shimmy shimmy kokopop.

“We’re going to be recording with Kramer!” Ray said.

I figured that would be it for Melting Hopefuls.  Kramer was a pretty well-known indie producer whose Shimmy Disc label spawned one of my very favorite bands – King Missile – as well as a bunch of other indie monsters like Bongwater, Daniel Johnston, Dogbowl, the Boredoms, and Fly Ashtray.  He also owned a singles-only label called Kokopop that had the ambitious goal of releasing one new 7″ every week until whenever their record press broke down.  Once they got into the studio with him, they’d surely land the deal they had been chasing.

His studio, Noise New Jersey, had been the birthplace of a lot of great music, and a lot of cool local bands recorded there.  Our first encounter with a demo recorded there was the band Ghostshirts, who I reference in an earlier entry.  While I thought the Ghostshirts demo was poorly recorded, I attributed that either to a lack of understanding of the band, or to the band’s trying to be something they weren’t.  I had heard enough of Kramer’s work to be impressed, and his production on his collaborative album with John S. Hall, entitled Real Men, was an extraordinary work where the production was just as important as the instrumentation itself.

When I heard the band would be recording with him, my initial reaction was to put the brakes on their 7″ and wait until Kramer’s recordings were done; I thought that his name would create additional interest in the record.  But Ray said he would be shopping their recordings for them, trying to find them a deal with a major label.  So it didn’t seem like there was going to be an opportunity to release any of those Noise recordings.

I was curious as to what Ray was going to do with his own recordings.  He was proud of his work, and I felt like he considered himself to be as much of a producer as he did a drummer; I couldn’t imagine him simply walking away from the recordings that he’d spent so much time on.  When he spoke about the songs Renee had written and that he played, they were just songs.  When he spoke about songs he had recorded, they were like his children.

He told me this story once, about “Pulling an Allnighter on Myself.”

When it came time to record the guitar solo in the song, Ray rolled the tape and Max just improvised a solo that sounded phenomenal.  When they were finished with the first take, Ray looked at Max and said “That was amazing.”  Max, however, wasn’t happy with it – there was a small part of the solo, I guess, that he thought he could have done better.

Ray suggested that he rewind the tape and play it back for Max so that he could review what he had just played.  Ray’s feeling was that since Max improvised the whole solo, and had only done one take, that he might want to hear what he played so that he could have another crack at it.

“No, I know what I played,” Max told him.

“How could you know what you played?” Ray asked him.  “You just made it up, played it one time.”

“Roll tape,” Max said.

Ray decided to start a new track for the second take of the solo, rather than record over the initial track.  So he started recording, and Max put down a second solo.  To Ray’s amazement, it was virtually identical to the original track – just very slight, subtle differences between the two.

To show Max how close the two solos were, he played back the song with both tracks at equal volume.  And it sounded great – with both tracks playing at the same time.  So Ray decided to leave the song that way – with two tracks of guitar solo, representing the first and second take.  The first track is Max’s improvisational solo, and the second track is Max trying to duplicate what he had just played.

The story told me two things – that Max was a really good guitar player, and that Ray really loved producing, to the point where he had these “Behind The Music” types of stories for every song, it seemed.

~ by Al on February 16, 2009.

One Response to “shimmy shimmy kokopop.”

  1. […] Check it out – here it is.  ”Pulling an Allnighter on Myself” – the A-Side of our first seven-inch.  And when you listen, don’t forget the story about the guitar solo. […]

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