Promo note: This 4-song mini-album will have its songs released separately, and on this page. “Millennial Whoop” was released on 11/5/19. “The Road Rage Song” was released 8/8/20. “Patch Me Up Doc” was released 8/17/20. “Primary Colors” is still in production as of this date.
Introduction: There’s no bitching in rock music. Why? Because the genre was invented by real men who kicked ass, and bitching turns rock into mush. Guys (and kids) don’t want to hear that. Rock music is meant to hook the listener, keep the groove, and deliver a message. Bitching interferes with the ability to rock, which is why there is no bitching in rock music.
Primary Colors (coming soon; live mono version here)
01_Patch Me Up Doc: I’ve had this song in my head for a few years. I really thought I’d made my last record with Over & Out in 2017, but soon came up with this chorus and knew I would eventually have to record it. It’s meant to be a thoughtful, yet irresistible single, and it is.
02_ Primary Colors: I had seen a few ska bands recently, and then decided to write a song in that style. That’s why I sang with a Jamaican accent, mon. If reggae/ska isn’t political, with a dance groove, then it isn’t the real thing. Live monaural version here. This song is dedicated to the beautiful people of the Bahamas who were hit by Hurricane Dorian.
03_The Road Rage Song: George Thorogood’s “Gear Jammer” is the song that taught me how to play slide guitar. I copped a bit of that riff, and made it my own. No apologies. I also won’t apologize for the explicit lyrics. One final note: Peter Berg in The Great White Hype (1996) shreds Damon Wayans with his punk original, “Mr. Roper, Mr. Roper,” before getting knocked-out (in less than a minute) in the end. I was going for that kind of edge & intensity here.
04_Millennial Whoop: I’ve never done a rap/pop song to this extreme, so this was fun. A year ago, Tom sent me a link on this phenomenon in modern pop music production. Patrick Metzger coined the phrase a few years earlier, in a study he published which is now well-known & cited. Months later after learning about this, I was out and recognized it on someone’s cranked-up car speakers as they drove by, and starting singing my own improvised chorus back to them on the spot. I consider this song to be partly a public service announcement, as well as a punk cross-over single. More here.
Rachel Decker: vocals
Tom Pearce: beats
Bill Pelick: bass
All songs written, published, & copyrighted by Ric Size; No Cliché Songs / Infinitelink Records 2019
Produced by Tom Pearce / Last Minute Productions
Basic liners: Guitar, bass, & vocals tracks were recorded in two sessions: “Patch Me Up Doc” on July 25. The rest on August 23. All Rachel vocals (& most of mine on “Millennial Whoop”), on September 20. All in Sanford, FL. Everyone involved works for a living, so the hardest thing was finding a day we could meet. Recording engineer, producer & drummer Tom Pearce brought his recording equipment to my apartment, which (again) became a make-shift recording studio.
Everything was recorded through his Presonus soundboard using an older Mac flatscreen, which displays & processes the Studio One recording software onsite. Trivial tidbit: Tom uses a PC maus on this computer, so he can have the right-click feature– which is unavailable with a Mac maus. Shure KSM-32 microphone for all vocals. Tom has a vintage Rane rack headphone amplifier, so we all can plug in and hear each other.
We all had a real good time together. Photos were taken during the 2nd & 3rd session by Tom & myself. Photos of Rachel & me by Tom. All other pics by me. Cover photo & art design by Tom Pearce. Live drums & sound production were done in Tavares, FL by Tom.
This is not the traditional way an album is recorded, and the techniques used varied from song-to-song. “Road Rage” was recorded live, the rest were multi-tracked. Only the vocals & acoustic drums were recorded by microphone, everything else was either lined-in, or produced electronically. Tom used his Roland electronic drum kit as a metronome for Bill the bass player in the early session. It was replaced with live drums on “Patch Me Up Doc” & “Primary Colors,” recorded at Tom’s house after everything else was already tracked. This is how to record rockin’ tunes that sound great, without getting an eviction notice, if you live in an apartment.
Extended liners: We lined-in dry on all guitars & bass. Lining-in means direct cabling from the instrument to the soundboard that links to a computer, which records the performance. Dry means no effects. If you are studio recording “live as a band,” then effects can be used, as long as they are kept under control. But if you apply effects to the guitar/bass during multi-track recording, insisting “that’s the sound I gotta have,” then the guitarist is leaving the producer with little-to-no headroom for sound treatments, including the three most important parameters: reverb, equalization & compression.
Those three effects are ~95% of properly-done sound production– in any era. Getting the best sound is the purpose of multi-track recording, and it’s how most music is put together. To all those guitar heroes with racks of effects & foot pedals, here’s some good advice from studio experience: save them for the live shows. They are mostly useless in the studio today, due to computers & digital-effects software.
We are currently about two decades into the “noise wars,” which is defined as excessive compression to make songs louder for cheap mobile headphones. Car commercials which blast non-stop, louder than the rest, is the comparative to the “noise wars” in television audio production. The only way an independent artist can compete against this degradation of music is by having better songs, and knowing how to record & produce them.
With this in mind, what you need from a guitar in the studio is a clean & strong signal. If the player(s) get it right, and the engineer records it properly, then the music has a chance of eventually smashing all the loud junk on the radio, MTV, American Idol, AGT, et al. Effects muddle the input signal, which hurts the cause, so apply them only in the mixing stage, not during recording.
