How We Made *Good Boy*
It all started when I met Natalie at an art show in Long Island City, Queens. I took the following picture (among many others -- absolutely magnificent view!) there that night just before walking in:
So here's how it went down:
Anyway, Natalie is the sister of Tyler, the engineer and drummer on this album (who also happens to be a great guitarist who contributed the ferocious solo on "Rock the Apocalypse") -- oh, and Natalie is (at the time of this writing) the girlfriend of James, the bassist and guitar virtuoso. This album would not be what it is without any of the three above-mentioned people. So thanks to Band X.
Viva Band X!
Natalie told me they had a studio, and I said I had some songs. The price was more than right. Within a week or two, we were on, and thank the Great and Marvelous Bejiminy H Cricket on a Crutch for that because it turned out awesome. In fact, it was awesome long before it "turned out," and it hasn't really "turned out" yet anyway, has it, when you think about it.
This album was created largely with vintage gear. Acoustic guitar tracks (yeah, there were a few) were played on a very old Gibson James inherited from his grandfather. Electric tracks were played (mostly) through a very old Fender cabinet, sometimes with an Orange head and sometimes with a Mesa head. On Easter Sunday, a couple of days after Jim Marshall passed away (RIP), we played one through a vintage, modded-for-extra-kick Marshall stack with a bad-ass JCM 800 head. It's not hard to figure out which song if you know your guitars.
As for guitars, I played most songs with a Stratocaster, sometimes with a Les Paul. One number was played with some kind of ancient hollow body. Guess which! Put on your Secret Decoder Rings, listen to the album and figure out what was played where! Point is, Good Boy was as much an homage to Leo Fender, Orville Gibson, Jim Marshall and Les Paul as it was to Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Woody Guthrie, Tupac Shakur and Sid Vicious.
Good Boy was recorded at Goodfriend Electric Studios in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York. Here's the good part: Goodfriend Electric makes its home in a classroom in a church school. Of course, it's not a classroom now, but it used to be not so long ago. Now you have a clue as to why this little compendium was called Good Boy.
Spring, 2012 -- isn't it obvious?
I don't want to be a magician who reveals his tricks or anything, but I do want to tell you a little about how we did this because I want other musicians and engineers to riff on it. Anyway, music isn't magic... er... magic as practiced by "magicians" isn't magic. Music is definitely magic and its tricks can't be revealed but to those to whom they are meant to be revealed. So fuck it. Here's how it went down:
We played the songs, my songs. It was me on guitar, James on bass, and Tyler on drums. We played the song and recorded it live-to-tape. We would roll through it a few times, then hit record. Everybody was miced up separately, but it was pretty much how Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded -- go down to the high school football stadium with your gear, go to the shower where the acoustics are good, mic up and rock out.
In our case, it was all intentional. Buddy Holly did it that way because he didn't have Pro Tools. We did, and -- yeah -- we used it. But it's not like that, yo. Not at all.
On a few songs, we did lay some extra tracks on. Thanks to Allie for backup vox on "Don't Worry," which was the first song Band X and I recorded together. Thanks so much to Sarah for the killer complement on the title track, "Good Boy," especially since she despises the song and (I guess) me in general, but hey, everybody's entitled to their interpretation... Thanks to Dylan for the cool second guitar on "I Love You." Thanks again to James and Tyler for various little guitar accoutrements throughout.
But I will say this: Buddy Holly didn't need no click track, and neither did we. We did this all human-style, and that gives it a "swing" that engineered music hasn't had (for the most part) for a long time. There were some screw-ups, and we left them in and played through them like pros. It was awesome. This is fucking music, man. Fuck all that shit on the radio.
Yeah, I'm an old punk rocker. Not really super-old like Lou Reed, though... anyway...
(To all the English teachers [including myself] who ever said, "Never conclude with 'In conclusion...'")
IN conclusion, this album will blow your mind to shreds, put a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and love in your heart. You should buy it right this instant if you haven't already. Just kidd'n'! It's dang nifty, and I'm very happy to have made it. If you enjoy it 1/1000th as much as we enjoyed making it, it will all have been worth it.
Coming soon! Available exclusively at CharlieHipHop.com!