Welcome or Welcome Back!

This is a blog created/kept unkempt by the band A Relative Term to express the process of recording their next full length album. They will poke each other in the eyes, whack each other's noses, butt heads repeatedly, and run in circles on the floor for your enjoyment.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Focus/In Focus: Goodbye 2011

I've been mixing. And mixing. So much mixing.  I've found the best way to do it is to step away regularly.  So in some of the downtime I've been working on some covers.

This one is a Hop Along song. I've been a fan for a while and somehow managed to sad bastardize a perfectly good light hearted song. Go figure. They're working on a new album which I'm most certainly looking forward to with the new year.

Bruno is Orange (Hop Along Cover)

Also, in light of the new year we've switched up the blog design which now includes a picture of good ol' grey Buffalo.  It's only a matter of time before the winter sets in.

Grab your shovels and welcome 2012!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Like Rising Bread

I woke up the other day expecting to mix some songs. Long story short, it turned into me trying to learn someone else's song and then suddenly changing gears to record a Brandon Schmitt song.  I've been trying to record a version of "Lightning Song" pretty much since Schmitty gave me a (bootleg?) copy of his I Was Blind ep, promising he'd get me an actual copy complete with the painfully tasteful artwork "someday" (of which almost 3 years later, I still don't have).

I'm sure there are no fewer than three protools sessions labeled "lightningsong" somewhere on my computer with different versions and variations of this song- none ever seeing any daylight.  I've never been real happy with how any of them have turned out and it got to the point where it seemed like the harder I tried, the further I got from capturing the elements that I loved most about the song.

So I canned it. I haven't tried to play, let alone record that song in at least a year. I just kind of chalked it up to Schmitt being a sonofabitch.

But then, while trying to work through another song (which hopefully may someday also be posted here) I just started noodling around and eventually settled into the finger pattern I'd always played "Lightning Song" with. It felt pretty good. So in classic Schmitt fashion I decided to randomly place the capo somewhere on the neck and just play the song.  It felt even better, so I grabbed a mic, set it up and in about 30 or so minutes, was done. And it was better than all the other versions I'd ever worked on.

So here it is, a lesson in making bread, sometimes you gotta just wait till it rises on it's own.
Lightning Song (Brandon Schmitt cover)


p.s. That other sonofabitch Ben Trickey just put out a new seven inch.  It'll take you longer to order it than it will to listen to it but you'll be glad you did both in the end.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

photographic evidence

hey- it's 'not mark' here updating with some photo-graphs.

check 'em-
Why is Mark so tall?

Seriously, he's like 6'14and1/2"

The pale green light still has some shine...

Shure KSM 141.  Very nice on the acoustic guitar.

Beyer M500 ribbon mic very nice for Jake's ambient guitar magic

He's a little shorter now, must be close to time to rock...

Damn, now he's really short.  My rock just shrunk him...

Mirror mirror on the wall...

Neumann TLM 103 as heard on vocals and glockenspiel
 and a bass player

The Fleetwood Mac drum sound, waiting to happen.

He's a sneaky sunuvabitch...

He's a drunk sunuvabitch...

He's a ruthless documentarian of embarrassing moments...

He's almost tired of this now...

Istanbul was Constantinople now it's Istanbul not Constantinople...

After Midnight reunion rehearsal...

Airman Rodriguez...

Delmont brought rock!

Brought to you by the letter 'K'

And the fine folks at Rolling Rock...

'A Relative Term is a straight up bitch, fuck me doggie samm!'

Mr. Russell Crouse wearing the shirt of a real band!

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's so hard to dance with your brass

It's true. When was the last time you saw someone dancing with a sax, a trumpet, or a trombone that actually looked cool. It's damn near impossible.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

And last but certainly not least, exhibit C:

In fact the only credible instance of someone dancing with a brass instrument I can think of was by neither a musician nor a dancer. And really it's probably only cool because it exemplifies the goofiness of the 80s.

The moral of this story?

Never play cards with a guy who's got the same first name as a city.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meet Jake Bernhardt

That's right.

I've been watching the Baltimore Ravens the past three or four weeks and, in not all that much time, I began to notice something. Ray Lewis gets more face time on tv than pretty much any player/coach/ref/ball-boy I've seen. It's kind of amazing. This past weekend, in a game against the Bengals, there was a camera on Ray Lewis' face 6 times in the last two minutes of the game alone (seven if you want to count the slow motion instant replay of RL's reaction to a play on the field). And he was injured. Not even in the GAME!
Like I said, kind of amazing. He'll get more face time during one game than some players will get in their entire career.

