Remembering The Forgotten Place, part two, production.
(To hear The Forgotten Place, use the player at the end of this post. To download Deep Salvage, please visit http://deepsalvage.bandcamp.com)
As with every other song on Deep Salvage, except Waitress Blues, I finished the demo of The Forgotten Place with no idea of who would sing it. Musically, the song is complex, modulating from minor to major and covering a decent melodic range, so it needed an accomplished singer. Trouble is, I hate most "accomplished" singers, with their over-emotive delivery, "horse factor" vibratos and tendency toward improvisation at all the wrong moments and in the most cliché way. I also wanted someone who sounded weathered, someone who had lived hard and could deliver Dave's words as though he, not Dave, had written them. After listening to several folks, I was beginning to give up hope, but Tim Young, the guitarist on Deep Salvage, told me not to worry. He had The Guy, a soulful singer named Dave Brogan (see photo above). Even better, he said he and Dave would be playing a gig soon in SF and so I could go hear him live. The gig was at The Connecticut Yankee and though I was only able to stay for one set (clubs, the music kind, cause my brain problems), I left feeling pretty certain about Dave's voice, but not totally convinced.
Parallel to my Great Search for a Singer, Tim and I were hard at work on the guitar parts. Only one teensy challenge: Tim lives in LA and I live in SF. So everything was done over the phone and over email, starting with me sending Tim my demo and then talking on the phone a bit and then Tim sending me his demo and so on. The guitar part is tricky, because it's a pattern, but not. In other words, there are a few things that repeat, bust mostly it's random. After several back-and-forths, Tim finally said to me, "Freedom rock, right?" I wasn't sure what he meant but it sounded cool so I said, "Exactly!" The tracks that came back are what you hear on the CD.
Sadly, my memory of the recording the drums and bass is murky. I know the drums were recorded at Hyde Street Studio C, with Andy Korn pounding the skins and Jaimeson Durr twisting knobs. But I can't remember where Sam Bevan laid down the bass track. Was it Hyde Street? At his house? Thinking… nope… can't remember. Damn, I feel bad about this because Andy's and Sam's playing on the song is great, and I wish I could recount the details. I'll try to call them.
My memory is also murky regarding the vocal sessions. I'm sure Dave Brogan was first, and from the earliest takes all my doubts vanished. He was born to sing this song.
Then, I think I had Larkin Gayl come into Hyde Street to record harmonies. (I remember she was pregnant at the time, so she did not imbibe in her usual nip of bourbon!) But even with these two great voices, I felt one more voice was needed, especially in the middle 8, where I was after a sort of CSNY-type thing. I called Josh Fix and he came in and sang like a bastard. God, he was great, laying down layer after layer of vocals to fill out the middle 8. For the final take, I told him to be the drunken idiot who always over emotes and he delivered in spades. Lotsa fun. I even stepped behind the microphone for a take!
And we were done. Mixing, mixing and more mixing followed.