Music, musings and more from the mind of Ben Averch.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Start at the Beginning" on CD Baby!

At long last, my new record is finally available to the public through CD Baby! It's been a long road -- "Start at the Beginning" was started back in May of 2006, right after I finished "Washington State".

I started off on this new adventure with a trio of drum-loop based songs, "Pure Energy", "The Source of Love" and "You Can Only Feel". These satisfied two needs for me; to enter into some new sonic territory, and to be able to write and record without starting with a perfect drum performance as the basis for the songs. It was really satisfying to be able to just lay down a rhythm (a robotically precise, perfect rhythm, no less) and then play with arrangements, sounds, etc. It was a new experience to play bass lines along to a drum loop and not have to worry about any 'anomalies'! These songs took some time to come together, and as it evolved, "You Can Only Feel" benefitted a lot from some arrangement ideas from my brother Mike.

I then started to work on songs in my traditional writing/recording approach, where I'll write the song on acoustic, figure out the arrangement and then take a hack at the drum part, and then build up the song from there. I did a big chunk of the record in a few weeks including "Hope Anchor", "Start at the Beginning", "It Ain't Me", "The Nothing Shines Through" and "Two Places at Once".

During this process, I would spend my driving time going through mixes of the songs, listening for places to put more guitars, more vocals, and try to do the most I can with the songs given that the arrangements are pretty well locked down by virtue of having the drum tracks complete. So, a lot of time was spent driving around, listening to rough mixes, and kind of hearing the songs as I wanted to hear them.

In March of this year, I visited my Dad, brother Mike, and childhood friend Dave down for some skiing in Taos, NM. I took advantage of this opportunity to run some mixes that I thought were almost there by these guys, who all provided good insights into how to make the songs better -- probably the most notable of this advice was to drop the bass out of the first half of "Nothing Shines Through", which gives the song a lot more momentum.

These are the kinds of pointers and ideas that are so valuable for a guy who writes and records everything himself; an objective ear of a bandmate or a producer isn't available, so you lean on friends and family to listen to the rough mixes and offer their advice when they can give it.

In April, I took the mixes to John McCaig at panicStudios in West Seattle, who again did a great job mastering this record (he also did "WA State"), and encouraged me to turn up the guitar solos (which I did and I'm thankful for it)!

Of the finished record, I will admit that there is no objectivity after all this time working on it. So I'll leave it to the listeners to experience -- but I will share some of my favorite moments with you: the verse wallop in "Creative Destruction", the guitar solo in "Start at the Beginning" (of this lead, my brother commented, "this is like your 'Limelight'" -- the highest praise!), the ending jams in "It Ain't Me", and "The Nothing Shines Through", and what I think is a faithful version of one of my favorite songs, "Western Sky" by American Music Club.

So, here it is, at long last. Now I turn my attention to my third record, as yet untitled, already five songs deep! These songs are so far, shorter, brighter and (with one exception) a little lighter in mood, but hopefully still hard rocking. But, let's not get ahead of myself...the world first needs to hear "Start" sure to let me know what you think!


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