Monday, July 30, 2007

Sorry the blog has been a little neglected lately. I've been equally wrapped up in working to finish out the lyrics for the record and adjusting to being back, which usually involves some overcompensation of social activities. Neither of those make for good bloggin'.

Mr. Walla will arrive on Thursday. Norm and I are both in a Gateway Medical Research study that gets out Friday morning. Aaron has 5 songs to sing, and at this point 3 of them have been completed. Chris sent us all of the instrumental mixes thus far, and they sound great. Between the accident and the readjustment to being home and the stress of finishing it up, i've kind of forgotten that we're making a record that i'm completely excited about and proud of.

in other news:

-I have 2 recording-in-our-basement jobs coming up after the record, which is something i've been wanting to do for a while but just got the confidence/skills to feel comfortable with it. One is for my friend Steven Colbert (pronounced Col-bert and not Col-bear) and his solo folk project and one is for a young band named Torchlight Red. Both will be fun.

-Travis Morrison put his whole new album online to stream at his website. It's really pretty good, and it may throw off my theory that he's advanced. "You Make Me Feel Like a Freak" is my jam.

-I was hanging out with my lady last night and her roommates, and we invented "Shark Week, the Drinking Game". The rules are simple: when somebody says the word "shark" you take a drink. We had to stop for our own health after a few minutes, but after all, it IS Shark Week.

-My friend Phil, aka. lead guitar #1 in Thor Axe, and his roommates have a weekly gig at Annie's frozen custard in Edwardsville playing reggae for 2 hours. Hilarity.

That is all for now. We'll try to snap a bunch of pictures while Chris is in town this weekend so we have something to put up. We're so so so close.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

3 days later

So the van thing happened. That was weird. It looks like State Farm Insurance is pretty much taking care of us, so as far as we know we'll be cool. Luckily, we won't be doing anything that requires a van for a while. I didn't go to a doctor because, other than being a little sore still, i feel alright. I can't say the same for Aaron and Norm, who are both having some pack pains. They were in the front seats and got a little more roughed up than Griff and I did. I just got a scraped up right lovehandle.

It's Thursday now and Chris will be out here in a week to finish up the vocals and basically finish up the record. We got the first draft of a completed song in our email box, and it sounds phenomenal. The song will be the last one on the record, and it's the one that this, this, and this were all constructed for. It has a very unfortunate working title of "IMDB" (long story), which needs to change soon.

Speaking of which, the working titles of the songs we have left to record are:
-If you didn't want to know (titled that because it is the first line of chorus)
-Tell me everything you know (see above)
-5/4 (bet you can't guess why this is the working title)
-new song 1 (because it is the first new song we wrote while we were there)
-new song 2 (bet you can't guess why this is the working title)

Okay, so we have been dropping the ball on the working titles, but for Flashlights the working title to "In Our Sleep" was "groove jam" and it does NOT get any worse than that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We're so lucky

The last thing Aaron and I saw before the right side of the van hit the pavement of oncoming traffic was an unmistakably bright red semi coming our way. I was absolutely certain in the next moment was going to be my/our last. It wasn't until Ryan (who was now half against the dashboard/ half against the front seats) asked if everyone was ok when I realized that we were once again upright, across the highway, and safe.

Aaron did so well handling the blowout. Last night before falling asleep all I could do was imagine what it would feel like to be behind the wheel making the split second decisions that ultimately determined everything. Just envisioning that thought alone was terrifying enough for me. I'm so proud of Aaron. I'm so fortunate. My 3 best friends are ok.


Monday, July 23, 2007

you know when you have one of those days where something happens to you and you consider it a new chapter in life? starting tomorrow, i can begin using the phrase, "oh, that was after i flipped our van over."

like the other three, i still can't believe we made it out as easily as we did.

thanks, everyone for your concern.

The next one will be our fourth van

I am alive.
Tomorrow I will be home.

Right now the other dudes are watching Arrested Development in the other room.
I am going to join them shortly.
I can't believe how lucky we are to be alive.

We just totaled our van

We left Chris Walla's house at 1 PM on Sunday and started the 29 hour drive from Portland, OR to Edwardsville, IL to come home from recording. At about 5:15 on 80 East near Beaver Crossing, NE our back right tire exploded. Aaron was driving, Norm was in the front seat, and Griffin and I were laying down on the bench seats. I woke up when the tire blew. We were going 80 in a 75, totally with the flow of traffic, and at that speed Aaron had a hard time controlling the vehicle after the blow-out.

We drove across the median towards oncoming traffic, and as soon as we hit the westbound part of the highway the van flipped over. We did a complete flip and luckily landed right back on our wheels and drove into the grass on the other side of the highway. 5 of the 9 windows broke, and the top is dented to shit. Our van is completely totaled, and will be living in a junkyard in York, NE until it eventually turns into a tightly compacted box.


