Big Bad Sun - This recording session was typical of all my "private" recording projects, fast. I prefer to record in a nice studio so I have to finish the session in five days or I'll never make my money back. We recorded each song live, except the vocal tracks, with almost no punch-ins. I used an Egnater pre-amp powered with a VHT power amp through a Marshall cab in one channel and a Marshall 50 watt head and cab in the other. The amps are mostly panned right and left but on some tracks, where the guitar is mono, I scratched the Marshall track and panned the Egnater straight up. Egnater makes a great pre-amp with different amp modules that you can plug in, for this session I used a Marshall type module. I also used a HAO "Royal Rumble" or "Sole Pressure" for the solos, sometimes, in combination. I used my 1960 Fender Stratocaster on all the tracks except for "Bug Lips." I used my trusty Warmoth, "Betty" on the track.

The other musicians on the recording were Tetsuya Hoshiyama on the drums, if you have my "Prospects" release, you will already be familiar with him, and Kenichi Fujisawa on the bass. Aki Sakuma plays the bass on the only instrumental tune on the CD, "Bug Lips."

May 1st, 2005 - We got in the studio around ten in the morning and set our stuff up. I had my amps in an isolation booth and ran a line to them so I could stay with the other two guys in the big room. The engineer, Takeshi Fujimura miked the amps with two 57s and used, I don't know, maybe a Sennheiser for an ambient mike.

I think the first tune we recorded was "Tell Me a Story" which went off okay I guess. The amps sounded great, but I was having a lot of problems getting a decent sound through the headphones and was struggling a bit with my guitar. It's funny, when you can't get your sound, the guitar becomes physically difficult to play, and that is what happened on this day. I was struggling to play up to my usual level the whole time but figured I would just deal with it. We also recorded "Revelation," "Bug Lips," and "Come Out Baby." Knocked four songs out, two or three takes a piece. Aki Sakuma came in to do "Bug Lips" and gave Ken a break. As I said, I was struggling with my guitar and was in a shitty mood because of it. I remember bitching at them cause they were over-playing for my solo. I gave up because I couldn't get a decent solo happening and decided to punch in the solo on a later date. That pretty much ended the session for the day. I got home about eight at night and played with my daughter but had problems sleeping. I knew my playing wasn't up to par and decided to scratch "Come Out Baby" and "Revelation" and re-record them. I also decided that I would work on my monitor mix so I could play better. Should have done this in the first place instead of wasting a day in the studio. The last thing I wanted to do is release a mediocre CD, especially if I had to pay for it myself.

May 2nd - Got in at eleven and worked on my headphone mix with the engineer. Finally got it right, added a little delay and the whole sound came together. We re-recorded "Revelation" and "Come Out Baby" without any problems.

I nailed both the solos on "Revelation" so didn't punch anything in. I think I punched in the middle solo on "Come Out Baby" maybe once. We ate lunch and where back at it by one o'clock and recorded "Sweet Melissa." Two takes, no punch-ins on this one. "Sweet Melissa" was written for my baby daughter, a ten bar blues.

We then moved on to "Love Dog" and this one too went off without any train wrecks or discussions. Maybe three takes for this one also, and no punch-ins. I played a long ass guitar solo on the end and planned to do a fade for the CD. I originally wrote this on the acoustic guitar and always planned to keep it that way. Just for the hell of it, I got the guys to play it with me during shows and ended up liking the way it sounded with a trio so I decided to record that way.

Next on the list "Big Bad Sun." I originally recorded a version of this number that I was crazy for, when I recorded "Prospects." I planned to use that version on this CD but the engineer lost the data. Typical lost recording story that makes you want to cry and kill yourself for not getting the data. I liked the original version of the song so much I had absolutely no interest in re-recording it but had no choice. We knocked this one off in two takes with no punch-ins. I still have the original pre-mastered recording of "Big Bad Sun" but no data. If I compare them now, the original version still sounds great but the new version is fine too. It's really hard to recreate the magic of some recordings so make sure you get all the recording data (or tapes) and don't trust anyone with them.

