it's really cool the way you can find these demo versions of some classic old albums. like if you hear marc bolan's acoustic versions of electric warrior. it's interesting to me the concept of negative space in music. my point is that ofttimes you can sort of hear the orchestration in a solo performers head as they play. and that part of the music is shared within your imagination and theirs, at the precise moment. that's pretty magical. through the years i've studied lots of solo performers, and the best ones, seems like to me, you can sort of hear a whole orchestra playing behind them. but the orchestra split and left the music behind. i would just about rather see any performer you can name, play solo. to me, it's a much richer experience. the stones? i'd love to see keith richards with an acoustic guitar just sing and play. slayer? i'd love to see kerry king just talk and play. perhaps in my small brain, it narrows things down and gives me a chance to catch up in some way, i'm not sure. but i really like to play solo, and i like to see the great musicians i admire do the same thing. when i write songs, i tend to demo them as full-fledged productions. probably out of fear that they aren't any good so i want to dress them up as much as i can, so they go boom in the first bar. i was caught a little off guard when my manager called me and asked me to record a version of my new record just solo with me and the banjo. i had already recorded the record twice. once as a demo, once at the village down in LA in a more formal arrangement. who records a record three times? plus, i don't know if you've ever tried to engineer an acoustic record but it's really hard. in my home set-up, i record very processed and lo-fi on purpose. and if someone slams a car door up the street when i have an open condenser mic, i'll sample it and make it into a bass drum hit. so i incorporate ambient noise into my own laboratory work. however with something like this, to try and make an acoustic recording…yikes one can't do that can one? also we have this feature of my work, where sometimes unscrupulous buyers freak out about a guy showing up with a banjo and a laptop or whatever, and employ a bit of the wedding band mentality ["well gee, can i get another horn player for an extra fifty bucks?" music by the pound. quantity.] so i guess i approach solo stuff at all with my tail between my legs as it were. even though, to be frank, it is my preferred method of working because it is the most creative for me. so it was with some stress that i sat down to work. my !@@#$%%^ neighbors have no idea of the crap they put me through on this stuff hahah! like this one family has this hound dog they put out at about 7am. and he does this little bay barking thing every 23 seconds for about the next six hours. again in my laboratory work, i sample him and use him and become disappointed if it's raining and they keep him inside. but for this kind of thing, shucks. it will drive you crazy. plus from an engineering side, if you sit in a chair in a pier and beam house for a period of time, the floor will eventually readjust, causing a very audible bump. also when the sun shines on windows, they make this pop sound as they warm up. so you start hearing all these noises. boom. pop. bark. crack. thump. it's like audio whack-a-mole. then we come to the issue of trying to get a performance. recording is like this. you want to get the primo performance on proverbial tape. so if you sit down to play a song, at first you run through it…and it gets better and better. then it starts getting worse and worse. and sometimes if you sit down, the first run through is badass, and all the subsequent ones are terrible. so you chase that around. also, when i work in my laboratory, i don't watch the shot clock. in other words there's no time element. i can just work until it's right. but in this case we were nearing release date and this thing, if it was to be done had to be done with all due haste. so between the unwanted noises, and the trying to get a good performance, i was pretty stressed. see, rich guys have an engineer help them with this. i drive a 300 dollar pick up truck [though i do have a great motorcycle.] all i could do is what i always do. i just keep working. things get rough? i just work. things get great? i keep working. don't know what to do? i just work. i don't have any other response to any stimulus other than that. all i have is music and when all you have is a hammer the whole world looks like a nail as it is said. so in order to cut down the noise i would work at about 230am. i just got up and started going, though i was afraid. i just worked. and did the best i could. my goal was really to get performances and let scott hull the mastering guy sweat the noise haha. also, in studying music, i've learned there's a real science to what mistakes to leave in. so, i worked on that feature of things…leave the right mistakes in. i just set up with a 55 dynamic for voice and the 313 ribbon on the banjo [both shures] straight into the laptop into ableton [my favorite audio software ever made…well except for max/msp]. unplugged the fridge. gave the dogs chews and put them in the back room, except for skillet she slept curled up on the floor beside me. made a lot of really strong coffee and ate several peanut butter sandwiches. i handed in my work with a bit of worry. not sure if i passed the test or not. i walked away from the tracks and didn't listen and went back out on the road. a few weeks later i got a call from scott and i'm thinking "oh no here it goes, problem city". but he was in a really good mood and seemed like he was juking on it. and we talked a bit, and he goes back to work. so a few days later i get the mastered stuff and i was really happy with it. it turned out really cool, even though i sweated. it's a pretty nice vibe playing around your kitchen table i guess. he really made things pop really good. my thanks goes out to my manager on this. there have been several times, i believe this is number four, where he has said something that i kicked and screamed about, and he turned out to be 100% right. those folks are very valuable to us. i would never have done this without his suggestion. i really appreciate his trip. in the end i'm really pleased with how this turned out. you can kind of hear just the naked ideas of my music, and how all this orchestration is in my head and i can allude to various parts of it throughout the song. also the emotion of the poetry is just right there to pick up on so that's nice. here it is, with the proper mistakes well in place. - danny