-Nobody was hurt. NOBODY. A few cuts here and there and a little scraping but really nothing. For an 80 mile-per-hour big van flipping over, that's amazing. When we eventually stopped, everybody was pretty much where they were in the van before the blowout.

-The folks that were behind us when we blew out followed us to make sure we were okay and informed us that we were just a few feet from an oncoming truck when we flipped over the other lane.

-All of our equipment is fine. Our van is insured. It's just stuff, who gives a shit.

-We were near Lincoln, NE where we have friends. Our pal Kim and Al, the father of Darren Keen (aka. The Show is the Rainbow) came and picked us up and our equipment. My dad will be coming out here to take us home.

I can't believe that we survived this like we did. I was asleep until the tire blew, and i didn't have time to react. It's all pretty surreal and we're all pretty shaken and our bodies are starting to get sore and pissed off at us. We will be home tomorrow, and life will resume as normally as it can.

Griffin took some pretty great pictures of the van, and we'll put them up soon so you can see the carnage.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Last Day in Portland!

Today is the final day of recording in Portland. Today is dedicated to group vocals, final percussion overdubs, and getting rough mixes of all the songs for recording vocals at our house in a few weeks. Points of interest:

-We broke early last night to go see Tegan and Sara. Chris and Rachel brought us, and i didn't know what to expect having never really heard them before, but i was VERY surprised and impressed. Their new record, which Chris did at the house right before doing ours, sounds great and I think I'm going to end up listening to it a whole lot. Tegan and Sara are both very kind people, and their band and crew just made us feel good. High fives all around.

-Robbie Skrocki came down for the day and is hanging out with us while we finish up at Chris's house. Always great to see him.

-The band Vampire Weekend is playing tonight and subsequently staying at Chris's place. I hope we get to meet them, since they're a good band and seem like good dudes as well.

-We are not prepared for the 36 hour drive we will be starting tomorrow morning.

-We kind of forgot about the So Many Dynamos blind karaoke for a while, but i think when we get home we'll put up a song and the lyrics and see what happens. Who's in?

Friday, July 20, 2007


This is kind of a big deal. It's come to our attention that in order to finish the record in the next 2 days we would have to either: a) stress out even more than we already are or b) cut some corners.

We have a new plan. The record will NOT be finished in Portland at Chris's house. We will do everything we can to the 5 songs with vocals on them and try to record one more while we're here, and then finish the record 2 weeks from now at our house in Edwardsville, IL. Chris will fly out with a microphone, a pre-amp, and a compressor and do the vocals on the 8 track (technically 7 track) tape machine we've been borrowing from him to do demos.

This is a huge relief and simultaneously a huge bummer, as I definitely wanted to have everything done here and get to stop obsessing over it. So now I get to obsess less intensely over a longer period of time. The album will be better as a result. This is a good thing.

Here are the lyrics to a song called "Glaciers", that Aaron is doing some vocals for at this very moment in the room directly below me.

Glaciers will melt but we'll be alright
We still have novels and songs to write
We'll go on living just like we do
We'll keep evolving if we have to

Earthquakes will finish what's been started
We'll make a point to disregard it
We'll go on living like we always do

Landslides will keep us from ignoring
We'll still be here tomorrow morning
We'll go on living like we always do

oh, and i made the blog gray and orange. I hope you're okay with that.

Day 666

Did anybody see White Rabbits last night on Letterman? AWESOME! It was so surreal seeing those dudes in that setting. If you missed it, it's already on the youtube because the internet is insane.

Last night we recorded our 5th song with vocals (working title "Out of this Party"). We have today and tomorrow to finish vocals, and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now that 60% of our songs have lyrics finished. Hope to hit at least 80% by the end of the night. This probably seems completely irresponsible, but it's just how we roll. When we were recording "Flashlights" we spent about a month and a half on vocals, just because most of it wasn't written. During the last few hours of the "When I Explode" sessions, i was running sheets of lyrics over to Aaron and he was recording them pretty much as he was reading them for the first time. We wouldn't have it any other way.

5 songs, 2 days. It can happen.

We have been staying in the bachelor-pad-esque basement of Norm's Uncle Don. It's been fun, and the whole family was great to us. Somehow there would be 2 budweisers in the mini-fridge every night, and if they both got drank there would be 2 more the next night. I blame the beer fairy.

I started liking a chihuahua, which i didn't think would ever happen. His name is Cooper and I took this excellent picture of him yawning.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Day 5

Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit we only have 3 more days to finish this record. Norm is downstairs doing some auxiliary percussion stuff and i've been obsessively pacing trying to finish up the lyrics for the songs we have left (vocals status: 4 recorded, 1 written but not recorded, 3 almost finished, 2 barely started). Trying to finish up at least 2 by the end of the day.

Our record is freaked out. It doesn't know if its lyrics will get finished in time, and it doesn't know who is going to put it out.

