I've been looking forward to these two projects for a while. I originally met brothers, Austin and Alex Ward, along with Hawley Shoffner at a Betta Promotions BBQ last summer. I was blown away by a stripped down acoustic performance featuring Hawley's songs, they'd performed at the party; we chatted about the possibility of recording later in the year. When I eventually went to see Hawley perform an electric set with Alex and Austin I was hit totally off guard; the subtle, soft, melodic performance I saw at the Beta BBQ had turned into a big kick in the teeth. It was like seeing Norah Jones walk out of the Green Mill, across the street to the Aragon, and turn into PJ Harvey. I ended up being equally knocked out when I saw the brother's own band, The Noise FM; some kind of ass-kicking, fast-tempo'd, super-tight, perfect-harmony-singing, mutant cross between Queens of the Stone Age and Muse.
A year and half passed before we finally put some dates on the schedule. They sent me the demos a month or two beforehand, and we met in person to discuss production approach and arrangement tweaks. When we got into the studio, the budget was tight so we were forced to work quickly, which kept everyone awake and on their toes. All three were extremely well-rehearsed and prepared for the sessions so there was very little time spent re-recording or punching. The session was split between Hawley and Noise FM songs. In only six short days in the studio, we knocked out drums for 11 songs, as well as guitars, bass and vox for five of them.
The main goal with the drums was to capture the rawness and energy of both projects. I used a technique that I first tried with the Vaudevilles; I placed two mics in front of the drum kit-one would be used as a general front of kit mic, and the other, would run through a reamp box and then into one of several different distortion pedals, or an overdriven minimoog. By fading between these at the mix stage, I can move from lowest energy (close mics only), to moderate energy (using only the front of kit mic), to highest energy (using the distorted mic). We also used different combinations of kick, toms and cymbals for each tune, ranging from a modern Gretsch kit to a vintage Ludwig, and from bright modern cymbals to extremely dark vintage Zildjians.
I'm mixing the five finished tunes as we speak. Stay tuned for their release! In the meantime I'll be looking forward to getting back into the studio to finish up the remaining tunes we started. You can check out both great artists' websites here: