Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Backstage Pass Blogs

Here are all the blogs posted during the making of Backstage Pass. Totally unedited, all 43 pages. Eventually, I hope to edit these down a little bit more and add some pictures, but for the time being, here they are. If you'd like to see some pictures from the recording process, click here. The following words were captured between June 1st, 2003 and November 3rd, 2004, and represent a significant spiritual, musical, and emotional journey in my life. Read as much as you wish, and enjoy!

Sunday, June 01, 2003
Things are moving along with the new CD. Most of the songs for the new project have been written, and I am now focusing on fine-tuning lyrics, chords, and arrangements. I’ve also begun some work on "programmed" demos which real musicians will eventually use as a reference for the way the songs are meant to sound. God willing, we will be traveling to Nashville in the fall to record at Dark Horse Recording ( We have a number of well-known studio musicians lined up, and are excited to work with some incredible talent! I am also currently meeting with our string arranger, who will be arranging parts for the orchestra that will be playing on a number of the songs.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Currently, Dave Bechtel, Rich Barrett, and I are scheduled to travel to Nashville to record at Darkhorse Sound during the later part of October. We are hiring a number of studio musicians, several being Bret Vargason (SonicFlood’s drummer), guitarist Mark Baldwin, bassist Craig Nelson, and The Nashville String Machine (string orchestra).

So far, this has been both a challenging and exciting process. This has especially been challenging for me, in the aspect of songwriting. I’ve probably thrown out about 15 songs so far (which is a good thing), because they have lacked the intensity or passion we’re going for. Dave Bechtel has been an incredible sounding board, and has been very helpful in weeding out the good from the mediocre. It’s tough to write sincerely about something if you don’t feel it from your gut. It’s one thing to write what you’re supposed to write; it’s a new level of passion when you write what you really feel and what God’s been speaking to you personally. I think overall, this project will be much more "raw" than "Dishes", and in many ways, even more honest (Biblically and personally).

Friday, August 01, 2003
Lord willing, we will be recording at DarkHorse Recording on Oct 17.
Our Recording engineer will be Doug Sarrett (Point of Grace, Jars of Clay…)
The players scheduled to be involved will be:

Bret Vargason (drums)
Craig E. Nelson (bass)
Mark Baldwin (guitar)

We will also have the privilege of having guitar player Jerry McPherson involved.

We’ve decided on hiring 7 string players from the Nashville String Machine (2 cellos, 2 violas, 3 violins). The ability to do overdubs can allow a small group of string players to sound like a large orchestra.

Rich Barrett will be playing piano at the October 17th recording session, and will assist in directing the orchestra.

Dave Bechtel will essentially work as producer, and will give guidance and suggestions to the players in the band (what guitar tones to use, etc). Dave will also be mixing the album.

Basically, the purpose of this initial one-day recording session is to track (record) the foundational parts of the songs (the rhythm section and the orchestra). Additional instruments will be added at a later date (organ, synthesizer, additional percussion, various effects, the lead vocals, and also any background vocals). The live muisicians will be playing along with a click track, possibly some drum loops, and also a scratch (temporary) lead vocal.

We will also return to Nashville on a later date to record guitar overdubs (solos and maybe some additional rhythm or effects parts).

Monday, September 01, 2003

We are less than 7 weeks away from our recording session at Darkhorse Recording in Nashville. This will be a 9-hour recording session, which will involve drums, bass, 2 guitars, piano and a 7-piece string section (which will be doubled in the final recording). The time is quickly approaching, and though many tasks have been completed, there are still a number of details that must be attended to! Most of the demos have been finished, but there are still a few that need a little bit of work. My goal is to send these demos to the studio musicians by Sept 15…this will give them approximately a month to look over the music, listen to the demos, and gather their thoughts and ideas for the Oct 17 recording session. Rich Barrett is also currently in the process of scoring the string arrangements (writing out the music), which will be played by the Nashville String Machine on Oct 17. Preparing the sheet music is one of the most tedious parts of the arrangement process. Dave Bechtel has been listening to the demos, and is preparing thoughts for the October recording session. As a producer, Dave will be working with the players to get the right guitar tones, drum sounds, etc. for each song. Together, the three of us (Dave, Rich, and I) are working to give each song it’s own feel and sound.

Several weeks ago, I met with Jeremy Slagle, who will be designing the CD cover and jacket. Jeremy is beginning the process of sketching concepts for the album artwork. We will probably begin shooting photos within the next month or two. Fall seems like an ideal time.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Thanks so much to those of you who were praying for us yesterday as we recorded at Dark Horse Recording in Tennessee! Basically, the day was AMAZING and all I can say is it was by God's doing that things happened the way they did. I can honestly say I could feel the prayers. Even the studio players and the recording engineer were surprised that we all were able to accomplish so much in one day. I should have some photos of our day posted on my web site in the next week or two. I will keep you all posted! In the meantime, I'm going to get some sleep.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
About a month ago, Dave Bechtel and I found out that the drummer that we had originally booked for the new project (the drummer from SonicFlood), had an unexpected tour date change, and would be unavailable for our recording session in Tennessee on Oct 17. Thankfully, the Lord provided another incredible studio drummer within the same week!

Here’s another provision that reminded me that God really cares about the details of our lives…
About two weeks ago, there was a break in at my apartment, and I arrived home just in time to "frighten" the burglar away. Fortunately, he didn’t steal anything. We might have had to reschedule our trip to Tennessee if this thief had taken my computer or any of my audio gear. I really believe that God was answering someone’s prayers…so thank you so much to those who have been lifting this project up in prayer.

Well, our recording session is less than two weeks away! On Thursday, October 16th, I (and several other friends) will be leaving for Franklin, TN. On Friday, October 17th, we’ll spend the day recording at Darkhorse sound ( After almost 14 months of writing and preparation, we’ll be recording the majority of the rhythm section (drums, bass, two guitars, and strings) for the new CD in one day. Many people are surprised when I tell them that we’re recording the bulk of 11 songs in less than 12 hours. In many cases, this would be next to impossible, but this is quite doable with the studio players we have hired. Mark Baldwin (guitar) and Craig Nelson (bass) are known nationally for their site-reading skills. The success of this recording session depends greatly upon our organization. Rich Barrett, Dave Bechtel, and I have spent many hours preparing charts and scores that will hopefully depict our ideas clearly. Ideally, we would rent a studio and book players for several days, weeks, or even months, but that would be incredibly difficult with one day already costing us nearly $6000.
It has been fun working with both Rich Barrett and Dave Bechtel. Rich has made incredible contributions to this project through his string arrangements. They sound awesome! We are all very excited to hear the fake keyboard strings (for demos) replaced with the real thing. =) Dave has been very helpful in giving me honest feedback in regards to my songs, lyrics, and arrangements. Four ears are better than two, right? =) Dave has a great gift of communicating concepts and enhancing songs (especially in crunch situations) and I’m thrilled to be working with him on this project. I’m looking forward to seeing him give instruction to the players on Oct 17.

The album will not be finished when we return to Columbus on Oct 18. There will still be much work to complete, including guitar and synthesizer overdubs, the recording of vocals, mixing, and finally, mastering and duplication. (For those of you that are techies…I will go into more details about these processes in future newsletters.) Regardless, things should become a bit easier after the recording session on Oct 17. The proposed release date for the CD is May 2004.

I will admit there is a part of me that is a bit nervous, as this is my first experience working with studio players at a "real" recording studio. Regardless, I know that God is in control and it is only by His direction that we are even at this point. Some days, I think I am insane for even trying such a thing, but I know that not everything God calls us to do is easy or logical. We’ve prepared as much as we can, and now it’s time to let go, and trust that the Lord will take it where He wants it to go. My dream would be do this as a profession, but I realize at the same time that this entire project may be meant to reach just one person. As Christians, that’s tough to remember when we so easily can feel ineffective if we are not "reaching the masses".

Saturday, November 01, 2003
Our day at DarkHorse Recording (Oct 17) was incredible! As mentioned in the previous newsletter, even the players and engineer were surprised that we accomplished so much in one day. Generally, a band will spend at least 3 hours, if not an entire day or more recording one song. We recorded 10 songs in about 9 hours. Amazingly, we captured most of the songs in one or two takes. I believe that it was only by prayer that things happened the way they did.

The day was divided into three 3-hour blocks with an hour break between each block (for lunch and dinner). The first two blocks (10-1 and 2-5) were spent recording the rhythm players (drums-Steve Brewster, bass-Craig Nelson, guitar-Mark Baldwin and Jerry McPherson, piano and B3 organ-Rich Barrett). The last 3-hour block (6-9) was spent recording the Nashville String Machine (for our session, we hired two cellos, two violas, and 3 violins) and acoustic guitar (Mark Baldwin, in a separate room). It is difficult to record drums or electric guitars along with strings because they are loud instruments and tend to be picked up (even if they are in an isolated room) by the sensitive microphones used for strings.

So, in summary, during the 3rd 3-hour block, the strings and acoustic guitar played along with the "tracks" which we had recorded earlier in the day.Thanks again to Rich Barrett for an AWESOME job on the string arrangements. I'd like to quickly thank Steve and Jacob Snyder for driving us down to Nashville and "sponsoring" our trip. It was a blessing to have them along. Jacob, thanks for all your help with the notebooks.

Well, we have crossed a major landmark, but there is still much work to be done. Currently, I am "cleaning up" the songs which we captured at DarkHorse Recording. I am using ProTools (audio editing software) to combine the best takes, and also correct any wrong notes, or rhythm mistakes (and believe me, there are not many.these players were incredible). Dave Bechtel and I will be returning to Nashville to record guitar overdubs with Mark Baldwin sometime in December. At that time, we will be adding extra guitar sounds, guitar solos, etc. to the songs we recorded at DarkHorse. In the meantime, I will continue "editing" while also adding extra FX and synthesizer sounds. Our goal is to release the finished CD by April-May 2004.

