Written by Ozma in December 2000 during the recording session of The Double Donkey Disc:
pat and i went down to bruce's at 8pm today to do the final formatting for the CD, although bruce's practice with vanessa paradise went late and we didn't get started until 9:30. bruce had been listening to our CD over the weekend, and he had the genius suggestion to lower the EQ at 40hz, which really cleared up the sound, made things less muddier, particularly guitars. i can really hear the drum set well now, especially the kick drum, which was previously a bit clouded by the low EQ frequencies. good call, bruce! we flew the final mixes of all the songs into adaptec jam, the audio layout program, and adjusted the silences and determined where the track IDs would fall. by 12:30 we had 2 copies of what will most likely be the exact same CD our listeners will hear. we send it off to the duplicators tomorrow (or wednesday, if we find any problem with it tonight). i think i speak for the entire band when i say that it has been a pleasure recording these songs, and a wonderful few weeks with bruce's place as our 2nd home. now we send it out into the world and hope that these songs wind up meaning as much to you as they do to us. blast it. [metalsign.]
today, our last real studio day, was the "final mix changes" session. we had all listened previously and made notes about things we wanted to change, so we got right to it. a little more keyboards here (no one needs to know), a little less vocals there (you know the story), and more guitars everywhere! adam orth (formerly of shufflepuck) taught us one of our most important lessons as far as mixing rock records go... always keep the guitars up in the mix. in typical ozma fashion, we also left some of the actual recording until the very last possible minutes - first ryen and i dropped in our vocals in the "astronaut/cosmonaut" section of you know the story, and later on we found ourselves both in the main studio room, sitting around a single mic, ryen with bruce's beautiful gretsch acoustic and i with bruce's new doubble-bass. that's how we recorded the very first music you'll hear when you play the CD. it's a folky sound, just what we imagined for the introduction to the CD. i had to leave at 7 to get to no future cafe by 7:30 to sound check with at livingston park, a band i'm playing a little bass for (the frontman is mike elliott, formerly of tomracer). the others stayed there until 8 and burned CDs of the mixes, which we listened to over boggle at jose's house after the show. total studio time 128 hrs over 16 days.
today we got the bulk of the mixing work done, including maybe in an alternate dimension, bootymaster, and you know the story/outtro. a lot of it was work for bruce, so i got some good work done on the artwork for the CD, and i had some fun playing bruce's brand new upright bass! bruce, an accomplished bassist, is going on tour in europe with the french singer vanessa paradise (johnny depp's wife) in a band that includes steve nieve (keyboardist for elvis costello), and they bought him an upright bass for some of the more laid back songs they're doing. 8 hours mixing, for a total of 119 hrs over 15 days.
we took january 24th off of studio time to listen to mixes and drive down to irvine to perform on the sweater show (KUCI) which was lots of fun. camille, the host, even played a couple of the newly mixed cuts. read the show diary.
our second, very productive day of mixing started a while after noon, with the tetris cover (note: we did some research and found out that this music is actually a traditional russian folk song called "korobeiniki," meaning "merchants" or "peddlers." the words were written in 1861 by the russian poet nikolai nekreyev - though our version is instrumental only. in order to avoid being sued by pazhitnov, the maker of tetris, we will avoid using the word "tetris" in the title of the song). bruce suggested some reverb on the drums in the breakdown, we all agreed, and got a little carried away, deciding to reverse the reverb and put it before the snare hits, which makes the snare drum sound like a whip or something - a very 80s sound. perhaps a little over the top, but... hell... this is the recording we swore we would take all the risks with. anyway, tetris/korobeiniki sounds great, especially the triple-pick-slide near the end, which we ran through a light flange to make it really stand out. then we went to work on jose's vocals for flight of the bootymechanic, which was interesting and fun for all of us - ryen and i both have settled into pretty distinct, separate styles of recording vocals, but jose had never sang lead on a song before. turns out he too has a sort of style when recording. those turned out well, and i did my harmony, and then ryen did his "aah aah aah aah aahs," which were the last vocals recorded today. jose left at 6:30, after we had begun mixing "the business of getting down." ryen and i attempted handclaps for the outtro to this song, but when we left they weren't sounding as good as we wanted them to, so we'll see whether we leave them in or alter them, or what. we wrapped around 7:30pm. total studio time 111 hrs over 14 days.
finally, our first day of mixing! we're not even totally done with tracking yet - there are still odds and ends that need to get overdubbed and we still have to do the vocals on jose's song, but we decided it'd be best if we started mixing a little early so that we don't leave it all for the last minutes, when our ears may be tired. we started with no one needs to know around noon, bruce tweaked the drum sounds for about 2 hours to get them really right on... it was definitely worth it, the drums sound fantastic on this record! the entire mix was impressing us, and just when we thought bruce couldn't make it sound any better, he ran it through the "better box," a mastering plug-in for protools that bruce says "just makes everything sound better." it lived up to it's name... next was the mix for continental drift, and we wound up doing some overdubs in the process, like jose vocals and keyboards in the later parts of the song. we did a mix of that one by about 6 or 7, and we got a little work done cleaning up flight of the bootymaster before we wrapped at 8. total studio time 104 hrs over 13 days.
