Monday, August 26, 2013

recording with eric and amy

The short of it is that I had a great time recording with Eric and Amy last Saturday.

The long of it is, well, longer. All in all, I spent about 14 hours with them. That included not just recording, but lunch, dinner, conversation. When I left at 2:00 AM Sunday, the recording was not finished. Eric was still working on adding some mellotron tracks. At that moment, I think, it was trumpets. He still wanted to add some more touchups, some handclaps, and adjust the volumes. Perhaps I should ghave volunteered to leave earlier?

First, I should note that Eric and Amy were extremely gracious. They're extremely nice people, and weren't at all stuck up. There was no "We're the professional rock musicians and you're just a fanboy" attitude.

One thing I noticed is that they approached this very differently than County Q studios did when I paid them to make a demo of  "Jackpot." County Q was acting as a demo service. Not as critics or partners. Their job was to produce as good-sounding a record as they could of the song I sent them. It didn't matter if they liked it or not. I could have sent them a recording of someone singing "A blind man's penis is erect because he's blind" over and over. And that's what they would have turned into a record. Oh, they would have fancied up the arrangement to make it sound as radio-ready as they could. But the lyrics would have been the same. The melody would have been the same. The chord progression would have been the same.

Amy and Eric didn't view it that way. They made some modifications to the song. More on the specifics later. I am not sure what their exact motivation was. Perhaps it was personal pride, that if they were making a record of a song they wanted it to be as good as it could be. Or it could be that they felt a sort of paternalistic desire to help me w1hen there were obvious ways to improve the song. Or it could have been something else. Or a combination of considerations. I don't know what would have happened if I had stomped my feet and said "No! I want a recording of the song Scott and I wrote. The way we wrote it. Don't change a word or a note or a chord." But I wasn't about to.

The changes? Well, they sped it up and changed the key. But those aren't major changes -- though upspeeding it certainly changed the feel. They also made some changes to the lyrics. Not major changes -- meaning there's no place where lyrics were removed or added, or replaced with something that makes you say "Where the hell did that come from?" But these were real changes. One example that comes to mind is in the second verse. The original lyric was "I remember that it ended in a great big fight / I can't remember and I don't care who was wrong or right." They rewrote that as "It didn't end in a great big fight / No one was wrong and no one was right." This works better with the following line which talks about never actually breaking up, but just fading away.

The changes were substantial enough that I asked if I should give them songwriting credit (on the off chance that I find someone interested in publishing). They said yes. So I have the thrill of sharing a songwriting credit with someone I've been a fan of for this long. For the time being I am assuming I don't have to register another copyright. This is similar enough to the original that I doubt the few new elements will be stolen. And I know that if there's money to be made I'll not cheat Eric and Amy. Which leaves the question of what percentages everyone would get. I'm inclined to avoid quibbling and just say 25% apiece (for me, Eric, Amy and Scott). Hopefully no one will feel cheated and complain. If anything, I'm erring on the generous side, since the majority of the song is me -- both melodically and lyrically. But I guess it's easy to be generous with zero.

I'll note that I also learned a bit of songwriting from the experience. I've always had trouble writing bridges -- mine almost always sound too similar to the rest of the song. Amy and Eric sure fixed that. Amy explained it thusly: The bridge is where you can go crazy. So maybe the problem is that I've always played it safe with bridges, when I should have been going bold. I'll try to remember that in future songwriting endeavors.

I am hoping that, in the future, Eric and Amy will work with me on other projects. The fee, my Kickstarter pledge, was well worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Got the song on my ipod. Well, really the ipod app on my cell phone.