We are planning to record vocals during the month of January. Dave will probably mix the songs between February and March, and the CD will probably be mastered sometime in March (more on these processes later). The final CDs should arrive several weeks later.

Monday, December 01, 2003
Since our recording session on October 17th at DarkHorse Sound in Tennessee, I’ve been hard at work, editing all the audio we brought back with us on that day. I will admit editing is probably the most boring part of the whole production process, but it is crucial to the final sound of the music. At the moment, we have about 22 gigs of audio, and some songs with 45 or more audio tracks (for you techies out there). The trick will be to make all these elements work together…rhythmically and sonically (the volume between various instruments, etc).

The next step of the recording process will be overdubs. Dave Bechtel and I will be traveling down to Nashville next Tuesday (Dec 9) to record with guitarist Mark Baldwin (he was also with us on October 17th at DarkHorse Sound). He has a studio at his house, and we will be recording there. Since it will just be the three of us, we will have extra time be more creative with guitar tones and effects. This should be a fun day, and should help to define the sound of the album even further. Please pray that the recording and creative process will go smoothly.

Our goal is to begin recording the final vocals sometime in January (right now, we are using “scratch” or temporary recordings of the vocal). The proposed release date for the CD is still April or May 2004.

Monday, December 15, 2003
Thanks to all of you who were praying for Dave Bechtel and I as we traveled to and from Tennessee on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Besides the rain and the road-hogging semi trucks, it was a great trip and the guitar overdubs with Mark Baldwin went great! We recorded a little longer than expected – 7 hours instead of 5 hours, but the extra time was definitely worth it.

We set up at Mark’s home studio in Brentwood and recorded everything into Pro Tools, using Dave’s laptop and my external firewire drive. We are spoiled with the ease and portability of technology these days. =) In addition to electric and acoustic guitar, Mark used some other interesting instruments, including a sitar, a bouzouki, and a baritone electric guitar (tuned a fifth lower than a regular guitar). These new sounds really helped to define the songs even further.


Thursday, January 01, 2004
This new year opens a new box of challenges. I am still finishing up some final synthesizer programming and audio editing (the music recorded at DarkHorse sound in October and the guitar overdubs we recorded in December at Mark Balwin’s studio). Much of what I am doing now is further developing the "landscape" or "ambience" of each song. Often, sound effects or synthesizer pads (long sustained and possibly sweeping sounds) can add new dimension to the traditional rock band sound (drums, bass, guitars). It’s all about the mood. The music needs to support the emotion of the lyrics, and often it is these extra elements that can take a song to a whole new level. The challenge is to add just enough and never too much.
Through this whole process, I am primary using two programs: Logic Audio for synthesizer programming (adding sound effects and additional electronic sounds) and Pro Tools for audio editing (cutting up audio and moving it around). Each program has its strengths (Logic Audio and Pro Tools), so I am doing a lot of swapping between the two. Currently, some of the songs have over 50 tracks of audio. Dave is going to have a fun time mixing all this stuff, I’m sure. =)

Dave Bechtel and I will probably start recording the final vocals in early February. Each song will be passed onto Dave after I have "comped" (picked the best takes) the lead vocals and background vocals. Dave will then begin creating rough mixes of each song. These mixes will be listened to on various systems (studio speakers, home stereos, car stereos, etc.) and final corrections will be made as needed. There will also be some other engineers who will be listening to the mixes and giving suggestions.
It is also nearing time to begin the artwork for the album jacket. Jeremy Slagle will be developing the layout and design for the new project. All text will be finalized in the coming weeks, and additional photos (we shot some photos in October) will be taken to enhance the look of the project. Jeremy always does an awesome job, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.

Sunday, February 01, 2004
Well, the process continues. Last week, I recorded some extra guitar overdubs with local guitarist Tom Tussing. Tom played many of the guitars on my previous album "Dishes". Tom's playing really added an additional texture to those few places which were "still missing something". Tom is a very gifted guitar player and guitar teacher, and has a unique palette of guitars bends, squeals, and effects. We recorded all of Tom’s guitar parts into Logic Audio on my Mac G4. We set up his guitar amp in my laundry room, and let me tell you, it was very loud. Fortunately, my neighbors were out for the day. =) Tom used a Parker and a Strat guitar, and we ran each of these guitars through a Bogner amp ($3500 and probably a good 75 lbs of pure amp bliss…I always look forward to carrying that thing up and down my basement stairs).

I am very close to handing over five of the eleven songs to Dave. There are anywhere from 40 to 60 “wave” audio files for each of these songs. These audio files, which I was working with in Pro Tools and Logic Audio, will soon be imported into Steinberg's Nuendo for mixing. After exploring a number of options, Dave has chosen to mix the album in Nuendo.

Dave will begin by creating a "rough mix" of each song. At first, he will only have the instrumental audio files for each song (no vocals). I will continue handing songs over to Dave as I finish them. The remaining six songs are still in the final editing (cutting up the audio and moving it to adjust for any rhythm mistakes) and programming (adding synthesizer and sound effects) stages. I am currently figuring about two weeks work left for each song (on my end). Dave will continue mixing songs as I give them to him, which means we will hopefully have everything mixed and ready for mastering (more about this later) by April or May.

Soon, we will begin tracking the lead vocals and background vocals for these five songs. We will probably be recording these vocals at Dave's home studio (Ascend Productions), or possibly at another studio here in Columbus. Before recording, we will be testing several different mics and mic pre-amps on my voice. The combination of the mic and the mic pre-amp is very important. The mic pre-amp has almost as much effect on the sound of the vocals as the microphone itself. These days, many people don’t even use a mixing board in the process of recording. Sometimes, the only elements used are a microphone, a pre-amp, a computer sound card/interface, a decent computer with audio software, and pair of headphones. Often, albums are totally mixed inside a computer, and if anything, a very small mixing board is used for monitoring (listening back to the final mix on speakers).

One trick in tracking (recording) vocals is to record the quieter parts first. “Heavier” singing should be saved to the end of the session after a vocalist's voice has warmed up. You may even notice this philosophy in some concert settings. Singers will often start with a song which is a little easier on his/her voice, and that "quieter set" in the middle of the concert not only gives you a chance to rest, but also the vocalist.

A couple weeks ago, I met with Jeremy Slagle to talk about the overall look of the album artwork. We browsed around a local record store just to get some ideas of what direction we’re going. We still have a few other photos to take for the album booklet. Jeremy will be designing the album artwork in Adobe Indesign. The initial step is to drop all the text into a “template” (provided by the duplication house which will be printing the booklets and duplicating the CDs) to figure out just how many pages will be necessary to accommodate all the lyrics, credits, thanks, and photos. We will most likely be going with a full color (inside and out) 12-page stapled booklet. The company we are working through is called “Oasis Duplication”. We probably will send the artwork to Oasis several weeks before the audio master CD is completed (hopefully sometime in April or early May). Printing is usually the longest part of the duplication process (often 3-4 weeks). Most companies can do the printing in advance and once they have received the audio master, the turn-around time is only about 10-12 business days.

Monday, March 01, 2004
Well, things are really moving along with the new CD!! I’m in the process of finishing up the editing and programming portion of the album. Soon, I will begin handing over all of the “instrument” audio files (no vocals yet) to Dave Bechtel (who will be mixing the CD). Dave will be mixing the CD in Steinberg’s Nuendo. Since I’ve done all my editing and programming in either Logic Audio or ProTools, Dave will need to spend a good amount of time importing the audio files and setting up “mix sessions” for each song. This can be somewhat of a time consuming process (at least a few days), as there are over 50 audio tracks per song. As Dave imports these files, he will group a number of the audio channels for ease of mixing. For example, all of the drum tracks (kick, snare, high hat, etc.) will be sent to one bus (a subgroup) so Dave can control the overall level of just the drums with one or two faders. This may also be done for other instruments (strings, guitars, etc.) This “grouping” helps to conserve computer memory as certain effects (reverb, etc.) can be applied to one channel as oppose to a number of channels. (You will use a lot less memory if you only use one reverb as oppose to 12).

Dave and I will be recording the vocals at DarkHorse Recording April 7, 8, and 9. (We were originally planning to record the vocals here in Columbus). We will be in the “Barefoot Studio” ( at DarkHorse Recording. It is a smaller room (perfect for vocals) and it is much cheaper to rent ($275/day) than one of the larger rooms (In October, we recorded in “The Lodge” and it was close to $700/day). We will have a huge selection of microphones and microphone pre-amps. In addition to recording, hopefully, we’ll be able to edit most of the vocals (picking and combining the best takes) while we are down there. When we get back, Dave will simply import the vocals into the mix sessions he has created in Nuendo. He will then start mixing the songs “for real.” Generally, it is tough to really mix a song if you do not have the vocals recorded, as everything else (the instruments, background vocals) is built around the lead vocal. The texture of the lead vocal will greatly determine the levels and EQ (bass, treble, etc.) of all the other sounds.

You might be very surprised how many movie sound effects are assembled. Often, these strange sounds (Lord of the Rings would be a great example) are made through the combination of common elements (animal sounds, cement blocks scraping together, splashes of a puddle, etc.) Many times, these sounds are a very deeply layered…sometimes, the pitch is changed or the sound is even reversed.

