thinking about "the feast": a peek inside

18 January 2007

As we near the conclusion of recording our new album and prepare for mixing, discussions have begun about how it all should sound. To give you an idea of how these chats usually go, here’s an excerpt from an IM session this afternoon between Perry Serpa (*PSerp007*) and Jim Santo (*jencon1*). Enjoy!

PSerp007 (2:30:45 PM): mixing this is going to be a big job

PSerp007 (2:30:55 PM): but i don’t want it done over the course of 3 months

PSerp007 (2:31:03 PM): boom boom boom! and we’re done

jencon1 (2:31:09 PM): right, agree

PSerp007 (2:31:16 PM): none of that pissin’ around at 4am

PSerp007 (2:31:35 PM): i’ll lose sight of what we’re trying to say with it

jencon1 (2:31:37 PM): we’ll take our time mixing but we should block several weekdays/ends in a row

PSerp007 (2:31:46 PM): i agree

jencon1 (2:32:33 PM): rush the mix and all the effort is for naught

PSerp007 (2:32:38 PM): i agree

PSerp007 (2:32:42 PM): that’s cool thank you

jencon1 (2:32:48 PM): two songs a session, tops

PSerp007 (2:33:15 PM): sure, well, let’s see how it goes and not make rules

PSerp007 (2:33:25 PM): my guess is “rey” will take one full session

jencon1 (2:33:29 PM): that’s a very good rule

PSerp007 (2:33:43 PM): and other sessions will knock down 3-4

PSerp007 (2:33:51 PM): some are simple arrangements

jencon1 (2:33:58 PM): i’ll bet if we went back and listened to all the “3rd song of the night” mixes on F&H they’ll be the worst

PSerp007 (2:33:58 PM): some are very complicated

PSerp007 (2:34:17 PM): hahaha

PSerp007 (2:34:23 PM): i’ll bet you’re right

jencon1 (2:34:29 PM): every song deserves TLC, simple or not

PSerp007 (2:34:40 PM): yeah- but if it’s there, it’s there

PSerp007 (2:35:03 PM): you know what i mean. sometimes the song is done before you get into mixing it

jencon1 (2:35:06 PM): yeah but you can’t know it’s there after mixing 3 songs

jencon1 (2:35:33 PM): we need to be open to re-mixing if need be—no compromises

PSerp007 (2:35:49 PM): depends on time, energy level, etc… we just have to be in the moment and see what they need

PSerp007 (2:35:50 PM): sure

PSerp007 (2:36:16 PM): the most important thing this time is that alex and bill have referrence points

PSerp007 (2:38:04 PM): this record needs to have attitude

jencon1 (2:38:38 PM): yeah…like devotchka’s records have attitude

jencon1 (2:38:51 PM): not that we want to sound like that

jencon1 (2:38:57 PM): but you know what i mean

PSerp007 (2:39:05 PM): yep

PSerp007 (2:39:16 PM): i’m thinking a lot about that when i cut the vocals

jencon1 (2:39:32 PM): yeah. personality

jencon1 (2:39:56 PM): i’m cool w/ u doing them alone btw, but…

PSerp007 (2:40:19 PM): good. well, i’m being incredibly self-critical

jencon1 (2:40:21 PM): before we mix i’d like to spend a night with you, listening to each vocal objectively and making sure they’re perfect

PSerp007 (2:40:26 PM): sometimes 50 takes

PSerp007 (2:40:31 PM): ok

jencon1 (2:40:58 PM): that’s great! but a fresh ear will help. we artists can become enamored with bad choices

jencon1 (2:41:15 PM): a bad choice executed perfectly still sucks :)

PSerp007 (2:41:49 PM): yeah i’m thinking stylistically, too

jencon1 (2:41:56 PM): right

PSerp007 (2:43:31 PM): what are your thoughts on what you’d like this to sound like?

jencon1 (2:44:50 PM): hmm

jencon1 (2:45:01 PM): the anti-F&H

jencon1 (2:45:05 PM): lol

PSerp007 (2:45:11 PM): yes!!!

