Week 51, Get On

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

Well it’s week fifty-one! I can’t believe it. I’m still running short on time and I have a lot of ground to cover with this post so I might skip on some of the regular stuff about the recording. A couple of notes about that – the female vocalist in the harmonies is my very own sister Brooke Layman. She deserves a much bigger part than buried in the mix, but that’s what was called for on this song. I was very happy that it worked out for her to be visiting while this was going on. We’ve had very few opportunities to collaborate in our adult years.

Show Flier

Show Flier

In just a few days I’ll be taking the stage for the first time with the new band version of Developer. I’m really excited about it. The show features some great local artists, and it’s at a great venue. The night will culminate with a live recording of the final song with audience participation and something like fifteen guest musicians by the end of the song. If you’re anywhere near Pittsburgh, please drop by. It’s easily worth the five dollar admission. But for all of you who’ve been following the blog for the last year and who aren’t in Pittsburgh, the whole show will be broadcast here as live streaming video thanks to the incredible folks over at Incredibly Thin! Just bookmark it and tune back in after 8 pm EST. The rough band start times are as follows: River is to Train – 8:30, Karl Hendricks – 9:10, Pairdown – 9:50, Endless Mike & the Beagle Club – 10:30, Developer – 11:10. I’ll hopefully be posting a remixed and recut version of the final song on Monday, September 6, which is the one year anniversary of the project, and yeah it’s my birthday too.

Front Cover

Front Cover

Inside Spread

Inside Spread

The grand finale show doubles as a CD release for Another Song for the Weekend, a newly remastered nineteen-song collection of some of the best tracks of Project 52. I’ll get the CD posted on the Developer Bandcamp site in the days following the show for sale as both the physical CD package or as a digital download.

Now on to the song itself. This track was heavily influenced by the band Polvo. I couldn’t help it. I was so thrilled to have been able to see them live here in Pittsburgh on August 12 after having never had the opportunity before, and they killed it so hard that night, that it was inevitable that the Polvo sound would creep back into one of my songs. I say “back” because oddly enough, nearly a year ago I had just acquired the brand new Polvo album and had been playing pretty much nonstop. It’s subtle, but that definitely influenced the song for week two, “Left to Chance“. So, it turns out that both the second song of the project and second-t0-last song of the project were pretty heavily influenced by one of my favorite bands. It’s bears mentioning too that I credit that second song with setting the bar for the project and forcing me to take every week seriously.

Thanks again everyone. I’m thrilled to be sharing this all with you.


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Sunday, August 29th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 50, Coming Out with the Screws

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

This week’s song was one that I’d written and began recording a few weeks ago, but it hadn’t really fit in until now. It’s a very simple setup with just one guitar track, one baritone track, and two drum tracks. The guitar and baritone were both performed on the Orange Crush 30r, and miked with my CAD E200. All sounds were recorded with the iPhone using the Alesis ProTrack and the MultiTrack DAW app.

The drum setup is one that I’ve been fooling with for the last couple of songs, and I think is the best that I’ve been able to get out of the drums with two mics into the iPhone. It’s pretty much a mono-style setup, but recorded as a stereo track to get two distinct channels. The left channel was a relatively close overhead mic and the right channel was the CAD E200 (which has a nice bass response) placed with the diaphragm just above the kick drum by four inches or so and out from the set by four inches and aimed down under the cymbals and toward the snare. Once I brought the stereo track into Reaper, I used the nifty option to “explode multichannel audio or MIDI items to new mono items,” which does just like it says and leaves me with two independent mono drum tracks which I can EQ and mix separately. I ended up panning them slightly just to expand the drum sound a bit, but it’s ultimately a mono drum recording.

I can’t believe I’m at week 50. I’m starting to think that I’d be feeling sentimental and regretting the end if I wasn’t so busy trying to hold everything together in preparation for the grand finale. I have some big news on that front as well: For better or worse, the live performance of the final song and possibly the whole Developer set will be available as live streaming video so that everyone who’s not here in Pittsburgh can catch the show as well. As a recap, the show is set for Sunday, September 5, and features great Pittsburgh-area acts Endless Mike and the Beagle ClubPairdown, Karl Hendricks (solo), River is to Train, and of course the band version of Developer (that’s me). I hope that everyone that can make it out does, as the final song will have an opportunity for some audience participation and should be something to behold (one way or another).