Through the course of creating this music, it has been fun to experiment with new sounds. In addition to developing new synthesizer sounds, I have been trying some new things in regards to sound effects. On one song, I created some incredibly eerie sounds with common household items. A “ruffled” plastic bag with a thick “reversed” reverb effect gave the abstract impression of a storm at sea. Similarly, scraping some metal kitchen utensils together (again with a “reversed” reverb) made for some interesting underwater effects. I’ve also used a number of keyboard synthesizers to create some different sounds. On one tune, I used a vocoder as an effect on background vocals. Essentially, a vocoder takes two sound sources and combines them into a new sound. In this situation, I combined my voice with a “buzzy” synthesizer lead. To further sculpt the sound, I used a delay that echoed in triplets over the background music.

The process of mixing is as much a creative process as the song writing. In addition to setting volume levels between vocals and instruments, a mixing engineer must “sculpt” the timbre of each instrument so that it balances with the other parts of the song. This includes changing the EQ (bass, midrange, tremble, etc.), adding compression (this smoothes out the dynamics and keeps the sound at a more balanced volume level), and effects (reverb, delay, etc.). In addition, the mixing engineer must balance the “stereo image”. Just like a painter might “balance” a picture by placing “equal weight” objects on either side of his painting, a mixing engineer must keep the left and right speaker in balance.

One of the challenges Dave will face is “giving everything its own place”. In other words, each instrument must have its own “spot” in the “stereo image”. For example, one guitar may be panned hard left (all the way to the left) and another guitar may be panned to about 1 o’clock (slightly to the right). Generally, the lead vocal, kick drum, snare drum, and bass guitar are in the middle, and some other instruments (like the overhead cymbals on the drum set or a piano) are recorded in stereo (two mics are used, and each is panned to its own side). Of course, all these examples are applicable in a stereo recording. “Surround sound” (what you might hear in the movie theatre) is a whole different beast. Fortunately, for this project, Dave is mixing for stereo. =)

As many of you know, I have a tendency of adding a lot of sounds to my music, so one of my biggest challenges is to add just enough, but not too much. For me, it is always fun to listen to music that has a variety of “colors” and a lot of “depth”. Colors would refer to various “tones” (instruments) and depth refers to the various “layers” of sounds (different instruments set at different volume levels).

Rarely do you hear credit given to mixing engineers. The artist and the producer obviously deserve much of the credit for the sound of a project, but a mixing engineer (like Dave) also plays an intricate part.

The emotional flow of songs on an album is very crucial. Just like a well-written movie, a well thought out CD will carry a theme and will also lead the listener on a coherent journey. This “flow” is dependent upon a number of things…lyrics, melody, chords, tempo, and instrumentation are just a few. Even the transitions between songs (you could think of these as “scene changes”) have an effect on the communicated emotion. You will notice that a pause (the break between tracks) between an upbeat song and a quieter song is often longer (maybe 2-3 seconds) than the break between two songs of similar emotion. Also, a “louder” song that follows a “quieter” song may sometimes have a short intro that helps to build into the song. For example, a song may begin with guitar only, and after a few measures, other instruments (drums, bass, keyboards) will be added. This helps to “ease” the listener into the new emotion. An album that never moves you from one place to another is like a movie with lots of special effects, and no story line.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
Last week’s trip to Dark Horse Recording (Franklin, TN) was incredible! Dave Bechtel and I arrived in Franklin this past Tuesday, and began recording in “The Cabin” at Dark Horse Recording ( on Wednesday morning. Wednesday was spent recording and comping (picking and combining the best takes) the lead vocals for five songs.

During the day on Thursday, we recorded and comped the lead vocals for another five songs. We then spent Thursday evening recording percussion overdubs with Eric Darken. Eric is a very well known percussionist, and has played on a number of records including albums from Amy Grant, Charlie Peacock, Jewel, and Lonestar. Eric brought a number of interesting instruments including three timpani, a gong, chimes, and a variety of other percussion goodies.

Finally, on Friday, we re-recorded a few lead vocal parts which we had recorded and comped on Wednesday and Thursday. We then spent Friday afternoon and evening recording background vocals (BGVs) for eight of the ten songs. We still need to record background vocals for two songs, and that will done in the next week or two here in Columbus. Otherwise, all the vocals have been recorded.

Dark Horse was quite a busy place this past week. The band “Plum” was tracking in “The Lodge” on Wednesday (Dark Horse’s biggest room, where we recorded on October), and Michael W. Smith was recording with his band in “The Lodge” on Thursday and Friday. There were also several other engineers and producers in other rooms working on projects for Bebo Norman and Fernando Ortaga. On Friday afternoon, the Dark Horse staff put on a cook-out and Dave and I got a chance to chat with a number of people including some of the players from Michael W. Smith’s band. Good burgers too. =)

Thursday, April 01, 2004
Next week, Dave Bechtel and I will be leaving for Nashville for three days of vocal recording sessions. We will be at Dark Horse Recording ( in “The Cabin” April 7-9. This is a major step towards the completion of this project. When we return, Dave will begin mixing the songs. It is an exciting time as nearly two years of work is, through God’s grace, coming together.

Looking back, it has been interesting to see how this whole project has evolved. Originally, back in the summer of 2002, my only intention was to create a demo of maybe 4-5 songs. The first tune written for this new album was “Hurricane”, a song that I actually performed one morning (with a local band) at my home church. Essentially, this was a sort of a “test run”. My music was beginning to take a “heavier” turn, and I was curious how this would work in a live setting. I don’t know that the song was totally appropriate for a Sunday morning church service, but I think overall, it was received well (especially by some of the teens and young s at our church…my target audience). “Hurricane”, originally inspired by a difficult break-up, addresses the “stability of Christ” when “our world is falling in”. I wrote a number of other songs (some of which never made it to the new CD) during that summer (2002), and continued to write until June 2003. All the songs were written from a piano or guitar, and I used a mini-voice recorder to capture many of the original concepts for the songs. I would often post lo-fidelity “snippets” of songs on the web for Dave to listen to. Some songs we kept, some we tossed, and some were altogether re-written. At times, the concept was great, but the melody wasn’t “hooky” enough…or the melody was catchy, but the theme wasn’t as heart-felt as it could be. All in all, I’m very happy with the songs we finally chose.

Hopefully, the new album will release either in May or possibly the very beginning of June. We are figuring on about a month for the mix process (Mid April to Mid May). After Dave has mixed the songs, we will return to Nashville one more time in May for mastering at Mayfield Mastering. (this will be the forth time we’ve been there for this particular project). Mastering will take one day (probably about 6-8 hrs). I will talk a little more about mastering in next month’s newsletter.

Jeremy Slagle is now putting the final touches on the artwork. I will be sending the artwork files (Adobe InDesign files) to Oasis duplication ( in the next couple weeks, and they will begin printing the CD booklets. I will need to make a down payment of the total duplication cost before they can begin the printing. Generally, the printing process takes 3-4 weeks. After our forth trip to Nashville (mastering at Mayfield Mastering in May), I will send the audio master to Oasis duplication, and they will duplicate the CDs and package the CDs with the already printed booklets.

I will be scheduling a CD release party, probably for the beginning of June. I will keep you all informed of where and when it will be.

It’s always interesting the emotions that accompany the release of a CD. In many ways, you are “putting yourself out there” hoping that people will like your music, enjoy or respect what you have to say, and ultimately appreciate you as an artist and person…or at least give you constructive criticism which will help you to improve. More importantly, as a Christian artist, you hope that your music will affect people spiritually and lead them closer to Christ. Every song is eventually forgotten, but a word of truth given in the name of Christ will last for eternity.

Saturday, May 01, 2004
The final pieces for the completion of this album are falling in place. Thanks to everyone who has contributed prayerfully and financially. I am still a bit short on the financial side of things, but I believe that God will provide in His time. I have received nearly $1500 in pre-orders and gifts. At this point, things are moving along well…although the printing of the artwork may need to be delayed for a while. There will be plenty to do in the meantime. Hopefully, the artwork will be sent to Oasis duplication in the next several weeks, and they will begin the process of printing the CD booklets. Jeremy Slagle did an excellent job on the CD photography and design. It’s very cool to finally see what the “sound” is “going to look like”.

Dave will begin mixing the songs in the next couple weeks. Hopefully, all the tunes will be mixed by the middle of June. At that time, the CD booklets should be printed, and Oasis Duplication will simply be waiting for us to send them an audio master.

After the album is mixed, our final step will be mastering. Mastering is the finalizing process that an overall album goes through after each song has been mixed down to a two-track (stereo) master. Dave and I will be traveling to Nashville one more time (for this project, that is…probably in June) to spend a day at Mayfield Mastering ( John Mayfield has mastered numerous albums, including projects from Sarah Evans and FFH. Dave will be bringing his computer, and will essentially play each mixed song into John’s mastering system. This real-time transfer (in simplified terms) preserves some of the stereo image (or width) of each song.

After all the songs are transferred, John will adjust the overall volume levels (this includes compression and limiting, which help to maintain a consistent level between songs), EQ (bass, treble, etc), and spacing (length of time between each song). One of the biggest credentials for a mastering engineer is experience (not necessarily just equipment). John has had over 25 years of engineering experience, and has a great feel for what commercial CDs are supposed to sound like (or at least happen to sound like these days).

The sound of CDs has changed tremendously over the years, one factor being the “apparent” volume of CDs. It is actually possible for music which appears to be lower “on the meters” to sound louder than music which is registering as being higher “on the meters.” This is a phenomenon known as “apparent volume”. This “increase is volume” is accomplished through compression and limiting (mentioned above).

You will notice that the volume level of some CDs hardly changes (especially modern albums in the rock, pop, or rap genres). If you have meters on your stereo, watch how little the meters actually move when you are playing CDs in these genres. Other styles such as jazz or classical music allow for much more dynamics, and in such styles, you may see the meters move more dramatically. “Loudness” is especially important if a song finds itself on the radio. A song may not sound as “professional” if it doesn’t match at least the “apparent volume” of other tunes on the radio. Every so often you might hear a song on the radio which is quieter than the rest, and this may very well be due to “sub-standard” mastering (All in all, the subject of “loudness” is a very controversial one in the audio community).

