9 Days in A Mountain-house-made-studio

Read this post by Pastor of Gathered Worship Aaron Slaten about Mission Athens Music’s time in the mountains!

In October of last year we started talking about the band from Christ Community Church recording an album. There were many reasons we wanted to capture the music of our band. Here are four of them:
  • recording will time stamp different seasons of music for our church
  • recording creates/intensifies community with your musicians
  • recording makes our band better
  • recording is an encouragement to our church members 
Once we decided recording was a good idea, we set out to make it happen. We used the website Kickstarter to raise money for our album, and within 30 days had raised $7800 for the project. I called my friend Brian T Murphy and asked him to produce the album. He graciously said yes. Brian is the founder of ‘Red Mountain Music’ and ‘New York City Hymns’. We scheduled to record the album starting on March 1st
Late in the evening on February 29th, 2012 Brian and I started to transition the mountain house into a recording studio. The master bedroom became a live tracking room, the loft room became a drum/bass room and the master closet was turned into a vocal booth. 
On Thursday we began to lay down scratch vocals and acoustic guitars. These tracks serve as a map for the song. We did scratch for 8 of the 12 songs we would record in one day. Justin Kimmel & Rachael Mirabella joined us for this process. We re-worked one of the hymns we were planning to record and then we all went to sleep around our new bed time…2:30am. Seriously, our bed time fluctuated between 2:30 and 4:30 am all week.

On Friday we finished up scratch vocals and guitars and recorded a few random parts for songs. As people started to show up on Friday night the house got more lively. Slade showed up early evening and Brian got him to experiment with a chord progression. Words can’t describe the beauty in this piece! Get ready; it will be the opening track on the record. We started tracking drums at 7:30 pm and finished for the night at 2:45am. David and Kevin cranked out 8 songs that night. It was impressive. 
Saturday was a full day finishing up bass and drums and then moving to electric guitars.

Sunday was one of the most fun days of music. One of the songs we recorded was ‘Power in the Blood’. While we were doing all of the scratch vocals on Thursday, we had this idea of it sounding like a bunch of friends sitting on the back porch singing. On Sunday, we took that to another level. We had 12 people in the house, and Brian got every person to grab a percussion instrument. One by one we all took turns recording our parts. The instruments ranged from spoons, mason jars, pill bottles, and a People magazine (and many, many more). After percussion we moved to stomps and claps, then gang vocals (no one was harmed during these) and then a gang music jam session. This song is going to be and was so much fun. We worked on a couple harmony tracks since most of of female vocalists had to go home Sunday night for work and midterms.  One little hiccup on Sunday - I started to get sick and lose my voice. Definitely not part of the plan on recording week.

Monday morning we woke up to a relatively quiet house and that was helped by the fact that all I could do was whisper. My voice was gone! We spent Monday finishing up violin, a couple female vocals and trying to slow down a bit since we had been working so hard the previous days. 
Tuesday I had an antibiotic called in for me to help clear up whatever was happening with my throat. Tuesday we spent the day tracking acoustic and electric guitars again, a little piano and a couple of vocal harmonies. 

Wednesday and Thursday were almost identical. We worked on lead vocals, piano, organ, pads, synth and harmonies. We did have to go back and record some bass that night. The most personally frustrating thing happened on Thursday when we realized that one of the songs we were recording was a full step too high. This literally blew my head up! I spent way too much time trying to get this vocal and realized it was the key, not my voice. Our last track recorded was rain falling and at 2:45 am on Friday morning we finished recording the album. We were all THRILLED! 

I am so excited to share the finished project with everyone. My hope is that you will enjoy the album and each person will be able to engage with the lyrics in our songs and that the love of Christ would ring loud and true in your ears.

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