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Friday, December 21, 2012

The making of "Every Now And Then"

"Every Now And Then" is not the album I wanted to make.  It is the album that had already been made, but hadn't been recorded yet.  It was an attempt to capture some of what bridgework had been, some of what bridgework might have been, and perhaps point to what it might be still.  Mostly, it was a challenge to myself to build on my recording, mixing, and production skills.

The songs selected for the album span over a decade of writing.  For this reason, the title "Every Now And Then" seemed appropriate. When I arranged the final song order, the tracks more or less fell into place chronologically:

  • New Beginnings / Something To Say  / Another 4am were all written around 2000 - 2001, while I was still in college.  They were originally recorded for my 2002 demo album titled "Hero's Welcome"  (along with several other bridgework songs).  They have improved over the years.  Something To Say and 4am were staples of the live bridgework experience from 2006 to 2008.  New Beginnings found new life in my solo acoustic shows of 2009 and 2010.

  • Self Destruction Blues was written around 2003 - 2004, and was one of the original bridgework songs (along with Return).  

  • Picture Frame / No God or Heaven were both written between 2005 and 2006. Picture Frame was performed live once at the Bridgework "World Disappears" CD release show in 2008.

  • First Try  / The Game came about between 2006 - 2007.  Bridgework performed First Try several times as a band, and I started performing The Game regularly in my solo shows in 2009. 

  • Hey Kid started its life as a slow and somber number in 2007, but was reinvented as a more upbeat song in 2009 for my solo shows.  It progressed into more of a punk song for the album.

  • Every Now And Then started its life years ago as a mellow indie-rock type song, and eventually settled into its present form in 2009. 

  • Burn Me Out was written in 2009.  I like it. 

  • Reaching Out was written in early 2011.  It was one of those rare, simple songs that just sort of happened in one night.  

(New Beginnings)

The process of making this album began in 2010 when I started recording rough demos and scratch tracks.  Later that year I ran a kickstarter campaign which was completed in February 2011.  The campaign was a modest success, and thanks to that I was able to upgrade my home studio, and set aside funds for mastering.  Even with the enormous help of kickstarter, I ended up paying for most of the studio upgrades myself.   But the whole kickstarter experience was about more than just money.  It was about finding the conviction to make a record at all.  It was a highly palpable motivating presence through the darkest of hours.

I then spent a few months selling off old gear and picking up new (used) gear that better fit my needs.  I designed and built my own custom recording desk, bought two new computers, updated my software, and put together my own sound absorbing panels for my studio / mixing room.

(Another 4am Whatever It Takes)

When I finally set about recording tracks, finding time proved to be difficult.  I was working six days a week between two jobs, and on my only day off my shared lockout space was regularly being used by another band.  After several months of ridiculously late nights and Saturday night all-nighters, tracking, experimenting, and re-tracking,  I finally completed all of the recording in March of 2012.  I played all of the instruments on the record, performed all of the vocal parts, and programmed the midi drum parts.

Then came the mixing, editing, and remixing until, still unsatisfied, I decided it was time to "just go with it."  But I didn't like what the first mastering sessions sounded like, which lead to more remixing.  Then I sent it off to another more expensive mastering studio, and was once again disappointed.  This time around I couldn't get a refund.  Ultimately I ended up taking the mastered files and tweaking them a bit more myself, resulting in what is now available as "Every Now And Then."

I kept it simple with the album art by doing a charcoal pencil drawing of myself standing back to back with a childhood representation of me, which I believe embodies the spirit of the title track.

(Burn Me Out)

I have never worked harder on anything in my whole life.  Seriously, the last time I put this much time and effort into anything it was called "college."  I wanted so badly to capture these songs in recordings that could stand up to all the professional songs I study and admire.  And to that end, despite all of my efforts, I can't help but feel disappointed.  But the learning experience was invaluable.  What I'm not disappointed with are the songs themselves.   They are all slices of my life shared the best way I know how, and come attached with immeasurable sentimental value.  Deep down I needed to get these songs out into the world before I could really move on to new things.

(Reaching Out)

I want to thank all of you who have supported me and encouraged me throughout my musical journey both as a solo artist and as bridgework.  It truly means a lot, and has kept me going for over ten years now.  And of course I have to thank Scott, Erik, and Wes for being bridgework with me for the time that we were all together.  At present I am working hard at promoting the album as best I can - hopefully I'll get a spin on the local radio show or maybe get a song licensed on some obscure cable network.  But I'm not going to spend too much time on it.   Mostly, I'm looking forward to working on some new ideas and being creative again.

Thank you for listening.


John Renaud / Bridgework

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