starting at noon today, we worked on vocals for the business of getting down. bruce suggested we experiment with some doubling on certain sections, and so we did. after the verses and choruses were done, we set up two mics in the same room so ryen and i could record the ending harmonies at the same time. those were lots of fun... imagine screaming "get down to business" for 20 minutes. continuing with the double-team mic setup, we moved on to no one needs to know. ryen and i sang it once through to get a scratch backing vocal, then i spent an hour or so getting a finalized lead vocal. finally, ryen came in and fixed up the background vocal track. both songs are totally finished now, except for one jose vocal on no one needs to know, which we'll do when we record the leads for his song. with the last hour, we plugged ryen's guitar into the board to rerecord his bootymaster rhythm guitar track, and a lead on the business of getting down that we had forgotten to record earlier. we had to head into pasadena for the tibetan fundraiser show by 9, so we wrapped right at 7pm after 7 hours of recording. total studio time 96 hrs over 12 days.
we straggled in on this glorious thursday afternoon by 1pm and began picking up the pieces after our little protools blunder yesterday. things turned out well, though - we got good bootymaster vocals (including lots of "yeah yeahs"). after that, we worked on continental drift, after lyrics were completed only minutes before they were to be recorded. bruce had to leave early to go to san diego for a 9pm show with his band supremium, so we wrapped around 6pm, making it only a 5 hour recording session. total studio time 89 hrs over 12 days.
our 12th studio day was a bit of a bummer... we started at 2pm, all stoked to get vocal tracks on bootymaster, but when ryen got to the middle of the song, he proclaimed firmly that it was "too fast" for him to sing vocals. in the process of editing the song to make it a little easier for him to sing vocals, protools wound up crashing, and due to some inexplicable technological catastrophe, some keyboard, guitar, and vocal tracks were lost from bootymaster. i've seen a lot of stuff in my day working with computers... but this one stumped us all. we ran norton unerase on bruce's hard drive and we were able to track down almost all of the lost files... but we may still have to bring ryen's amp back to the studio to rerecord his rhythm guitar track. this whole shenanigan took from 2pm until about 6pm. somewhere along the line i had the realization that recording pre-written songs isn't really a creative process. the writing of the songs is the creative process... the recording of them is something like work (but not really, since it's fun) and something like performance (but not really, since you can take as many tries as you like to get a part sounding good). that could perhaps explain why i have recently been feeling a little unfulfilled creatively. as much as i love these songs, i am looking forward to getting this record out, performing these songs next to all our previously released songs, and starting work on more new music. anyway, i'm not going to count the time spent today in the log, since we won't be charged for it, but i am going to count the day as a day spent, since we were all at the studio and we all had to deal with the problem. total studio time 84 hrs over 12 days.
we got started around 1 on vocals today. the first song to get vocals was maybe in an alternate dimension, which was for some reason harder to sing than we remembered it being... bruce suggested the "comp track" method, in which ryen records 4 vocal takes all the way through, and then we listen to those 4 and take our favorite parts and assemble one final vocal track. that worked well, and after ryen was done i laid the background vocal. i sang the line about "link the zelda warrior" all low and silly, and it gave everyone lots of laughs - but we don't know whether or not we'll keep it in the final mix. after alternate dimension we went to do the vocals for you know the story. the wailing sections at the end were particularly fun to record. any time you get to just go all out and scream into a thousand-dollar microphone, it makes you feel good, for some reason. tomorrow will see vocals for flight of the bootymaster and some others. total studio time 84 hrs over 11 days.
this friday was one of the funnest studio days yet. we went in a little after noon, and immediately got to work on vocals for the intro to the russian side. bruce set up a big blanket on a stand, to shield sound between two mics in the main studio room. that minimized the bleed when ryen and i went in to sing the "bum bum bums" you will hear at the beginning of the russian side. without the blanket, ryen's vocals would have been audible on my track, and vice versa... so in order to be able to adjust the volumes of the two tracks later, bruce set up the blanket. sounds complicated, but, simple, if you think about it. we did 12 takes of 2 of us singing the same vocals, so there are a total of 24 voices in the mix... which achieved the marching-russian-army sound we were going for. we sang the same thing (just 4 voices this time, though) for the finale of the russian side. soon after that, jose arrived with moranne as ryen and i were recording our token balalaika tracks, me on the russian intro and ryen on "no one needs to know." if you haven't ever seen one, the balalaika is a triangular-bodied guitarlike instrument from russia. they come in many sizes, although i believe they always have just three strings. ryen came into possession of a couple balalaikas, thanks to his parents, and one of them appears on this recording multiple times. we left around 6pm, to go play the surprise acoustic/electric show at no future in pasadena, which was a real treat for all of us, i think. i'd like to think it also worked as a thank you of sorts for our wonderfully supportive parents, who got to see us perform up close - at a place where they didn't have to plug their ears - for the first time in ages. we really do have the greatest parents, all five of us. i mean, not only do they buy us balalaikas, but more importantly, they support us when we decide to take time off school to do US tours with weezer. we love you very much. total studio time 76 hrs over 10 days.
had a fantastic day at the studio today, even though i'm getting sick, as is ryen, so it looks like we're going to have to postpone vocal work a day or two to let the colds blow over. we started the day with the bootymaster solo, and talk of how good bruce's show with his band supremium was the night before at the house of blues. pat and i were the buttheads of the day since we had told bruce we'd come and we didn't - he kept insisting the bass and drums were going to be a lot lower in the mix because of this. i was sick in bed at 10pm last night... anyway, i was still half asleep on bruce's couch until about 1 or 1:30, when we started work on the guitar solos in the flute song, which we were all sort of worrying about, but which turned out just fine. ryen rocks. we also ran ryen through a 10 watt squier amp to get the blues licks at the end of "the business of getting down." following that, the largest portion of today was spent working on the intro for the russian EP, which will probably be titled "flight of yuri gagarin." this work consisted of matching the samples we had of a marching russian army to the snare drum beat and rolls pat had given us, and of laying guitar, bass, and flute tracks over that. we left a little before 8pm, totaling 70 hrs over 9 days.