PSerp007 (2:45:24 PM): we have to play to the vibe of the songs

jencon1 (2:45:31 PM): brighter, more forward horns and guitars

PSerp007 (2:45:35 PM): i’m afraid of the rock rocking too hard

jencon1 (2:45:47 PM): don’t be afraid of the rock

PSerp007 (2:45:49 PM): i want it to rock like bowie, not metallica

PSerp007 (2:45:52 PM): no no no

jencon1 (2:45:55 PM): well duh

PSerp007 (2:46:09 PM): VERY important that we balance the rock with the slower stuff

jencon1 (2:46:12 PM): um, better definition on the strings

PSerp007 (2:46:16 PM): that it all makes sense to the listeners

PSerp007 (2:46:20 PM): yeah

jencon1 (2:46:30 PM): on the quartet numbers, that is

jencon1 (2:46:40 PM): orchestra should be silky

PSerp007 (2:46:55 PM): yes

jencon1 (2:47:05 PM): on the quartet i want to feel the ladies’ presence

PSerp007 (2:47:11 PM): yes

jencon1 (2:47:36 PM): there’s a song on the previous mountain goats record that has amazing string quartet sound

PSerp007 (2:47:46 PM): you should play it for me

jencon1 (2:47:50 PM): i will

jencon1 (2:48:00 PM): you should come over for a listening session

jencon1 (2:48:13 PM): we should start discussing this in earnest

PSerp007 (2:48:13 PM): we should embody the amalgam of scott walker, burt bacharach, roxy music and david bowie

jencon1 (2:48:46 PM): ok but we should also sound like a band recording in 2007

jencon1 (2:49:01 PM): not 1977

PSerp007 (2:50:23 PM): we won’t be able to avoid sounding 2007, but too slick is going to be bad for us

PSerp007 (2:50:42 PM): it just needs to be consistent

jencon1 (2:50:48 PM): heh we managed to avoid sounding 2003 with HCTST

jencon1 (2:50:59 PM): slick is the problem with F&H

PSerp007 (2:51:09 PM): find the constants and ride em to the end

PSerp007 (2:51:16 PM): because the songwriting is all over the place

jencon1 (2:51:21 PM): not enough flesh and blood in the mix

PSerp007 (2:51:24 PM): yes

PSerp007 (2:51:27 PM): i agree

PSerp007 (2:51:39 PM): and fuckin shitty performances

jencon1 (2:51:50 PM): yeah that too

PSerp007 (2:51:57 PM): if not badly played, then sterile

PSerp007 (2:52:02 PM): not you, though

jencon1 (2:52:10 PM): we should strive to make them more, what’s the word? urgent?

PSerp007 (2:52:18 PM): some real mistakes in the arrangements

PSerp007 (2:52:31 PM): we’ve gotten a lot smarter. i’m very confident of that

jencon1 (2:52:35 PM): i want the passion to come out

PSerp007 (2:52:38 PM): yes

jencon1 (2:52:43 PM): like you said, attitude

PSerp007 (2:52:43 PM): it’s already there

PSerp007 (2:52:49 PM): i’m feeling it

PSerp007 (2:52:56 PM): we’re gravitating to the right things this time

jencon1 (2:53:02 PM): fuck yeah, the performances this time are uniformly excellent

PSerp007 (2:53:09 PM): yes i think so

PSerp007 (2:53:17 PM): imperfect

PSerp007 (2:53:22 PM): but perfectly so

jencon1 (2:53:24 PM): but perfectly so

jencon1 (2:53:26 PM): :-)

PSerp007 (2:53:27 PM): hahah

jencon1 (2:54:24 PM): but you know, on the last record, a part like my power chords in the chorus of “through with love” would have been mushed into the mix

PSerp007 (2:54:39 PM): yeah likely

jencon1 (2:54:41 PM): on this one we should let ourselves be EXCITING

PSerp007 (2:54:51 PM): definitely

PSerp007 (2:55:03 PM): the songwriting is more urgent, too

jencon1 (2:55:10 PM): we were trying before to make a perfect pop record before

PSerp007 (2:55:23 PM): rey, everything breaks, through with love, even driving in manhattan

jencon1 (2:55:27 PM): now we should try to make a perfect SHARP THINGS record

PSerp007 (2:55:32 PM): yes

jencon1 (2:56:01 PM): that’s my guiding principle — and i believe bill’s also

PSerp007 (2:57:31 PM): yeah i think so

PSerp007 (2:58:40 PM): it’s going to be about bridging gaps by finding constants in the music, while still serving the song

PSerp007 (2:58:51 PM): much of it will come naturally

jencon1 (2:59:17 PM): hopefully

jencon1 (2:59:41 PM): we should post this IM session on our web site :)

PSerp007 (2:59:46 PM): hahaha

PSerp007 (2:59:52 PM): some of it

jencon1 (2:59:55 PM): i’m serious

PSerp007 (3:01:41 PM): yeah — i was just gonna say that

PSerp007 (3:01:41 PM): now i got to go to the can

jencon1 (3:01:56 PM): bye

PSerp007 (3:02:09 PM): later

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