The final show is also going to be a CD release show. I have just one more pass to make on the masters and the artwork for the album, which is titled Another Song for the Weekend, and features 19 of my favorite songs from the project remastered to sound way better than they ever have before. Stop on back in the coming weeks for more information about the show and the CD. I promise to have approximate band start times by next week.

One last thing: Please grab this limited time free EP that I put together of great songs that I couldn’t fit onto the CD. It’s a nice little six song collection that’s worth your hard drive space.


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Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 49, Cold Again

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.


The Bitter Pill EP

This song is a simple little rock/pop ditty. I hope you enjoy it. It marks the return of the Blue Mikey, which I used to mic all of the instruments and one of the vocal tracks, and the introduction of a new distortion pedal, the Maxon OD808 reissue, which I was prompted to pick up to get the live guitar setup up to snuff in preparation for the grand finale show. This pedal has the same design as the original “Tube Screamer TS-808″ as Maxon was the original equipment manufacturer for Ibanez. I absolutely love the sound of this pedal, and it’s even better when paired with my Fender Blackface Twin.

I wanted to share a free EP with everyone as a thanks for sticking around for so long. Head on over to my bandcamp site and pick up The Bitter Pill EP as a completely free high quality digital download.

Also, a quick update on the grand finale show: it looks like I may be able to have the whole thing broadcast as a live streaming feed so that friends and followers from all over the world can catch the show. I’ll have more info coming very soon.




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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 37, Salty Stages

To listen on an iPhone, visit my Bandcamp site, or download the SoundCloud iPhone app.

This week’s song is another in a line of pretty rocked-out tracks. I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling great about it at first. I wrote it half expecting to ditch it, but there were aspects of this simplistic song that I kinda was digging so I stuck with it. I know that I’ve probably written this for a number of songs by now, but once everything came together I really found myself liking this song, though I’m having a hard time characterizing it. I can’t seem to put my finger on what or who it sounds like. There’s definitely some Guided by Voices influence in there somewhere… if you’ve been following along you know that there’s a little of that in just about every song, but there’s also maybe a little Nirvana in the chorus, what with the harmonies and all. Yeah, I don’t really know.

As for the recording, it sits on the precipice of a new turn in my recording process, as it’s the first using a new tool that I’ve added to my arsenal. I’d been flirting with the idea of buying an Alesis ProTrack for about as long as I’ve been doing this project, but having read mixed reviews about its performance with the iPhone and generally being pretty happy with my process and wanting to avoid introducing any more distractions, I put off the inevitable purchase. The ProTrack, like the Blue Mikey, is a product that was developed for recording to an iPod, but works in some capacity with the iPhone. It’s basically a dock for the iPod/iPhone that has decent field-recording microphones built in as well as two XLR microphone inputs, with gain control for each (it even can provide phantom power to condenser mics). There are two features that I’ve been dying to have for a while – being able to record drums ad having better iPhone input options – and until my ProTrack arrived from Amazon, I wasn’t very sure that either would work well.

My first test was at a Karl Hendricks Trio practice. As anyone who’s seen the Trio live can attest to, we’re a pretty loud band, and I wanted to see if the ProTrack could handle being dropped into the middle of practice and pick up a stereo image of our space without clipping and distorting due to the high volume. On the first go, with little thought given to location, the ProTrack performed beautifully. It was no more than six feet away from any of the amps or drums, and it didn’t clip and actually sounded very accurate to what our practice sounds like. In my opinion, the ability to handle this kind of volume is what sets the ProTrack well above the Blue Mikey. I can’t say whether they improved the ability to record in high-volume situations for Mikey 2.0, but I can tell you for certain that version 1 is unusable for recording any sort of amplified live rock music onto an iPhone, with perhaps the exception of a relatively quiet band at an outdoor venue where the sound disperses more. As it relates to Project 52, I’ve always wanted a way to record drums quickly right onto the phone in similar fashion to how I’ve been recording guitars and vocals. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of miking, recording, and mixing drums with a multi-mic setup, but that’s really been counter to one of my goals for this project – to let go and not fuss too much over performance, setup, mixing, etc. It’s really the only way that I’ve been able to make the deadline every week, and it’s been really freeing to have that regimen and not obsess too much about every last detail. The ProTrack may end up being the missing link for me to record drums right onto the phone. We’ll see. I haven’t had a chance to test out levels and placement to see if I can get anything that sounds good enough to use, but I’m optimistic.