In conclusion, mastering can literally help to “make” or destroy the sound of an album. Obviously, you have to start with a good quality recording and mix. A mastering engineer can only do so much. However, a good mix combined with a great mastering engineer can raise the sound quality of an album tremendously.

In our situation, Dave is mixing all the songs. This is much simpler than some situations where a mastering engineer has to combine multiple songs mixed by different mixing engineers (this is especially the case on compilation albums, and/or albums with multiple producers).

As with anything, it is important to maintain a healthy perspective. It’s been good recently to take a little time off from the creative process. Sometimes, when you are so close to something, it’s tough to see the whole picture. During the last couple weeks, I’ve been able to spend some time refueling. I’ve found that rest is just as important as inspiration - both are very dependant upon each other. Sometimes, the best ideas arrive after a good season of time-off. As the saying goes, “Play hard, rest hard.”

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
We’re nearing the final stretch. Thanks to everyone who has supported the making of the new Marc Andre album “Backstage Pass”.

Hopefully, I will soon be mailing a CD of the album artwork along with several artwork “mock-ups” to Oasis CD ( in Sperryville, VA. Jeremy Slagle (photographer and designer) recently gave me the finished artwork, along with a black and white mock-up of the stapled booklet (this helps the folks at Oasis to see what pages go where) and a color proof for each of the pages (this gives them an idea of what the colors should look like). If all goes as planned, these will be mailed to Oasis in the coming weeks.

After Oasis receives the files and “mock-ups” for the artwork, they must output film separations. For this album, we have chosen to go with a 12 page stapled booklet with full color inside and out. During “film output”, each “spread” (in our case, a spread is usually two pages of the booklet) will be printed four times…one for each of the four primary printing colors…cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (often referred to as CMYK…and yes, the K refers to black). A printing press is then used to print these colors one at a time…the combination of these four inks then produces any number of colors.

In addition to printing the CD booklets, Oasis must print directly onto the CDs. This is done through silk screening (similar to the printing of T-shirts). We will be using 3 colors on the CD itself. In contrast to the CD booklet, the printing of the CD itself requires the use of “spot colors” using the Pantone Matching System (or PMS). To read more about spot colors, click here: To learn more about the Pantone Matching System, click here:

As a general rule, silk screening is often less detailed than four-color printing…that is why it is better to keep the artwork on the CD itself somewhat simple. Generally, photos do not reproduce well when printed on the actual CD (because of the nature of silk screening).

Compared to the last project (Dishes, 2001), the printing process for this album has been much easier. One of the reasons for this is that Oasis has just recently started to accept Adobe InDesign files (the program Jeremy Slagle used to lay out the artwork). We are also having Oasis output the film…for “Dishes,” we had the film output here in town (it turned out to be quite a challenge).

It is good to get the artwork printing process started early as it can take up to 3-4 weeks. Hopefully, we’ll be sending them the audio master in the next month or so. Once they receive that, it will only be 10-12 business days until we receive the finished CDs.

On May 13th, we recorded a few additional background vocals (for one song) with local singers Diane Sheets and Matt Stepp. We tracked the vocals at Dave Bechtel’s home studio (Ascend Productions) here in Columbus. I’m really happy how the background vocals (often referred to as BGVs) turned out. Matt and Diane did a great job and their voices really added a new dimension to the song.

Dave Bechtel is now up and running with his new Mac G5. It’s been a challenge as Apple has hinted for months at the release of several new machines, which in turn would lower the price of current s. In the end, Dave got a great deal on a refurbished . Still no “new” machines from Apple.

About a week ago, Dave began mixing the album. He’ll be submitting the mixes to several other audio engineers for thoughts and suggestions. This is also the time when we begin burning CDRs (recordable CDs) excessively. In other words, we will be going through a lot of CDs as we listen to various mixes on different speakers (home stereos, car stereos, boom boxes, studio monitors). The goal is to come up with mixes which sound “balanced” on virtually any sound system. In addition to having balanced mixes (that is, all the instruments blend together well in each given song), it is also important to have “consistent” mixes. For example, the bass guitar, kick drum, and lead vocal should maintain the same general volume from song to song. There are some instruments which may vary in volume from song to song (for example, the acoustic guitar may be louder in comparison to the electric guitars, or visa versa), while there are others which should stay at the same general level (ie., bass guitar, kick drum, lead vocal).

As we prepare for mastering, at least several mixes will be created for each song: one with the lead vocal at a level which Dave and I are comfortable with, one with the lead vocal 1db up (one decibel) and one with the lead vocal 1db down). This gives the mastering engineer the option of “spicing” several mixes of one song together, if for example, there are places when the vocal either stands out or is buried (better safe than sorry…mixes can sound a lot different in the mastering room).

Our proposed line has been bumped back a bit, and now we’re hoping to travel to Nashville for mastering either at the end of June or the beginning of July. It now looks like the CD will release closer to mid July.

Thanks to all of you who have been following along in this process. Hopefully, July’s newsletter will be the last before the CD releases. Lord willing, we will have a CD release party at the end of June or the beginning of July. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Thanks again to all of you have been following along in the processes of the new album. Things are still moving along well. Dave is up and running with his new computer and audio equipment (after a few technical issues), and is currently working on mixes for four of the eleven songs. As with many things, this project has become much more of a challenge than I had first anticipated, and it’s ended up taking a little longer than I had originally planned. Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with the way things are sounding, and I am very excited to let you hear the final product.

I recently set up a mastering session with John Mayfield of Mayfield Mastering in Nashville, TN. (John is the engineer who will be mastering the new project “Backstage Pass”). He is booked through most of the summer, and unfortunately, we will not be able to get in for mastering until August 19th. This sets us back about a month or so from our original schedule. This means we will have the finished CDs closer to the beginning of September. Nevertheless, I’m thankful as this extra time will give us more opportunity to really tweak and perfect the mixes. After two years of work, I want to make this project as good as possible, even if that means waiting a touch longer. Regardless, I am very excited for the day when the FedEx truck shows up with that special delivery. =)

My first priority will be to get copies of the CDs out to those people who have placed orders in advance. I am planning to have a CD release party and will keep you informed of when and where that will be. Those of you who live here locally in Columbus can pick up your new CD(s) at the release party, or I will mail the CD(s) to you (or give them to you in person). Of course, CDs will be mailed to those of you who live outside of the Columbus area.

After the completion of “Backstage Pass,” these are some things I am hoping to do:

1. Submit the new CD to several friends (and some people I don’t know personally) who
work in the Christian music industry.

2. Send CDs to a number of Christian magazines for possible review (ie. Relevant,
SevenBall, etc.).

3. Submit several songs to as many Christian radio stations as I can find here and

4. Make CDs available through as well as local Christian
music/book stores.

5. Place some ads in some local coffee shops, restaurants, colleges, etc.

6. Seek out the possibility of opening for some Christian bands, perform at some
Christian music Festivals, youth retreats, maybe some coffee houses, etc.

7. Above everything, pray a lot and seek constant accountability.

I am really looking for some honest professional feedback…and even more importantly, I’m searching for God’s wisdom. Through these and other things, I pray that God will make it clear to me whether music is something I should seek or am even equipped to do as a full-time career.

It is a difficult balance as what I am pursuing can be considered both a ministry as well as a potential career path. On one hand, I honestly pray that God will use this music as a tool of evangelism and I hope that many people will be encouraged through its message. In the end, His Kingdom and the people He has created are all that really matter. For me, the other reality involves day-to-day living. How can I continue to work on music 40-50 hours a week if I am not in some substantial way earning an income through it?

In a way, this project is a “fleece” (Judges 6:36-40). After four years of college and several other career experiences, I am back to what I love and where I am most inspired…music. (In addition to working on the album, I am also doing some freelance audio, video, and lighting work to make ends meet.) I do not want to plot my own path, yet I do not want to ignore doors that have opened before me. I truly need God’s wisdom and I pray that I will never lose sight of my total dependency upon Him. God may have a place for me in full-time music…or He may be using my current experiences to lead me to a totally different place. I covet your prayers as I seek God’s will.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
How Do You Go About Writing A Song? (P1)
I suppose everyone has his/her unique way of writing a song. Some people need a cup of a joe and a sleepless night to bring on the inspiration. Some writers need solitude while some don't mind brainstorming in a crowded room. Some write the melody first...some prefer to start with the words. There are nearly as many "methods" as there are songs out there.

I guess I'm one of the guys who really needs solitude when it comes to writing a song. A theme or some rough lines may come to me when I'm around other people, but I need to get away to really hammer the tune out. I prefer to write the lyrics using Microsoft Word (or something similar) because the computer makes it easy to cut and paste lines and this seems to speed up the creative process. However, I usually use a notebook to jot down the original concept as well as rough thoughts and/or lines. Sometimes, I'll even research a subject and/or make a basic outline (for example, verse 1 talks about this or that, the bridge will hopefully inspire the listener to do such and such, etc, etc). Then, at times, I may begin by writing down a bunch of words which have to do with the topic...I'll even look up various synonyms to sort of "prepare the pallet." This process gives me some colors I can start painting with.

You never know when a song idea is going to hit. I find that the best songs come to me when I'm just pouring my thoughts out, without any intention of trying to write a "big" song. These types of songs seem to almost write themselves. All the thoughts were already inside; they just needed an opportunity to define themselves on paper.

