The Methodist Bells – “Esso” – World Famous Moletrax Studios, 19-20 March 2016

Posted in its entirety for your listening pleasure at bandcamp.com and embedded below. For additional context, check out the other, later-later studio session – Sub Rosa Session #32 at Subcat Studios on 21 August 2016, as well as the interview Clem did with the Daily Orange, which goes into some of the details of the history of the session (and the origin of the name, Esso). From the article:

The title of the album, “Esso,” is a reference to the Exxon Mobil Corporation. Besides just liking the way the word sounds, Coleman says that he also likes the way that gas stations have a nostalgic feel to them, especially the way they look in old photographs.

“I like the thought that there’s an old liter of gasoline out there in some rusting tractor that was sold as Esso gasoline but that it still might power up and engine and make it run for a few minutes.” – Clem Coleman

* Recorded at the World Famous Moletrax Studios in Syracuse, NY. For the record (no pun intended), Jeff Moleski made Grove Havener at the Liverpool Limp Lizard sound like Pink Floyd at Pompeii. Twice.

* Find The Methodist Bells on Facebook, Myspace (no kidding!), and Bandcamp. Then, when in Syracuse, go see’em.

* Like it? Go ahead and buy it. All proceeds go to reminding musicians that their efforts matter.

Pearls Of Wisdom

As a random aside, a few things I learned from nearly two full days of recording 12 tracks in, mostly, one take:

1. Tune For Attack – Long, pure tones may be great at the gig when you want them heard beyond the bandstand – and jazzers know that the higher tuning gets your out of the register of the main melodic/harmonic instruments (think piccolo in Stars & Stripes Forever). When the mic is “right there,” tone and sustain can be overkill, esp. when you intend on playing a lot of notes. Get yourself a sharp attack and let the mic pick up the rest, else keep those fills simple.

First day at the office.

2. Limit The Variables By Limiting Your Choices – There is one obvious spot in one song where I wanted a different sound and, in a mad hurry, hit a flat ride where a crash would have been more appropriate – and I didn’t use the flat ride in that particular tune otherwise. You’re welcome to listen intently to see if you can pick it out.

Photographing the reporting of the recording.

3. Got Limited Time? Percussion = Later-Later – Every sound source above and beyond what the song needs is another chance to butcher the smooth consistency of the other drums and cymbals. Shooting for 1st or 2nd take? Keep it simple.

Mole is out of his mind – and knows what he’s doing.

4. Limit Your Range Of Dynamics – I was happy to have this validated by Matt Johnson in his drumeo lesson recently (If good enough for Jeff Buckley…). You get more tone – and more control over what you hear – when you play to the tuning of the drum (and more so the cymbal).

Adam about to get punched by Mole.

5. Play The Song, Stupid – Have a good idea that might make something sound really new and spiffy? If you’ve got two days to track, four other people playing, and haven’t played it before, then try it at the next gig instead. See #2 above.

Clem sez it’s good.

6. Don’t Forget The Songs – Other instruments can be punched in later if wrong notes and the like happen. Drumming? In this kind of a recording environment, not so much. The solution is simple – know how to play the entire song from memory and be ready to do so as if no one else is playing with you. If all else fails, there are far worse things than just laying down a drum track and moving on.

One day there…

7. Washy Cymbals – In retrospect, I would have left the A Customs at home and picked something with a sharper attack and less sustain. My mistake for not having spent more time listening to how they record with close mics and warm drums.

…the next day gone.

Grove Havener At Coleman’s Irish Pub, 6 March 2009

Top o’ the afternoon to ya, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.  A fortuitous occurrence above the western skies (relative to my apartment) of Syracuse in the direction of Tipperary Hill (where, for those interested in local trivia, the traffic light has the green on top thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Irish youths in the 1920’s) brings to mind three questions about the most recent (and my first sub’ing) Grove Havener (who’s name, for those interested in local trivia, is taken from an Earth Science teacher at Jamesville-DeWitt) gig at Coleman’s Irish Pub on 6 March 2009:

(1) Will it go ’round in circles?

(2) Will it fly high like a bird up in the sky?

(3) Did we play that Billy Preston cover?

Answers: (1) people were trashed enough by the end of the night that it likely appeared that way, (2) I’d say we hit 60% pure rock-dom, and (3) regrettably, no.

Click on the image for a larger view (pretty cool).

Thanks to my trusty Olympus LS-10, the entire gig did get captured for posterity, with a few pick hits worked up in Garageband (for those interested in the clean-up procedure, slight added Compression and default Speech Enhancer, no bass enhancement, 320 kb MP3) and provided below.  In the interest of explaining the balance on the recording, the LS-10 was sitting 3 feet from my hi-hats (and splashes, they do come out strong) on top of the back of a wall of seats.  The fact that (1) you hear the rest of the band at all and (2) you hear them quite well despite the amps pointing away from the drums means that I clearly did not play hard enough.  I include a drummer-level visual (with Mark’s cheat-sheets, through which several people thumbed in the interest of making requests) from behind an overworked and unprepared set of Pearl Masters Studio BSX’s.

Mark refused to order me a Shirley Temple, “Johnny High Five” didn’t go anywhere, and I did terrible things to a pair of Vater Super Jazz.

Featuring the artistic stylings (the most polite way to describe it after “almost two” rehearsals) of Mark Bell (vocals), Mike Grossman (guitar), Matt Bell (guitar), Andrew Willis (bass), and yours truly (drums and cowbell)…

1. Set 1 – Weezer – Say It Ain’t So (4:10, 9.5 MB)

2. Set 1 – The Black Crowes – Hard To Handle (3:30, 8 MB)

3. Set 2 – The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil (6:14, 14.3 MB)

4. Set 2 – Pearl Jam – Animal (2:53, 6.6 MB)

5. Set 2 – Young MC – Bust A Move (5:39, 12.9 MB)

6. Set 3 – Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf (4:33, 10.4 MB)

7. Set 3 – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Suck My Kiss (3:53, 8.9 MB)

8. Set 3 – The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done (4:54, 11.2 MB)

9. Recorded Quote Of The Night (0:04, 220 KB)

And, because they don’t set up kits like that anymore…

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick%27s_Day
www.syracuse.ny.us
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipperary_Hill
www.myspace.com/grovehavener
www.jamesvilledewitt.org
www.colemansirishpub.com
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Preston
www.billypreston.net
www.olympusamerica.com
www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product=1350
www.apple.com/ilife/garageband
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3
www.pearldrum.com/default.asp
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Temple_cocktail
www.vater.com
www.vater.com/newproducts/product.cfm?M=300