The drums on this song and next week’s song were recorded before I got the ProTrack, so they’re still with the same five-mic setup of the last several weeks (reference week 29 for more info.) One fun little trick that I played with the drums is with the end part of the song – I kept a few different takes and decided to do something a little more interesting. As the song breaks down into the last section, I faded out of the main drum take while fading in two takes panned hard left and right. I staggered the fades so they come in and out at different times. I wanted to go back and mess with it a little, but it mostly came out how I wanted it to.

The guitars and vocals for this track were recorded using the ProTrack. I want to experiment more with using the ProTrack for vocals, though I’ve been pretty happy with using just the built in iPhone mic most of the time, and you can’t get much simpler than that. At first glance the mics sound pretty good and having the ability to run a condenser mic and/or a preamp into it gives me so much more flexibility. For the guitars, it was pretty much the same mic (Audio Technica ATM29HE), guitar (Fender Telecaster Thinline), and amp (Orange Crush 30r), but using the ProTrack instead of the mic adapter that I’d had made in week 2. The adapter has served me well for 35 weeks, but it came with some limitations (the metronome would bleed into the recording track from the headphone signal for instance.) I’ll be retiring the adapter for the time being. Thanks little buddy.

Meet the Widget cover art

Meet the Widget

There’s one more item for this week: Fresh off of releasing Project 52, Volume 2 on my Bandcamp site (which you should definitely go listen to and download if you feel so inclined), I decided to finally go ahead and put out another digital release. Meet the Widget is an album that was recorded in 2005 and features the original band lineup of Developer. That’s me on guitars and vocals, Karl Hendricks on bass, and Jake Leger on the drums. It’s the same lineup as the Karl Hendricks Trio, just with Karl and me switching roles. I feel pretty good about this recording and the sound of the band at the time. We played a good number of shows at the time and recorded this with the same setup and pretty much at the same time as we recorded the Karl Hendricks Rock Band’s The World Says. After sitting on this for so many years, I decided to finally just go ahead and put it out now that there’s such a great site like Band Camp to facilitate the release. It took a little digging and file searching to conjure up the masters, song order, and the original cover art, but I managed to put it all together and get it out there. I hope you like it.

Have a great week everyone. I’ll see you soon.

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Week 24, Simple to Center

I’m sorry folks, but sometimes pop happens… and it happened a bunch on this song.

Simple to Center was written and recorded (except for the drums) in one sitting on Valentine’s Day. All of the tracks – acoustic and electric guitar, bass, vocals, and a little shaker – were recorded with the Blue Mikey. I tried to finish the song off on V-day by recording a drum take with the Mikey, but it was a total fail. The Mikey (version 1) is just not a good tool for recording drums into the iPhone. It can’t handle the high volume and clips well beyond the effect of a little distortion. This is also a problem when attempting to record a live band with the Mikey, which is something it’s supposed to be able to do. This is a known issue by Blue, and the original Mikey was developed for the iPod and not the iPhone, so they never claimed to fully support it.

Blue just came out with a new version of the Mikey, which was developed with full iPhone support. I think my Mikey is a great tool, but before shelling out another $80 on version 2, I wanted confirmation that the clipping issue was addressed and resolved. I emailed Blue’s support to find out, and even copied some of their other departments to give them a heads up about my site since I’ve been pimping their product. Alas, no one got back to me. That’s too bad because I’d love to be writing today with a definitive answer about the drums, and my hunch is that if they didn’t answer then maybe the problem isn’t fixed. That’s really too bad because otherwise the Mikey is a great sounding mic (as you can hear), and it’s even better now using version 1.1 of MultiTrack which allows for use of the Mikey’s dual condensers in stereo.

This cheesy little pop song is for my wife Jenn. I wouldn’t have made it past week 1 without her patience, understanding, and support. I really appreciate it.


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Sunday, February 21st, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment


<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/project-52-volume-2">Call it a Day by Developer</a>
<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/project-52-volume-1">Til Spring by Developer</a>
<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/meet-the-widget">Losing City by Developer</a>
<a href="http://developer.bandcamp.com/album/season-tics">Canada Day by Developer</a>


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