Monday, December 24, 2012


Happy Holidays, everyone.  Magnet South came out of hibernation for our second Christmas EP, Noel.  It was recorded and produced in 7 days, and is the best sound we've put out yet.

My personal favorites are "The Christmas Song", and the original "Christmas Time".  Listen if you're tired of the same versions over and over on the radio.

The whole thing is streaming at PureVolume

One particularly notable item is that the drums you hear are done entirely with midi-controlled samples.  My aim was to make it sound as much as possible like my own playing.  On a good day.

The guitar, vocals and organ are all real.

Monday, December 12, 2011


It's the Holiday season, and that means Christmas music.  Everywhere.  The radio, the mall, Home Depot, Starbucks.  It's inescapable.

But it can be infectious, too.  10 days ago Matthew emailed me an .mp3 he recorded of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".  He made an off-hand comment about it being the start of a Christmas album.  I took him up on the offer.

So, in 10 days, we arranged, recorded, and produced a 5 song Christmas EP titled Hark!.  This was a lot of fun, and a great way to re-energize the recording process.

Here's the lineup:

1. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
2. Angels We Have Heard on High
3. Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
4. O Come All Ye Faithful
5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Instead of sharing the files here, I'll post the link to listen to it.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The energy is fading.  We've been working on a list of about 12 songs for basically a year now.  The recordings have changed very little in the past 4.  They're basically done, but in a world of babies and work and no gigs, it's hard to put a bow on it.

Every once in a while, though... a glimmer.

Matthew has a way of coming up with songs from nowhere.  I received a GarageBand version of this song a few days ago. Friday, he came over to continue playing Arkham City, and recorded this song as well.

Here's what we drank.

And now the song.  Still.

And here's a picture my wife drew.  I like it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

4 of 3

Matthew likes to make a liar out of me, apparently.  I put up a blog post about our 3 new songs, and he goes and writes another.

I liked recording this one.  We just set up shop in my dining room, with the kids asleep upstairs.  My wife was walking through to the kitchen to get a snack.  I had to take the bag of chips away from her because it was making too much noise in the background (she was supplied a bowl with chips in it instead).

Matthew played the main guitar part, then decided to fiddle around with a second part.  Within twenty minutes the second part was written and recorded.

As you can see, we did not have enough mic stands. Turns out mics work just as well when you sit them on the table next to a bottle of single barrel Knob Creek.

I am very happy that we can get a product like this from such a simple recording setup.  And now with a little experience under my belt, I can quickly create a mix that I'm happy with.

So, thanks, Matthew.  You can make a liar out of me any time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

One Good Day

It seems when I get the pen, I tend to write about depressing subjects.  We already have two songs dealing with the aftermath of death as proof.

I tried my best to write another depressing song, this time with a little more anger.  Matthew, however, turned it around.  The lyrics for this song were originally about my grandmother in a nursing home and the despair she was facing.  Many of the final lyrics are the same as the original, but enough different so that the entire song comes from somewhere else.

My grandmother passed away just a few weeks ago.  It was certainly upsetting, but it also brought a sense of relief to see her at rest.  I am glad that this is the song that developed, and not the one that could have been.

The song is just Matthew on guitar and vocals so far.  I played a drum part that has potential, but isn't worth sharing.  Honestly, I think it sounds so good the way it is that it could stand on its own.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How do I write about this one?

The 2nd new song is titled "Power and Might".

I am going to keep the explanation for this one on the simple side.

My niece died in a car accident last year.  I didn't know her as well as I could have, but I have come to know her family pretty well.  She is not a blood relation due to a marriage in the family, but I don't really feel like that matters.

I traveled to Kentucky for her wake and funeral, and it left a mark.  Especially on my limited understanding of fatherhood.  Let's just say Zoe and Georgia are more precious to me now.

I wrote the original words.  Matthew did some smithing to make it fit for a song.  The melody he wrote is a perfect mix of beauty and heartbreak.  This recording did not turn out the best, and the song is still too long.  We'll need to figure out which section to trim and try again.  But if we can keep these vocals, I will.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Three! new songs

Here is the first of our 3 new songs.  

