Monday, January 31, 2005
You single-chambered revolvers,
It's Monday, but this is the music world. That means that instead of coming out of the bullpen with sleep in our eyes, our limbs half-numb from a weekend of hibernation and recovery, and determining that a bunt is the only reasonable way to meet the workweek's opening pitch -- instead of doing, in other words, what the rest of you did today, we decided to step up to the plate and swing. GodDAMN it went well!
Rob was in rare form, which he managed, paradoxically, by acting normal. Here he is a couple of hours into the afternoon, a few seconds after his third or fourth wind deserted him:
Okay, Rob just saw us creating this post and requested that no more pictures of him drunk 'n' passed out appear on this website, or at the very least on today's post. We explained to him that for reasons of osmosis, his wish is unlikely to be granted: there are only a couple hundred pictures of Rob passed out drunk on the internet right now, but there are thousands, thousands, on our computer. Those pictures are bound to find their way from this cramped harddrive into the spacious fields of the world wide web. Nevertheless, a promise was made, and we will of course abide by it.
Here is a picture taken at the studio about an hour after the last one, but this is maybe some other guy :
We've never formally introduced Ariel Rechtshaid, our producer, to you guys, so we'd like to do that now in the form of a short but comprehensive pictorial montage:
Ariel's showing you his favorite column from Big Black Butt magazine there: "Ms. Powerbosom BUTTS IN". Here's a good quote: "Those of you who follow my adventures monthly know that my hearty appetite for sex has gotten me into quite a few interesting situations. [paragraph break] Last night, I was hungry and ordered a pizza." Needless to say, shit gets CRAZY from there. Fast-forward a couple of paragraphs: "I opened my eyes to find the window washer in my room, kneeling between my legs." And from there, you must believe that shit just gets absolutely crazy.
Okay, sorry for that tangent. Seriously, we're a bit fascinated by Big Black Butt right now. It's pretty amazing. But we totally realize that it has nothing to do with the new We Are Scientists album, which is what we're supposed to be dishing about here, so, y'know, sorry. Let's get back to the important stuff.
Tomorrow: amps and guitar tone! As addressed covertly in the pages of Big Black Butt!
Saturday, January 29, 2005
You expanding polar ice caps,
The recording of the guitars has begun, and sweet merciful mephistopheles is it ever going well. After hours and hours of tinkering with the set up, we've hit on a simple, elegant way of getting gorgeous guitar and bass sounds.
Guys, this album is going to sound amazing! But we're getting ahead of ourselves. You, the uninformed, are desperate for details, so let's back up a bit and make with the play by play.
On Saturday Keith and Chris got the hell out of NYC like a couple of majorly sane dudes. As they threw -- literally threw, as hard as they could -- their guitars into the back of a cab in the popular Brooklyn neighborhood known affectionately to locals as Williamsburgle, The Confetti That Requires No Clean Up began falling. Two hours later, they managed to tear away from tiny seat-back televisions long enough to wink at the blizzard-engulfed runway with a camera.
Pity darkened Keith's face while disdain flashed briefly across Chris's, then the two returned to the second Predator film, the one starring Danny Glover, Maria Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Gary Busey, Meryl Streep, Christian Slater, River Phoenix, and Stephen Colbert.
The little red line didn't have to crawl far across Mapquest-sponsored America before views improved. And of course by Saturday late afternoon We Are Scientists' premier only two guitarists were neck deep in LA sunjuice.
Studio work began on Monday, and there was great excitement when we arrived to find that Mr. Rob Brill, who had done such excellent work with our drums during week one, would be working the boards to match our Ultimate Drum Sound with an Ultimate Bass Sound. Rob got right to work.
No but seriously, after a couple hours of tinkering with amps and pre-amps and after-amp effects and cables in a variety of colors, we hit upon a terrific bass sound and laid down a few miles of track.
