7. New Year, New Idea
1. Take Me With You When You Go (Sutliff)
2. As The Crows Fly (Sanchez)
3. It’s Alright With Me (Langan – Miller)
4. My Own Skin (Sutliff)
5. Small Circles (Sanchez)
6. Restless Nights, Many Dreams (Sutliff)
7. Cardboard Army (Sanchez – Tek – Miller)
8. Manager Of Time (Sanchez)
9. Morningside Dream (Sutliff)
10. Red Wing Spy (Sanchez)
11. Fulcrum (Sutliff)
12. In Search Of Connie Companion (Sanchez)
13. Your Number (Langan) *album bonus track
11 January 2012
With holidays out of the way, it’s once again back to work. The first order of the day was to make the major decision as to which songs we would put on the album. Clearly, not all of the 35 songs we’ve tracked so far were ready for public airing. Bob Sutliff had asked that I draw up a list, so we could concentrate our energies on only those songs.
I’d prepared a 16 song CD last summer to bring together what I thought were the best songs to be considered. Putting together a final running order is a major commitment and took some serious thought. Bobby and I were the major contributors to the songwriting pool this time around so it was a matter of picking the best of what we each had. We each had a pair of songs which I felt were interchangeable, either of the two would suit the album.
On Saturday, I assembled a 13 song playlist and lived with it for a few days before passing it on to the band. As far as I was concerned, this was it, though discussion was encouraged. When I told Ric I was drawing up a list, he sent me a note lobbying for Managers Of Time. I’d chosen All Our Friends from this matched pair. With Ric’s encouragement, it was a simple matter of swapping the songs. I also realized I did have a mix of Bob’s Restless Night that had the vocals added. A couple of weeks ago, I had an idea for a small edit, which I thought improved a transition. It was only today that Bob approved my tinkering with his excellent tune.
I also had an updated version of As The Crows Fly with both Tony and my vocals. I added these three tracks to this rough compilation. The difference was substantial to my ears, as one would expect. So for now, this is what we will be spending out time with, adding the necessary bits to complete these for mix.
It was comforting to know that are six or seven very strong songs which didn’t make the cut. These will be the seeds for the next album of new material. There are several more that need to be fleshed out and a few which were recorded for yet further projects including a much discussed Bobby Sutliff solo album. There is also the Shambaholic album which just awaits a final mix. I think it best not to get distracted with this one right now.
20 January 2012
Donovan’s Brain is the result of a series of odd encounters, paths crossed and just plain luck. The most recent example takes on a modern twist. The other day, Bob Sutliff posted a Model Rockets vid on FaceBook. He got a response from Scott Sutherland, who reminded Bob he had written the song and was chuffed it was getting some recognition. I joined the discussion, and pointed out to Bobby and Scott they had played together on the Roy Loney album. Turns out, Bob and Scott did not know each other. They quickly got together and conspired to collaborate on one of Bob’s new songs. Not to let this opportunity pass, I asked Scott if he would be interested in doing some other work with us.
Earlier this week, I called Bobby to say hello and maybe talk about our next steps. We agreed that asking Scott to come on board might be a very good idea. Now that it has become obvious that Colter is going to spend his time working on his novel, some other voices are going to be needed to fill the gap. Tony Miller has already done serious work on the new record, writing lyrics and singing. Scott has written lyrics for Bob’s “New Tune” and is meant to be demoing that right this moment.
I’m not actually sure when I met Scott. I think I may have seen Model Rockets open for Roy Loney and the Minus 5 on one of the tours. He had also sat in with the Longshots, for one of Roy’s birthday gigs in Seattle. Roy engaged Scott to sing back ups on Shake It Or Leave It. We’ve been chatting regularly since then.
While talking to Bob, he made it clear he’d like to see how this new song develops and would like it considered for the album. This is just a couple of weeks after I’d drawn up the “final running order”. My mind is still very open on this matter. I had already made plans to add drums to this new track, but until now it was still just another unfinished new song. Meanwhile, I had asked Tony if he’d work up an idea for one of Colter’s songs. Now that we have reopened the track list for further consideration, I’ve told Tony to proceed. We have decided that any left over songs will become the starting point for the follow up to Donovan’s Brain #7. This has been part of the five year march to victory all along, but now it seems like a reality.