The last song we did on this day was "House on the Hill" and that too went down without any punch-ins. I used a Voodoo Lab, Micro-Vibe on the last solo that sounds pretty mean, if I do say so myself. It's embarrassing to admit, but it took me twenty years of guitar playing to figure out that the Uni-Vibe was the thing that makes that Jimi Hendrix sound that I've always wanted since I was twelve years old. I have a Uni-Vibe also but for some reason prefer using the "Micro Vibe." I used it on this tune and on the second solo in "Revelation."

This session went on 'till about ten or eleven at night. After we were done recording I asked the assistant to give me the song times and was surprised to find out that the CD was only going to be a little over a half hour. Not long enough to justify a normal price so when I got home that night I took a long bath and wrote the lyrics for "Some Sympathy" and although I had originally planned to only record the vocal tracks and do some guitar punch-ins the next day, I decided to record "Some Sympathy" first thing in the morning.

May 4th - Last day recording. Got in at ten and did "Some Sympathy." Got this one done in three takes, again no punch-ins. A minor blues and a jam song, so I jammed on the end, two or three minutes of guitar solos. Cranked up the gain on the amps for the punch-in on "Bug Lips" and got it right this time. I spent more time than I usually do on this punch-in but, what the hell, you do what you gotta do sometimes to get it right. I think I may have played four or five solos and kept the best one.

I also recorded the acoustic guitar track for the intro of "Love Dog." The producer brought down his Martin guitar for me to use and we pulled up the carpet on the studio floor so you can hear my foot tapping. We wanted a traditional sounding recording for the intro so he miked it from about a meter away and equalized it to sound like it was recorded in the 30's. Recorded all the eight vocal tracks after this and called it quits for the day.

May 5th - Mixed the whole recording from ten in the morning till nine thirty the next morning. When I got home my wife had just woken up and was ready to go to the beach with our daughter Melissa. I was dead tired but sometimes you have to do these things if you want to keep harmony in the family.

June 7th - Over the week I listened to the music over and over again. This is what you have to do to make sure that you don't need to fix the mix or punch-in something that didn't turn out the way you planned. The monitors in the studio sound great so you can easily be fooled. That's why it is important to bring it home and listen to it in your usual stereo or in your car. By this time my wife was ready to throw up every time I put it in the stereo. I travel a lot in the music school's car so I listened to it in there too and found myself very unsatisfied with the mix. The bass drum was way to loud and the bass was raging, my guitar and vocals sounded tiny in comparison. I was ready to go ballistic when I realized the guy that uses the car most of the time changed the equalizer to his favorite disco setting, erasing all the mids and boosting the bass. When I fixed the eq, the mix sounded fine. The only problem I found with the mix was that "Tell Me a Story" was a little to wet for such a traditional type song. Other than that, my vocals in "Big Bad Sun" where making me crazy. I got the engineer back into the studio on June 7th and punched-in a few vocal parts on "Big Bad Sun" and had him bring down the level of the delay on the guitar on "Tell Me a Story." He, of course, like all engineers started to re-EQ things, compress this that and the other thing, re-mix this and that and we ended up in the studio 'till the next morning again. But, I was finally happy with the mix and ready to get it mastered. So to summarize the whole session, we basically took three days to record and two days to mix the whole thing. Pretty good considering some CDs take a year to record.

June, 27th - Brought the DAT down to Crown Recording Studios and had it mastered. If you have ever been in a mastering session, I don't have to tell you that it is boring. Mastering is a funny thing if you think about it, the engineer takes your digital master and bounces it to an analog tape to make it sound more, well analog and then turns it back into digital info and burns you a master to send to whoever presses it. Digital technology is everywhere and in all recording studios and engineers go nuts trying to make every recording sound "analog." Anyway, the whole thing took about five or six hours and the final result was a good sounding recording.