Which brings me to Jake- the face time man of A Relative Term. As it happens Jake typically gets a lot of play in these videos, and this next one is no exception.

"A Blazing Fire" was our last song to record all the basic tracks- it's official, there are 15 songs that are moving on to the next stage of adding drums/flutes/record-scratches/flugelhorn section(s).

Rock and roll


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Frailty and Finality

Even at our best we are nothing more than frail animals endlessly spinning on a floating chunk of rock.

Raise your glass to all small things cherished.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

we also got donkey shows, Mötley Crüe, and cake

As we've been moving along, recording the basic tracks of each song and moving to the next, the weight of work that still needs to be done seems to be piling up in an almost snowball-esq fashion. One of our main obstacles, which we've known about for some time, is to figure out how to get drums on some of these songs. My recording gear allows only 2 inputs and Peter's rig is tied to his apartment, which is connected to his many neighbors who I'm sure already hate us for layering droning bass and guitar all over their Sunday afternoons/evenings. Then there's that other tiny obstacle of actually finding a talented drummer.

Enter Brandon Delmont, drummer of Sun Of The Sun and all around stellar dude.

The rest is history/present/workinprogress


Thursday, November 3, 2011

There's too much corn syrup in this duck sauce

I'm mostly sure that Jack Topht is the guy in that documentary film about some overlooked independent music scene that when you see you think to yourself, "how the fuck have I not heard of this guy before".

Pretty sure.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Together Now

What mark said.

Also, the record is sounding pretty cool. lots of guitar and rocking. kind of like Grand Funk Railroad with a hint of Pantera and Elvis. oh yeah, and a whole bunch of Thin effin Lizzy

Friday, October 28, 2011

No Path To Water

We started with about 22 songs/sketches/demos that the three of us picked through with the idea that we'd delete anything any of us weren't immediately keen on, record everything that was left, and from that, choose the songs that worked best together as an album. "Days In Fire" was initially on the cut list- partially because it was nearly five minutes with not a whole lot going on, and partially because there were already two other songs heavily themed with fire. Two's company, three's a "what's the deal with all this fire?" So, needless to say, it was on the chopping block. However, after listening to some of the mixes of songs we've been working on, not only did "Days In Fire" fit in tone (as well as, yes, thematically) it seemed to be providing something that was missing to the flow of the songs. In short, it might just fit in better than we'd thought.

So we started tracking it.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1000 Burning needles

In case you've ever wondered what it's like to be a part of A Relative Term...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fording The River

We've been plugging away at songs for a few months now and at the end of last Monday's session we decided to take stock of where were in the larger picture of things. Our method has been to work on one song at a time; to finish it as completely as the three of us can. Of course there are elements we'd like to add that we're not readily set up for like drums or backing vocals and so we took some time to write down what songs were going to still need work.

The resounding answer: all of them.
Here's a picture of the mess list we made

If you can't read it (and I suspect you may not be able to decipher the chicken scratch let alone the garbled layout) it basically says that a lot of the songs still need some missing elements which include "Big Flats 1901", "Schmitt vocals" and , yes, "attitude".

Yup, we're right on track.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Singularity And The Skin Bag

I will admit to feeling pessimistic about technology and how we use it, which may be why guys like this are so inspiring.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dean Jalepeno Thornton

Three worst characters in A Relative Term:

3. Mark's abandoned quarter cup of coffee left at various places in the studio/my apartment/my car
2. Mark's video camera 
1. Mark

Don't try to prove me wrong, futility can be frustrating.


I ain't building no bookcase

Three best characters in Boardwalk Empire:

3. Eddie Kessler
2. Harrow
1. Chalky White

Go ahead, try and prove me wrong.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fire and Time

We began recording "All You Are" this past week which actually stretched into three sessions. Jake recorded somewhere close to 53 harmonizing guitar tracks. When Peter played the bass, the walls shook and glass cracked. The whole time I couldn't stop thinking about how this particular song has, in my mind, become a corner stone to the album. It can be difficult to balance power with frailty, speed with patience, despair with elation, and this song aims to embrace all of that. A hopeful fatalist. Something I think this album will try to draw out as we continue to chase it down the path of where ever we're leading it.

