10.06.2009

Wooden Birds/Jupiter Watts @ The Earl - October 6

Our next show is Tuesday night, October 6 at The Earl here in Atlanta. We'll be opening for The Wooden Birds, a pretty dandy combo from Austin, TX, featuring Andrew Kenny, former singer/songwriter from whisper-rock legends American Analog Set. Word on the street has it that Matt Pond -- of Matt Pond PA fame -- is the touring guitarist with The Wooden Birds. This should be a fun one. We go on around 9:30. Oh Dorian opens the show at 8:30.

To put you in the proper frame of mind, here's a link to a page with a couple oldies but goodies, as yet unreleased.

Hope to see you at the show.

Kisses,


J-Watts

8.26.2009

we're still here...















...and we're finally getting back into the swing of things. Yes, it's been a bit longer than we said (shocker), but we have been working in the interim, and we're pretty close to being done with this group of songs. More importantly, we're finally putting up the only song you haven't yet heard from the forthcoming record. It still needs a little work, but it's pretty close to finished, and we like it a lot (despite it being maybe our weirdest effort yet):


ebb/flow (rough mix 8-23-09).


We've got some other news, too: we're finally gonna start getting out in the world and playing again! Our next show (and first in quite a while) is going to be at the Five Spot on September 20. It's a benefit for one of our favorite local nonprofits, a group called Georgia Lawyers for the Arts; they do pro bono work for musicians, artists, and all sorts of creative types who otherwise couldn't afford legal representation. They could really use a little help at the moment, and we'd love to give them a boost, so come on out to see us. Check this space and our myspace for details in the very near future. And keep checking - we're working on a few more shows for this fall and winter, so you ought to be able to catch us out on the town soon...

7.04.2009

last two for a bit...

















Things have been slowing down a bit on the recording front lately as we've all been getting busy with other things, and now, sadly, we're going to be taking about a month off before we get back to it. Well, it's only sad for some of us, who will be working; some folks are going to be on vacation. But we'll all be back at it at the beginning of August, and we hope to be close to finished by September. We'll see how that goes...

For now, though, we have two new rough mixes, thanks to some essential overdubs we finally got around to doing. First, as promised, we have the nice-sounding version of "one by one:"

one by one (rough 7-4-09).

This one's still in a somewhat experimental stage; we may add some more stuff or take some away. Right now it's only six tracks, and a couple of things are doubled! We think it sounds pretty good, though. As mentioned here before, we used to call this one "melodica song" for good reason, since it features the funny little instrument. And, as it turns out, it can be a pretty funny sounding one, too - it took a lot of work to figure out how to make it sound good. In the end, an omni mic from way far away smoothed out the rough edges. It's still a bit pitchy, though, so let us know if you think it sounds charming or just crummy (we're hoping for the former). And thanks to Matt from the Liverhearts and the Preakness for loaning us those Earthworks omnis - as predicted, they were just what we needed.

Next up we have one of our favorites from this batch. It's been up here before in an early cut-and-paste demo version, which we've conveniently provided below for comparison (there's also a solo acoustic version on the blog, too, featuring Hutch from Cadillac Jones). This new version is all live instruments, though we have done quite a bit of post-production on it. It's still got a ways to go; we have some decisions to make, including whether we want to edit down a couple of sections to keep it moving a bit more (though of course we do love to go on and on). Let us know what you think:

the target (rough 7-4-09)
.

And here's the original version:

the target (epilepsy warning version)
.

So don't expect to many posts here for the next month or so, though we may put up a little tidbit or two. There's at least one more song from this batch that hasn't been posted yet, and it's the craziest of the bunch, so you won't want to miss it.

So seeya soon, and happy Independence Day!

6.18.2009

overdubs.

















No mixes of late because we've been spending our meager time on overdubs. As anyone who's done any recording knows, this can be the most tedious stage of the process - for some parts, at least, you have to do it over and over until you get it right, which sometimes becomes less and less likely as you do it over and over. It can be lots of fun, too - you get to experiment with sounds, try new things, do stuff the band can't actually pull off live, and that sort of thing. So far, our experience has been a little bit of all of this, especially for the song we were working on this week. This one's been around for a long time, and we're still fiddling with it. In fact, the picture above features Clay trying to come up with a Wurlitzer part on the spot, which is always fun. It's a lot easier when you have great moral support helping you along, though:

















Ramon is truly expert at yelling out chord changes and endlessly suggesting new and exciting variations of the same few notes.

