In this episode of Masters From Their Day, Cymbals Eat Guitars bring a brand new song into Dreamland Recording Studios to finish ripening it and harvest it as a record. They had just written the song two weeks earlier, and had only rehearsed it a few times. Many changes were to be made to that song during their day at Dreamland, raising the new single to a plateau of poignancy.
Legendary alt-rock producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dino Jr, Kurt Vile) sits in the producers chair once again. Agnello had just produced the most recent Cymbals Eat Guitars album, ‘Lenses Alien’, so their chemistry was palpable. Their banter had an air of family, as if Agnello rides co-pilot in their van on tours.
The production ideas flowed as easily as the jokes between them. Agnello and band freely spoke their mind, mutually understanding that nothing mattered except ending their day with a great record.
This adventure actually began the night before the session. The band, Agnello, and video crew stayed in the residential suites at Dreamland. Cymbal’s singer/guitarist/songwriter, Joe D’Agostino, arrived with a prepared feast for us all – two casserole trays of chicken parmigiana, chips and salsa, and a bouquet of fancy Italian pastries. We ate, drank wine, and played no-stakes poker before eventually finding our beds.
The next day, the day ‘Hawk Highway’ was recorded, began with the sounds of Hudson Valley birds singing to each other. We all reconvened in the studio, coffees in hand, and began the rituals of making a record – drums treated with fresh heads, keyboard sculptures erected, guitars and amps tuned, microphones selectively chosen and strategically placed to capture the colors and energy put forth by the band.
As John and the studio crew developed the sonic logistics, the band discussed the roles and arrangement of the song. The honest, constructive tone between band members displayed a true sense of love-of-craft and egoless professionalism. It was like being in a NASA laboratory with a group of engineers designing a space machine…or inside the huddle of an Olympic soccer team discussing their strategy.
Episode #5 details:
Date – February 22, 2012
Song – “Hawk Highway”
Artist – Cymbals Eat Guitars
Producer and mix/recording engineer – John Agnello
Recording Studio – Dreamland Studios, Hurley, NY
Mastering Engineer – Gavin Lurssen