19 March 2012
Two months later, some serious progress has been made. Tony attacked Colter’s track, formerly known as Okay, with enthusiasm. The new lyrics worked out well. After the first attempt, I made a couple of suggestions and sent it back for a second try. The final results, now titled It’s Alright With Me, came out very well. I have now done a first draft guitar solo.
The other song in play is another one of Colter’s. I’d been hoping for a fresh lead vocal so we could consider this older track for the new album. As Colter didn’t get to it, I handed it over to Tony and Scott with some instructions. Scott did the backing part first. Once Tony had a keeper lead vocal, I asked Scott to reconsider his first try. He was game, and recorded a new part. It was nearly there. With a couple more clues, he’s returned to it for a third try. This is a track that was recorded in 2000, for Great Leap. I’ve always known it would be used at some point. The new vocal approach and a fresh drum track has given it a new life. If it’s not on the next record, it will be one the one that will follow soon after.
Scott has also taken on the task of singing a second part on Red Wing Spy. I had an idea, which I knew he’d have no trouble trying. Once he’d done his first pass, it was just a matter of me fixing one word on my vocal. He’s also added a 12 string guitar, which worked out nicely. It seems like the new boys are getting the idea that they can add any ideas they can come up with. Tony has added bits to all the songs he’s sung on as well.
At this point it’s a busy schedule. Bobby is assembling all his work to send over. Scott has suggested he might be out this summer. Some of us will be meeting up next month for the Longshot’s 20th anniversary in Seattle. Deniz will be here at the end of April, but he has a summer tour booked, so it remains to be seen how our time works. It should all be good.
7 April 2012
The last few weeks have been dedicated to preparing several songs for drum overdubs. Ric will be here at the end of the week for this next session. Deniz had asked if we’d add drums to two tracks recorded for the Bridger Bowl ski films. While sorting through those tracks I decided I would like to work on the remix of Central Services I did for the ski films. This was a radical reworking of a track from Eclipse and Debris. For this expanded version, I needed to make sure the sections were long enough for the verses and chorus. I never sang the third verse, so the new arrangement will have all three verses.
Several months ago I began work on a new song, but put it aside as I didn’t have time to finish it. The demo I’d done was in much better shape than I expected. It was a simple matter to finish the song to my satisfaction. The working title is Ghosts.
A couple of weeks ago, Bobby asked if we’d like to record a song for the Records Tribute album. He’d been asked and figured it would work as a Donovan’s Brain project. He worked up a track in quick time. I passed it on to Scott and Tony who added backing vocals, and a bit of strings. I have contributed a rhythm guitar and the twangy baritone guitar lick. The guitar solo is reserved for Deniz. Bob and I agreed, it would be good if we have a song we need to finish quickly. This will put us on track to complete our own album. It will also expose Donovan’s Brain to a wider audience.
Tony and Scott have been busy adding vocals to several more tracks. The results have been very good. After this week’s recording session, I’ll update our progress chart and move on to the next round of finish work.
We are apparently not done writing for this album. I had a bit of inspiration the other day. I cut one demo, but found I couldn’t sing the lyrics and melody I’d come up with. This meant I had to start over again, and write the tune around the bits I had. The basic structure was captured in just one short session. I made a couple of small changes and have not done work on the master track. This will be ready when Ric get’s to the studio. It looks like he’ll have at least seven tracks to work with. Tony had suggested he might have a song to offer. I look forward to that possibility.
16 April 2012
The latest drum sessions covered a lot of ground. At least two of the songs are earmaked for Deniz’s album, possibly a third. The remaining five will go into the Brain column. Work on the Records cover was deemed a massive success. Bobby and I each had new songs which are both strong contenders for the album. I had one other new one and we worked on a remake of Central Services, the film version.
Bob solved one lingering question of what to do with the ending of his new song, Fulcrum. He’s asked Matt Piucci (ex-Rain Parade) to add a guitar solo. He also took the liberty of inviting Matt to join the band. I’m not sure how much time he can dedicate to the Brain, but I’m sure we could find something else for him to do.
9 May 2012
Work on the album was set aside for a week, while I was in Seattle to see Roy Loney and the Long Shots 20th Anniversary Show. It was also a chance to catch up with many good friends and bandmates. The Loney show was quite the production. The original line up of the Squirrels opened. This featured the Young Fresh Fellows backing Rob Morgan. Roy then joined the group, with Joey Kline replacing Chuck Carroll. This would be the first incarnation of the Long Shots. The Fellows finished the first half of the show with a blazing set. At least two new songs were featured. Chuck returned to the stage for a few songs in the unique five piece Fellows line up. After a break, the current Long Shots took the stage; Graham on drums and Johnny on bass. The sell out crowd was there til the last note stopped ringing.