With Ariel, Rob, Lewis, and Chris's fingers -- the fingers of a working pickpocket -- aligned in cause, we skated through the bass with few setbacks. Now it's Saturday and guitar tracking has begun after two days of messing with amps and EQ. So many amps. Maybe on Monday we'll bring you a photo exposé on the several amps in use; right now the camera's batteries are dead and so is our desire to appease you. Instead let's take one more look at that shot of Rob adjusting the tubes then call it a day.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
You Blind Filmgoers,
Day 4 saw the number of band members doing absolutely nothing skyrocket from two to a one-week high of three (out of three!). Since Michael got all his drums done in the first three days, this day consisted of Top Gun Drum Engineer Rob Brill and Producer Ariel Rechtshaid editing and cleaning up tracks, loading everything off the studio's computers, etc., while the gentlemen of We Are Scientists concentrated on breathing 70 degree air and sitting up straight. Here's a shot of Michael passing the time while Rob toils away in earnest:
Actually, we did accomplish something on Day 4 –– not until Day 5 would our causative properties be completely neutered; not until Day 5 would we find ourselves wandering an oblivion where, like Patrick Swayze in Ghost, we would have to strain just to make an empty can acknowledge our physical presence. No, Day 4 would have been different if we hadn't been alive, because on Day 4 we did publicity photos with Dan Monick, photographer, musician, barrister of wit. It was a fun couple of hours shooting with Dan, and the results, which we saw that evening, delighted us. We've never looked so virile, so handsome, so jugular!
That's Dan up top; as you can see, he strongly resembles emeritus W.A.S. guitarist Scott Lamb, which was a great comfort to us. The second photo shows Dan searching frantically for his camera, which he thinks he's lost -- that's it on top of the tripod! It was one of those situations where you think you've lost your sunglasses when in fact they're on top of your head, except this was a huge camera sitting in plain view in the most obvious possible place.
That was a total lie -- Dan never lost his camera.
Here's us at the end of Day 4, psyched to wrap a week of drum recording. As usual, we've occupied any vacant space in the photo with the head of a kitten.
Reading this News page, you probably get the impression that we're alcoholics, since in almost every photo we're drinking. The fact is we do drink a whole lot, but not always. Not every minute of every day, as the photos imply.
Day 5 we were off duty, though editing and mixing of the drum tracks continued, as they will for the next 7 days or so. But we only know how to hit and strum things, not how to do any of that technical stuff, so on this day in history we did jack shit. The first order of business was to teach Lewis how to drink.
The rationale behind this was that if we could get him drinking, he could appear in lots more photos on the News site since photos of him would meet both of the criteria we have for News photos, which is to say that there would be a cat and there would be drinking. He has yet to really take to it, but all we had in the house was whisky and vino; we're going to pick up some wine coolers and see if that doesn't suit him better.
Next Michael headed off to do some concerted hanging with buddies, and Keith and Chris went to the park to spend quality time with their friend they haven't seen in years, the sun.
We had a great time at the park, squinting to read novels for five minute stretches before giving ourselves over fully to eyes-shut tanning. It was the park across the street from The Grove shopping center, which Greg Fishbein later told us is the most dangerous park in LA, but we had a great time. How could it be dangerous when there is an Apple Store in The Grove? Probably Greg was just trying to scare us, and it worked -- we're never going back to that fucking park ever again.
But man, we got pretty great tans there:
Now it's Sunday (Day 6) and we're getting ready to fly back to New York. This week will be a very slow one for recording activity on our end -- all drum mixing done by Ariel here in L.A. We'll be getting ready for Friday's show at CBGB and just generally enjoying all the freezing disgusting types of weather New York has to offer this time of year. This'll be the last show in New York for a little while, at least a month, so we intend to play very hard, as defined by at least one person's arm falling off -- could be a band arm, could be an audience arm, doesn't matter. Then we have to lie low a bit and get this g-damn album made. (See the Shows page for a more complete view of this Spring's schedule.)
Okay, more soon you truculent succotash.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
You Pleasant Dirtbags:
Michael nailed song after song after song over the last 48 hours, and at 6:29 p.m. on this, the third day of recording, all the drum tracks are in the basket. "In the basket", by the way, is a music industry term that means, basically, the stuff is now inside the basket. Still not clear? This pictorial essay should explain everything:
Michael does his thing, which all the pictures and words in the world couldn't explain to you. Best for you to think of it as magic. As you can see, there were many mics on the guy; all told, 126 mics. Yep, 126 mics. No, you credulous idiot! But seriously, there were 17 mics on the guy, which if you think about it is a lot of mics. You, for instance, will never have more than one mic recording anything you do, maybe. But history cares quite a lot about what's going on in that sound room when Michael's rapping out his rhythms, and so the government has asked that we have at least 17 mics recording everything he does.
