Monday, April 22, 2013

Brother Grimm Reunion

Everyone loves a good Tale. This particular Tale begins in 1993, when I was just a wee nerd. I was new to the big city and very new to studio recording, (for the sake of our story, in 1993, try to imagine me as a very mature looking intelligent six year old child). I was mostly clueless, and maybe more than a bit arrogant, but fortunately, I was extremely good looking.

But more importantly, I was very lucky.

I was lucky to get work at one of the bigger studios in Miami (Studio Center). I was lucky to get a job teaching audio for the Art Institute. And I was extremely lucky to work with some cool and talented people, on some very cool songs.

But the luckiest of those times, was when I began working with the band, Brother Grimm
Based out of West Palm Beach, Florida, the band consisted of singer Mike Roi, who mixed unique creative lyrics, with a voice that was sometimes soothing and warm, to suddenly powerful and in your face. Dan Gindin, who was an extremely talented keyboard/piano player, and a lot of fun to hang out with, despite being completely insane. Brian Shinn, who played guitar and wrote some sweet melodies adding to the unique sound of the band. Uda (aka Yehuda Ashash), who was simply amazing with his skill on bass, and overall musical genius. And Rich Veitch, who was a solid drummer who helped make every experience with the band fun and memorable.

Because of my association with the Art Institute, I needed bands to help explain the recording process to the students, and Brother Grimm were eager guinea pigs for me. Depending on availability, sometimes they sent other bands for me to work with, (Loose Association was one of the more enjoyable and memorable bands I had a chance to record, check their page out here), but for the most part, Brother Grimm was my most common go-to band.

We even got a write up for our efforts!  
Click on the image, then right click view image to read the full story
 
A couple of the earlier sessions were recorded/produced by other Art Institute instructors (with me assisting). Then later, I would use studio downtime to try to come up with a decent mix. Sometimes the band was there to oversee (overhear), and sometimes they were not. Later, when I began teaching the classes, I did a lot of experimentation with recording, and learned a lot, and hopefully the students learned something too. Eventually the band had enough material to release a cassette demo of their songs, entitled Tales
 
Complete with artwork from the one and only Tony DiTerlizzi, (if you've never heard of him, you really need to check out his site here!).

It really was the best of times.

So here we are twenty years later, and Brother Grimm has gently faded into the ether of time. The members have drifted to the four corners of the world to seek out their own individual adventures. I think one of them became a ninja, and another is studying to be a wizard... but I'm unsure if these reports are valid.

However, one very accurate report is that singer Mike Roi has been focusing on his new band, Roi and the Secret People (check him out here and discover he is just as awesome now as he was then). And through the miracle of modern technology, Mike has also been posting the Brother Grimm video archives here, which inspired me to start thinking (as rare as thinking can be for me).

With all these fancy new computer gadgets the kids have, and with all the advancements in my brain, can I improve on my recordings from twenty years ago? I also wondered, if maybe there are many fans of Brother Grimm that never got a copy of some of the more rare or obscure recordings from those days. Or maybe you have an old melted cassette copy of the songs that you can't listen to anymore.

So after spending the last couple of weeks, tweaking, fine tuning, changing my mind and giving up, restarting again a bit more enthusiastically, and finally reluctant acceptance... I present to you:
Tales - 20th Anniversary Extended Edition

Available here, this link will be valid for only five days. After that, check out the fan page hereOr contact me and maybe I can arrange for you to get a copy of the songs.

I have always said, I have a story for each of these songs, and since this is as close to a reunion as we are likely to get, I'll share some of my Tales of Brother Grimm with you.

*Tech notes: Most of my tweaks were simply adding volume, and maybe some highs or lows to the overall mix. I will notate any other drastic changes I made, and I sincerely hope I did manage to improve some of the work I did, even if it's just a bit. And if you never heard any problems with my mixes before, then yay for me!

Mother Tranquility - The intro was originally longer, and included a line about "where vampires weep". We all felt it was too long and unnecessary, so Mike was outvoted and the line was cut. He was brokenhearted, because he really loved that line.
*Tech notes – The “T” on “Try your hardest” was cut, so I added a “T”. I also added a bigger slam at the end. I tried adding heavy distortion to the “Wake up”, but I couldn't get the right amount of fuzz.

Shift - Most of you know this story. We recorded drums and bass in the first half of the song. But, Dan wasn't there when we did the final mix. I asked if they thought he would be happy, and everyone felt he would find something to complain about. So we joked about taking the keyboards out completely. Then someone said he would only be happy if the entire song was only keyboards. I was going to make a 'fake' mix for Dan with only keyboards but... everyone said it really sounded cool!
*Tech notes – I took out half of the 'I go insanes', and fixed the popping 'p's' in the intro.

Underside - I remember a live show, where the stage was beside the entrance to the club. People were coming in and out during the show, and I remember Mike sang, screaming the chorus at people, “Leave by the door... It's open f'in wide...!"
*Tech notes – When recording, I used the same mic to record guitars that Spinal Tap uses, (not the actual mic, but it was an AKG D12, not D112). The original mix always bothered me somehow, and finally, years later, I like it. I added an overall subtle reverb to the entire mix to give it a bit more life. I also added the cool/cheesy swirly flange effect at the very end.

