Portage Closeup: Brothers of Penitence, Part 5 – Coffee is my Muse


“Take the detour,” they said; “Find an alternate route,” they said; “How about I drive my car through your construction zone,” I said. If you can’t tell by now, it was still a frustrating venture returning to our old stomping grounds, even with an expert sense of road-rage. However, Sinthany Studios greeted us once again with a batch of fresh pots, heart palpitations, and little did we know, an impressive night of drum tracking.

6 P.M- 8 P.M

Upon listening to our previously slaved-over guitar and drum recordings, producer Justin dove back head-first into our drum sound, concerned about an incessant ringing heard throughout the latter portions of our recordings. He began swapping out snare drums, drum mic after drum mic, and altering level after level until he had captured exactly the sound Mike and I had discussed with him in our pre-production meetings. Although Mike and I would have been happy to have this problem dealt with in the post-production process, Justin refused to let the first recordings in his studio sound anything reminiscent of Metallica’s St. Anger record. If you are not aware of that particular sound– good for you, keep it that way. Instead I will refer you to Jim Carrey’s brilliantly improvised “most annoying sound in the world” from 1994’s Dumb and Dumber. That should get my point across quite… pointedly.

8 P.M – 9 P.M

imagejpeg_2_1After a lengthy battle with the snare drum, Mike and Justin were finally able to grab it by the balls and nail the elusive sound we so desperately wanted. It was then about that time for Mike and I to sit down, swallow our often obstructive pride, and figure out some concrete arrangements for our songs. However cool it would have been to use my willy-nilly scratch tracks to record the drum tracks, it just wasn’t going to work. With the formal preparations finally in the works, Mikey and I began to feel more confident about our material, and alas we so profoundly exclaimed, “Dude, we wrote a fucking song.”

Of course, once Mike was ready to get down and bash some drum heads like the Russian riot police, the dubious “snare ring” returned with eye-twitching clarity. Justin made his way back to the kit with a calm resolve that I’m sure contained some internal screams of frustration and a swift round-house to the snare drum.

I on the other hand took the liberty of consuming an unnatural amount of caffeine that sent me to the floor to do push-ups, then to the couch to play a repetitive internal dialogue, convincing myself my heart would indeed beat on. It turns out all I needed was an order of Chatham’s finest, heart-clogging, heat-lamped 2-4-1 pizza.

11 P.M – 12  A.M.

imagejpeg_2_0Finally, before the strike of midnight my mind effectively left my body. My recollection of how I was able to record a new set of scratch tracks, accompanied by the click track, has become merely an apparition. But I did it. There seems to be some inconsistency between our timelines–I won’t blame my caffeine-induced euphoria, or Mike for misrepresenting information, but if I had to guess, I’d say Mike’s definitely wrong.

12 A.M- 5:30 A.M

What occurred during this time was an unadulterated show-down, throw-down between man and instrument. Mike recorded take after take without faltering–or cutting his arm off. (Eat shit, James Franco; y’ain’t got nothin’). Mike tore through all three tracks leaving us with at least one element of our compositions completed. We finished just in time to drive home into the sunrise accompanied by our exhausted, existential conversations, and sleep-deprived laughter.

6 A.M- 7 A.M

Black tire roll,

two tireless souls mired to shires,

and thoughts of gold.

Without a name,

Lost and deranged come on, burn on old flame,

from whence we came.


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