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Between August 24th and September 9th my friend, recording engineer and guitar player, Kurt DeMarra and I took a trip out to San Diego California. We had agreed to do some work for Kurt’s cousin and in return got financial reimbursement, a RV to sleep in, and food to eat. During our free time, we hit up beaches, shops, and ate a TON of authentic Mexican cuisine. Additionally we found some time to record two tracks; a new Like Wild song called “Rapture Love” and a Tom Waits song titled “San Diego Serenade”.
We had prepared to do some jamming and minimal recording before we came out so Kurt brought his laptop with Protools, a cheap M Audio interface, and a couple of mics. However due to the extra fees and hassle of bringing instruments on a plane, we decided we would just use Kurt’s cousin’s stuff; An entry-level Dean acoustic guitar and dirt cheap beginners drum kit. Once we bought new strings and drumheads we built our makeshift studio in the RV and began tracking.
First we recorded the drums. We had a super minimal set-up using just the snare, kick drum, and a pair of brushes. Since the snare was super loud and slappy we put a tea towel on top to dampen the sound a bit. After going over the songs a couple of times Kurt busted out the tracks in no time.
Next up were guitars. Since we didn’t have any mic stands, we kind of “ghettoed” up a rig of our own. We attached two condenser mics to the snare so that it was at just the right spot. Once we got the right positioning and some new strings on the guitar, I finished up the guitars in no time.
Finally we got to vocals. Similar to the guitar, we connected a condenser mic to the snare and sat it on top the bed so that it was the perfect height for me to stand and sing. We completely forgot pop filters so we just put the sleeve of a button up shirt over top of the mic to take away the horrid “Puhs” and “Tuhs”. After having the mic/snare combo fall on me 100 times, I finally finished up the vocals.
We then recorded shakers, tambourines, and made a simple mix of the tracks. But before we could really do anymore to the songs, it was time to head back east. Since I really wanted to have some vocal harmonies in “Rapture Love”, I called up my friend from home Kory Gable to help me do some vocal production. The guy is a super talented, up and coming producer and just so happens to also be my boy. So we took a couple hours one day at his studio to throw in some vocal harmonies. I’m pretty terrible at coming up with harmonies, so I give credit to Kory for his natural ability to hear things I can’t. I think they came out great.
In the end we were really happy with the results, especially for recording in a RV with barebones equipment and not the highest of quality instruments. Just goes to show you can make a lot out of nothing. I also feel like these songs really captured our time out there: A fun, laidback, and beautiful experience in sunny California.
That folks, is how “San Diego Sessions” was created, and now I’m giving it to all of you for free.
Download it, spread it, and enjoy it