my production journal and the lyrics. Photos of the process can be found on my MySpace and Facebook pages.

See you next week for another one!

-AT

--

Production Journal--Week One

Sunday 2/1

Afternoon - Made "drum" loops while watching the Super Bowl. Kick and snare drum sounds were made by quickly closing the top on an iced tea pitcher. Kick sound was pitched down and later blended with a hand slap on my stomach to add some attack. A blanket over my Pearl chrome snare was recorded and blended with the iced tea "snare" for the overall snare sound. Tried out several containers for use with the large collection of brass guitar string ball ends and settled on a Glad plastic container to use for a shaker.

Evening - Recorded simple bass riffs for use with the loops. Used my custom-built Jazz Bass and went direct into the ART pre-amp.

Late Evening - Edited bass tracks. Tracked dirty guitars during choruses using the #15 custom shop Wolfgang through the Roland Micro Cube--"Brit Combo" setting. Added cymbal reverses to the intro/transition bits.

Monday 2/2

Morning & Afternoon - Recorded snare fills and "pots and pans" backing percussion (w/ wood spoons for sticks).

Late Evening - Tracked clean tone electric guitar through the whole song in one take. Used the green flame top stop tail Wolf through the Tech 21 Trademark 10 and used DADGAD tuning--the first time I've ever even tried that tuning out. It was good to help color what is otherwise a trite chord progression. I finally feel the verses are starting to take shape. Opted to eliminate the snare fills because I pretty much played them like shit. Started jotting down lyrical ideas and finished the choruses, was then so motivated to keep going they're now completely finished.

Tuesday 2/3

Afternoon - Recorded acoustic guitar double of last night's electric part.

Late Evening - Recorded verse and chorus vocals. These vocal phrases move FAST, and I actually found myself getting light-headed from trying to keep my low-tone vocal thing happening but still have enough breath to sing each section (I'm out of practice). I got all three verses in one take--straight through. The choruses I did one-by-one.

Wednesday 2/4

Afternoon - Finished vocals--the higher parts. I think I weirded out my neighbors.

Late Evening - Edited tracks and worked on the mix. Recorded the three guitars solos by playing my favorite Wolfgang, The Carolina, through the Tech 21 Boost DLA pedal... through the Micro Cube on the classic setting with the gain maxed out... through the Tech 21 amp with the gain maxed out... into the ART tube pre... into the mixing board with the gain maxed out. Then I compressed the bejesus out of it. Edited the solo tracks and fit them into the mix. Worked on the final mix and printed a version of it. I'll likely need to touch it up tomorrow when I'm more objective about the song as a whole.

Thursday 2/5

Morning - Finalized mix and did a quick master. Posted to the web!

--

"It Ain't Easy"
Music & Lyrics by Andrew Thomas
©2009 Andrew Thomas Music (ASCAP)

Winter takes its toll in freezing earthly ground
And we're confined into our mind's eye lost without a sound
Colder perceptions grow before the season gray
Still I wonder just how it all was born to be this way

It ain't easy when you're stayin' strong
When I burn the bridges and refuse to play along
How many times I tell you nothin's goin' wrong
Still I can't shake the notion that the night is far too long

Eyes are open but the shade gets in the way
And somebody told me that the bill comes due yesterday
Forever seen it in the light above the ground
That we won't know the irony of secrets 'til they're found

It ain't easy when you're stayin' strong
When I burn the bridges and refuse to play along
How many times I tell you nothin's goin' wrong
Still I can't shake the notion that the night is far too long

Borderline sits just above the cloudy sky
Forever lost with youth a phantom neon lie
All I know is that the time keeps movin' on
And it's time for me to go out and take it... and make it...

It ain't easy when you're stayin' strong
When I burn the bridges and refuse to play along
How many times I tell you nothin's goin' wrong
Still I can't shake the notion that the night is far too long

It ain't easy when you peel it all away
Still I live for the fight to live and die another day
Nobody ever said you get it either way
So for now it's just as well to keep the dream or leave or stay

It ain't easy when you're stayin' strong
When I burn the bridges and refuse to play along
How many times I tell you nothin's goin' wrong
Still I can't shake the notion that the night is far too long

Week_One_MySpace (248k image)


thumbnail 001thumbnail 002thumbnail 003thumbnail 004Photo Chronology: 1996 to Today
thumbnail 005thumbnail 006thumbnail 007thumbnail 008Please feel free to peruse these memories from the AT photo archives.

Andrew Thomas