choosing the sequence.

cuppa joe went into the studio to record more music, and then they gave us a ridiculous amount of songs to choose from for their CD.  We had all the music from their first demo tape, demonstrations, and then all the music from the two subsequent recording sessions.  And while there were a few clunkers here and there, doug was such an outstanding songwriter that it was really difficult to pick.

“Is there anything that you insist we use?” I asked doug.

“I like ‘beauty of an unshared thing,'” he responded, “But really, besides that, use whatever you want.”

That wasn’t helpful.  Although I realize he was trying to be totally helpful by giving us the latitude to choose whatever songs we wanted.  But there were so many of them.  And so many were good.

Eventually, Sandy, Rich and I just sat in our living room and listened to each one, discussing the pros and cons of each.  There were a few no-brainers to leave off, and a few no-brainers to leave in, and lots of songs that were “on the bubble.”

We agreed that “bottlerocket,” the A-side of our 7″, should stay.  Same with “french toast,” the B-side.  But by leaving “surface area” (the second song from the B-side) off, we’d give people a reason to buy a copy of the 7″ if they liked the CD.  For the same reason, we left off “meanings” from the Elizabeth compilation.

We also decided that we were going to take advantage of CD technology by having a “hidden track” at the end. The band had become regulars at an Irish pub in Trenton, and since they played there so frequently they decided to learn a few Irish songs that they could sprinkle into their set.  One was a cover of a song called “second violin,” which was originally recorded by a band called Bagatelle (I think).  cuppa joe’s version was much more aggressive and punky, and we really wanted to use it – but I had no idea how to deal with a cover song.  No clue how royalties and permissions worked, and no idea who I even needed to contact in order to put this song on our record.

So we decided to “hide” the track at the end of the CD, and not list it in the liner notes.  Nobody would ever find it that way.

Ultimately we decided on 13 songs, plus the hidden track – an excellent representation of the band, and thirteen fairly strong songs.  In hindsight I probably would have swapped a few that we kept with a few that we left off (“rollercoaster” and “poster,” which I liked because they were heavier than typical cuppa joe songs, both suffered from issues with the vocals that I overlooked until the CDs were actually out), but all in all, it was a solid indie rock record and a great first shot out of the gate.

Since we didn’t have access to the WOMB anymore, the band needed to go back into their studio to have the whole thing put onto one DAT, at a consistent volume.

While that was being done, steve, the band’s drummer and artist, finalized the artwork (he needed to wait until we chose the songs and the song order).  He then worked with Rich to prepare the art the way that Rich needed it in order to make the transparencies that Sandy and I would need to develop the silkscreens.

After all that was done, Sandy and I went to an art supply store to choose the paper that we would screen on.  Using the beautiful art prepared by Simple Machines as a benchmark, we picked out four or five different samples of earthy – looking, recycled paper.  Then, we chose the least expensive of the bunch, and had it cut down to the proper size for the CD booklets and tray cards.

Since we had no purchase history with Way To Go!, they required that we pay 50% of the production cost up front, and the balance upon completion of the job.  Once they received payment in full, they would ship us the CDs, jewel boxes, and insert trays.  So one day I took off work and drove to Mahwah so that I could obtain a certified check from our credit union for 50% of the cost.

All that was left for us to do was wait for Rich to turn steve’s art into screens.

Or so we thought.

Here’s “beauty of an unshared thing,” the only song doug insisted we use on the CD which, by the way, was going to be called nurture.

~ by Al on April 22, 2009.

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