I had a plan for this recording. I had established that plan after the release of Laser Beretta last year. Firstly, I wanted solid preproduction. This means that all the songs would be written, I would go over the arrangements with the band, and actual recording would really be about getting sounds right, knowing that the musical elements were all taken care of. Funny thing about plans, they always get squeezed in the execution and adaptation becomes necessary.
From the word go, my plans were out the window. The songs weren't finished. We would be recording in a less than desired location with very limited gear. And as I explained before, this led to some long, trying nights of recording. So I let go.
When it came to overdubs and editing the same thing happened. As I listened and we added things and I cut things I realized I was not going to be able to clean this baby as much as I wanted to. This means that my ability to manipulate sounds and create sonic environments would be limited. So I let go.
Then mixing. Sometime in the middle of the second day, I was despairing. Nothing was sounding right. I felt like everything was fighting me. So I let it go. And had an epiphany. I was going to exploit the weaknesses. I was going to stop fighting The Squeeze and flow with it like water. I decided to compress the mix hard. For the uninitiated, I will explain. When audio is compressed, the word is very literal. It is actually a squeezing of the sound. The loudest parts are being squished and turned down which is revealing the softer, quieter sections. For a very clear concept of this, watch this video. Normally I am against this, for the very reason that the video explains. But I made the decision and moved on.
I started doing all kinds of things I wouldn't normally do. I left behind my convention of cohesiveness. One of the songs has the lead vocal that was the scratch track from the room. Some of the songs have tuned vocals that were overdubbed. Some them don't. Some songs are very very close to what we recorded in the room live. Some are far away. I did new things with arrangement. Not the musical kind of arrangement, but the spatial kind. I put things in weird rooms. I brought things so close to the speaker that it feels like they pierce your eardrums. Other sounds are far away and distant. When there was a problem, I would make it worse, destroy it, reduce the sound to nothing. And as soon as I felt that the manipulation was making it heard and understood, I would massage it to coolness. It was working, at least, for me.
After six days, I was done. I had gone through everything and done the car test and the headphone test and the home stereo test. This was last Sunday at 6 am. I finished the morning/night by sending the mixes for the band to hear. I detest this part. This is when a multitude of people get to go through the sounds and state what they don't like about all of my creative darlings. The nice part was that The Squeeze only allowed for one day of band notes to be accomplished, and they knew that what could be done, would be, and there probably would be notes that didn't get accomplished.
Monday came as did a few notes. Less than I expected, yet still more than could be accomplished. I jumped in, did what I could in ten hours, and bounced the stereo mixes and sent them to mastering, again, at 6 am.
It was really done. Relief washed over me. I did a final listen on my headphones and was grinning ear to ear. Cure for the Common already has a unique sound and I had made it even more unique. We made a record that I can't really compare to anything. I mean, there are a zillion little moments that remind me of various recordings, but nothing overall.
I am happy. This album has pained me. The Squeeze has been a literal and figurative sacrifice for so many people, and I think I made the top of that list. It hurt all the way to the end, but the results are more than satisfactory. I know that no matter what anybody says or thinks, I gave it all that I had, and then some, and at the end of everyday, I let go.
This is the lesson of The Squeeze; None of us know what will happen today. Our best laid intentions and plans will be met with the realities of the world. The results will always be a bit (or a lot) different than we imagine. Our reaction to this defines our life. Do we let go, and enjoy it anyways, adapting with full abandon? Or do we resist and fight, never happy with any outcome?
How do we we frame our perspective when everything is hard? I have always found that gratitude (for me, to God) for the moment lets me be joyful when most would choose to be angry or sad. It's not easy. But, there is a basic concept that helps me. It is the reality that life is served by death. Those words don't really work, because what is death of one thing but a transference of energy into another? The metaphor of sacrifice is everywhere in the universe. The sun is continually burning itself towards nothingness so that all life on Earth can exist. Every living, organic thing on the planet dies in order to serve the next life. Nothing is permanent. Everything transfers. And it all points to one thing. I'm sure you know what that is. ;)
P.S. The Juice IS worth The Squeeze.