We just finished three consecutive twelve hour days recording 11 songs at GCR Audio in Buffalo. The amazing Nick Blagona was at the helm producing and engineering and with the also incredible Justin Rose engineering, running Pro-Tools and generally looking after us. Mary Jane Russell, Nick's wife, was also there much of the time, lending her kindness and radiance and good ideas to the sessions. All the basic tracks for each song (guitars, bass, keys and drums) were recorded live off the floor as a band, some with solos, so we got a really nice feel on each of them. Yesterday we did background vocals for most of the tracks, lead vocals for a few and recorded Jim Bohm and Jim Runfola's amazing horn contributions. This record is shaping up to be an incredibly soulful rock & blues record, with all the amazing influences Rodney Appleby (bass & vox), Percy Jones (keys & vox), Reggie Evans (drums & vox) and the Jims bring to the table. It's going to be delicious soup with a kick.
The demos I prepared in the preceding three months evolved considerably in the process as each of the guys put their stamps on the songs in one way or another. I couldn't really have imagined how gorgeous this material would sound with these guys, and I've only heard the roughest of mixes at this point.
My last record, Death by Sunshine, took three years or so for me to get around to finishing. There were no deadlines, no studio dates booked, no proverbial gun at my head so I worked on it when I felt like it and when I wasn't out taking pictures somewhere or cooking. This time around it was an entirely different process. I dug in and spent three months writing and recorded most of this one in three days. The gig at Sportsmens was enormously helpful as it not only got us match fit as a unit, but we performed half the record live, which got those songs into much better shape for the studio a few days later.
Left to right, that's Jim Runfola, Nick Blagona, Percy Jones (back), Justin Rose, Jim Bohm (back), Reggie Evans, yours truly and Rodney Appleby. Pic by Bruce Jackson.
The songs in no particular order are:
1. Ugly In All the Right Places
2. Waiting on You
3. Fall From Grace
4. One Stone at a Time
5. Do You?
6. Endless Seas
7. Move Along
8. Let it Go
9. In Your Kitchen
10. Clothes on Yo Back
11. True Love
I'm currently estimating the release date to be sometime in February 2018, and will keep you posted.
All the songs are new other than True Love, which I wrote in 1997 or so and which was on the Animal Planet record, "Dawn." Both Rodney and Percy had asked me independently if I would mind if they remade that song, and I'd always regretted some of the production decisions and the approach on that one, so I said to each of them "of course, go for it..." But neither of them got around to it, so we reworked it for this record and the gents did an incredible job on it. I almost never go back to old music I've recorded to try and improve it, but this time it was worth it.
I'm going to title the new record "Herding Cats" which seems wholly appropriate given the disparate geography of these Gatos, the difficulty of getting them in one room and the vastly different influences all of us bring to the table. Now to think of a cover image.....
So today will be a catch up and rest day, and tomorrow it's up to Hamilton, Ontario to work on vocals at Nick's place, and I'll finish up any guitar overdubs when I get back to the west coast.
It was also wonderful having my father, Bruce Jackson hang out at the studio, not only watching him enjoy the process so much but also we've got some really nice photographs of the sessions which I'll share in due time.
The expanded gang: L-R in back that's Jim Bohm, Rodney Appleby, Nick Blagona, Percy Jones, yours truly and Robby Takak. In front L-R, that's Geno McManus, Jim Runfola, Shadow, Reggie Evans and Justin Rose. Pic by Bruce Jackson. As I've said, and will say again, it takes a village.
So for now, and apologies in advance for anyone I forget, big thanks to Justin Rose & Robby Takak of GCR Audio for letting us invade their truly amazing recording studio, GCR Audio, in Buffalo for a few days. Seriously, musician friends, if you're thinking of recording, you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to work. Thanks to Percy, Rodney, Reggie, Jim Bohm, and Jim Runfola for working so damn hard to make this as good as it could be. It was a grueling couple of weeks, and everyone brought their A-games. Thanks to Nick Blagona for producing us and lending his always wonderful brilliance to the process. Anyone lucky enough to be around Nick learns and laughs a lot. I urge any of my musician friends thinking about recording to reach out to Nick for production and engineering. He's a genius. And finally, for now, thanks to Geno McManus for always being helpful, for listening to the demos along the way, helping me with the lyrics on "Waiting on You," and thanks to Chris Lalonde for all his help along the way, including, but not limited to, lyrical suggestions on Endless Seas.
Cheers for now, MLJ