A while ago, Dave Fischoff took the time to write about how he made his newest album The Crawl. I would like to thank him for taking the time to do this and I can't wait to work with him again in the future. Please check out this record because it deserves to be heard.
The Making Of The Crawl.
When I first started working on The Crawl, I knew I wanted to do something that was more electronic and sample based, but I also wanted to make an album that was very much rooted in songs. And since the guitar is the only instrument I really know how to play, I started with that. When I first started working on the album, I came up with a bunch of different little guitar ideas, recorded them and wrote them down so Iíd remember how to play them. These werenít complete songs by any means, but eventually, after Iíd come up with several dozen or so, I started going back to all of these little ideas and figuring out ways I could piece them together into larger songs. It was kind of like doing a sonic jigsaw puzzle. In my head, I could hear how one little chord progression might work well with another little chord progression, even though they may have been written months apart. I started putting parts together, changing the occasional key or chord to help things fit properly and writing new bridges to help bring things together. Eventually I got to a point where I had an albumís worth of new material that I could play straight through from start to finish on a guitar.
While I was coming up with these new song ideas, I was also collecting lots of new sounds. Iíd sample anything I could get my hands on: stuff Iíd recorded with my minidisc, movie soundtracks, sound effects CDs, other peoples albumsÖanything. I ended up putting together a pretty large sample library (thereís several thousand different samples on my computer right now) but they arenít samples in the way a lot of people might think of them- they arenít entire phrases of music lifted from other peopleís recordings. Theyíre usually not much more than a single sound- a violin note that I can loop and play back at different pitches, a single kickdrum hit, or a steady hum that a machine makes that I can loop, tweak and turn into a new kind of instrument on the computer. So after Iíd written all of these songs on guitar, I moved on to the computer and, using a program called Reason, I started to shape all of the samples and eventually built them up into the arrangements you hear on the album. Each song on the album has anywhere from 50 to 100 unique samples contained within it.
After all of the arrangements were in place, I moved on to the rhythm tracks. And this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole process- making the beats. Up until this point, Iíd only used really simple, repetitive rhythm loops, like some of the stuff you hear on my second album, The Ox and the Rainbow, but on The Crawl I got a lot more interested in creating really full sounding rhythm tracks that develop and complement the rest of the music.
After that, when all of the arrangements were finished and the beats were in place, I started piecing together the lyrics. I know some musicians like to start with words and then add the music, but I like to work the other way. I like having a solid musical framework already built that I have to fit lyrics into. Itís one of those examples of how working within certain constraints can really fire up your creativity. Iíd been keeping notebooks full of lyric ideas all along, mostly just little phrases and stuff, never much more than a line or two. And similar to what Iíd done with all of the separate guitar parts that I eventually combined and developed into complete songs, I started picking out phrases I liked from the notebooks, combining them with each other, developing them into more fully realized ideas, and adding new lines until they became finished lyrics. Then I stepped into my walk-in closet that doubles as a recording booth and recorded all of the vocals.
The entire album was recorded in my apartment on a Mac G4 (still running OS9!) with two programs, Reason and Protools, and a single microphone that my friend Jim Zespy loaned me, a CAD E-350. I recorded the entire thing myself and no one, not even the record label, heard a single note of it until it was almost completely finished.