Our record is having a midlife crisis. It will buy a Miata soon and start listening to Linkin Park really loudly while it drives through the neighborhood. It will start exercising too much and will make its own Myspace page and add its own children as friends. It just bought 3 pairs of Oakleys. I'm worried.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Time for some photos

Here are a few photos of some things Ryan mentioned in his last few posts:

Norm playing a trash can (taken by Aaron).

Dude's got a tambourine on his foot (Also taken by Aaron).

A lot of sweet effects pedals
(note the blue hockey punck distortion pedal in the upper right hand corner)


Chris is in the processof pluggin every piece of outboard equipment in.
Look how happy he is!

Chris taped a mic to the casio for the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sample.
Ryan is pleased.

Aside from the activities in the above photos today's work rests mostly on Aaron and his vocal chords. This has allowed me some free time. The highlights of my day have involved eating an awesome turkey bacon cheddar sandwich (heart attack) and drinking lots of coffee.
We are currently making plans to get some cheap wine and getting "mom drunk."
Should be fun.

Day 4, early

Today we recorded the intro to one of the new songs. Here are the ingredients:

-Drum set consisting of a trash can, a tambourine, a snare-less snare drum, and a lot of reverb
-Somewhere between 6-8 tracks of guitar feedback/synth noises
-The "celesta" and "clarinet" sounds on Chris's white Casio
-A surprisingly rhythmic sample we made on our Casio sampling keyboard of the sirens from cop cars chasing Griffin on Grand Theft Auto
-The "dog bark" sound from the same Casio keyboard, running through EVERY piece of outboard gear that Chris has in his basement

We're actually recording guitars and keyboards and drums normally too, these things are just a lot more fun to talk about. Today Aaron will record vocals for 3 songs (working titles: "If You Didn't Want To Know", "IMDB", and "Ghostsong"), putting us at the halfway point on completed songs! Hurray!

And sorry about the self deprecating cry for attention of "is anybody reading this blog?" in the last post. It's pretty embarrassing in hindsight.

We'll have more pictures up today, hopefully. And for the record, we did NOT record any Thor Axe songs while we were in San Francisco. That's our project for when we get home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 333333333333333

There is an excellent Mexican restaurant called "Ole Frijole" that is a short walk from Alberta Court. I went there yesterday for an epic fish chimichanga. Seriously.

Today i walked the opposite direction and wound up eating at a different Mexican place, which i regret for the following reasons: 1. it wasn't as good as Ole Frijole, 2. the carne asada kind of tasted like sloppy joe meat, and 3. i have eaten Mexican food twice in two days, therefore disqualifying it as a food option for the next few days, therefore disqualifying Ole Frijole from being eaten by me in the near future. Bummer.

Big thanks to the spellcheck on Norm's computer for reminding me to capitalize the M in Mexican, and for pointing out that "spellcheck" is not really a word.


-I finished up all of my guitar parts today. Griffin is about to start on his, and then Aaron will sing a song tentatively called "If You Didn't Wanna Know". Hopefully this title will change.

-The record really does sound great. Chris is phenomenal and has great ears and even greater ideas. And he has more pedals and weird boxes to destroy sounds than i've seen in one place.

-I recorded an acoustic guitar track today, to be mixed in very very quietly amidst other loud things on the album. Acoustic guitars and pianos are 2 instruments we've sworn to never use on a record, but the time came and rules were made to be broken/followed until they're boring.

-There are only a few secrets to this record, and i have a feeling our blog would be a lot more interesting if we could share them. But alas, there's no fun in that. Does anybody read this anymore, or has this gone the way of Stlpunk and Friendster?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 2

Day numbering has restarted in Portland. We will be here for a maximum of 7 days, in which time we must have our record completed. This is what the professionals call "crunch time".

Aaron is recording all of his non-bass keyboard parts today so from here on he can concentrate exclusively on vocals. He only has one or two more to do today and after that, i finish all of my guitar parts so i can concentrate exclusively on finishing up lyrics for Aaron to sing. If i finish up at a reasonable hour, Aaron will start recording vocals for a song. I can't tell you the name of the song, not because it's untitled, just because we're selfish like that.

Walla has a pretty epic music library room, and today i brought in a portable cd player and invented a game. The rules are: take off glasses, grab a cd at random, put in cd and press play, start listening, put glasses back on and find out what it is. It's a fun game, and i was expecting to listen to a bunch of crazy new shit i've never heard but so far it's only been Superdrag, Interpol, and Bjork.

There is a venue in Buffalo, New York called "Mohawk Place". In the band hospitality area, there is a wall covered in pig-themed-band-name puns (ie. And you will know us by the trail of ham, Death Ham For Cutie). Long story short, the best one was "Pjork".

