The band on The Valley EP

stage setupThere’s really no doubt that I’ve been surrounded by people who are more talented than me throughout the entire recording process of The Valley EP. And they all happen to be my friends who I have so much respect for. I thought you’d like to meet them:

Mark Mcdowell – Mark and his lovely wife Priscilla have been close friends of ours for years. they have a fantastic family and always seem to include anyone and everyone in how they do life. They’re a joy to be around. Not only is Mark one of the most fantastic drummers I’ve ever been around, he’s also a talented Lighting Designer and Audio Engineer who travels the country using these skills to kill shows and wow the masses. Check out Mark’s full time band, Death and Desire. You should buy all their music. It rocks. Mark was the first friend that really challenged me to start recording my stuff

Trevor LaChapelle – I met Trevor a while back but really didn’t get to know him until a couple years ago. I wish I’d gotten to know him sooner. Trevor is a super talented guy who not only fronts his band with Mark but can do just about anything technically including: photography, video/film, audio, lighting, etc. He’s a walking production tour de force. Trevor is the kind of friend that would do anything to help you and does. He always seems to be working on one of his friends projects or house or car (I’m telling you this guy can do anything and do it well!) He has worked tirelessly on my project and you can tell. Not only has he engineered and produced The Valley EP, but he also added some key playing for good measure. He’s the man!

Joe Neria – Joe’s a monster bass player. There’s just no way around it. From a young age he started playing on the road with some heavy players that pushed him to get better and he kept up! Joe’s always been super supportive of my music and was a big reason that I began to record The Valley EP. Joe and his wonderful wife Sara are fantastic people and you’d love them if you knew them too…

Wes Burrow – I’ve known Wes the longest out of all these guys. We worked together but he was always working on how to perfect his drum sound listening to just about every genre of music and trying to figure out what each drummer was doing to get “that sound”. Wes agreed to come in and play on one song Bitter Root and I’m glad he did. Wes plays in his own band and with others around town. I think he’s great and scored big when he got his wife, Hana, to marry him. If you live in KC you should get to know him.

Wanna meet these guys in real life? Come see them at my next show!

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The Valley EP: how we created it

In the spirit of sharing what I’ve learned making my own music, I’m sharing this short story of how the recording process happened for The Valley EP. Keep in mind that I’m just a guy with some friends who were kind enough to help me. Read at your own risk…

Joe Neria
Joe Neria – monster player

I began recording demos of the songs at my house. It’s a simple setup: a Rode NT2A into an Apogee Duet straight into my laptop using Logic.  My great friend, Mark McDowell, is a drummer in a band called Death & Desire with Trevor LaChapelle. Mark kept urging me to work with them because they really wanted to help me out. Trevor LaChapelle has done all of the production for Death & Desire’s albums and recent video (check it out here). The production quality is so fantastic and Trevor was able to do all of this with a budget of almost nothing; just a lot of hard work. So the thought of Trevor producing my album was really exciting.

Trevor LaChapelle
Trevor LaChapelle – tracking at Outpost on Pro Tools rig

We began the process by importing all of my demos into Trevor’s home studio to see what elements we could use, if any. His home studio is based around Sonar. We recorded basic tracks; vocals and guitars there. His mic/preamp collection is pretty sweet. His favorite mics for this project were: Groove Tube GT55 and AM52 as well as an AT Pro37. His preamps were: LA 610, Chameleon and Aphex 207. So his recording chain is fantastic! We also recorded some drums and all bass at his place.

The primary musicians on the project were: Me, Mark McDowell, Joe Neria with extra help from Wes Burrows and Trevor LaChapelle

Wes Burrows helped out on a track
Wes Burrows helped out on a track

Travor also does some Audio Post Production at a video production facility in the Kansas City area called Outpost. There he uses a Pro Tools rig and they have a small vocal booth. So we recorded some vocal and guitar there. He just rolled in his preamps and we went to work. But one of the cool things about a video production facility is that they tend to have HUGE soundstages so we had to do some drums in there! Here’s a video of Mark McDowell playing drums for the song Keep Normal in the soundstage. Fantastic big drum sound!

Mark McDowell
Mark McDowell – tracking in the soundstage

Once all tracking was complete, Trevor brought all tracks back to his home studio and back into Sonar for mixdown. He mixed and mastered the project there and delivered an EP that I’m very proud of…

What’s your process for recording indie music?