I also generally find that the best themes/ideas are the ones which "re-surface" time and time again. The best subjects/concepts are the ones which won't leave me alone...those are the topics I tend to be most passionate about. Songs which start this way are usually the most "real". Often, they are based off of a lesson which God has taught me or is in the process of teaching me.

I am mostly a keyboardist so I'll often write the chords and melody while playing the piano/keyboard. I find that it's easier to come up with more interesting chords on the piano. It's also easier for me to transpose (change keys) if the melody jumps out of my vocal range. There's been times when I've written a tune which I really like...but it ends up needing to be dropped down 1 or 2 semitones for singability. I also usually like to come up with the actual words and the melody at the same time. I usually have Word open on my computer and a keyboard close at hand. That way, I can type the words as the melody comes to me or visa vera. There is something magical when the words, melody, and chords come together at the same time.

Chords play a huge part in defining the emotion of the song. One melody could be accompanied by any number of chord progressions. I always try to match chords with words and/or phrases, although this process often just happens without much thought. For example, major 7th chords (Gmaj7, which includes an F#) can give a laid back or "cool" feel while nt 7th chords (G7, which instead includes an F) can create a sense of fun or "quirkiness". Diminished and augmented chords create an unresolved atmosphere. Of course, major chords tend to feel more "happy" while minor chords create for a darker environment.

Sometimes, one note in a chord can make all the difference in expressing the song's emotion at any given time (for example, Gmaj7 versus mentioned above). When comparing the piano and guitar, I find that it is much easier to create different/interesting chords on the piano. I'm definitely not a guitar player, but I can play some basic chords and there are also times where I'll start a song on guitar and then further define it on piano.

The next step involves creating an arrangement. I'll talk a bit more about that in part 2 of this article, which will be written in the near future.


Monday, August 30, 2004
Landing the Right Emotion
Have been finishing up the vocal for "By Now" this morning. This is the one which we tracked in Nashville (April 04), and then ended up re-recording in Columbus. I'm using a different mic (Audio-Technica 4050CM5 instead of a Neumann M-147 Tube), but I'm actually really happy with the sound I'm getting! Essentially, Dave recommended that I redo the vocal, as the performance wasn't the strongest. I'm pretty pumped about the new recording as it is miles ahead of the original. I think one reason is because I really finally found the "emotional nitch" I was going for. Sometimes, it takes a little time to discover the delivery type (heavier, quiet, whispy, desparate, etc.) which best compliments the song. There always needs to be a balance between technical performance and delivery. A vocal performance can be "right on," but it may be lacking the emotion which will truly bring the song to life. "By Now" is a pretty powerful and desparate song (crying out to God), and for me, it was a challenge to both sound like you're "falling apart" while maintaining a strong performance. In the end, I'm glad I redid the vocal. All the BGVs for "By Now" were recorded weeks ago, so Dave simply needs to drop the new lead vocal into the mix which he's already started working on. Hopefully, I'll get this vocal file to him (as well as a double vocal) in the next day or so.

"Hurricane" should finally be going out the door this week as well. I spent a little extra time on it as I came up with some really neat vocal effects (splicing various phrases together, adding some filters to the voices, etc.) which took an extra day or so to perfect.

After "By Now" and "Hurricane," there will be two more songs to work on..."Ladder" and "Supposed to Be." Ladder is already pretty far along. All the vocals are recorded, although I may add a few extra BGVs here and there. "Supposed to Be" is also relatively far along, but may take a bit more editing than "Ladder" (correct some wrong notes in the rhythm section, etc.). We only recorded 1-3 takes of each song on Oct 17 at Dark Horse Recording. Normally, it'd be quicker to just punch in and fix the wrong notes there. However, since we were on such a tight schedule (we had about 35 min per song), we decided to do some of the "fixing" (through editing in ProTools) back here in Columbus. Besides, it's free here to do it our own studios. =)

Sunday, August 29, 2004
What's Taking So Long?
I'm sure many of you have wondered this. "I thought you were almost finished" response..."So did I." Our original release date of July 2004 has been moved back to October 2004. What began as a $10,000 1.5 year project has grown into $20,000 2 year+ album project. The difference with "Backstage Pass" (compared to "Dishes") is that we've tried to do everything professionally. With this has come more challenges than I could have ever imagined.

For those of you who don't know, I am currently doing freelance audio and video production work, and I am working on this project in my "spare time". I generally try to get at least 20-25 hours of freelance work in a week so that I can pay the bills. On top of that, I'll put anywhere from 25 to 60 hours into the album. Things will probably change for me one way or another after the album is out.

Every little detail takes time, and that's what I'm finding especially at this eleventh hour. As an example, the lead vocal which I re-recorded for one of the songs took about 6-8 hours to track and comp (combine the best takes). It is probably the most challenging song on the album for me to sing so I had to take a number of passes before I even found the mood I was going for in the song. I finally found the vibe I wanted, but it took a lot of "throw away" takes before I nailed it. In addition to "comping" the lead vocal, I recorded and comped a "double vocal" which is used to thicken the vocal sound (for effect). Last week, I spent a good two days (16 hours) arranging and recording background vocals for one song. Some of the songs have a good 20 or more tracks of background vocals. Last month, I had several guitar overdub sessions. Each one of those ate up a whole evening, and required a fair amount of setup and preparation work. After the musician left, I was busy at 1am comping (combining) their best takes.

I keep a database of everyone who has pre-ordered CDs. I also keep a running spreadsheet of every expense related to the album. In addition, I upkeep a web site and write a monthly newsletter. On occasion, I spend a couple hours backing up all my hard drives of audio files. I've spent a number of hours simply reviewing mixes which Dave has sent me. This all takes time.

I'm extremely excited to get this project out to you guys. I promise...I really am making a CD, and not just talking about it. I hope that it will be worth the wait. =) Part of me wishes I hadn't started advertising the new album so soon (through the newsletter and all). In a way, I feel like I've "led people on" by dragging this thing out so long. I would have waited a bit longer had I known we'd still be working on the album in Sept 2004.

Friday, August 27, 2004
Busy Beavers
Have been quite busy this week. Sept 23rd (the date for mastering) is quickly approaching, and I'm working hard trying to get the last couple tunes to Dave for mixing. It's a been a balancing act, that's for sure. This weekend, I'll be out of town for my cousin's wedding, but will plan to start working on the music again Sunday. I've only been able to put in about 25 hrs this week with everything else going on. In addition to preparing songs for Dave (which has included retracking one of the lead vocals which we weren't happy with), I've also been doing some admin stuff...working on some financial options for duplication, preparing the new web site for release...also preparing for a new job which I start next week.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Don't Rush and Such
It's never a good thing to rush if you don't have to. Those of you who have been keeping up with the developments of "Backstage Pass" know that we've really been taking our time on this one. Fortunately, we have that luxury as this is an independent project, and there aren't any record companies snapping the whip. Regardless, it will be great to get this CD out the door. We're still hoping to have the finished discs by October. Mastering is still set for Sept 23rd.

I wouldn't say we rushed "Dishes," but we did work rather intensely on it, even up until the last couple days before mastering. Dave was still mixing the day before we left for Nashville, and we actually didn't get on the road until about 8pm that night. That put us into Nashville around 2am. We were then up at 7am, eating breakfast and getting ready to head over to our 9am appointment at Masterphonics (in Nashville). Dave still teases me because I was so intense that morning. We were running late, and I was driving the stationwagon at about 85-90 mph, trying to make it there on time. The poor vehicle was shaking so much it felt like it was going to fall apart. A little foolish now that I look back. I think Dave was scared out of his pants. =) Ironically, when we arrived at Masterphonics, Glenn Meadows (the mastering engineer for Dishes) was busying trying to get his PC to work. We probably ended up sitting there a good hour waiting for him to reinstall Windows, all the while listening to him complain about Microsoft.

One reason why we were hurrying to finish "Dishes" was because we wanted to have the CDs available for the July Grace Brethren National Youth Conference in LA (a gathering of about 3000+ Grace Brethren youth from around the country). I actually spent about $70 to have a box of CDs overnighted to LA, so that I would have them to sell to kids. I arrived at LAX, and then headed to the "resort" where we were to stay. Dave was already in LA, so we just met up.

Anyways, it turned out that I got dropped from the program, and was unable to perform for any of the youth! Instead I ended up performing at Brethren Conference, for several hundred 60+ year old pastors and missionaries. Let's just say the music wasn't their style. There were even a couple people that walked out because it was too loud.

Yeah, that was a pretty discouraging moment. I probably only ended up selling about 15 CDs when I was in LA, and spent a good $500 on airfare and other travel expenses. I did however see some good high speed chases on TV, which were happening only miles away. Yeah...I suppose God taught me some lessons there. I still don't know why things happened the way they did, but I know He had a reason. He has His perfect timing for everything.

I've heard it's good to not set unneccessary "get it done bys". I know I probably will not record another CD for a little while, so I want to make this one as good as possible. Besides, I'm not planning to go to LA this year. =)

Monday, August 23, 2004
Maintaining Heart
If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather as a reservoir than as a canal. A canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing and thus with loss to itself [it shares] its superabundant water. (Bernard of Clairvaux)

Like many pilgrims down through the ages, I discovered my spiritual life in the desert. (John Eldridge)

This morning, I've been reminded of the importance of entrusting my heart to God, and resting in His strength and provision. Yesterday, I heard the story of an Olympic althlete who broke down in tears, sat down in the grass, and simply stopped running just short of the marathon finish line. That's just a reminder how we can so easily give up "running", when we are so close to God's provision. I think we all have "mountains" which we are climbing, and as Christians, we need to remember that God not only knows and cares about our climbing struggles, He promises to not give us anything we can't bear. (I Cor 10:13)

I often expect myself to have motivation and strength to keep working on this project, and honestly, there are moments when it's not there. I'm so incredibly close, but especially at this point in the game, I need to be reminded that God is with me in this and He's going to use this "desert" experience not only in my life, but hopefully in other's lives through the impact of the album.

