When I was around 12 years old and just starting to experiment with recording my own music, I loved creating recordings of myself where I’d play every instrument. I’d make a drum kit out of suitcases and cans, tune my guitar down low
to make it sound like a bass, and overdub using the two ghetto- blaster technique. I would record my own instrumental ver- sions of Led Zeppelin songs like “Ramble On” and “Ten Years Gone,” doing my best imitation of Jimmy Page. I did a lot of imitation, as you do when you’re just starting out, but I was in- terested in making my own original music at the same time.
I wish I had those tapes of the music I wrote when I was 12, but the ability to “tape over” was both a blessing and a curse.
There’s a certain sound that comes from playing everything yourself, and that’s what I wanted to create with this new album. I wanted to make music like I did when I was 12. Except now I’m using real instruments and better recording equipment.
In 2005 I was playing drums in Adam Warner's band, with Dean Drouillard on guitar and Steve Zsirai on bass. Dean gave me a copy of his album, Dream at Harmony Motel, and I immediately knew that I wanted him to produce my first album (Hammy's Secret Life). Although my music was pretty different than his, I knew I wanted my album to sonically sound like his album. His mixes fit my tastes perfectly. Part of the connection I have with Dean stems from our similar backgrounds as guitarists and musicians. We were both playing gigs at 14 years old, in bands with older musicians. And, like me, Dean spent a lot of time alone with a 4 track. This is somebody I can trust with my music.
I had Dean on board to produce this new album before I even finished writing all the songs.
Originally, I wanted to try recording everything myself, at home, and then I'd send the tracks back and forth with Dean to discuss ideas. Our collaboration would be mostly through Dropbox, even though he lives right down the street from me.
I ended up scrapping this idea after a couple months of stopping and starting, when I finally had to admit to myself that I needed help with the recording process. I was too isolated, not getting any feedback during the process and getting frustrated by switching between the roles of performer and engineer.
Enter Josh Van Tassel, another multi-instrumentalist with experience in solitary recording projects.
Josh and I go out for coffee one morning and he tells me he wants to help with this project, and that he’s been talking to Dean about it. At the time he and Dean were both working on Royal Wood’s new record. I instantly loved Josh's ideas and his vision for my new album, and I already knew that he and Dean worked really well together. Also, I knew that we worked well together on a bunch of projects. That's when Josh joined the project as co-producer alongside Dean.
Though Josh did all the engineering on the recording sessions for this album, Dean remained the guiding standard for the overall sound. Ultimately, Dean’s ear’s were the final filter.
All creation is collaboration, wether it’s collaborating with dif- ferent parts of yourself, or with other people. Although I played all the instruments on these tracks, this album is more than a collaboration with myself. It wouldn’t have been possible without Josh and Dean.