Sunday, April 17, 2005

Who's playin' on Cool Creek?

There of course is a story about who's playing on this track of Cool Creek which I linked to in a previous posting.

A long time ago in a land far far away, I was writing and demoing my tunes myself, but wanted real drums since I was writing rock tunes. Over the years, I had worked with many real drummers in the studio and experienced all the pain of getting a good drum sound and a solid take. For non-pro drummers it's a pretty tall order to play for 4 minutes without making a timing mistake while also playing with style. Instead of looking locally for a solution, I searched the world...

Thanks to the internet, out in LA I found Ron Wikso. Ron's a pro drummer with a world of experience touring with Foreigner, Dave Lee Roth, Richie Sambora, Cher and others. He also was in the super group The Storm. Ron's currently a member of the Gregg Rolie Band. Gregg of course was a founding member, lead singer, keyboardist for Santana and for Journey. By the way, last fall I had lunch with Gregg at Quiznos of all places. That was surreal.

Anyway, back to Ron. He agreed to take a listen to 3 of my songs including Cool Creek. After taking a listen, he really liked my songs and my enthusiasm to create some cool rock tracks. He suggested enlisting Lance Morrison to play bass on these three tracks and Ron agreed to cut the drum tracks. So while I was out here in the Midwest, Ron was sitting down on the throne of his Foreigner drum set in his studio to laydown drums to 3 of my tunes. Ron keeps the set mic'd and setup all the time so that he can more easily record drum tracks. After he had the drums laydown to my click track and scatch tracks, he had Lance stop by his home studio for some bass tracks.

Lance played bass on Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album and Don Henley's Inside Job. Last year he was on tour with Don and we had to wait for a break in the tour to record some additional tracks. Lance also is on CDs by Rick Springfield, Simple Minds, Alice Cooper, Cher, The Corrs, Bif Naked and a long list of others. Last time I saw Lance, he was on TV playing bass on The Best Damn Sports Show with Rick Springfield. I think he's back on tour with Don Henley this summer. So anyways, Lance cut two or three bass tracks for each of my 3 songs. He's playing bass on Cool Creek.

There's piano and organ tastefully mixed (thank you) on Cool Creek. This tasteful work comes to us by my friend Wally Minko. Ron introduced me to Wally. My songs are not really worthy of someone like Wally. He's recorded, played and toured with Jean-luc Ponty, The Chieftains, Barry Manilow, Toni Braxton, En Vogue, Pink and yet another long list of groups. I didn't plan on having any keyboards at all. I wanted just lots of guitars, but Ron kept encouraging me to at least listen to some keys on these three songs. I love the flavor that Wally added. By the way, Wally is in the Gregg Rolie band with Ron. This band is amazing live. They are on tour so check them out if they are anywhere near you!

I've already posted about Joe as the singer on Cool Creek. He's been a member since 1989 of a very successful Zeppelin tribute band out in LA. The idea in getting Joe to help out was to assist me in phrasing of the singing. Now I feel like firing myself. I really like his voice on this song a lot. He did three takes. I mixed with take two. It's live all the way through with no auto tuning or punch ins. Now THAT's a rock singer!

Finally on Cool Creek, we have my idol and friend Kurt Griffey. I gave him the acoustic guitar track and electric guitar tracks from my demo. I said here's the main riff. I want more harmony parts. I want layers of guitars and make them wide. More is better than less! I need to lots to work with in the mix. This was to be ADDED to all my guitar parts. Wow, Kurt went beyond the call of duty to create some sweet guitar parts. By the way, he's the featured guy with the Greg Rolie band. If they are coming to your area, you can kick back and just soak in Kurt wailing away on guitar for a few hours. Kurt has given me so many guitar tracks that it's possible that I've listened to him playing more than he's listened to himself. I might just be the foremost expert on Kurt's playing. :)

Ron recommended (and recorded) Kurt. Kurt recommended Joe.

Ron, Kurt, Lance, Wally and I have 12 songs completely tracked. We even worked in some horns (thanks Phil Collins & Ron Stewart) on one of my tunes. Now we have this vocal thing to finalize, then mix (again) and master this thing. I'm trying to hold back from recording another 3 songs 'cause I've got more ready to go!

...and everyone lived happily ever after.