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Mix complete! 

It was a long haul this week and last night was no exception. I crawled into bed around midnight, but I believe Steve started yesterday around 7am. We had 3 of the final 11 songs to finish mixing yesterday and a ton of small tweaks that took us late into the night. I know, I know .. musicians are supposed to work until 6am hopped up on angel dust and caffeine.  Mostly we just worked and mixed and jabbered about things. Reggie, Thaddeus and Kevin all phoned in final tweaks while Davis, Steve & I sat together and whacked away at it. T'was fun. Best of all we're officially done mixing the album. It's off to Phoenix to be mastered tomorrow (Wednesday).

I had a few moments to reflect on the cold motorcycle ride home. It's amazing to me that we made this album this way: micro-investments from fans, writing and recording all the songs in 6 days, and generally just taking a chill and enthusiastic approach to the whole shebang. We don't know how people will respond to the music but the beautiful part about it is we made it for all the right reasons. We never had to think about label or management people wanting us to be a certain thing or sound a specific way. We just got together and busted out some tunes. Davis called it right a few weeks ago by telling me he feels like this Maktub record is particularly "steriod-free". It's how we like to make music and I think people will dig it. Everyone involved (Steve, Stuart, Kathy, Sarah, etc.) has been in it because they love the band and are friends. That feels good, too.

As for budget: we raised around $10k to pull this off. We've been frugal -- spending on 6 days of studio time, a couple days of overdubs, a week of mixing and a day of mastering. It should come in right at $10k almost to the nickel (there are still a few moving parts).

Here's Steve all intense and listening to a mix early in the afternoon:

Nights & Weekends 

I check in on mixes at Fisk's place at night ... and weekends as it turns out. I was there a couple hours this afternoon ( today is Saturday). We're on schedule to have the album mixed by Monday, delivered to the mastering studio on Tuesday for final mastering and sequence on Wednesday. Then, barring any crazy stuff (which one should never bar) we'll be done with the album and it'll be in Brady's hands to print and ship CDs to y'all.

It's good that all the mix action is mostly on nights & weekends because I've been on the horn with all my bandmates (Kevin, Reggie, Davis & Thaddeus) and I've got free nights & weekends on Ye Olde iPhone. The band is currently scattered about but anxiously awaiting each mix. I translate band desires with each mix back to Steve who then usually wins in the end and we leave stuff pretty much the same. But we're stoked! Steve seems happy with things, as does his wife Kathy who is posting the mixes for us as fast as Steve prints them and reminds me daily, "don't let him push you around Daniel!". It's a family operation -- even the family pug, Sarah, welcomes me with yapping and crapping upon my arrival. Here's the lovely Sarah who was with us all through Khronos and now with Start It Over:

An aquarium full of your favorite fish 

I was at Steve's tonight with Davis listening to the next round of mixes. We're up to 5 of 11 now and should be done Monday. They sound great. However, when I asked Steve what exactly compression sounds like (apparently there's a lot of compression in the latest mix) he had this to say ...

"Imagine you have an aquarium full of all your favorite tropical fish. You also have a plexiglass vacuum-sealed plunger perfectly fitted to the opening of the aquarium tank. You place it on top and push down on the water a bit. This pushes the water more than gravity alone and the fish expand slightly as the water level compresses. As you keep pushing down on your plexiglass plunger the water gets smaller and the fish get bigger until eventually you don't see any water. All you see is all the fish ... at once. That's compression."

I don't exactly know what that means, but I like the story. Steve also told us that when you compress the shit out of a track, as he did with this one, the mix bounces along and reacts to it and such ... and most important (to me anyway) in Protools the file doesn't have any black space outside the mix any longer. It's all saturated colored tracks. Like a bunch of colorful fish squished together into a solid block of audio tofu. If you're like me a visual is probably most helpful. Here's our aquarium full of squished tofu fish:

Portland weekend 

I saw Reggie & Steve Fisk in Portland this weekend. Reggie was performing at that TBA07 festival and Steve was a panelist at the Musicfest Northwest. Great to see all the Seattle people down in lovely Portland (what a great scene!). Steve handed off 2 mixes to Reggie, we ate late at night, nibbled on things, had breakfast and generally cut loose. Here's a candlelight shot of me and Watts:

First mix in 

I motorcycled over to Steve Fisk's house last night to hook up with Davis and listen to Steve's first complete mix of the tune Nothing Stays The Same, a 6 minute downtempo tune. Nice. Very nice. Steve also played us 3 other mixes that are kind of 75% done. I woke up today with the feeling you may have experienced as a kid on December 26th when you realize that it's not all a dream ... you really do have an Atari 2600 or Easy Bake Oven in the other room. Hell yeah!

Steve and Davis drank wine. I slammed a Diet Croak and we agreed to meet up later this week to hear some more progress. When I asked Steve what he thought about the album he said, "I think this one picks up right where the green one (Khronos) left off".

P.S. I can't stop listening to this first mix.

Maktub sounds like a bathroom? 