Griffin just showed up with frozen pizza and beer. I'm pretty sure folks have been named saints for less. Peace.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

(chris's) HOME SWEET (chris's) HOME

The daily schedule for the rest of the record is pretty much this:

-pick 2 songs
-finish up all the overdubs we want to do for those songs
-have Aaron sing those songs

Which means that every day we'll spend maybe an hour per person doing the overdubs needed to get the instrumental for the song done and the rest of the day is all Aaron, so this week is going to kind of suck for Aaron. But alas, such is recording vocals.

Chris lives in a pretty nice area of Portland in a very nice house. In the basement is the control room and anything that gets a microphone put in front of it goes in the adjacent spare room, which i have passed out in before. When you turn left at the kitchen to go downstairs, you're greeted with a Canadian gold record for "Plans".

Today we recorded vocals for "Glaciers". It's 3 minutes long, and is like if "Search Party" and "Home is where the box wine" is had a baby, and that baby was very friendly.

Good Bye Bay Area

Friday morning we woke up early and loaded everything out of Tiny Telephone, making way for Steve Fisk and Wooden Wand. From what we hear Nells Cline and the guitar player from Deerhoof are among some of the people lined up to do some "session work." Things should turn out pretty interesting.

We then went with Sam and his ( and now our) friend Kris, to the beach.
It was a pretty ideal thing to do on our first day off after 11 consecutive 12 hour days in the studio (give or take an hour or two). I am a big fan of days at the beach, and despite getting a little burned on my shoulders it was the best thing I could have possibly been doing that afternoon.

After the beach we said our goodbyes to Sam. Over the past week and a half we've been absurdly lucky in getting to stay with Sam and getting to know him and his friends. Prior to our departure for the west coast I was a little more than anxious about where we would be staying. Even if I tried I could not have imagined how great things ended up working out. Staying there was like a sweet dude summer camp and part of me is sad it's over. Definately gonna miss those dudes.

We then made out way to a family friends house up in The Presidio. It was terribly pleasant. We hung out, had a drink, then went out for what were probably the best hamburgers of our lives. Perhaps that's an over-exaggeration, perhaps not. After dinner we trekked up to Sacramento and stayed with our friends Aaron and Evan of Brilliant Red Lights. As always it was great to see them. They are also on the list of sweet dudes who've helped us out while in a bind.

Sunday afternoon we made the boring ass drive from Sacramento to Eugene (about 9 hours) and stayed with a friend along with his 2 adorable fat cats, and one lovable pug. We caught a few minutes of the show Prehistoric Park. Totally ridiculous.

While in Eugene I tried to find my bag of all my clothes so I could do some much needed laundry, only to find it missing. Hopefully it turns up at either Sam or Aaron's place and I can persuade them to mail it to me (and of course pay them back) while I am in Portland. Otherwise its the same pair of pants, underwear, and Mark McGwire shirt until I get home in about a week and a half. Talk about feeling like an idiot...

This morning we awoke around ten and arrived at Chris's House a few hours later.More about that to come in a shorter and/or more interesting post.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 11 - goodbye Tiny Telephone

It's been fun and (mostly) productive, but today is our last day at Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco. We have tomorrow off, and then we drive on Saturday to Portland and being recording on Sunday at Alberta Court (fancy way of saying "Chris's House").

The last 2 days have been dedicated to finishing up things that are reliant on the equipment here. Yesterday, I did all of my guitar fixes and most of my overdubs and today was Griffin's turn. Right now Aaron is recording lead lines on the keyboards here that we don't own: Moog Prodigy, Moog Source, Crumar organ thing that sounds awesome.

I was worried for a day or so, but Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke, the only blog I read religiously, is back up and running.

Our biggest project yesterday was mostly finishing up what's going to be the last song on our record, which is the song that this and this were made for. We wanted to put something at the end of it, kind of inspired by the guitar-that-doesn't-sound-like-a-guitar solo on "Born Under Punches" by the Talking Heads. Guitar solos have been against the rules for us for a while, but we wanted that kind of effect. Here's the recipe for what we (mostly Chris) did:

1. record and album's worth of material
2. play segments of the album to a tape machine, slowing down and speeding up parts to taste
3. splice up segments of the tape to increments of the tempo of the song
4. place tape segments in a box
5. mix up box
6. pull tape segments out at random and tape them together
7. play tape back
8. insert tape collage into song
9. high five everybody in the room

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 10

So, yes. It's true. This is my first post. I would have done it sooner, but it seems as if the other dudes always beat me to the punch. Oh, well.

Today is my 23rd birthday. It's kind of funny. Since we've started touring full time, I haven't been home for my birthday in the past four years. It's kind-of-like-but-not-exactly-the-same-as being in grade school and having a summer birthday and never being able to bring cupcakes. Geminis, Cancers, Leos, Virgos, I know you feel my pain. Tonight should be fun, though. Our buds, Light This City, are back home from tour and are in San Francisco. Laura, the singer, will be celebrating her 21st birthday tonight at midnight. So, a joint celebration (no pun intended, at least not this time) is in order for the evening. I think i heard somebody mention something about an 80's night?

