During our recent Midwest tour with Matthew Sweet, we got the chance to stop in at the Daytrotter Sessions HQ in Rock Island, Illinois and record a few live versions of our favorite songs off Begin the Begone. We had a day off after playing Madison, so we drove to the Quad Cities on Monday afternoon through the copious cornfields and cloud vistas of southern Wisconsin and eastern Iowa.
Arriving at 10 a.m., we were greeted by two kind interns from Minty Fresh, dispatched by the label to help us load in and out so we woudn’t be late for our show that same night at SPACE just outside Chicago. When we saw the studio was located on the third floor, we looked for the elevator. Not finding one, we skipped up three longer-than-normal flights of stairs to the studio. Loading in was going to be interesting!
We got a quick tour of the facility and were informed that we could use anything they had in the studio. A set of drums was already miked up, a wall of guitar and bass amps beckoned, and a Yamaha CP-70 electric grand piano with a Solina string synthesizer on top was just waiting for me. We only brought up a handful of items, plugged in, and got sounds quickly. Our engineer, Mike Gentry, asked if we wanted anything special on the mix. Because they record these sessions directly to a stereo track, you don’t have the luxury of bringing something up or down in the mix later. We asked for some nice slap-back echo on the drums and vocals, mimicking the treatment we used on the songs on the original sessions.
After running through the songs for levels, we recorded Satellite Song, Embers, and a medley of Fleeing the Scene and New Moon in either one or two takes. Because we had to leave so much gear in the van, our kind interns took turns watching it while we recorded. We ended up making it to the show in plenty of time — it was the only time on the tour we actually arrived to the club before Matthew and band.
Listen to the first two songs on the Daytrotter site free. If you’re a member, you get the Fleeing the Scene—New Moon medley too.