This Week in The Random Hubiak/Upcoming New Recordings, New Songs for Future Projects, Health Issues
This week has been exciting for me, as I've had major occurrences on three different fronts: recording, writing, and health.
So let's start with the REALLY exciting stuff first so that those of you with ADD don't have to hang around too long. Last September and October, the boys and I got into the studio and recorded a hard rocking version of my song "The Trick," from the MEMOIRS OF A MANWHORE album. In addition to that, there were five more non-album tracks: an acoustic piano ballad version of "The Trick" with ten vocal tracks (reminiscent of a Brian Wilson arrangement); a musical parable entitled "Gavotta with the Gods," based on music by Maria Manuel Ponce; a duet with J'ney Uplinger based on the music of Rubinstein and telling a portion of the Chinese legend of Madame White Snake (a HUGE thanks to Ivan Chan for providing me the idea!); a duet with Jilly Sentino set to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and recounting an obscure Greek myth of Endymion and Selene; and a duet with Lisa Sherman set to Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" and relating a tale from the Holocaust.
I gave these songs to an engineer for mixing and mastering some time ago.
Unfortunately, a number of extenuating circumstances prevented him from completing the project, which is unfortunate; he mixed and mastered my "Anchors Aweigh" EP last spring and did a fantastic job. Finally unable to wait any longer, I took the tracks to Steve Jankowski at Jankland Studios in Wall. I had worked with Steve before -- the boys and I used his studio to add the live drums to "The Trick" back in October. In fact, my experience at Jankland was so wonderful that the band and I began recording our third EP off the MANWHORE album there about six weeks ago, until we released our seven song EP was already 37 minutes long and decided to write more material for a full album (which I plan to release near the end of the year). We also have been re-recording tracks from my first album ENDLESS STREET for an eventual re-release, which we were originally recording in Keyport at another wonderful engineer's studio, but he is now a new father and has had to cut back on studio hours. (Mazel tov, Matty!) Likewise, we're recording the ENDLESS STREET companion piece LEGITIMATE BUSINESS at Jankland, and have already got four more new songs to put onto the third EP to be culled from MANWHORE (which will be "Sad Sack," re-recorded of course for a different sound than the album version).
So, that's just background on Jankland Studios. Steve is an amazing engineer/producer. He is a former horns player for Blood, Sweat & Tears. A consummate musician and meticulous studio engineer, he is also amazingly easy to work with. He manages to push for better performances from me and the boys without ever being condescending, impatient, or disparaging. The same holds true for Matty back in Keyport; for this, I can say my re-entry into recording music after a half a lifetime's hiatus has been wonderfully enjoyable between Matty, Steve, and of course my collaborator Adam Silverstein in England. Lord knows, I've definitely experienced producers who were, to put it politely, assholes. You find a good producer or collaborator who treats you with respect, you make sure you don't mess it up! They're worth their weight in gold!
I was amazingly fortunate that Steve Jankowski had the time to shoehorn in my project, with a timeline and everything presented to me in advance. He let me sit in on all of his mixing sessions in order to better understand the process. One of the highlights of watching him work and explain his choices was seeing that a large percentage of his decisions were the same as those I make when I am doing my own mixing; he's just good at it, whereas I'm the pits. He began working on my songs on June 2, right after finishing mixing Josh Zuckerman's latest album. He had got all but one of the six tracks mixed by Thursday the 5th, at which point he had to leave for a gig in Paris for the weekend. This afternoon, while still recovering from jet lag, he sat with me and finished mixing the last of the songs, the duet with Lisa Sherman. This was the hardest piece for a number of reasons, one of which was that I had created a small orchestra as part of the arrangement, instrument by instrument.
I am, as I type this, listening to his final mix and it sounds WONDERFUL.