As the others have mentioned, the basic tracking has been finished and we've started diving into the wild and exciting world of overdubs. What this means is Norm doesn't have shit to do, Ryan finds ways to occupy his time, and Griffin and I play San Andreas when we're not recording our own parts. Tomorrow is our last day here at Tiny Telephone, but Friday is our last day in the Bay Area. It'll be unfortunate to leave our new friend, Sam, but I know for a fact we'll be seeing him the near future. He definitely saved us on this trip and for that we are forever in debt. We'll be heading to Portland on Saturday to continue recording and mixing and whatnot. The tentative date that we'll be home is July 24th. I can't imagine being any more pleased with the process thus far and although part of me will be sad when it is over, I am definitely looking forward to doing NOTHING during the months of August and September.

I guess I should go and start paying more attention to what Ryan is recording. Eh. On second thought, I think I'll just watch Griffin decapitate policemen with a sniper rifle.


I can not tell you how happy I am that all of the drum tracking is finished. All of the sounds Chris got are unbelievable. There wasn't a moment in drum tracking when I didn't feel that Chris was a step ahead in the thought process of finding the right sound for every piece equipment for every mix of every song. The drum sounds on every track are very distinguishable from each other. Here are some photos of just some of what has been going on in drum world and studio world.


The bass drum is about to give birth to a beautiful baby snare drum.


roto tom, big purple jam block, ribbon crasher, and one fucked up looking snare drum with a contact mic taped to the head.


Don't let anyone fool you. We have easily spent twice much time hanging out on a comfortable purple couch not doing shit while Chris plays music from his itunes than we have making a record.


Chris escapes from Wizard Prison and finds a pole




I'll tell you. Chris is putting a mic in this tube that is pointing straight at the cinder block that is sitting on top of the bass drum with a piece of wood taped to the front head that is currently giving labor to a snare drum. When the drums are being played, the tube creates a pitch that lands some slightly higher than a G#. The song is in G, and we want the tube to be an A so what we have to do is record the song slower at 116 bpm and speed the song back up to its original tempo of 120 bpm. Fucked up? Yes. Awesome? Totally.


Aaron killing people on Grand Theft Auto


oh cool... guitars...


Anyway. More drums


Bells on snare drum.


Chris inside the booth with a cup of wine super glued to his hand. This is also the beginning stages of what is known as "Fuck It Mode"


This is the best I could do to capture Chris's "Mr. Happy Pants Dance". Fuck it mode in full effect.


And here's a really sweet hovercraft.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


We just finished tracking the last song, and it sounds like summer.

Mics are getting torn down, amp stations are about to be set up, overdubs are about to happen, San Francisco is cool and sunny, and i'm wearing one of my favorite shirts, a navy blue and white striped t with buttons on the front and slits on the side. It is a women's shirt, and there is a rumor going around our band that it might be considered advanced.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Day 8, early evening

We're on a break so we can order Chinese food. There's a place called Yum Yum house and it's phenomenal, and they love delivering to the studio. Or they're at least impartial.

This slippery 10th song is almost almost almost finished. We've run the gamut from "mid-tempo rocker" to "weird dance song" and finally landed on "breezy summer jam". As of now, we have the first 4 minutes of the song figured out and now we just have to figure out the last 15-25 seconds and it's DONE.

It's going to be such a relief to finish all the basic tracking and go on to overdubs. Chris suggested we record a Thor Axe song in celebration. I don't think he knows what he's in for.

IT HAS BEEN OVER A WEEK AND WE STILL HAVEN'T MENTIONED SAM ONCE IN THIS BLOG, WHICH IS A TRAVESTY. Sam is the guy we've been staying with every day since we got here. He runs a home studio, and we've been sleeping on his couches or in the tracking room (no windows awesome soundproofing). It's hard to really describe, but leaving the studio, driving only 20 minutes to his place, and then just chilling out like we would if we were at home has been such a morale booster. He is in an elite group of people unabashedly referred to as "sweet dudes". Also, his friend Chris drew and framed an awesome picture of a turtle and gave it to me as a gift.

Time to eat some basil chicken and watch Aaron play Grand Theft Auto. He found the cheat code to use a jetpack. Yessss.

Day 7

It's been a week, and we have all the songs but one tracked. The problem is the untracked song is also the unwritten song..... After this next one is written and tracked, we start overdubs and messing around with keyboards and guitar sounds and noises and ambience, which will be very fun but for now there's an oddly haunting voice that keeps saying "We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow." I think tomorrow is going to involve a lot of head scratching and a lot of Brian Eno cards.

