I’m excited to announce that the new songs are ready to be mixed. After this phase they’ll only need to be mastered, then they are just a few steps shy of getting to your ears. I thought I’d bring you up to speed on the process of making this record up to now and talk a little bit about the talented folks who’ve taken part in making it all possible.
We began recording in Nashville back in December. I drove up from Texas to work with producer/arranger/keyboardist extraordinaire Rob Arthur who has been rock icon Peter Frampton’s keys player the last seven years. Rob and I played together a few years back and we reconnected the previous October about recording a some of my new songs together. I had a mixed bag of new material but wasn’t exactly sure what direction I was heading musically. On the last Five Times August tour I had experimented with writing country, americana, folk, soul, blues… you name it. Eventually I had to sit down and list out the songs that were most compatible with each other. I sent Rob seven rough demos with the intention of picking only 2 or 3 to fully record. Ultimately, once I got to Nashville we found ourselves liking all of the songs enough that we decided to just try and cut as many of them as we could while I was there. We only had a day in the studio to do basic tracking so the session was very fast paced but so much fun. We assembled keys, bass, drums, guitar, and vocals in the studio and came out with a whopping six of the seven songs tracked, an amazing accomplishment for a session that only lasted about 9 hours. We played live in the studio together with no click track. Not many bands record that way anymore. With technology what it is today you can record piece by piece, tracking drums, THEN tracking bass, THEN tracking guitar, THEN tracking vocals, and so on. There isn’t anything wrong with that, that was the process on most the FTA albums. For this project, however, we harkened back to the lost days when band members played together in a room, not just to record a song, but to perform it take after take until they got it right. The difference on this album though, being the independent artist I am, we didn’t have time/budget to do more than three takes per song which certainly kept me on my toes. Fortunately we did get it right! But it’s no wonder considering the caliber of musicians I had at my disposal. It was truly a nice, easy, and super enjoyable session… positive vibes all around!
On drums we had Charlie Morgan who spent 13 years touring with Elton John. On bass, Saul Zonana, who in addition to his own solo career has worked with Ace Frehley of KISS and Crash Test Dummies. Naturally on keys, the previously mentioned multi-talented Rob Arthur, who has been so great in helping my concepts come to fruition. I’ve joked that the album should be “Bradley James with the Rob Arthur Orchestra” considering his role in helping arrange the additional components to these songs. All told I had a great band play on this record and I couldn’t be happier with what we accomplished in Nashville.
So two days of pre-production between Rob and myself, one day in the studio with the band, one day post production and I was back home in Texas for the holidays. Rob was heading down South as well, moving to Miami, Florida where we would reconvene in January for additional studio tracking. We booked another full day session to record live strings arrangements and vocal ensemble parts for each of the songs. Since then Rob and I have been sending files back and forth via internet. I tracked additional guitars, vocals, and other instrumentation at home while Rob, on tour with Frampton the last two months, has been putting the peaces together in hotel rooms and on bus rides across the United States. Really the album is a nice hybrid of professional studio and home recording techniques sprawled out over several months. So, having finished recording the tracks, Thursday I mailed out a hard drive with the session files on it to get mixed by 8 time Grammy Award winner Jay Newland who mixed for Norah Jones’ first two albums, Missy Higgins’ Sound of White, and Esperanza Spaulding’s critically acclaimed Chamber Music Society. I can’t wait to see what he does with the songs.
So, that’s what’s happened in a nut shell, everything couldn’t have come together better. I’m really proud of this project and I’m excited to see where it goes. No definite release date yet, but I’m sure as we get closer I’ll be posting some teasers and sharing clips. Until then, hang tight and check back here often!