Day 2: We dragged our equipment back to Funkedelic. This time we asked first, and got assurances from the studio that no other bands were booked in the space next to the room that we planned to use. So far so good. Next we raced to get everything set up, a job that we knew from the previous day would take well over an hour. Trying to make that setup time useful, we talked as we worked, discussing possible arrangements and drum parts. We’d still have to hear a few different versions before anything could be set in stone.

At last we were set up and ready to roll. We didn’t have it in us to return to “Yellow Tiger” today—it would just be a depressing reminder of all those hours lost to the Samba Villains the day before. Instead we planned to tackle two songs, “From Below” and “Train Came.” We worked on “Train Came” first. The song has a little 7/8 twist in it along with two short drum breaks. Placing these parts and executing them properly was crucial to the song. After many trials and intense discussions, we managed to finalize where the parts would go. Then we started recording, and eventually succeeded in getting a few takes that we were happy with. But all that had taken three and a half hours—and the studio clock was ticking!

As we began “From Below,” we became concerned that our 100 gig external edit drive was getting full and decided to switch to destructive mode, which saves the last take only. The idea was that we would record this way until we got a take we liked, at which point we would switch back and do more versions non destructively. To save additional time, we did a “Save As” and renamed the file instead of starting a new session from scratch. This spared Ming the task of naming tracks 1-8 “kick drum,” “snare drum,” “overhead,” etc. We worked for another two hours and after the usual debates and compromises, voila!, “From Below” (a very complicated arrangement) was done.

Like Marines, we packed up to beat the closing hour and avoid being charged for it. This day Ming had no bar to open, and after she accompanied me back to the apartment on 11th Street, she stayed to listen to the tracks.

We eagerly opened the first take of “Train Came”…but we were NOT hearing Train came. After fiddling with it for a few dreadful moments, I did a restart on the G4, hoping for that “I rebooted and everything was fine” magic. Once rebooted the trouble persisted I systematically tried every file…but to no avail, I was not hearing the intended takes. Only when I opened the last version of “From Below.” did everything seem normal. I checked and found that the audio folder held only eight files. Eight files? Eight files is one take of one song. There should have been dozens—hundreds, even!—of files in there. But no luck. There were just those eight—amounting to a single take of “From Below”—and no rebooting or begging Jesus was going to make the missing files reappear. By performing a “save as” instead of starting a new file coupled with recoding “Destructive mode”, we were sharing the audio files between two songs and systematically erasing every prior take of both songs. We were left with the very last take of “From Below”.

Now we had to face the fact that we’d lost basically two days of hard work. Done out by our own hand! Sitting there dejectedly with our heads in our hands, we looked like a couple of defeated ball players. Beaten not by a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth or a 45-yard field goal, but by the trials of technology.

Ming saved us. She lifted her head and broke the silence with the cheery proclamation: “There’s always tomorrow, man!”

But tomorrow had to be different. We knew that we couldn’t blame Funkedelic studios—in fact, they were gracious and accommodating—but it was becoming apparent to us that having to set up and break down every session was taking too much of a toll. Racing the clock was contributing to our lack of due diligence. A few more days of working like this (even if the consequences were less disastrous!) would surely bleed the life out of us and start affecting our creativity.

Mary Wu said, on January 12th, 2009 at 6:34 am

And why do we fall, Batman? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

Mark Shandler said, on January 7th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Eric,

you guys are old school (I’m sure you wish you weren’t on occasion). I really like the album and will see you next time you come to DC.

Mark

ellen said, on January 6th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

wow, that is just brutal!
I do want to hear what happened next.

not to mention I want to buy a copy of Yellow Tiger -esp if that is the cover art, up at the top.

George Lujack said, on January 6th, 2009 at 3:38 am

To read about what you had to go through to produce Yellow Tiger is interesting, informative and suspenseful. I’m looking forward to further postings to see how this all worked out.

George