We finished up the last of the embryo songs, and it's going to be the last track on the record. Pretty exciting, and the most bizarre drum setup we've done. It involves bells attached to a guitar string on the snare drum, a 5 foot metal cylinder with a mic at the end of it, and some contraption that makes the bass drum look like it's about to give birth. This time we recorded the song at a different tempo and then sped it up a bit to make the note we get through the big cylinder in pitch with the rest of the song. I'm pretty sure these guys did that a few times. Pictures soon.

We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow. We have to write a song tomorrow.

I am 90% sure i'm going crazy.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Day 6 update

Right now Norm is recording the drum track for one of 2 songs on the record that we aren't tracking live with everybody in the room. That puts me in chill-out mode on the most comfortable couch in San Francisco.

Today's summary:

-Finished tracking on one song (working title "If You Didn't Want to Know"). We had Norm play this song about 10 beats per minute too fast and then slowed it down and recorded the guitars and keys over the slowed down track. I think these guys did that a few times.

-Chris tore out a picture of Knut, a baby polar bear, and taped it to a window in the control room. Total morale booster.

-We went to a pizza place around the corner called Papa Potrero's. Singlehandedly the worst place I've eaten at in 2007, and we're pretty sure it's a front for something really sketchy. The most remarkable thing about Papa Potrero's is that all the signs around the restaurant are inaccurate:

a) They have a gigantic sign facing the street that advertises a happy hour special that doesn't exist.
b) They accepted our credit card as a form of payment despite the "CASH ONLY. NO CARDS. DON'T ASK" sign.
c) Norm used the bathroom even though he didn't purchase anything, therefore devaluing the "BATHROOMS ARE FOR CUSTOMERS ONLY" sign.
d) They had a shitty salad bar. There wasn't a sign that said "OUR SALAD BAR IS NOT SHITTY" or anything, but it should still be noted.

By this logic, I'm going to assume that they don't serve Modelo, their medium pizza isn't actually as big as the pan on the wall, and they don't deliver.

-I had to sit down while playing a song to properly use the Whammy pedal, which made me feel totally totally lame. Sidenote: the Whammy pedal has become an essential piece of equipment for the songs on this record.

-Griffin already mentioned this, but we seriously tried to get a gong into the studio today. Chris called up Guitar Center and the one sided conversation i heard was "Hello, may I talk to you have a gong?, I don't have a specific size in mind, just a big-ass gong.....okay, great thanks!"

-For a while we've been talking about the theory of advancement, which is really fascinating and hilarious. It's hard to think of things that are advanced, but we're pretty sure Travis Morrison is advanced and MAYBE the second half of "Trapped in the Closet" is as well. Midgets=advancement
I'd like to start off my first post by stating that I hate the word "blog."

That said, yesterday was fun, despite our second failed attempt to write a mid-tempo rock song.
I wanted to write an account of what happened after we returned from the bar, however I can't recall everything with great clarity. This is due in great part to Aaron sitting on my chest and force feeding me 100 proof vodka that was leftover in the mini fridge.
Aside from tracking another song (two in one day!) yesterdays other highlight was Chris super gluing a cup of wine to his hand.
That's dedication.

Todays' agenda includes tracking two songs and possibly doing some Rat Cat Hogan songs for Chris's contribution to the Rat Cat Hogan/Long Winters/Chris Walla plays Rat Cat Hogan vinyl only release from People In A Position To Know. Totally sweet.

If everything goes as planned we will meet JV's mom today.
This should make up for not getting to buy a gong .
More pictures to come soon.

For the record

We did NOT meet John Vanderslice's mom today.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Q and A

Q: What do you do if you spend 4 hours at a studio aimlessly trying to figure out an idea for the 10th song for your new record and still have nothing and are insanely burnt out?

A: Walk 2 blocks, share a pitcher of beer with your bandmates, watch some of the Giants/Cardinals game, play a horrendous game of pool that takes 8 minutes for somebody to hit a ball in and figure out who is "solids" and who is "stripes", lose 25 cents on a shitty baseball themed pinball machine, get fake interviewed at the bar by a crazy dude who thinks he is a radio DJ (in full-on radio DJ voice), hear the loudest and most distracting mariachi music of all time, take a shot of Jameson, give the fake DJ a fake phone number, walk back to the studio, listen to 3 Fleetwood Mac songs, and start recording a song you've been playing live for 2 years.

Everything described in "A" will take place in the course of 45 minutes.

ALSO: if your name is "Matt Freundlich" and a guy named "Vaughn" gives you a phone call trying to sell you weed because a guy named "Ryan" gave him your phone number instead of his own as a prank, sorry dude.

Day 4 recap

So we didn't post more than daily after all. Today will be the day, i SWEAR.

I think we're on a rotation of 1 really amazing productive day and 1 really defeating leaving-the-studio-completely-burnt-out day. Today is day 5, so hopefully we'll be back to amazing productive day. We have one song to write from scratch and one song to finish and then we can go on to, uh....writing lyrics.