What the industry has, isn’t creative talent, but a production machine. They impose & define the rules, while independent artists break & re-write them. I (again) lined-in with my Alvarez Regent acoustic-electric hollow body. Made in China. It plays loud, has a nice neck, and is cut-out to allow playing above the 12th fret, which a lot of acoustic models don’t design for. For me it is also superior in sound, over a Stratocaster, when playing slide guitar. And finally, it’s the guitar I now write all my songs on. That’s why I use it to record in studio and playing live solo.
Bill Pelick used his Fender Jazz bass, which I gifted to him awhile back. I had purchased it used, long ago in a pawn shop. I didn’t realize it was a knock-off at the time, but knew the neck & body felt great. The previous owner had razor-bladed away the ‘Made in Mexico’ inscription on the headstock, to presumably increase its resale value. Bill showed me this by pointing to the bladed area, and then to the serial number which always begins with a country code– here it was ME, as that hadn’t been bladed away. It was still a bargain, as I simply had Bill replace the strings, pick-ups, pots, jacks & switches for me– to make it the best bass I have ever played, at a nominal cost.
But I never played bass anymore, by the time he had it completely right. A year ago, to my surprise, I discovered its neck was starting to warp in deep storage, so I let Bill have it– as he was becoming a serious bass player. Of course, I insisted that by doing him such a favor, he be available for recording in the future. “No problem,” he said. It’s now his favorite bass too, due to the playable neck, rich tone & LOUD output. The point here is downsizing as necessary, and rewarding the right people. You can create good karma by properly letting go of material possessions.
Tom played ?? drums on “Patch Me Up Doc” & “Primary Colors,” with ?? mics. (placement). Electronic beats on “Millennial Whoop” using ?? software. As noted earlier, Studio One software to record, mix & produce– on a more powerful computer at his home. AAMS to master.
Marketing, social media & internet censorship: Once uploaded to the internet, mp3’s quickly proliferate onto all the streaming services, big & small. But don’t be deceived, each service has their own proprietary algorithms which mysteriously work against independent artists. I’m at the top of these blacklists. YouTube, Facebook, et al, are revolutionary social media platforms, which have been hijacked by corporate ownership to work for the military-intelligence apparatus.
Therefore, don’t waste much time in these domains anymore, because they can (& will) turn you down, make you invisible, & de-platform you without your consent or knowledge. Make quickie thumbnail-image videos for the songs, and let your fans speak for you in the social media forums. That way you’re not devastated if/when videos get taken down, turned down, etc… Fakebook has designed its AI algorithms, so you’ll only see your haters if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t like you.
The greater truth is that most kids today download mp3’s either through the artist’s site directly (free– like me), or through an illicit sites (if not free). The message is: make your mp3’s free, as their quality isn’t that of wav files– which is compact disc quality sound. Free mp3’s maximizes distribution, and the name-of-the-game is making new fans.
Streaming is internet radio, so don’t expect to get paid, because you won’t. You don’t have the industry clout. This scientific understanding & revolutionary approach is how underground artists can keep their sanity, while fighting fascist censorship & winning the loudness wars.
Final thoughts on recording: You must be able to work with a click track in order to get set pieces like “Patch Me Up Doc” or “Millennial Whoop” to work. Set pieces are defined as songs you don’t play live. They are more studio creations than anything else. A songwriter typically needs lots of help with set pieces, in musicianship & production. The Beatles “A Day in a Life” is a classic example of a set piece.
It often depends on what instrument the songwriter plays, to determine the order of recording. Does the songwriter have perfect time? Most often, the answer is “No.” The rock music songwriter must find a way to match up melody, riffing & lyrical ideas, with beats.
If both the songwriter & producer aren’t drummers, then the drum track should be recorded first, followed by the bass. This is typically recorded by placing a microphone in front of each guitar & bass amplifier, and around the drum kit. That is a traditional recording sequence & microphone technique when multi-tracking.
You have to know the circumstances & your strengths, while having no weaknesses when studio recording, otherwise you will crack– wasting time, money & relationships. Your team is there to cover your weaknesses with their expertise & skills. It’s a lot easier with digital, if you know what you are doing. My colleagues on this project are true professionals, they are as talented as anyone, and have my eternal respect & gratitude.
What happens to the original tracks & recording masters? Today, any independent musical artist & record label needs to be at the cutting edge to make an impact– both creatively & in business practice. The model we’ve developed is low-cost & top-notch because it’s revolutionary DIY, using the latest technology & boldest ideas from start to finish. Every studio recording that I’ve ever made, dating back to 1997, has been uploaded to a Google share drive. TomP does the same thing with his ex08 project, and everything else.
The Universal Music Group (UMG) fire that blazed through its irreplaceable archives in 2008 (and then was hushed-up for over 10 years) is a valuable lesson in corporate priority & artist responsibility. UMG is a conglomerate money-making machine, with little sense of artistic value towards it archives. They kept things quiet, and collected the insurance money, while the artists whose masters were torched didn’t even know what had happened. UMG allowed the works of many, many legends it was supposedly safeguarding, to carelessly burn to ashes. Many of these incinerated archives were never transferred digitally, or uploaded to a cloud server– so they are lost forever.
Of course, Tom & I have these files on our computers & external backup drives too, but a cloud-based share drive is how to communicate large amounts of data, such as multi-track recordings, final masters, videos, etc, with a producer. The other benefit is that it protects the music & art from being destroyed into posterity.
This also means a private corporation (Google) has all my stuff in its cloud. And by extension, it means the NSA, FBI, CIA, et al, also have them. That’s the price an artist has to pay today, to protect the existence of content. This takes confidence that you have maximized your abilities, knowing that no one else can do it as well. These songs are proof.