In the meantime though, a pause. "Weightless Mass" is an instrumental piece that may or may not make it all the way to the finished album. We've paired it with an hand painted film by Jax Deluca.

"...it smelled like cool air and metal and space. It smelled of fire and time."

p.s. as you might imagine, it looks best when you bump the picture up to HD.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's Official....mostly

There was a show played this past Wednesday, in Rochester, at The Bug Jar which some might call... well, monumental. It rewarded us with a large sum of money and landed us a sweet contract with a (semi) local brewer you may have heard of once or twice before.  You can read about it in this past Friday's newspaper above. That's right ladies and gents, A Relative Term now rocks for Canada! (not to be confused with Canadian) And by Canada, I of course mean Canada's beer and by beer, I mean slightly flavored, slightly foamy water.

...and by all of this I mean, the Term boys had a great time playing the Bug Jar. Jake and I drank non Canadian beer, scaled the Bug Jar and took pictures in front of the billboard on the roof for as long as we could before someone saw us and turned the lights off. Ta-da, only slightly less glorious really.

Now we tip our seats back, put our hands behind our heads and await Molson's counter-offer.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vocal Tracking

The great green room where the tracks hit the hard-drive 
and the sunlight hits the ponytail.

Mark leaning in to 'Indications'  

Mic experimentation- Beyer M500

We got multiple vocal takes of most of the songs we have recorded already.  Operating almost exclusively in the Mark directed 'sweet spot' of Labor Day afternoon, the two of us managed to find a good combination of mics (Neumann 103 and Blue Mouse) for the vocal sound.  The more I listen to these tracks, the better I think they sound.  Mark noticed some audible buzzing from a bass track that might need replacing but all in all, things are shaping up.

Tomorrow night we're in Rochester at the Bug Jar if you're over that way and feel like hearing some songs.  We've got about six planned for the gig including a new one 'To Let Go' found its way into the list and I'm looking forward to playing that one live for the first time.

See you there?


Thursday, September 1, 2011

"To Let Go" A Relative Term recording session 8.29.11

We spent some time tracking "To Let Go" this past week. I'd returned the night before from a 4 day trip to Colton, NY for a different recording session with members of the band The Yóü-Tü.
Colton NY
While a beautiful and great experience, sometimes working with The Yóü-Tü can leave you a little drained which I was feeling by the time A Relative Term got together on this one. Luckily for me, Peter and Jake picked up the slack and put together some good stuff. It's still got some work to be done but it's well on its way...


Monday, August 29, 2011

A Shelter Made of What Ifs

Four songs is a good amount.

That’s the rough mixes that Mark did at Jake’s request so we could get some objectivity on the sessions and probably so Jake could show them off.

Both ends have been achieved.

I have been slow to listen in any depth.  I’m a little slow in general.  Mark will attest to that.

But, here’s what I found upon close listening:

Four songs are the perfect number to get you through a day.

I’ve been listening during breaks from the first day of gradual school and they still sound as good now as they did at 8 a.m.

The songs in question are: Indications, March Forth, Undiscovered Light, and What If.

Each has been my favorite song at some point during the day.

When you walk through a crowd while listening to Undiscovered Light or What If it is entirely possible that you begin to float rather than walk.  These song carry thoughts beyond simple locomotion and before you really notice you have arrived at your destination.  It happened twice today.  Once as I made the trek down to the over priced bookstore and floated throughout courtesy of What If.  By the time a tiny woman reminded me that I’d need to leave my backpack up at the front (something that makes me a bit nervous due to standard paranoia and basic thievery) the song ended and I had no real recollection of the steps between Mark Twain’s hall and the spot where I now stood.  All the while Mark Longolucco was asking me a very pointed question via the song’s lyric: 

‘ What if you’re not what you wanted to be?’

Well, on the best days that’s a call to arms, a call to betterment.

On the worst days it’s a reason to watch season 3 of The Wire in its entirety. 

Today was somewhere in between so I heard it a bit differently. 

He sings of ‘a house built of walls turned a shelter made of what ifs.’

I think it’s about how things change, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly but when the change occurs it won’t ever ‘change back.’  I think it’s about how we hide behind ‘What if’ and how the same phrase is often that call to arms, that which betters us.  And, if that’s the case, then it’s about perspective and what you make of it.  I’m completely ready for Mark to explain to me that I’ve got it all wrong or that this is actually a Pearl Jam b-side and he didn’t want to tell me for fear that I’d refuse to play it (and I may have) but as it floated through the air, through the ether, through my ears and into my head, that’s exactly what it meant.