You'll get a chance to judge the results fairly soon, but in the meantime we thought we'd put up a super-old version of the song, from when we first started working on it way back in 2007. It's interesting how much it hasn't changed, though some things have been added and some have been taken away since this very basic version was created. From the start, though, it's featured one of our favorite weird instruments: the melodica. It gets used by our local friends the Preakness, and, somewhat more famously, by one of our heroes, Augustus Pablo. It also turns out to be fairly hard to record well, but you'll hear more about that soon...

Here's the oldest demo version we have of what we once called "the melodica song:"

one by one (demo).

You'll be hearing a nicely-recorded version as soon as we make it sound nice.

6.13.2009

princeton 88.

video


Here's a little something to tide you over until the next mix pops up here, hopefully early next week. This is James and Ramon in the rehearsal space improvising a bit on "Break the Curse," which we posted a mix of the other day. Ramon is also making use of the Buddha Machine, one of our favorite toys - in fact, we just discovered that we got a mention on the official Buddha Machine blog back in November - thanks, guys!

6.11.2009

we are truly honored.

So, has anybody else noticed that the new Sonic Youth album cover:






















...is clearly an homage to the cover of our last record?:




















It's nice to see the influences go both ways sometimes.

By the way, if you want to compare more closely, you can get a copy of our self-titled record here. And you already have a copy of "The Eternal," right?

Oh, and don't worry: Our current recording project is still ongoing - keep checking back for more actual content.

6.09.2009

the mysteries of phasing...















OK, so it's been kinda slow going on the updates, but our initial rough mixes were rough enough that we weren't in a hurry to put them all up without a little more work. Plus, we had to drag this out, right? So, today, we present rough mix #2, which was actually the first song we tracked over Memorial Day weekend:

break the curse (rough mix 6/8/09)
.

This mix is a bit less "rough;" we spent a couple of hours messing with it yesterday. Though the performance is pretty good all around (including most of the scratch vocals), as the first go with our live-in-the-living-room setup, this one came out a bit funny at first. The main problem was boomy, muddy bass; anyone who's recorded in less-than-ideal environments knows all about that. But, when we flipped the phase on the bass track and dropped the low-end EQ on a number of other instruments, things came out sounding quite a bit nicer (we're big believers in subtractive EQ). It's not as tight as we'd like, but at the same time, the overall sound seems to fit the mood of this song well.

This particular track arose as an instrumental quite some time ago; we debuted it at our "Wandern" gallery show, which was in some ways the genesis of our current approach. It started off as an improvisation and later morphed into this thing that some people might actually call a song, though it does stretch the definition a bit. Keep an eye out for chord changes, they're easy to miss!

Ramon plays drums on this one; the guitar drone you hear most of the time is a loop he starts before moving over to the drums. We actually recorded it that way to create the sound in the room we're used to hearing. The lead guitar on the left is James', recorded as discussed before. We also did a bit of reamping on this one, running Clay's keys - recorded direct - through a tube amp for a little roominess; they may need some more, yet...

This reminds us; we didn't give much detail in the last post on the song featured there, "I Propose." But if you're interested in hearing those crazy Grundigs that sound like the legendary Sennheiser 409, check out Ramon's guitar on the left. And somebody tell James his fuzzy tone on the right side complements it nicely; he's not sure about it. For your convenience, here's that song again:

I propose (rough mix 5/29/09).

Keep checking back, there'll be more this week...

6.03.2009

here goes...






















As promised, we are finally delivering some actual content related to our just-commenced recording project. And in the spirit of generosity, as well as some guilt related to the very low frequency of posts on this blog, today's edition is going to be epic.