At times, I feel like there are giants starring down at me from either side, ready to smash the life out of the me at any instance. There's the insane financial balance which must take place, the ongoing struggle of managing time, and on top of that, the hope that ideas will come to me next I sit down in front of the computer to create...all this in the midst of working freelance jobs, and trying to make ends meet. I know the Lord is in control, and in some way, He has led me to this place, and He will give me the ability to run through it.

It is so important that we keep the reservoirs of our hearts filled with the promises of God's love and provision. He does truly care about us. Knowing that He is for us can give us the strength to not only climb mountains, but to move them.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Notes for Next Time Around (Part 1)
There are always lessons to be learned when you explore new creative territory. The session on October 17th at Dark Horse Recording marked the first time I had ever recorded with a band of hired studio players. "Dishes" (released 2001) was more or less "pieced together" other words, we'd record the drums for a couple songs at Dave's place and the following week, we'd be tracking guitar parts with Tom Tussing (local guitarist) in my bedroom studio (this is actually where the name "10x12 productions" came from - the name of my company - as this was the size of my first "studio"). Anyway...basically, instruments were recorded at different places at numerous times with various players. However, this method was only decided upon after some less-than-favorable attempts to record a full band live.

During the beginning stages of "Dishes", we tried to track a full band (drums, bass, two guitars) at Dave's parent's place. Bad idea. The acoustics were bad, our gear barely covered our technical needs, and the band had never played together!! Wow, can you say train wreck?? During our attempts, things were further complicated when we began to pick up a radio station through the mic cables strung across the three floors of Dave's parent's home. We actually had musicians placed all the over the house. Kevin, one of the guitar players, was literally in the bathroom sitting on a closed-lid toilet, playing electric guitar! Dave's mom was especially thrilled that we had turned her living room, dining room, and kitchen into "studio" rooms. In the end, every thing we captured that day found it's way to the "round file" and from there on out, we decided that our best option was to record one instrument at at time, in a much more controlled environment.

We wanted to approach "Backstage Pass" a bit differently. This time, we really wanted to capture a true "band" sound, and we realized that this was something we couldn't legitimately pull off in Columbus, OH. After some research, Dave recommended Dark Horse Recording for a number of reasons...for one, it was away from the city and had a pretty "cool" vibe (which can spark creativity) and it was a little more affordable than some of the other Nashville-based studios. I checked out the pictures online ( and I was sold.

For the next project, I would go back to Dark Horse in a heartbeat...but there are some technical things I would approach a bit differently. I will mention more in the future, but here are a couple. The following gets a bit technical so feel free to skip to the next article if this bores you. =)

CLICK TRACK: It is common practice to use a click track these days when recording (especially in a non-linear recording other words, recording to hard disc). This is simply a constistent "click" which the players hear in their headphones, and can use as a tempo reference. Of course, we used a click track. However, I was unaware that many studio players prefer an 8th note click, rather than a 1/4 note click. Why? Well, especially with slower songs (below 100 per minute), the 8th note click allows the drummer (and other players) to be even more precise when trying to stay with the song tempo.

CHORD NOTATION: Piano players and guitar players often think much differently when reading music. I, coming from a piano background, have a tendency of writing chords the way that I originally played them on the piano. Generally, guitar players don't like to see anything with a "flat" sign. Also, some sharps can throw a lot of guitar players. As an example, it is often easier for a guitar player to read a B# if it is simply written as a C (even if B# is the right way to write the chord, based on the key of the song). I also over-complicated a few of the chords. Instead of writing Gm/Eb (Gm with Eb in the bass), I could have simply written Ebmaj7 (This may only make sense to you if you've had a little music theory) In our case, we had some of the best sight readers in Nashville, so they hardly had any problems with interpretting the music. They did however make a few suggestions which should help to streamline things even more the next time we're in the studio.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
A Union of Strings
Four and a half songs on "Backstage Pass" are embellished with performances by the Nashville String Machine. Essentially, this is a Nashville-based company which supplies professional string and brass ensembles for recordings or live performance situations. We hired a group of seven string players from the Nashville String Machine (3 violins, 2 violas, and 2 cellos) to play on the new project.

October 17, 2004 was an interesting day (our first recording date at Dark Horse Recording in Nashville). We spent an accelerated six hours tracking the rhythm section (drums, bass, two guitars, piano) and another three hours recording the 7-piece string section. Rich Barrett arranged all the string parts, and was also responsible for directing the string players on Oct 17. It made for a busy session as we only had three hours to record the string parts for four and half songs.

I think we all learned a few new things during this session. I was already aware that the union-owned Nashville String Machine had a couple stipulations. For one, we were only allowed to record the string parts for each song twice. In other words, we were allowed to take two "solid" passes and then double the recorded strings (if there were an blaring mistakes, we were allowed to go back and "punch in" corrections). That means, with seven players, we ended up with a recorded group of fourteen players. One thing I didn't know about was the 10-15 minute hourly break, which was part of the Nashville String Machine union contract. In addition to these breaks, Dark Horse Recording had some trouble with their Radar recording system (which had been faultless the rest of the day with the rhythm section) starting at 6:00pm, the time we were supposed to start recording the strings. Let me just say that it was a very tense time as $14.00 minutes quickly slipped away as we and the string players waited for the issue to be resolved. Eventually, the assistant recording engineer swapped out the Radar system for another (from one of their other recording rooms)...and that seemed to fix what seemed to be an untrackable intermittent problem (random clicks in the recorded audio). We lost about an hour when all was said and done. I actually went outside and prayed for a few minutes, as the atmosphere was getting a bit heated. In the end, I feel like God really answered our prayers.

At 8:57 pm, we finished up recording the string parts for the last of the four and a half songs. The string players were literally going to walk out at 9pm. That's how they operate. They were supposed to start at 6pm, and most of them actually walked in the door at 5:55pm. Like clockwork. =)

Rich did an incredible job, not only in arranging the strings, and directing the players, but also in preparing the sheet music. I actually spent about $100 at Kinkos the day before the session, making copies for the stack of notebooks we took down to Dark Horse (for all the rhythm players, string well as for ourselves and for the engineer). I still have all the notebooks and use them frequently for reference when I am arranging background vocals, synthesizer parts, or when I am trying to remember the chords or tempos (for synchronizing delays, etc.) of the various songs. We spent a lot of time in pre-production (arranging and writing out parts, preparing music, etc.), and it feels like it paid off, as we were able to successfully record ten songs in one day. All in all, I can only attribute this to the prayers of many people, and ultimately God's grace. The players actually teased us quite a bit about the insane "schedule," which was systemically followed throughout the day.

One of the tricks of recording live strings is to layer them with some synthesizer strings. It's next to impossible to hear the difference when the "fake" strings are mixed in with the live strings. Because of budget, we stuck to recording seven string players (doubled, making fourteen players). However, the additional of a few synthesizer strings can give the impression that there is a 30-40 orchestra backing the rhythm section. Many popular pop & rock albums these days use this technique. Often, what sounds like a huge orchestra may actually be several string players stacked to the sky.

The drawback of hiring a union-based string group (at least in the case of the Nashville String Machine) is the stipulation of only two recording passes per song. The trade-off is knowing that you are getting a group of incredibly experienced studio players, who will usually nail most songs without ever seeing the music before they walk in the studio door.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Tired of the Music?
"Do you get sick of hearing your own music over and over?" I get asked this question a lot. As far as "Dishes" goes...yes, I've heard those songs a few many times. =)

I am still very excited about "Backstage Pass." Regardless, there are moments when I really need to step back from the music because I am beginning to lose perspective. There is a certain “spark” which is captured when a song is first written, and afterwards, months are spent trying to embody, yet preserve that original emotion and vibe (creating the musical arrangements, mixing, etc). There are times when I just need to get away from working on the songs because I am at the point of overproducing them…or I need to simply step back because I am getting burned out. "Supposed to Be" (see below) is an example of a song I've needed to distance myself from a bit. I'm pretty confident it will turn out great...I just need a fresh approach.

Not only has this been a creative process, it’s been an emotional journey. In a strange way, the emotions expressed in songs sometimes seem to “further define themselves” through the creative process. Sometimes, when a song is completed, I understand even more where the emotion of the song came from, and why I felt so strongly about it. So, though I may grow tired of hearing these songs, there are times when I find new interest in them as they take on new shades of meaning...if that makes any sense.

Ended having to catch up on a number of other things last week...some freelance work (to pay the bills), some car repairs...that sort of fun stuff. =) I'm still working to raise the money for duplication, so it's a fine balance between "working" and working on the album.

Still focusing on "Hurricane" this week. Have been working on synthesizer/FX parts today which should further the "storm" feel. I also hope to wrap up most of the background vocals (for "Hurricane") which I started last week. My current goal is to have 9 songs pretty much "ready to go" (mixed and ready for mastering) by Sept 1. That should leave us a good 2-3 weeks to wrap up the last 1 and 1/2 songs. We'll leave on Sept 22 for mastering in Nashville.

I spent a good 3-4 hours preparing and typing up mix changes for Dave yesterday...that is, mix changes for the seven songs he's already worked on. He will probably be updating these mixes this week. I hope to get the files for "Hurricane" to him ASAP...hopefully, at least by the later part of this week. That'll leave us with 2 1/2 songs to finish.
Friday, August 13, 2004
A Prayer of Dependency
How can I be a vessel today - totally surrendered and emptied of myself? What am I worth beyond my insufficiencies, beyond the realization of my own weakness? You are my strength, my life - the only One who truly comforts me, and understands the torrents inside. Oh, how I long to be complete in Your arms. Calm my fears, take my idols - may I be poor and wanting in Your sanctuary, for the greatest peace comes in the marriage of inability and transcendence. This is where I end; this is where I run out. This is where I cry out to You in desperation, realizing that You are my Only Hope.