So tomorrow I shall finally have mastered tracks for this EP which I've been waiting on since the fall! They will be uploaded to CDBaby for digital distribution and the pre-sales for a July 1 release will begin. If you're a fan and want to pre-order a copy, just keep checking in on my page to see whether the iTunes pre-sales have begun... It usually takes a week or so after uploading for iTunes to start offering the tracks. Once the songs go up, I will dedicate one blog to each song to generate some buzz and give you some insight.
So that's the new news on the recording front. On to the songwriting...
When last I blogged, I had probably just finished writing lyrics & adding some music to some original instrumental demos Tom Briant, the lead guitarist for both the Josh Zuckerman Band and The Random Hubiak Band, gave me.
The first piece he gave me was this light, Beatlesque (and also somewhat reminiscent of The Byrds) piece that I turned into a simple love song called "A Prison of Honeyed Words." See, I can't even do a simple love song without venturing into deep metaphor, right? The second was a piece that I sped up and added a little funk to and wrote as a scathing indictment of poseurs, "Beautiful Lie." And the final was my favourite of the three -- a heart wrenching ballad that I added a chorus to in addition to the lyrics, "So It Goes." Since then, I have written two more numbers (which I gotta say may be partly attributable to the fact that I'm Claritin D right now: see health developments, but Claritin D is basically speed). The first is the opening track to the album. Now, as I've mentioned before, the album is a very Beatlesque sonic palette, and I've certainly been a Beatles fan for as long as I've been singing. But they're just a small fraction of my musical Palette. I'm also crazy about many much less well-known bands, including Ohio's Greatest Band Ever, Guided By Voices. As any GBV fan knows, the first album of theirs that really sounds like them is Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia. Well, that actually phrase never found its way into any of the band's songs, to my knowledge. So toying around on the piano, I came up with a song about how nostalgia often comes from viewing something from too far away in time to accurately gauge its quality... Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia. It's a short song for such a long title, but what's really exciting for me is how I wrote this song to segueway into what would have originally been the opening track, the re-record of "Free Fall" which also appears on MANWHORE but here is slowed down and more of a George Harrison dreamscape. "Self-Inflicted" manages to sound reminiscent of both The Beatles and Guided By Voices.
And then today I wrote another short, funny, fun song to add to the mix (very necessary, considering that the second half of the album veers towards the very serious), "The Bourgeois Boogie." It has a sort of "Lady Madonna" feel to it, although it doesn't actually SOUND like "Lady Madonna." So, for those of you wondering what The Random Hubiak was writing this week, now you know!
Finally, health. Every summer since 2009 I have come down with either strep or pneumonia. Well, when I felt the first stirrings of illness this week, I decided to cut that mother off at the pass and headed over to the Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic in Ocean. Not being a free clinic, it is not plagued with long lines. But it beats an emergency room for illness, and circumvents the issue of trying to schedule an appointment with my GP, who is awesome but sometimes too awesome for his own schedule. Well, I have had trouble sleeping all week because of a swollen throat. Turns out the swollen throat is simply due to a post-nasal drip that basically burns the esophagus and is what eventually leads to the strep; but the swollen throat makes sleeping so difficult that I usually wind up too weak to defend myself against any and all marauding bacterial and viral invaders, thus spending the first half of each summer for the last year with strep and/or pneumonia. But because we caught it three and a half days in, I was able to get a three day course of antiviral steroids to help the throat heal before it became truly infected, and was told to get Claritin D and take one a day for the rest of the month and to make a point of doing so every June. What the allergy is I couldn't say; it's either something I wasn't allergic to as a child and am now; or else it's something that only grows in coastal Monmouth County, since I've only been plagued with it the past few years but reliably so. Well, the Claritin D is basically speed. So, that's been useful for writing, but it's also got me agitated and shaky. Thank goodness it's just three weeks a year I need to worry about this issue!
Well, thanks for tuning in to my rambling adventure. Time to counteract with the Claritin with a little Zzquil and hit the hay. Tomorrow morning I'll have mastered versions of the tracks for the new EP and I will finally have something new to offer my devoted fans. And hopefully acquire lots of new fans!