We'll start with the general idea: We're a band working on a record by ourselves, and we thought some people might find it interesting to follow along as we proceed. We don't have a very solid plan here, but our basic approach is to try to create a good-sounding document of what we do live, along with some limited embellishments that we come up with during recording. We want to use the process of recording in somebody's house as an opportunity to inject a little serendipity into the result, which we think is lacking in a lot of recorded music (though there are lots of great exceptions to this - more and more lately, in fact). So, while we're going to do a fair amount of overdubs and that sort of thing, we're going to try to keep it to a minimum, and we'll avoid using tons of post-production compression and effects (except in some cases for, er, effect). The idea is to leave things for the most part as they are, in order for the recording to be a document of something that actually happened in a particular place and time, rather than just a thoroughly-crafted product. We think this is one great thing about many records we like (including a few recent examples), and it fits in well with the aesthetic of our current crop of songs, since in many ways they're about space, place, and interplay between the band members.

So here's where you come in: As we go through the process of tracking songs, doing mixes, overdubs, etc., we're going to throw a lot of stuff on here for everyone to check out. At this point, that's going to be a lot of rough mixes, ideas, things that might get scrapped, or whatever - we're going to try not to edit much what we put up here. We simply invite you to enjoy the chance to see the process at work, warts and all.

Also, since we're recording geeks (or at least some of us are), we're going to explain things with a fair amount of technical detail about microphones and so on. Today, though, since there's a lot of that stuff, we'll go ahead and give you something to listen to, and you can skip the rest if you're not the sort of person who gets excited about Grundig GDSM 200s. Of course, there are lots of pictures, too, but none of them even have people in them (sorry, James).

One last thing before we get to the good stuff: We've spent a lot of time and energy gathering and learning all of this gear ourselves, but we wouldn't have gotten nearly as far as we have without the help of a few friends. In particular, we've relied a great deal on the amazing generosity and enthusiasm of Jim Marrer, who's loaned us a ton of gear and offered a lot of great advice over the past year or more. And more recently, we've received a few choice items on loan from Eli Aiken (including those crazy Grundigs!), who really shouldn't have (but is welcome to do so again). Finally, we've got to give some love to Tape Op Magazine. If you've read this far and you don't know about it, you need to check it out ASAP.

Alright, so here's the first track. It's called "I Propose," and it features some signature Jupiter Watts guitar interplay, along with alternately kooky and spooky lyrics. It's just basic tracks with scratch vocals, but there's not a lot more to this song than what's here:

I Propose (rough mix 5/29/09).

We'd love to know what you think of it.

OK, now for the serious recording geekery:



















We'll start with the obligatory console shot. The heart of the studio, it's a 1989 Soundcraft 600 with patchbay. It has its quirks, but for the most part it works very well, and it sounds great. It also came with a number of snakes that make interfacing gear through the patchbay very easy - though we have done a lot of soldering, especially with all the equipment we've recently acquired.






















And here's a bunch of said equipment. There's probably no reason to go into all of it; it's a pretty standard bunch of home studio stuff, most of which should be familiar if you're an avid Tape Op reader. The FMR RNLA is the latest acquisition; it sounds great, though not as colored as expected. Of special note are a few items on top of the rack: In the wooden box on the right are a pair of RCA BA-31 mic pres, courtesy of Jim Marrer. These are old, they sound killer, and they're especially great because they have absolutely no features - only an on/off switch. Want to adjust the gain? You're gonna need some inline pads. Over on the left, just peeking above the top of the rack, there's a Grace Lunatec V3, used only for its pres, which are just as awesome as everybody says they are - maybe we should be trying to use the conversion. They're on loan from Eli Aiken. At the bottom of the rack you see two totally stock M-Audio Delta 1010s, one of which is pushing ten years old and working fine (knock on wood). They feed a custom-built PC running Sonar 8.


















Facing the console is this chair people sit in when they want to criticize the mix or just check out for a minute. Reactions are usually mellower on the ancient and grubby orange velour couch, which you can just see in the console shot above. There should be a couch in the room with every recording console, even though the Beatles didn't do it that way.


















This shot shows what tight quarters we're in: Everything possible is tracked live in the living room, just outside the "control room," which isn't even separated by a door. The house is a 1921 Craftsman, but the previous owner helpfully removed the wall between the living and dining rooms. Combined with the high ceilings, this makes for an unusually good sounding residential space.






















