Today is the day! It is October 22nd, 2018 - the first day of recording, the first day of working one on one with Lloyd Peterson at Paintbox Studios, the first day of the rest of these Shakers’ lives! I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of this incredible family for the last 6 months; watching them grow as people, as artists; listening to the way they constantly work to improve songs and come up with new ideas - they truly are so passionate about what they do and it has been a beautiful sight; seeing their hopes and dreams come to fruition with all the hard work and dedication
I’d love to tell you that the entire house woke up nice and early this morning and did an hour of yoga before eating a well-rounded, energizing breakfast and getting to the studio 15 mins early. However, life - and sleep - does not always go as scheduled and at 8:06 am; I was the only one awake in the house. I put on a pot of coffee and went back to bed with the idea that I could lay down for a few extra minutes before waking the house. We all had good intentions - I swear - but like most bands who are all-too-excited for their first studio experience, the house woke up slowly, one at a time, fighting their alarms and burying their faces deeper into their pillows and burrito-ing themselves tighter in their blankets. By the time I managed to check the clock again, it was already 9:27 am and it was time to get our butts out the door. We scrambled - excitement for the day dipped into anxiety about what time it was and tensions began to rise as time quickly disappeared. Luckily, I had made that pot of coffee earlier and it was easy to get our daily dose of caffeine while we scurried to pack the car and head out.
We arrived shortly after our scheduled 10am start time, still anxious and excited, with every piece of equipment we thought we could possibly need in tow. We knew Brennen and Tate were already here - Brennan was parked in the fire lane and Tate’s tiny vehicle was hiding behind an SUV. As we got inside we realized we should have known better than to assume that we had everything we needed - because just as soon as we arrived we no sooner had to go back to the house for the stuff we forgot. I mean, how are we going to record Tanners keys WITHOUT TANNERS KEYS? After a quick detour back home to grab Tanner’s keys, Darrell’s backpack, and a cup of sugar for some in-studio coffee; we were back at the studio in no time - ready and eager to start the recording process!
One by one Lloyd took the band members in to the back room of the studio. He set the levels on each instrument and microphone and tested them to perfection. First, Brennan's drums, then Tate’s guitar, Quinton’s guitar, Darrell’s base, Tanner’s keys - thank goodness we didn’t forget those - and finally Quinton and Sarah’s vocals. While everyone waited for it to be their turn, the anticipation grew. I could almost see smoke coming from Darrell’s shoes as he paced back and forth around the room. I’m not even in the band and I was beyond excited - I was already on my fourth cup of coffee by that point, but that probably wasn’t much of a contributing factor. Once the setup phase was complete, we all agreed we could use some air. I had a cigarette, and watched as Darrell walked around the parking lot, Tate did a few handstands and Quinton sat in the grass. Once we had inhaled enough fresh air we trickled back inside. It was time for the band to ease themselves into the first recording attempt.
I sat in the control room with Lloyd as they ran through the first song a couple times. The very first take sounded so great, but of course, something happened to the mic on the snare drum, so a second take was needed before we could have the first listen. The first few takes are always just a practice round anyways - right? The band piled into the control room and exchanged some commentary about how “it could have been better” and Lloyd gave some suggestions from his perspective on how to improve the in-studio sound. One of which was to ease the bass into the song a little smoother - since the guitars sounded a little bassy anyway - that’s when we discovered that Quinton had stolen Darrell’s bass riff and added it to the start of his guitar riff. The room laughed as Darrell shot Quinton a nice glare and it was time to get back to recording.
The whole process of day one was really cool to watch and be a part of - not only to see everyone familiarize themselves with the studio and the way Lloyd did things, but also to see the way he interacted back with them. If he had a critique - he delivered it well. If he heard something he liked - he was sure to let everyone know. It was beautiful to watch everyone receive his suggestions so well, and it instantly improved the way the sound was delivered. I think we all anticipated that the day would be stressful if we weren’t overly prepared - but things actually went a lot smoother than I expected - and by 2:00pm Lloyd and I agreed that we had a solid take of the foundation track. We had successfully ‘Laid down the bedding’ as they say. I don't know exactly who came up with that term but once Lloyd said it, Tanner took it and ran; mentioning beds and sheets and fluffling pillows nearly every time he had something to say about the track. It’s great watching him break the ice - even if the water’s already warm - and bring laughter to the room.
The band had joined us in the control room once more so they could take a listen and talk about the sound - then Lloyd mentioned lunch. I knew I was starving so I couldn’t imagine how everyone else was feeling. Sarah was the only one out of all of us that actually planned ahead and packed herself a lunch, but it only took 30 seconds after someone mentioned pizza for our minds to be made. I ordered us some delivery and the band got right back in the studio. It was time to do the base track for the second song.
By now I realized that any and all tension and anxiety that may have been present leading up to today, had melted away. I could feel that the level of comfortability had grown through each track and there was an eager, yet relaxed vibe floating around the studio. The goals and desires that everyone shared about the future of this sensual, soulful, indie-folk band were no longer just goals and desires - they were happening, right now, in front of my eyes. I sat back for a minute to take it all in - (and cause my fingers were starting to cramp). I noticed that Sarah’s eyes were closed; she was feeling the music, and she was allowing herself to get swallowed by the beautiful sounds that floated around her.
I realized at this point that it was time for me to head to work - all I wanted to do was sit and watch and enjoy the process, but day one at the studio was nearly over anyhow. It was the perfect first day. It was stressful and exciting and beautiful. It was the first day of the rest of these Shakers’ lives.