Yesterday we finished tracking "Ghostsong (working title)". Gibson SG, Micromoog, G&L Telecaster with an allen wrench under the strings on the 5th fret, drums going through an octave pedal, and cymbals with red tape on them. After that we tried to start working on a new song but didn't make any ground. We want a mid-tempo party jam, the kind where hands get thrown up in the air as a sign of apathy.

We might meet John Vanderslice's mom today.

Conversation that happened with the car next to us in the carpool lane toll line at the Bay Bridge:
Red headed kid in back of car: Hey! What's your favorite food.
Us: PIZZA!!!!!
Red headed kid in back of car: Are you guys in a band?
Us: Yes.
Red headed kid's dad: What is the name of the band?
Us: So Many Dynamos.
Red headed kid's dad: Are you playing in town?
Us: No, we're recording.
Red headed kid's dad: Oh, where at?
Us: Tiny Telephone
Red headed kid's dad: Is Scott doing it?
Us: No, Chris is.
Red headed kid's dad: Okay. Is that the studio that John Vanderslice runs?
Us: Yeah, it is!

and then our cars were too far apart to continue talking. This event was strange because a. the chances of pulling up next to a guy who's familiar with the recording studio you're working at is an INSANE coincidence and b. even 8 year olds can tell that we reak of "band".

Sidenote: 4 and a half years of doing this, and we still don't have a good answer for when some random dude at a gas station is like "y'all in a band? cool, what do you sound like?" That's why we're trying to sound more like Weezer. So we can say "we kind of sound like Weezer."

Sidenote: By the way, we're trying to sound more like Weezer.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Day 3: feelin' alright

After posting those photos yesterday, we wrote and recorded a new song. It kind of sounds like a darker version of "Hey Ya!", and i am totally okay with that.

In a previous post, we talked about different songwriting methods on this record, and it's been working. The guitar part on this new song was constructed by taking the numbers you'd have to hit to write our band name in a text message (for example, s=7 7 7 7), assigning each number to the steps of the C major scale, and just playing the melody in consecutive eighth notes. It's an added bonus that the melody is the same forwards and backwards.

This is the first time we've ever recorded with a producer. Everybody we've done stuff with have been straight-up engineers, and although everybody puts their own little stamp on things, they've stayed completely out of the writing and arranging process. I was a little nervous about writing songs with a producer, only because we've never done it before. The way it's been going down so far is we've just been writing together in the big tracking room the same way we would in our basement, with Chris sending us occassional messages over the headphones. It's great because when we hit something cool, he lets us know and if something sucks, he does too. Also, we tend to try to over-complicate things and Chris has been really helpful with a good "why not just double the melody" and "try that 8 times instead of 4" here and there.

Current song status:
number of completely finished songs (music and lyrics): 2 [4 points per song]
number of mostly finished songs (music and some lyrics): 4 [3 points per song]
number of embryo songs (music, very few lyrics): 2 [2 points per song]
number of eggs of songs (some music, no lyrics): 1 [1 point per song]
targeted number of songs on record: 10

Ideal song score: 40 points
Current song score: 25 points
amount of days left at Tiny Telephone - 8

Hoping to track one of the mostly finished songs (working title "Ghostsong") today and either turn the embryo into a song or start a new one from scratch.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Time for some photos

Finished basic tracking for song 2, "Glaciers". Micromoog, Gibson SG, Gretch Malcom Young, cymbals, drums with paper taped to them. Here's some photos:

Our busted-ass tire, which severed our coolant line and stranded us in Wyoming.

Chris burning sage by recommendation of Nick Harmer to keep our bad-luck spirits from the past away.



Microphone (in focus), Drums (out of focus).

Aaron, Norm, Ryan, Tiny Telephone.

Chris and the "draw-a-chord-and-an-instruction-out-of-the-cup" songwriting method. No songs were written this way, despite our attempt to find the "A# minor Fuck yeah" chord.

Day 2 recap - Back to life, back to reality

The first day of recording was pretty surreal in hindsight. We've been spending so much time on the freaking-out-about-getting-the-songs-written side that we kind of forgot that we GET to make a record.

Day 2 was a lot trickier. We entered the studio with 6 songs finished, 2 songs half-written, and 2 or 3 songs left to write. We finished writing one of the half songs, and spent the rest of the day trying to generate ideas for new songs. Techniques included pulling-chords-out-of-a-hat, listening to shit backwards, good old Oblique Strategies cards, and the dreaded process of "jamming". We have 5 minutes of something that could either go Talking Heads or Radiohead if done properly and spy movie if not. There's a song in there somewhere.