Blue Ketchup – Rumor has it, this song was based on a painting by Tony Diterlizzi. When recording, we were running out of studio time, so Mike needed to record his vocals quickly. He did it all in one take, with no mistakes! He even made up a new word: Condifference. Listen for it.
*Tech notes – Recorded by the illustrious Giorgos Papabeis (aka George)

Ichabod - This was the first time I met the band, and was before Uda joined. I instantly fell in love with this song. But because I was only assisting in the recording, I wasn't there the entire time. I still remember Dan running out to tell me to come in and listen to Mike's vocals, "Dude, you have to listen to what he just did!"
*Tech notes – I was never happy with the kick drum sound when it was originally recorded. Plus I was told that (in theory), it should fade into Self Treachery. So, when mixing, I sampled the kick drum from Treachery, and replaced the recorded kick drum on Ichabod. Maybe the band didn't know I did that, but I thought it sounded a bit better, and hopefully matched with Treachery. Maybe not... oh well.

Self Treachery - Another student recording but... none of the students showed up! This was recorded maybe 6 months after Ichabod, but because they do work well together, I combined them many years ago, and now they seem inseparable to me... quite literally. I have no way of breaking them up now because of the crossfade I created.
*Tech notes – Recorded by the legendary Eddie Mashal, who you may know from such rare obscure albums like Hotel California and The Long Run.

Eve - Uda proving his talent and genius in this song! Recorded during studio downtime, Uda and I stayed up all night working on this mix. We began recording around 9pm and Uda and I finished the final mix at about 9am. While Uda was recording some of his parts, Mike, Dan and I discovered 'something' on his computer. I can't begin to describe it, but we all had a good laugh about it.

Alain - There is something about the lyrics, and the way Mike sang here, that I always loved. This is also one of my favorite Brian guitar solos.
*Tech notes – I never quite got the cool swirly flange sound on the chorus I wanted, but I guess it's okay. However, I was always happy with the 'yeah...' effect, and the '...craaaaaazzzyyy...!' effect in the second verse. I always liked how the song started a bit keyboard heavy, then accidentally got more guitar heavy.

Can't Always Get It - Young engineers, heed this advice: When someone tells you NOT to record, you should ALWAYS record! Christmas day was another day of no scheduled bookings in the studio, so I invited the band to hang out and record. This is Mike and Dan accidentally showing off how talented they really are. None of this was faked or overdubbed. If you listen closely, you hear my dorky voice in the background saying, "Okay, jam!", while I was on the phone with a friend (Francine). FYI - The only food we had in the studio, was turkey bologna...

New Orleans Moon – Also recorded on Christmas, when Brian joined (the others were unavailable). Brian got a new Line 6 guitar processor for Christmas and was eager to test out every patch in it before recording. If you listen to the rain at the end, the thunder was a very unexpected surprise that was timed perfectly.

Progress Babies – I love the simple guitar/vocal intro, and the way the rest of the band comes in always sounded so full and impressive to me. With Mike's lyrics and how he sang, this will always be one of my favorite Grimm songs.
*Tech notes – I removed clicks during the guitar intro.

Ash – Another of my absolute favorites, Brian has one of the best solos here, and Mike belts out a perfect vocal all the way. Of course Uda shows off some amazing stuff as well.

Exit 53 - The studio was renting some kind of stereo enhancer, so I tried it out. The depth of stereo it created still impresses me today.
*Tech notes – Lowered the volume of the toms.

Listen to the Toads - What a fun song! Uda and Brian showing off how talented they really are here. It was awesome to record a live horn section for this. But the best memory I have of this song, was before a live show, Mike was still trying to write lyrics for this song. I asked what he planned to sing live, and he said he always makes it up. He said, "I could sing 'watermelon' and nobody would notice. I'm going to do that tonight!". And on the 2nd verse, I clearly heard him shout, "Waaaaterrrmellonnn!" And the crowd loved it!
*Tech notes – Rich used a Dr. Pepper can during the intro and second breakdown. I used a Sennheiser 421 microphone to record it.

Your Darkness, The Dog in me has Died, Dreamcatcher – All three recorded the same day. All three had quick 'lightning mixes', and I never had the chance to take time to mix them right. While the students took a break, we recorded Dog in under an hour.

Origin of a Species – Recorded live in the studio, with only Mike recording overdubs later. Brian's amp was down the hall in an empty room with cables running back into the studio for him to play with the rest of the band. I was told, this song is different every time they played it.

New World Presence – They very reluctantly recorded this song for me. I loved the original demo version, but they weren't so eager to record it. Listening to it again, they were right. Oh well...

Terese, Pools of Blue (acoustic), Bewlay Brothers, Ash (acoustic) – The studio had a baby grand piano, and Dan loved playing it. When he wasn't talking, he was playing that piano... whether we wanted him to or not. Recorded randomly through the year, each of these are very simple and relaxing to enjoy. I still wish I had a full version of Pools of Blue. And Terese was always a very beautiful original song to me, and Mike sang it brilliantly, as always.

Self Treachery (acoustic) – I have to talk about this one separate from the other piano recordings, because of how beautiful and chilling this version really is. Mike and Dan were trying to decide what to record, and I suggested Self Treachery. They began recording, and had to restart two or three times for one reason or other. When they finally found their groove, it was simply amazing. Sitting in front of the console listening to them record this version was one of my most proudest moments in the studio. I was honored to be at the front row of this private concert.

Moonage Daydream – What a sad day! This was the last song I recorded with them before they moved away.

And we all lived happily ever after (more or less).

But I've gone on long enough, although I'm sure you've got your stories.
So what are your Tales of Brother Grimm?
Deeesher

4 comments:

  1. Brian Shinn is my Uncle, and now I can listen to his bands tracks without distortion. Thanks for this.

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    1. Awesome! I'm glad I could 'clear things up' for you!

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  2. Arigatou for the file, and I'd like to send a BIG otsukare-sama to you :):)

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    1. Douitashimashite and arigatougozaimasu to you for being a wonderful patient secret co-producer on this big project! Well, maybe not so secret anymore ;)

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