This is a poem which I wrote in July. Inspired by John 15:1-2: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." Without Him, we can do no good thing.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
A Gust of BGVs
Have been arranging and recording background vocals for "Hurricane" today. I'm pretty excited about how this tune is coming together. It's amazing what BGVs can do to enhance a song. There's probably a good 20-25 tracks of background vocals on this tune...just called for a thick sound with the topic and all. We tracked most of the vocals in Nashville at Dark Horse Recording back in April, but we only had time (and energy) to record the lead vocals for "Hurricane".

"Hurricane" is the first song I wrote (June 2002) for the new album, and it's the eighth of eleven tunes I'm working on. Dave is out of town for a week, but will resume mixing the next batch of songs when he returns this weekend. He's already given me close-to-final mixes for seven of the tunes. I hope to hand "Hurricane" off to him (for mixing) by the beginning of next week. I am starting to see the light at the end of a long tunnel. =)

Monday, August 09, 2004
Several Brains is Better Than One
One of the neatest elements of the creative process is the interaction you have with other creative people, and more importantly, the friendships which develop. Dave Bechtel (co-producer, mixing engineer), Rich Barrett (string arrangements, piano, organ), and Jeremy Slagle (photography, CD artwork concept & layout) have all played an intricate part in making this album what it is (or what it will be).

Dave Bechtel and I met in kindergarten, went to the same school K-12, and pretty much grew up together writing and recording music. We were in middle school and high school band together (his father was the band director)...I played trombone, Dave played drums...and we also recorded a couple cassette rap albums throughout high school (yes, it's true, I used to rap). Dave co-produced and played drums for "Dishes" (2001). Dave has produced a number of albums since including projects for Lara Gifford (the Wonder of God) and Anastasia Pothoven (see links to side). Dave's company, Ascend Productions, specializes in costume album production and audio design work.

Jeremy Slagle has created the artwork for my cassettes & CDs almost as long as I can remember. The first project he worked on was "Mouse in the House", released back in 1994. I think at the time, he was using a Macintosh Quadra..."The little Mac that could"...let's just say that machine really struggled. Jeremy has since designed the jackets for "My Almamater" (released in 1996 at Liberty University) and "Dishes" (2001). In 1998, he and friend John McCollum went on to start their own graphic design company, Element Design Group (see link to side).

I met Rich Barrett several years ago during our trip to Nashville for the mastering of "Dishes" (Rich was currently living in Nashville, and saved us a hotel bill by letting us stay over at his place). Rich is a classically trained pianist and has years of experience in composition and MIDI production. I think I initially considered Rich's work for "Backstage Pass" after I heard his string arrangements on Anastasia Pothoven's "My Heart" project (Ascend Productions 2003). From his string arrangements to his piano and organ performances, Rich has contributed immensely to the sound of "Backstage Pass".

Music-related or not, I'm thankful for the honesty of my friends. Throughout the development of this CD, Dave has been especially up front with me in regards to what he likes and doesn't like (Besides, what would be the benefit of a softy producer?). One job of the producer (or co-producer) is to challenge the artist and get him/her out of the old comfort zone. I've definitely been pushed through this whole process, and I think each one of us has been challenged in one way or another.

I am looking forward to the release of "Backstage Pass", as it represents not only my work, but more importantly, the work of a creative team.

Saturday, August 07, 2004
A Consistent Mix
Spent about a hour or so this morning listening through the CD of rough mixes Dave dropped off at my place last night. Overall, I am very happy with the thing I'm particularly impressed with is the consistency of the mixes from song to song. Generally, the bass guitar and kick drum levels should be the same from tune to tune. Usually, the biggest "trouble spot" in mixes is the low end (bass gtr and kick) and the lead vocal level. These elements should be pretty constant through a project and overall, I feel like Dave has acheived that (at least with the seven songs he's worked on so far).

Nevertheless, there are definitely some level changes which need to take place. The lead vocal is buried in some spots, and overall, it seems like some of the electric guitars are a touch buried. It's definitely a fine balance when you're working with mixes with anywhere from 70 to 100 tracks of instruments and vocals. Since this is more of rock album, I do want to accentuate the guitars a bit more...especially in "bigger" choruses, big bridges.

There were some definite mix problems with "Dishes". Overall, the lead vocal was buried and the dynamics between songs was rather extreme in spots (you'd have to turn up your stereo at times because some songs would get so quiet in places). We're really working to avoid these problems this time around.

Will be working on "Hurricane" today. I've taken a good three days off (a nice break after a number of 60+ hour weeks).
Thursday, August 05, 2004
What A Tune Is "Supposed To Be"
I've sort of been taking a break recently. I think I need to step away from the songs a bit. I was working pretty intensely on the tune "Supposed to Be" (#8 of 11 songs) this weekend and the beginning of the week, and finally decided I just needed to back away from it for a while. Dave checked out some changes I had made, and wasn't thrilled. I think I've been so under the gun, I've made desparate attempts at making this song work, and none of my efforts have yet succeeded. Somehow, I need to find a balance between the original (tracked Oct 17 last year in Nashville) and the "new version" I've sort of stumbled upon. There are some salvagable and interesting parts in the new version...just need to figure out a way to incorporate the good of the new into the "old" version. It's sort of late in the game to be making such significant changes to a song. All the other songs have stayed close to the original demos. I've been told by friends that all the new "accents" I've added (synths, FX, etc) to the other songs have only helped to enhance the tunes. From the beginning, I've sought to keep this project relatively "raw" in nature, and somehow, on this song, I've crossed the boundry of over-producing. I need to stick closer to the original.

As it is with any writer I'm sure, it's a weird and often depressing feeling when you just don't know what to do with something you're creating. I feel quite directionless on this tune, and I think space is what I need to gain new perspective. This song has been tough even from the writing stages. I actually totally rewrote it several times (melody and chords) before it sat with me. I always liked the message; just took a while to express exactly what I was feeling lyrically and musically. May leave "Supposed to Be" alone for a while and jump to "Hurricane" (#9). I feel pretty confident about where I'm going with this one.

I'm glad we've moved the mastering date back a month or so (from Aug 19 to Sept 23). I seem to be thinking much clearer, and I'm able to have a bit more balance in regards to my other priorities. The album is only one facet of the life God's entrusted me with. I need to keep an eternal perspective in this wrestling match called "creation".

Sunday, August 01, 2004
It’s hard to believe that we’re actually just around the corner from having “Backstage Pass” completed. Dave Bechtel has close-to-final mixes for seven of the eleven songs. The remaining mixes (four other songs) must be finished within the next two weeks. On August 18th, Dave, Rich Barret, and I will be traveling to Mayfield Mastering in Nashville, TN. On August 19th, we will be sitting in as John Mayfield masters the album. This is an incredibly crucial stage, and can make or break an album sonically. Nevertheless, John does incredible work and we are anxious to see to what new level he will take the project.

Mastering is our final major step in the production process. After returning from Nashville, Dave and I will have several days to review the PMCD (the premaster CD) which John will give us. If necessary, we will contact John and have him make any SMALL final changes. After we approve everything, John will create a final PMCD (which he will review very carefully for any errors, clicks, etc.). This PMCD will be sent to the duplication house (Oasis Duplication in VA) and will be used to create a “glass master”. The glass master will then be used to “stamp” copies of the album. This stamping process (used on all commercial CDs) is a bit different than the common “burning” of recordable CDs.

After the duplicated CDs are pressed, they will be packaged and shrink wrapped along with the printed CD booklets. In addition, “spine labels” will be added which contain the name of the artist, the name of the album, as well as a barcode. Spine labels make it easier for stores to track the inventory and sales of CDs. Lord willing, I hope to see the finished CDs on my doorstep by the second or third week in September.

Local guitarist Ryan Valentine is featured on one of the new songs. We tracked his guitar parts (including a really cool solo) this past week.

This is one question which I’ve been asked a lot. In a way, I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give too much away. =) I guess overall, “Backstage Pass” is much more of a rock album which has numerous influences including Switchfoot, Goo Goo Dolls, Evanescence, ColdPlay, U2, and Linkin Park. (Please understand I don’t agree with everything these bands sing about or stand for…I am only using their “sound” for comparison.) Generally, the album is much more guitar and piano-driven, and less synthesizer-driven. There are a lot of cool effects and synthesizers on the new project, but these are simply “ear candy” and only add a little extra “spice” to the songs. Four of the tunes are backed by string orchestrations composed by Rich Barret and performed by the Nashville String Machine.