10 May 2012
This weekend marked a major milestone in the progress of both our album and Deniz Tek’s record. After a long absence, Den was back to resume work on both projects. Before we could start, we needed Andy Newman’s bass tracks, recorded in Sydney over the last few months. These arrived as promised, and sounded fantastic.
Deniz got to town on Friday afternoon, so he could sit in on my radio show. You can listen to that here – radio archive.
What happened was Den did guitar for 13 songs for his own album and four tracks for Donovan’s Brain. This was a massive effort. Before we were done, four guitars had been savaged as well as Den’s 50th anniversay 1 Watt Marshall head. Vocal overdubs have been completed at Bob Brown’s Dump.
Further work will continue here in Bozeman over the next few days. At some point a new to do list will be assembled and both albums will be completed. Mixing will take place at GLEA and Sugar Hill. The January release date is now confirmed.
11 May 2012
The goal this weekend was to finish work on Hearts In Her Eyes. It was a simple matter of redoing a rhythm guitar I’d added. I also had an idea for Restless Nights. Bob reminded me that there was a backing vocal I needed to add. It was a simple matter to get all the parts added. That puts the first two songs into the “Completed Column”.
I also received a note from Clare Moore saying she’d completed the vibraphone part she’d promised. I saw a picture of her in the studio and an asked if she could record a track for one of my songs. The results were brilliant, very much what I had in mind.
I have two songs which I need to complete the lyrics for. This is at the top of the list for the next few days.
22 May 2012
Work is proceeding at a brisk rate now. Lyrics for Small Circle were completed and recorded. More lyrics need work, this was a good place to start.
The track Clare sent for Red Wing Spy is fabulous. Once I got it added to the song, I was able to sort out some other issues. Scott needed to fill in one line of vocals, which he did. After sorting out a rough mix, Bobby suggested I add the baritone guitar to this one too. Great idea, and easy to execute. I added another mellotron part while I was at it. It still seems like this one needs a guitar solo, a little bit anyway. The new rough mix sounds like a keeper.
29 May 2012
The priority right now should be mixing Hearts In Her Eyes. The deadline for that is coming up, and I know it’ll take me a bit to get into full mix mode.
In the meantime, both Bob and myself have written another song each. Bob said he’s is a remake of something he’d shown previously, but I don’t remember. The song is done, except for the drums. If there are more songs to be written, I’m always on board. Before we went out of town for the weekend, I sketched out a basic framework for the verse of a new idea. I returned to the track yesterday, to see if the chords changes worked. The scratch guitar part was just that. A new guitar part was recorded which made room for the vocals. Before I was done, I’d expanded the arrangement for two verses. I left it where the bridge would land. Before I went to bed, I also wrote out a couple of lines of lyric.
It all fell into place today. The lyrics and melody fit over the existing chords. I spent a fair amount of time working out the bridge. Once that was done, I was able to see how the song would resolve. When I put it away tonight, it was in working order. I will need to write more lyrics, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.
6 June 2012
We have now reached our first major goal, the completion and final mix of Hearts In Her Eyes. When this project came up, we looked at it as a chance to get something done quickly and get us moving towards the completion of the album. I worked on the mix over the weekend. Scott had a couple of suggestions, which was what I was looking for. The first real mix was very close but needed some fine tuning. I broke it down, and just worked on the various elements. When everything was put back in the mix, it was mixed. There were two nearly identical mixes completed: the Edmunds mix and the Lowe mix. When we started work on this song, Rockpile was the watch word. The treatment of the lead vocal was the only difference. The feeling was the Edmunds mix would be the one we’d send out.
Taking stock of the potential album, I can see there are at least two songs that may be considered ready to mix. Rather than getting distracted with the complexities of mixing, we’ve decided to put our full attention towards getting the remaining songs done. One more drum session is being discussed. There are four new songs we need to work on. Bob had two, and Scott and I each have one. These will all be set aside for the next album.
Bobby has bought this lovely Epiphone Casino to use on the final guitar overdubs.