Highlights of the day:

-Chris running outside with a mic to record the fireworks the neighbors were shooting off
-Finding out that said neighbors make the machines/robots that Mythbusters use for their experiments
-Discovering the "Eventide Harmonizer" box, subsequently making our 100th reference to Brian Eno so far
-Getting the first legitimate call from a "label guy" that we've ever had

Well rested, about to take on day 3. Will attempt to post more than once daily from now on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Day 1

After 2 break-downs, 2 tow truck rides, and 2,000 miles (900 of them without air conditioning) we arrived yesterday morning at Tiny Telephone. We were greeted with hugs from Mr. Walla and met John Vanderslice (sweet dude and TT owner) and Jay Pellicci (excellent engineer who helped us/Chris out on the first day).

First days are always weird. Lots of trying out different guitars and amps and pedals and keyboards and mics and cymbals and changing drum heads. We spent most of the day working on drum sounds, and then listened to "Tired of Sex" by Weezer in the control room and essentially started over. At the end of the day, we had everything sounding pretty great and started working on the first song.

What has been personally exciting for me thus far is that we've been loosely following Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards on our arrangements. These are cards with simple messages like "Ask your body" and "Don't be afraid of cliches" meant to help when you get stuck on something in the studio. It's a pretty fun way to think and we haven't been totally stuck on anything yet.

Today is REALLY the first day of actually working pretty hard and playing a ton. QUESTION: If we were to put up the instrumental demo of one of our new songs, and the lyrics but without any reference to the melody of the song and did "So Many Dynamos blind karaoke" where anyone who reads this blog can record their own vocals to it and send it in and we'll post the mp3 online, would anybody actually do it? We thought it'd be fun, just wondering.

Monday, July 2, 2007


This morning was scary.

We woke up early, went to Wal-Mart (god bless) to get a new tire, and started driving. About 6 miles down the road we started overheating, due to the quick-fix we did on our coolant hose breaking and releasing all of our fluid. Breaking down in Utah on a Sunday is pretty unfortunate. We got a tow truck to Coalville, UT where we were told that it was impossible to get the part we needed to fix the hose until a Ford dealership opens tomorrow, which means that instead of starting recording at 11 AM on Monday, we would be starting a 10 hour drive to San Francisco at 11 AM on Monday. The most important thing in our lives up to this point has been being there at 11 AM on Monday to start recording. It was the realization that it might not happen, and it was scary.

Luckily, the good 'ol boys that towed us were able to put a kink in the line to keep the fluids in, so we made the drive (sans air conditioning) and now i am miraculously writing from a computer in Santa Rosa, CA, an hour from SF.

2 crazy conversations with tow truck drivers:

Driver 1, male, approximately 60 years old, Evanston WY
Driver: You guys travel a lot, then?
Us: yeah, we do.
Driver: Me too. My wife and I do as much traveling as we can.
Us: Oh Yeah? Where was the most recent place you've been?
Driver: We went to Australia. It was great.
Us: Cool. We really want to go there.
Driver: Yeah, it's a neat place. My wife and I went scuba diving and our instructor got eaten by a shark.
Us: WHAT?!?! Are you serious?
Driver: Yep. He went out there to check the waters and a shark got him. All the other sharks came up from behind and finished him off. There was nothing of him left.
Us: Did you see him get eaten?
Driver: Nah, just saw the commotion. So, i didn't end up scuba diving there after all.

Driver 2, male, approximately 26 years old, Coalville, UT
Us: WOAH!!! What was that on the side of the road? That looked like a fucking huge dog!
Driver: It was an elk.
Us: Man....i feel bad for the guy who hit that thing. Did you have to tow him?
Driver: Yeah, had to take him all the way back to Cheyenne, WY.

I know story 2 is a little more of a "you-had-to-be-there", but referencing roadkill to the guy who towed the dude who caused it is a pretty insane coincidence.

ALSO i had a personal moment of triumph today when, while waiting for the tow truck driver, a train passed by us and i ran beside it and did a hobo jump onto it for about 10 seconds and jumped off. Hurt my ankle a bit and i got a lot of dirt in my sock, but it was totally totally worth it.

ALSO we are going to start making a record tomorrow, with the same guy who's done a ton of records that we think sound amazing. It's just now sinking in.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

song status - 06/30/07

number of completely finished songs (music and lyrics): 2 [4 points per song]
number of mostly finished songs (music and some lyrics): 2 [3 points per song]
number of embryo songs (music, very few lyrics): 2 [2 points per song]
number of eggs of songs (some music, no lyrics): 2 [1 point per song]
targeted number of songs on record: 10

Ideal song score: 40 points
Current song score: 20 points
amount of driving hours left to drink a bunch of coffee and try to make up some shit: 12

BONUS LIST: names of beers drank this evening in hotel room in Evanston, WY by us (not including a visit from Sir Jim Beam):

Blue Paddle
Skinny Dip
Sunset Wheat
Bitch Creek
Frambois Lambic

best name award: Skinny Dip/Bitch Creek (tie)