Rob Brill, Master of Drums, sits next to the highly nuanced, incredibly sensitive, massively articulate, infinitely scalable mega-soundboard that mixes all those mics, and puts his feet up on it.
Producer Ariel takes a five and a half hour time-out on the couch with Rob's birthday champagne.
The whole gang. From right: Chris, Michael, Ariel, Rob, and, on the far left, some random dude who wandered in from the parking lot and started drinking Rob's birthday whisky (Johnny Walker Black). And since there was a big swath of bare wall in the picture, you've also got Lewis's head up there peering down on us benevolently, wondering where's his whisky.
Speaking of Lewis, he continues to kick the ass of all comers. One of the best games to play with Lewis is to take him up to the top of the stairs and set him down and then return to the bottom of the stairs and crouch down and wiggle your fingers around on the lip of one of the lower stairs like a pack of small crazy worms here to threaten Lewis's territory. Lewis responds with maximum brio: he launches himself down the stairs at a speed three times too fast to be safe, knowing that the mad invading worms can't possibly deal with such a high-speed assault, not one brought to the table by a little tiny cat. In conclusion: Lewis is going to be a tremendous addition to our nation's military.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
You Lemon-Flavored Canaries:
Today begins one month of recording on our new, yet to be named, yet to be declared "monumental" full-length record. How many songs will it boast? Which will they be? Will the sound be 'raw 'n' ragged' or 'polished 'n' drained of life'? Even these things are not yet known. We intend to keep you up to date on them and many other often totally irrelevant pieces of information as they develop over the next thirty or so days, in what will surely be an unprecedented level of activity on this, the freqently ignored, typically disdained News section.
So you've just learned -- if you were paying any attention at all to the words and their order and, in turn, their meanings -- that today is the first day of recording. But what, you are right to ask, the hell was yesterday and the day before that and so on going back five days or so? Your instinct for a story is uncanny. We were doing "pre-production", which ostensibly involves solidifying arrangements and deciding tempos, but which actually amounted to little more than this:
That's Producer Ariel Rechtshaid there on the left with Baloo, dog and jedi. On the right, Keith eases into his third straight hour of watching Spats and her 5 tiny kittens lie there and sometimes worm around a little. We also recorded some scratch tracks and stuff, but that doesn't make for very good pictures -- animals do. People want to see animals; as long as the We Are Scientists are in charge of this page, that's exactly what you're going to see.
Okay so then, yesterday (Monday) night we flew into Long Beach, and went directly to W.A.S. patron saint Greg Fishbein's house in West LA, where we're staying while we're out here, and guess what, there was an animal at Greg's. It was this guy, Lewis:
What a little hero Lewis is, and what towering rages he visits on the apartment, like a squirrel possessed by Dionysus. Lewis is made of elastic. Anticipate regular Lewis updates here for the next month.
And today we hit the studio to begin a week of drum tracking. To all you poor bastards who don't live in LA, eat your goddamn hearts out cuz this is the weather we've been presented with:
That first shot's Sonora, the studio where we weave the magical music capes. Then there's Michael Tapper pondering the LA river, which is quite a sight to see right now for Los Angelinos, who have seen water in the ocean and in bottles but never splashing all over the land like this. The volumetric abomination has been caused by many weeks of unceasing rain here in LA, a series of highly-uncharacteristic tempests that ended hours after we arrived at the airport last night. For this, LA owes us and they know it. Everywhere we go people are recognizing us and saying thanks. We're just like, "No big deal: it benefits us, too."
No pix of recording today, no lusty equipment shots; there'll be plenty of that in the days to come. Just to give you an idea of what Sonora's innards look like, though, here's a shot of Chris in the bathroom posing with a neon cactus:
So you see, there's a neon cactus in the bathroom, which augurs very well for this recording.