I think it was December when I was called into a meeting with Cure fore the Common; A Montana based jam band that I have been working with for 3 years.
They had news I did not want to hear. They needed to put out an album by April. The fact that I do not own an actual recording studio at this point meant that this was a very tight timeline with myriad logistical problems. The last time we made a record was also a short timeline and I said I would never do that again. But, because I love these guys so much, I said yes. So began The Squeeze.
First things first, we cleaned the band room and gave her the acoustic treatment she needed to get some good sounding tracks. Then we moved the drums around in the room till they sounded amazing. We burned sage and incense and threw up tapestries. 'Cause if there is one thing a mixerman must do, it's bring the vibe.
Typically before a recording starts I like the songs to be fully written, arranged and crowd tested. Out of eleven proposed tracks, a small handful met that criteria. So the first couple weeks were spent arranging and practicing fresh tunes. We began to feel The Squeeze; this was going to be a lot of work.
Then we tracked the first tune. Bizarre the Days. From the lyrics I started to see that this record had an edge. It was poised to say something about our times and the foolish side of our western culture. We named the song that night. We also came up with the album name (maybe it was the next night, but legends aren't built on maybe's).
We talked about what The Squeeze meant to all of us. We feel squeezed by our war-crazed government. We feel the squeeze of near success, of trying to maintain in life. You know, staying positive when everything seems negative. Nearly six hours in we got a take that we all loved.
And then we did it again. Same story, 5 hours to track a tune. And then again. And again. And again. Every night we could, we recorded.
Most of us were doing this after having worked a full day. Most of us were pulling at least twelve hour days, some more. I personally was hitting eighteens and even a couple twenties.
About halfway through we were tired. We were nitpicking every take and the fun was gone. It felt like the squeeze had won. This particular night we had been going for five hours and we were getting further away from a good take. Someone (Steve?) said we need to open up and get back to our first love, the music itself. We all agreed. We took a break and hung out. We came back in and nailed two songs in a row! Take that, Squeeze!
To be continued...