6 PM Arrival and load-in at 4 Deuces in Bridgeport. My producer/bandleader friend Ethans plan for the day is to have me (drums) and Nathan (bass) record rhythm tracks for five songs after his session with another band finishes. Contrary to pessimistic predictions, I find that the first band is indeed wrapped up and on their way. So far, so good.
7:30 PM Nathan arrives. By this time I have set up my drums and have made a few tuning adjustments, although I still find them sounding good after a gig two nights ago. Ethan, however, has been unexpectedly left alone to engineer for the first time in this studio and is grappling with the challenges of an unfamiliar board. (With freedom comes responsibility.) Nathan brings in his bass and goes to the control room to co-grapple.
8:15 PM Around this time I begin mic-checking the drums. Many snare hits in a row, until I get tired of it and stop, after which Ethan either asks for more or asks me to pause for a minute, then asks for more. Eventually the process repeats with the three toms.
9 PM In this hour we address the bass, the headphone setup and some further work on the board.
10 PM Takes begin. As with most visits to the studio Ive had, the challenge is to reconnect with the inspiration to play the parts after the hours of waiting. On this night, fortunately, it seems to be flowing well.
Some of the grappling involved getting the studio click track into the headphones and control room monitors. I grappled with the click myself back in the 90s. Like most drummers, at first I wanted to throw the metronome across the room. After a while, I learned to relax into it. It is a guide to time that doesnt have bad days or ego trips.
10:30 PM We have a good take of the first song. (A couple previous takes came close to the mark, but this one is, as Ethan put it, it-ish.) Nothing is like the feeling of being partway through a good take and sensing the finish line nearby.
No one had dinner before the session, so we spend a few minutes searching for a restaurant in Bridgeport that is still open and delivers. No luck.
We start a second song.
11 PM First take of the second song was shaky. (Anne Lamott wrote once about shitty first drafts. Shitty first takes are also common.) First half of the second take was better, but halfway through it the click stops, not a good sign. A few second later Ethan notifies Nathan and me that the computers hard drive is full, so it will be necessary to break for a half hour or so. We need no further excuse to head out for food.
11:30 PM Burritos for all.
11:45 PM Trying to resist burrito-related sluggishness, we resume takes.
12:00 AM A good take of the second song, so it is time to move on to song three, then song four. I am tired, but probably not as tired as Ethan, who has been there twice as long, or Nathan, who, for reasons of his own, has been up since 3 AM the previous morning. In my case, at least (and I think I can sense the same feeling in the others), I think its worth having more than one or two songs to show for our time. Old soldiers never die (they just start using Pro Tools).
1:30 AM With four songs done, we wrap. Nathan has had enough, which is also more or less true of me and Ethan. We ended up one song short of the original goal, but its good work for one night.