Here's the main setup; everyone's in a half-circle facing the drums during tracking. The SVT is mic'ed up close with a Beyer m380, a classic mic for this purpose, though it can be too much if you're not careful. Most things are mic'ed closely to minimize bleed. James' Pro Reverb is covered with an AT 4033 - not our first choice, but it produces good results in this setup and we wanted to use all of our large dynamics on other sources. He usually plays a Les Paul these days, so it doesn't come out too bright. Clay's keys are recorded direct, though he does have an amp in the room for monitoring.


















Here's Ramon's guitar setup; he uses an AC30 and loves that little old Silvertone for recording. And he owns that killer Jazzmaster, but tends to favor the Squire Tele next to it! Oh well, it does sound like a Tele. The funny little mic on the AC30 is the Grundig mentioned above; apparently it has the same capsule as the famous Sennheiser MD409. We wouldn't know, but we do know it sounds freaking killer - totally 3D guitar action. Up front you can see we're using an RE20 for James' vocals, which he prefers to any condenser he's used, and an SM7 for Ramon's. These are both really trendy right now, maybe because they're so awesome. The SDC in the weird spot is an AKG C360b, just standing by for use on acoustic guitar.


















The most unconventional thing here is the drum setup - we stumbled across the idea of doing this minimal kit - similar to a "cocktail kit," but with even less to it - quite a while ago when we began to really focus on more quiet, spare music. Ramon, James, and Clay switch off drum duties, and we never use anything more than percussion in addition to these two drums. You can see an MD421 on the snare; this is probably the only mic in the room we actually move around all the time; it's a great mic, though, so all crappy snare sounds are totally our fault. There's a D12 under the floor tom, which sounds amazing and kick-drummy in just the right way. We all love Ringo, anyway - and yes, we said D12, not D112. The overheads are AT pro37Rs; they're in X/Y facing away from the band to minimize bleed. That 57 is just there to feed a delay we occasionally use. Oh, and you can get a sense of the shape of the room and where the drums are located if you notice the vocal mics just peeking above those gobos. It is pretty tight quarters, but it's comfortable and produces a great vibe, and it's infinitely quieter and more pleasant than our rehearsal space.

So there you have it - that's how we'd record a band if we were going to do it in a smallish old house. Which we are. This was the standard setup for the first session, which produced basic tracks for five songs in three days; we'll likely do at least one more such session in the next month or so, along with tons of overdubs in less complex setups, some possible at other locations. Keep an eye out here as we'll be posting lots more and looking for feedback, especially if you want to geek out about old mics and stuff.

Oh yeah: We will try to put up some pics with people in them someday, too. We promise.

5.27.2009

well under way.






















Well, we had a pretty great long weekend tracking - although we didn't get as many songs done as we would have liked (shocker), we're quite happy with the initial results. We'll be working on mixing and overdubs in the coming weeks, and we may have another major tracking session coming up soon. And we'll probably be posting some rough mixes and recording details here for you any day now - in the meantime, you'll have to make do with these photos and a bit of commentary...


















The patchbay and some gear. this is our first major effort on our own, and things can get complicated...


















But with deep thinkers like James on the job we always make it through.


















Meanwhile, Clay and Ramon get their jam on. With limited time, we tried to stay on task as much as possible, so we didn't produce the percentage of random improvisations that we normally might. But these two will always find a moment to screw around. Who would have guessed?

Keep an eye out for more to come soon...

5.20.2009

what does it take to make a record?















As musicians and music fans, of course, this is a question we've pondered at great length, but we wouldn't presume to offer a definitive answer. After all, great records have been made with little more than a four-track and an idea, while others have required many months and untold quantities of self-obsession to create. Some might even argue that whiffle-ball is an essential recording tool, though we prefer ping-pong.

Well, we're not going to do it quite the way anybody else has, but we're getting ready to give it a shot. We'll be holed up all weekend getting started on our next recording project, and we'll be doing all of it ourselves, at least at this stage. We're not expecting it to be brilliant, but we're going to try to make it as good as we can - wish us luck, and look for regular updates on our progress here.

To give you a taste of what we'll be doing, here are a couple of improvisations recorded under similar but somewhat more casual circumstances at the same place we'll be working this weekend. Both of them feature guest appearances from our friend Matt Glagola, of Liverhearts fame (by the way, if you want to see a band blog that's cooler than ours but even less frequently updated, check theirs out).

untitled 11.

untitled 8.

Bonus points if you can guess where we did the recording (and no, it's not the place pictured here - double bonus points if you can identify that location).

