square head

tracking guitar riff for Desert Girl

tracking guitars for Oh What a Fool

at the Buzz Box

at the Buzz Box

Mike Bitts on There She Goes Again

Joe sings

send me the bill
somewhere out west

Summer Thieves began recording at the Maple Ave studio as sponsored artists. The earliest recording I have dates from August 29, 2009, a mono room recording of us tracking acoustic guitars. The most recent thing is us jamming (mostly just talking) on March 26, 2013. During that three and a half year span we recorded a lot of music, completing a dozen songs and one video, and getting some airplay on WXPN. But really, it was one of those things where it's about the journey.

Tom and Joe had been performing together for years. They'd written songs, and even put in some studio time, but their most recent band had broken up and they were looking to record with some new players. Once I heard them sing I wasn't thinking about anything much beyond getting those voices on tape.

A challenging thing about recording is learning how the artist likes to work. Do they do best with repeated runs through a song, or are they more inspired by novelty? As it turns out, Tom and Joe are on opposite sides of that line, with Tom best making it up as he goes and Joe liking to know what he's supposed to do beforehand. This makes for interesting times, but it isn't unusual for creative people to form alliances like this. I wish I had been a little quicker sussing this out- I might have come up with better recording strategies.

We started out with The Bay Song, but I soon learned that there weren't any hard and fast names for songs, and that some of them were destined to be cannibalized by others and so forth. I don't think the Bay Song ever met with the approval of the guys- "too candy" was the verdict when we had finished, although it showed the strength of their singing. It was released to sponsors as the first Summer Thieves release, Steam Powered #328, in 2009.

The usual process was to record guitar and bass parts first then get a drummer to play on the track. We went through at least three drummers before finding Oz, the guy who could drop into the pocket on the first or second listen. It would have been better to have the drummer recorded first but the situation on Maple Ave was limited by neighbors, and was hard to schedule. Eventually we did remote recording at the Buzz Box north of town for most of the final versions.

This thing about the drums was a big inspiration for my move to the new location. Oddly enough, Summer Thieves never recorded anything with drums here.

(to be continued...)