Light at the End of the Tunnel

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We finished day one of our second shot at mixing the orange is in CD yesterday. What started out shaky again ended up being the best day of mixing I’ve probably ever had.

Chris and I both came away incredibly happy with everything we did as the mixes for the three songs we finished are amazing.

Steve Christensen at Sugar Hill is a tremendous engineer, without question. But, by the end of three frustrating days last month and several hours of not getting what we wanted yesterday, we were all feeling burnt out.

We went out to my truck to listen to the first mix of Tell Me Why and it just wasn’t right to our ears. I think we were all pretty pissed. Then, it turned around.

Like everything in life, most of what was missing had to do with communication. We could hear what we wanted but we had a hard time communicating that to Steve in a way he could understand.

He had started this process last month thinking we wanted a big rock, in-your-face kind of production. We didn’t. He re-visited it this time with a more overall organic feel. That didn’t work. What we wanted, in reality, was a blend – very present, rock drums with a warm, organic band sound. Once we found that mix, we were off to the races.

The other two songs fell into place pretty quickly and we got great mixes with only very TINY tweaks all of which, we agreed, would be ok to leave if we had to and wouldn’t bug us – something I don’t think any of us could’ve said about any other mix we’ve been involved with – but we can go back and fix them, so that’s great.

We also pushed the last day of mixdown back two weeks to allow us time to tweak some guitars and bass as well as get Ian Varley from Drop Trio in the studio to cut some keyboard tracks, something we’d wanted to do all along.

One thing Chris and I learned is that he is much better with mixdown than I am and I am much better with tracking than he is. The result is a good combination of skills. He’s got great ears for a process that makes me pretty sleepy and I’m really creative in the tracking process when he may either tend to rush or overanalyze.

If the first three songs are any indication, this record is going to rock. We’re back in tomorrow and Friday and our last day two weeks after that. I’m ready for it to be done, but now I’m finally feeling like the struggle will have been worth it.

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