1. Carry On

This song was written by Matthew about his dog Avi, who had to be given up for adoption because of the allergies of Magnet South baby #1.   I know Avi is being well cared for, but I sure miss him.  I remember meeting him when he was a teeny puppy, wanting to challenge my 70lb akita.  I also remember saying goodbye to him at the Winners, in their study, at over 100lb.  He was less active than normal, but very willing to receive a hug.  

This is a picture of Avi from the winners blog about owning and loving Berners:

Matthew sent me his first recording of the song, saying the ending was "bold".  My reply:  "Be bold, my friend".  I really enjoy listening to it.  The drum part you hear is literally the first play through of the song I ever did.  But I might keep it.  The plan is to build on the ending with some additional harmonies.

Here's Carry On, so far...

Back in the Saddle

Total number of babies born during this recording project (fathered by band members): 2.

Meet Georgia Eden LeFeber, the newest Magnet South baby.

She's very cute and very kind (good sleeper).  However, she also is a great diversion from things like being in a rock band.

She came, but some accounts, three weeks early, on March 12th.
So I had less time to work on music than I had thought.

Even with baby, recording and mixing have continued, just at a more varied pace.  We haven't played out in a long time now, which is tough.   Babies are certainly more important, but that doesn't mean there isn't a part of us that still wants to share.

Most of what I've been doing is listening to and mixing new and previously recorded songs to pick what could be on the "compilation" album.  The best of the best.  Or, anyway, the songs I'd play for my friends and family without apology.

There are three new songs we're working on in the midst of recording everything else.  The next posts will be about those.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New approach

For most of the tracks in album 1 and 2, the recording was done in a spare room in our house.  This helped us have access to the setup whenever we wanted, and allowed us to learn in a more controlled way.  The acoustics of the room were pretty good for guitar and vocals, but not as great for a big drum sound.

The main exception was recording the organ parts.  The organ is in our church, Stone Chapel.  It is a Hammond organ hooked up to twin Leslie 122 cabinets, and you don't turn down the opportunity to have an instrument like that in your music.

The church hall itself has fantastic acoustics for live music, as many people got to hear during the now defunct Stone Songs series.

From my reading on recording, there are 4 elements that affect your music.

1. The artist
2. The instrument
3. The room
4. The recording method (equipment / talent)

The first two are the same.  We upgraded the second two.

The Room - Get the right sound

We are recording everything in the church this time, and it has a huge impact on the sound.  We have learned a lot about capturing our instruments over the last year.  I am very happy with the initial recordings.

The Method - Lock in the right beat

The other main element we've changed is the metronome.  Our previous process had Matthew playing guitar to a metronome in the room.  This worked OK, but guaranteed we could not use that guitar take.  He'd have to go over it later, after my drums were done.  Also, it was difficult for me to hear the metronome when playing drums along to his part.

So, now that I've learned more about the software, I understand how to set a tempo for the song using the program's metronome.  This lets us do two things:

1. Record without the metronome sound.  It just comes through the headphones for the recording or for playback.

2. Use the measures that the software automatically creates to your set tempo.  This way if I have a goofy hit on the drums, I can simply copy and paste from another measure, and you'd never know the difference.

Maybe all this is rookie, but for me it is a major revelation and time saver.  I simply didn't have time to figure it out before when I was learning the basics of the recording process.

Anyway, here are some pics of day 1.

Album 3 Goal

Here's the deal.  I have a baby coming in, like, days.  Well, maybe 35 days.  But they're numbered.

Since we already have a 2-year-old, I know that I will no longer have time for many things.  Included are:

1. Videogames
2. Quiet meals
3. Music recording
4. Additional baby-making
5. Playing gigs

I do, however, believe I will have time for music production of things already recorded.  The scene I play in my head has me holding a little yet-unnamed angel at 3 in the morning with headphones in my ears, and a face lit up by the glow of the computer screen.  More likely is a scene that involves trying to listen to the mix while dancing in the dining room with my 2-year-old and my wife off in the distance somewhere calming a crying child. We'll see.

The good new is that we already have base tracks down for 4.5 songs.  My goal is, in the next 35 days, to get all tracks recorded for all 10 unrecorded songs.