Well not exactly, but I did have a mildly revelatory moment today in Steve Fisk's bathroom. To the left of the toilet (I hope this isn't oversharing) hangs a Pollock-esque splatter painting. And the song we were mixing today at Steve's house, called Words Are Not Enough, is one of the many first take inventions on this album where Reggie sings along and tweaks his vocals with the Line 6 delay as we hammer away on our instruments on a song that is written at that very moment (yikes!). The Line 6 delay is responsible for all the crazy sounds that Reggie makes when you see him on stage fiddling around while singing. At any rate, Steve is more or less managing glorious chaos when mixing this sucker and the splattered paint painting reminded me of the mix. Lest this become to heady a comparison (we are merely a band afterall) the painting was small, had a cheap orange hand-painted frame and was mounted on the patterned formmica wall that can only be found in a 70s era bathroom remodel. So, here's to a strange bathroom painting and the Words Are Not Enough mix that ends with Reggie manipulating perhaps the world's wildest realtime layered vocal sample (you can hear his fingers clicking on buttons like a mad scientist at the end). Go Fisk!

Start It Over - Oct. 9 release 

Here you go -- album title, cover art and release date! Let's begin with the facts: the new album is called Start It Over. The cover art is by our very own Kevin "Solid" Goldman. The release date is October 9, 2007.

Start It Over is a lyric from one of the 11 songs on the album. On many levels we felt like starting from scratch on this album. From the 192 (soon to be 200 - update: MARC7s sold out) MARC7 members that rallied to fund the album and returning to our Seattle recording roots with Steve Fisk and Stuart Hallerman, the makers of Subtle Ways & Khronos. There was quite a bit of personal upheaval that occurred between the time when we hatched the plan up until the actual recording session. Starting over is how we managed to pull it all off and keep our musical brotherhood fresh and creative. The album was written and recorded at Avast! Studios in Seattle, WA, May 6 - May 12, 2007. This itself was an adventure, terrifying at moments, but definitely the most rewarding recording experience we've had together. We feel we laid a golden Maktub egg and are excited for everyone to hear the results.

How's it sound? In a word, great. But describing music in words is like singing the taste of chocolate cake: interesting but totally not chocolaty. I can tell you that we didn't use any fancy tricks. The album is almost exclusively live tracks (as in very few overdubs) and early or first takes with all of us playing together in the same room. Thaddeus used the same guitar and amp for most the album and not a single effect pedal. Kevin & Davis sat 3 feet from each other the whole session. Reggie sang right along with us, making up words on the fly -- and we ended up using many of these live vocal tracks. Crazy!

What else? The album will be released and pressed on demand by our friends at Kufala with recycled chipboard packaging and edible/smokable shrink wrap (no joke). Start It Over will also be release on iTunes so you can get your digital music fix via the interweb. MARC7 members will be listed in the liner notes and will receive a signed-copy of the album a week before it releases.

You can pre-order Start It Over and we'll mail it to you when it releases. We've got 8 remaining MARC7 memberships available (update: MARC7s sold out),so get on in there before they're all snatched up. When we reach 200 we're closing the speakeasy doors and drinking hooch 'til the crack of dawn. One last thing -- we're selling sweet Maktub t-shirts for $9 (shipping included). Scroll to the bottom of the store page and wear it proud.

P.S. allow for a little wiggle room on the release date -- there's a chance it'll land on Oct. 2 or Oct. 16. We're riding by the seat of our pants on this one. Go team!

Power to the People 

I had this great moment on Monday night in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. I was headed to a couple shows and ended up hanging out with Thaddeus and Davis at the High Dive. Well, that was the second great part of the evening. The first great moment of the evening occured while walking down the street with a friend. A guy stopped me and mentioned that he was super excited about the new Maktub album -- I believe his name was Alex (hey Alex!). And that got me to thinking about how awesome this album is that we've recorded. Artistically it's spot on for us -- Maktub making music in our own environment. That is, in Seattle, quick 'n dirty, with the help of friends. Having all our people who like what we do (some people use the word "fan" to describe this type of person -- I think of them as friends or supporters) involved in the process.

So anyway, back to the meeting. Alex and I shook hands. I thanked him and when I told him that I was excited too, I felt like a Maktub supporter myself. After all I kicked in $50 for a MARC7 membership and as a fan of the band (which I happen to play in) I get excited about hearing the album. So, thanks to you Alex for making me feel special on a Seattle street and reminding me why we all got on board with this wonderfully crazy album in the first place: because we're both supporters and members of Maktub and we like making music for people like Alex.

UPDATE (Aug. 7): Alex saw this post and hit me up on myspace today. Turns out Alex is theZim (longtime Maktub supporter and forum poster). His band, Daybreak, deserves props too -- so say hello, add them as a friend and all that jazz-ma-tazz. Thanks, Alex.

album title, cover art, mixing ... and you can smoke it 

Has it really been over a month since the last post?! Don't let that psych you out. Things are humming along in Maktubland. We've chosen an album title and Kevin is working on the album art. The band finished recording (long ago). Overdubs ... check. Vocals ... check. Fisk has mixed about half the album and is currently in San Fran working on another album, but he plans to come back to Seattle to finish the mix in the next few weeks. Thanks for the emails (you're not bugging me when you ask for an update). We'll keep you posted.

On the album title front, I'm going to hold off on publicizing it until the artwork is complete. Bands are notoriously fickle and although we're 97% sure this is the title let's all just take a deep breath and wait for artwork and title all at once. I feel better already.

And now you're wondering to yourself 'what's this about 'and you can smoke it"? Well, our label Kufala has done something great. They've developed a CD shrink wrap that is so earth friendly (made from paper cellulose) that it's actually edible & smokable. I'm not making this up. The new Maktub album will not only be released using a recycled chipboard cover but it'll be shrink wrapped in this new material, patented by Kufala. The folks that make the shrink wrap also make cigarette rolling papers. Talk about going green.