4.27.2009

ah, springtime.

















Yep, it's really and truly everyone's favorite season now, and we couldn't resist suiting up in our springtime celebration garb and joining the parade at the Inman Park Festival. OK, we weren't really in the parade, but we were standing right there, and it was awesome.

Still, the parade was not quite as awesome as the backyard performance by our good friends Cadillac Jones, who really made it look easy, despite the unusually well-lit environs:

















They even made it sound good, too.

We, on the other hand, accomplished nothing remotely useful over the beautiful weekend. Fortunately, though, we must have been vaguely productive at some point this past winter, when we spontaneously created yet another droney jam. Thus, in the spirit of springtime creativity, we offer:

yet another droney jam.

Enjoy it while you're enjoying the weather, and look for more from us soon...

4.06.2009

five-two-nine.















Hey hey people: Thanks to all who came out to the Earl show a couple of Saturdays ago - it was a great time for all, and we really dug the Preakness and the Selmanaires, both of whom brought the rock like only they can do. The new Preakness record is a good one, too - don't forget to grab a copy ASAP if you haven't already.

Now, if you haven't yet had your fill of the new Jupiter Watts sound, you've got one more chance to catch us in the immediate future: This Wednesday we're playing our first show at 529 in East Atlanta, starting earlyish at 9pm sharp. We know you won't miss it!

As an advance token of our appreciation for your attendance Wednesday night, please accept a studio version of one of the new songs we've been featuring in our recent sets:

ebb/flow.

Seeya soon...

3.27.2009

another day at the earl...
































Thanks to all who came out to see us at Dunch a few weeks ago - we all had a great time, and it sounds like everyone else did, too. In fact, our friends over at Evilsponge enjoyed it enough to give us a really nice writeup, complete with lots of great photos of the snowy atmosphere - thanks, guys! And thanks to our friend Dixon for the cool photos above.

We hope to see all of you out again this Saturday night - we're really excited to be opening up another show at the Earl for our good friends the Preakness - it's their first full-length CD-release show, believe it or not. They'll be playing in the middle, and rounding out the killer bill (if we do say so ourselves) will be everybody's faves the Selmanaires. We don't even have to tell you this will be the place to be Saturday night, do we? We'll be rocking, rain or shine - doors open at 9:00.

And keep an eye out here for some more tunes soon - hopefully we'll get some stuff up here for ya before our upcoming show on April 8 at 529...

2.27.2009

almost there.

















Yep, we're just about to play our first show in quite a while - finally! We know you've been waiting with bated breath, so be sure to come out Sunday to the Earl for Dunch - we should play one set around 1:00pm and another around 2:30. We'll be playing a number of new things in a new configuration, so it should be fresh and exciting for all. Just to keep you entertained until then, here's a couple of Jupiter Watts tunes from Ramon's recent solo show at Kavarna; he's accompanied by our good fried Hutch from Cadillac Jones on standup bass. Thanks to Hutch and Gary for the recording.


the target.

nothing at all.

2.13.2009

jupiter watts go multimedia.

Man, we're really slack about updating this thing - but look for several new posts in the next couple of weeks. We've got to get you hyped for our upcoming Dunch show at the Earl, right? Don't forget: March 1, 1:00pm. Until then, keep yourselves entertained with our first foray into video, lovingly crafted by our very own Ramon "the Domingo" Wals:

video

1.16.2009

just a quick reminder...

















...to catch Ramon tomorrow night at Kavarna, playing with some friends from Eskimo Kiss. And here's a little one-off jam from a couple months back to get your weekend started out on a relaxed -but-upbeat-but-also-slightly-strange note:

shameless hobos.

Meanwhile, we're headed out to see some friends play a little reggae with Lloyd's Rocksteady Revue at the Five Spot tonight - maybe we'll see you there.

1.08.2009

we were never gone...

...we were just keeping quiet. But no more. Expect to see us out and about more often in the near future: Ramon will be doing a solo appearance at Kavarna next Saturday, January 17, and the band will be playing some new material for a Dunch show at the Earl on March 1. Expect to see a lot more recordings popping up here, too.

In the meantime, keep yourselves occupied with this, improvised by three of us on two different occasions in one room:


ironside.