And, it was beautiful all the while.

We are recording tonight and while I’m not the type to be ‘excited’ about such things, I am looking forward to it.

Just don’t tell Mark.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Mapmaker" A Relative Term Recording Session 8.22.11

A little video of our last recording session, tracking "Mapmaker" otherwise known as "the song that Brandon Schmitt refuses to play anymore". We love Brandon, but sometimes he's a drunk hardhead. And by sometimes I mean most times. We hope our version will scare him into performing this song again.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Bury me deep and someplace by the water.

Hey it’s pretty much good news all around. 

Fresh ears on the ‘Tonight’ track proves that there is hope for that one after all.  We added a couple of tracks, bass and a clean electric, and the track is far from dead.  Nobody’s jumping up and down about it quite yet but that would be an unpleasant sight and, probably, grounds for my downstairs neighbors to really kick up a fuss anyhow.  Jake opted for the Tele for the clean track, the Lollar P-90 sounds really great. 

Mark then announced that we’d be tracking ‘Mapmaker’ tonight.  A sure fire crowd pleaser if the crowd happens to be Jake and I. 

In a coincidental twist of every day coincidence the very writer of the tune, a bona fide gentle giant- Brandon Schmitt.  Schmitty was calling about getting Moke Albini and the All*Stars back together up near the Canadian border and Mark let him know that we were tracking his song for the record.  Schmitt proceeded to call us ‘ass-wipes’ but it felt like he meant it with love.

So, take one felt great but Mark leaned a little hard on the old Yamaha LL-6 and we got ourselves a digital peak.  Boooooooo.

It was otherwise a really hypnotic take.

So, after being blessed by Mr. Schmitt himself, take two was damned good too.

Then came the electric guitar.

It was decided that each pass would feature a different guitar and a different close mic.  Jake was pleased that he got to play back to back the Telecaster, his SG and then the 63 Jag for clean swells. 

A cornucopia of great guitar tones and each part slightly different but highly skilled.  I can’t wait to hear the rough mix of this one.

As I tracked bass Mark discussed the need for something static, droney and before anybody knew what was happening Jake had the organ set up and we embarked on some noise-making that put smiles on faces.   There was some very creative droning and one sweet and low organ track that might be the first time I’ve impressed Mark in a decade. 

That was after my finger slipped of the keys a couple times causing us to have to retake what should be the simplest part on the entire record. 

Hey, it was the High Life I tell you, not me.

There’s talk that we’ll get Blackbeard from The Two Jakes to do his (highly unique) thing on this track but talk is cheap and Blackbeard is not.  Maybe Mark can get him some Johnny Walker Black.

All in all, it was a good night of good sounds and mediocre beer.

Sounds about right for A Relative Term.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"A Promise" Recording Session 8.16.11

I realize Peter already posted the link for this video, but lets be honest, Peter's face is at least somewhat more inviting than a hyperlink.



They’re not all golden, pony-boy.

Tonight we took a shot at recording ‘Tonight.’

Things were looking up.  Everyone was relatively on time and I wasn't asleep when the boys arrived.  The rehearsal take went really well, we have proof if you need it, and we dove right in.  It was about that time that someone uttered the phrase 'I think this is going to be easier than some of the others' or something like it.  

The kiss of death/Famous last words/Deliverance.

Now, I say‘ a shot’ because it’s uncertain how well the session turned out at this point.  You see, the long and storied process of magnetizing music often produces uncertainties.  Anyone who has ever attempted such things knows of the frustration of ‘one of those days’ where your best efforts fail to produce results.  And, it’s also well known that ‘fresh ears’ will hear things differently so I won’t say it was ‘one of those days’ yet until we listen back and decide if Thursday night was fruitful in the recording sense.

The tune is a quicker than your usual Relative Term hymn of beauty and sorrow.  The BPM clocks in at over 130, which almost qualifies it as dance music in some circles.  Its future holds electric guitars, bells/whistles/handclaps and a full drum kit but, for now, it’s a lonely collection of acoustic guitar takes accompanied by only our state of the art click track and a single electric guitar take that, while remarkable for its sound, was muddled by conflicting direction. 

Our fearless leader, the ponytail himself, rose from the engineer’s chair in the great green room of the Hopeville Penora and declared that we’d let it lie for the night and pick up again on Monday.

None were opposed.

- Peter