State of the Project: 12/23

It’s been over a month since my dad took this picture:

The triumphant return!  Only about 17 steps to go!

In fact, now it’s the day before Christmas Eve (a.k.a. Christmas Eve Eve) and here I am, writing about what I did back in the beginning of October. But there’s a method to my madness: if through some miracle I finished writing about the tour today, there would be months of nothing but “well, I’m still mixing…” posts. Not very exciting. Instead, I’m timing things so you get a slower but constant stream of actual, exciting project news.

“Bah!” grumbles Mr. Yerfulovit. “You’re just telling yourself that to make yourself feel better about not updating as often!”

Maybe partly true. And hey — welcome back Mr. Yerfulovit, we haven’t seen you around for a long while. Anyway, while slowly bringing the travel bloggings home, I will occasionally mix in current project news so you also know what’s going on now.

Current project status

Mainly, I’m waiting on my visa to go teach ESL in Korea again, and start climbing out of the debt this project has already put me in. The wait is far longer than expected, evidently due to lots of changes to the visa process in Korea. Because I needed a week or two where I wasn’t thinking about the project and 10,000 related details every day, I had been planning on waiting until I was in Korea to really buckle down and get things edited, mixed and recorded, but as the wait drags on I’ve had to reassess that plan. So, I have been working on making sure I have everything recorded in the States that I need. I’ve been doing a good bit of mixing, and recording a handful of people in Omaha.

But to be honest, I’m experiencing a bit of a “down” after the constant hustle and bustle of traveling and recording. Certainly I needed to crash a bit, just to recover from the exhausting tour. But I still don’t feel like doing anything, and it’s been about a month since I got back to HQ. This constant waiting for the visa and not knowing when I’m leaving yet has also got me a bit frayed. But it’s been more than long enough and I need to get back on my feet.

I’ll be taking a very stripped-down version of my studio with me to Korea, so I’ll be able to finish up the project over there. But I won’t be recording anyone (besides myself) in Korea. It’s a kind of project rule: only US Americans on the project. I know some great Korean musicians, but I’m saving them for later. This particular project is about Americans from all over playing American music from all over. As it turns out, even limiting it to the USA is diverse enough for at least three albums (Amazing!). I’m not generally very nationalistic — I don’t see why any country is necessarily better than another, when every person on Earth is equally valuable — but America is my home and the source of a lot of my musical upbringing, and the best context for my first album. A kind of foundation, from which I can depart but never permanently (I’m applying that to both my geography as well as my music).

In exciting future news, I have both a really great painter and a really great graphic designer both on board to help out with album artwork and jacket design (!!!!1!!11!!), and a handful of musicians ready to collaborate with recording online should I discover a hole I’m not able to fill myself in Korea.

There’s a new version of Sonar out. It looks shnazzy.

And now for our regularly-scheduled travel blog.

Memphis, TN

Movie Preview Man: IT BEGAN LIKE AN ORDINARY DRIVE…

I was merrily driving my way up to Memphis from Gulfport, which, mind you, is a bit of a drive. Because it was a nice warm day, I made a stop to get gas, throw away some trash, and vacuum out my car. Then I was back on the road.

MPM: BUT SOMETHING WENT WRONG…

Me: “Ehh? What’s going on with the air conditioning?”
Me, later: “Ehh? What’s that noise?”

MPM: WHEN GAUGES ARE PLACED BADLY ON DASHBOARDS…

I didn’t even notice the “Check Engine” dummy light was on until I heard a noise coming from the engine, since the light is right behind the steering wheel and I can’t even normally see it when I’m driving. To make matters worse, I didn’t hear the noise until it was fairly loud, since I was blasting some sweet tunes on my carputer.

MPM: WHEN ALL THE COOLANT IS GONE…

As soon as I noticed that, I slowed waaaay down and putt-putted to the nearest gas station, where I turned off the engine and coasted into a parking spot. Sure enough, there was a bunch of steam coming from the engine compartment. Closer examination revealed that it was coming from the bottom, by the water pump.

A super helpful and friendly guy who works at the truck shop at that gas station took a look at it for me and concluded that I had a blown seal in the water pump. He filled it up with water and told me to drive easy to wherever I was going, where I could get it fixed.

Where I was going was Memphis. I was still about 50 miles away, but I took along a jug of water as backup and made a few stops to make sure the coolant levels were OK.

I didn’t have a host lined up in Memphis, so when I finally got there at maybe 10:00 or so, I found a place with wifi, where I did email and tour stuff into the wee hours. One of the people I emailed was a dude named Mitch Costa, a guitarist in Memphis who had contacted me about possibly recording that night. I apologized and gave him the lowdown, that I would be spending the night in my car and then spending the next day fixing my car.

Then I was off to find an out-of-the way street where I could sleep. But while I was trying to find such, I got a call! By this time it was a little after 5:00am, so I was pretty surprised that someone would be up and calling me.

It was Mitch. He had gotten my email and told me to come on over and have some coffee with him.

So I went over to his place, which happened to be very close to where I was wandering, and met him. He is a great guy full of great stories, not to mention he is walking evidence that rockers do not all age badly.

Mitch ended up redeeming my time in Memphis. He let me crash on his couch for a bit, then he helped me drop the Lovemobile off at a shop, and then he recorded with me.

Mitch playing some sick lead sounds.

Mitch has a great ear. He doesn’t know a lot of theory, but he knows what notes sound good in different situations, which is more important than knowing theory. Not only that, but he dialed in some great sounds from his rig.

Mitch uses (and sells) Mills Acoustics cabs, and oh my goodness, they sounded amazing. If I were in the market for a guitar or bass cab, I would spring for one of these. He also records some of his own stuff, using a similar setup to myself:

Look, we both use Sonar!

You can check some of his recordings on his myspace.

He was really stoked about my project and gave me lots of musical contacts in various cities. He even called one of his Memphis buddies, a vocalist, to come over and record some stuff with me. It was great.

Then, the shop called. They were going to be finished soon (installing a new water pump, radiator, thermostat, hoses, gasket… not quite as cheap as I’d hoped). We barely had time to go out for some incredible Memphis BBQ — Corky’s! I had some of the best ribs I’ve ever had in my life. Thanks a lot Mitch!

Then I got my car and I was on the road, too late to record anything that night at the next stop, but still on schedule.

NEXT: The circle is complete in Little Rock.