Overall, I would say both the message and the sound of the new project is a lot heavier than “Dishes”…maybe less playful and a little more “mature” sonically and thematically. It deals a lot with trials and temptations in the Christian life. It is honest about the challenges of life, as well as the peace and strength we can find only through Christ. A lot of the songs express the type of deep emotions you would see in the book of Psalms. Here are a few lines from one of the new songs, “Hurricane”:

And when this life’s too thick to breathe/I cling to You, You carry me/You whisper words that calm this raging night again/And as these demons whirl around/I hold to You, I won’t look down/I feel Your light inside/It’s rising in the distance

Thursday, September 30, 2004
On The Road Again
Tomorrow, we're hoping to leave for Nashville around 9am. I've been spending today just preparing for the trip (packing, laundry, etc). Had to get some new tires for my car, oil change, etc. as we will be driving a lot of miles. Dave Bechtel and friend Brian Houts will be traveling down south with me. We definitely could use prayer for safety. My 95 Honda has a few miles on it. =)

Dave's been spending the last two days or so outputting the mixes for mastering. As far as I know, we're good to go! I will try to update this blog over the weekend with news on how the mastering went.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Mixes Finalized
Last night, Dave and I spent about four hours making the final corrections to the mixes. Today, Dave is outputting all the final mix files for mastering. Basically, he is digitally playing back each of the mixes "real-time" from Nuendo (on one computer) into ProTools (on a second computer). Mixes can be "bounced" (converted to a stereo mix) a couple ways. Offline bouncing is much faster than realtime bouncing, but you miss the luxury of listening to the mix as it plays back. Realtime bouncing, though it takes longer, is beneficial in the fact that you can monitor the mixes start to finish to ensure that there aren't any glitches in playback...a really good idea when you are outputting your final mixes. =)
Vulnerable Before the World
This is a strange stage of the game in several ways. For one, the majority of my work is finished, and now I have to simply wait. We still have a weekend of mastering ahead of us (on Saturday, Oct 2), but after that, the only thing I can do is pray and antisipate the arrival of the duplicated CDs. The "slowing down" process can sometimes take a bit of adjustment.

Second, my focus will soon be shifting from production to marketing. Two and a half years have been spent making this album, and now it's time to get it into the hands of people...and that in itself takes a lot of time and planning. I have some ideas for "pushing" the project, but I am still in the "preparation" stage. I will be doing a lot of organizing and leg work over the next month or so (before the CDs get here).

Third, I am in quite a vulnerable place as I will soon be "sharing my heart with the world". This CD is a snapshot of some of the deepest and most challenging thoughts, emotions, and situations which God has ever allowed me to fight through. I pray that this album will mean a lot to many people, but there's a reality that some people just won't like it at all. Some people may not understand why I put so much time into this production. Some people won't get or even take the time to listen to what I am trying to say through this CD. I'm sure many artists have at times felt this way. The tough thing is, in laying everything out there for the world to see, you open yourself up for criticism, rejection, and ulimately pain...and that's just a risk you take in stepping out on limb. On one hand, I want to be unconcerned of what people think, but part of me also really hopes that all this work will bring some visible fruit. In other words, I pray that I will see lives affected and changed through the truths captured on "Backstage Pass." On top of that, I hope that for many people, it will simply be a great source of enjoyment. =) Regardless of others' response, I have to keep the Lord at the center of everything, and trust that He will give me strength to make it through whatever lies ahead.

Monday, September 27, 2004
Counting Down The Days
In about three days, we'll be leaving for Nashville for mastering. It's crazy to believe we're finally here. Even stranger is the transition from going full throttle to coast mode. In other words, I now have a bit more time to relax and it's taking some adjustment. I keep thinking there's more to do, but honestly, I can't do too terribly much except wait. Even though we're nearly finished, I still find myself either at the piano or at the notebook trying to come up with new songs or ideas. I suppose the creatvie spirit is always there...and unlike the last project, I'm still itching to write some more stuff (I took a fairly decent break from writing after "Dishes" was released). Regardless, though the creating may continue, I'm working to get my life into a more balanced place.

We've moved the mix finalizations to tomorrow night, which is fine. It will give Dave just a touch more time to tweek with the mixes. I may just kick back and watch a movie tonight. It's been a long time since I've done that. =)

Got a call from my "project manager" at Oasis Duplication this afternoon. Looks like they've received the artwork, and are going to start to initial stages of preparation for duplication (a few text corrections, etc.). We (or our mastering engineer) will hopefully mail the audio master to Oasis probably by the end of next week. I requested a "finish date" of October 29th, so hopefully we'll see the finished duplicated CDs in Columbus by that time.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Some Extra Sets of Ears
Dropped the test mixes off to four local audio engineers to get some feedback today. Dave and I will be making final mix changes tomorrow night, and we'll hopefully get some suggestions back from these guys by then.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Stuff We're Listening For
I've spent the last two days listening to the "test mix" CD which Dave recently gave me. Basically, my job now is to simply make note of mix suggestions and pass them on to Dave. We will be finalizing the mixes this coming Monday. Dave will create at least three "stem" mixes for each of the eleven songs, and these mixes (burned onto CD at 24bit, 48kHz - a data CD, not an audio CD) are what we will take down with us to Nashville next Friday (To read more about stem mixes, read the entry below "The Work is Nearly Finished").

We will also be taking Dave's computer with us in case there are any problems with the mixes he will soon create. If need be (as a backup plan), we can "digitize" the mixes from Dave's computer straight into the mastering engineer's system (John Mayfield). In addition, I will be taking some CDs which I would like John to "model" in overall volume and timbre (several bands which I like). Mastering can be approached very differently depending upon what genre your music fits into, and what audience you are targeting. Modern rock tends to be very "loud," with a lot of limiting and compression (the meters hardly move). I believe there is a fine balance as too much limiting and compression can make the overall mix sound distorted (when you don't want it to be).

Anyway, what am I listening for in the "test mixes?" Essentially, this is my last chance to recommend any mix changes. However, at this stage in the game, any changes need to be relatively minor. One of the biggest things I'm focusing on is the level of the lead vocal. Some of the vocals on "Dishes" were a bit buried, and we're working hard to give the vocals on "Backstage Pass" a bit more "presence." I'm also focusing a lot on guitar levels...making sure they're really giving the "beef" and "edge" we're looking. Dave's the expert on the mixing I simply make suggestions, but he's the one who ultimately "sets the faders" (that's the simplest way to say it, but there is a ton involved) on most stuff.

I (and Dave) have been trying to listen to these mixes on various audio systems..nice studio monitors, car stereos (good and bad, with the windows up and with the windows down driving 65)...even cheap boomboxes. It's best to listen to mixes on speakers for checking levels between instruments (among other things)...while headphones are great for listening for really fine edit "clicks" (which are created when edits are not properly crossfaded) and panning effects (sounds which move back and forth between speakers).

Tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday, Dave and I will be making final mix decisions. Hopefully, I will be able to take this next week off (from working on music) and relax a bit before we hit the road again, Lord willing, on Friday. =)
Friday, September 24, 2004
A Quick Update
Dropped off the last of the songs to Dave this morning. Right now, I'm listening to test mixes for the 11 tunes. We're still planning to head to Nashville next Friday for mastering. Also, mailed off the artwork to Oasis Duplication yesterday. Praise God for how He has provided!
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
The Work is Nearly Finished
This morning, I dropped the files for "Supposed to Be" off to Dave. I had to pull an all-nighter to wrap this one up. Fortunately, much of my work is now finished. I do need to record some background vocals for "Ladder" today...and those will be the last files I need to get to Dave. In the meantime, Dave will be busy finishing up the mixes. Our goal is to have all the mixes "ready to go" (for mastering) by this coming Monday. Up until Monday, I will be listening to mixes, and making final notes. After I have given my last suggestions, Dave will create "stem" mixes for each of the songs. In other words, each song will have at least three with the lead vocal level where we think it should sit, and then one mix with the lead vocal up 1 db and one mix with the lead vocal down 1 db. These mixes will give us more options in the mastering room.

It's very strange to be this close to the end...sort of surreal at this point. Next Saturday, we should be at Mayfield Mastering having "Backstage Pass" mastered. It will be great to finally step back and see the album as one project...being that I've been so focused on individual songs.

I unfortunately have not yet mailed the artwork out, but I hope to do that in the next day or so. I was under the impression that I could send the artwork to Oasis weeks in advance, but it turns out it's only helpful if they receive it at the most one to one and half weeks in advance. This does set things back will probably be closer to the end of October (or the very beginning of November) before we see the duplicated CDs. Regardless, we are almost there. =)

Friday, September 17, 2004
 Two Weeks To Go
Well, in two weeks, Dave and I should be in Nashville having the album mastered. Dave now has near final mixes for 9 1/2 of the songs...only one more to go. I worked on "Supposed to Be" (the last tune) a couple days this week (and spent the other days working my "day job"). I hope to mostly finish up "Supposed to Be" this weekend. We'll see. Regardless, it needs to happen soon.

I'm extremely tired these days, but I'm very excited to finally see the finish line. I could use your prayers as we are both very busy right now with our "other" jobs and we're trying to find the time to wrap up the last song. Regardless, God continues to provide and lead. I am so pumped about finally getting this music into people's hands. =)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Would You Like One Take or Two?
I've been busy working on the last song "Supposed to Be." About a month or so ago, I was having some real trouble in getting this song to "work." It just wasn't sitting right with me for some reason, and I started to add a number of new sounds to try to make up for whatever was missing. Anyway, to make a long story short, Dave encouraged me to return to the "original vibe" which I came up with while recording the MIDI demos last fall. For the most part, we had captured that "vibe" in Nashville with the live band, but I wasn't terribly thrilled with the "take" I was working with. We usually did anywhere from one to three takes per song (when we recorded at Dark Horse on Oct 17, 2003), and generally I've used the last take (while maybe pulling a few parts from the other takes) of each the band was usually more familiar with the song at that point. Anyway, I did the same thing with "Supposed to Be." We had recorded two takes, and out of habit, I just went with "take 2." Funny thing is...the takes had been mislabeled and I was actually working with "take 1." So, I was really jazzed after I stumbled across this mislabeled second take, as it had much more of the feel I was going for. summary, the song is really coming together. =)

Above is a screenshot from my Macintosh. This is a Pro Tools session for "Supposed to Be." If you are not familiar with Pro Tools or non-linear audio recording, all the colored strips are different tracks, each one being a different instrument. This particular session only includes the guitars for the song. The purple, blue, pink, and orange strips are electric guitars which come in during the chorus of the song. They're all playing the same thing; they're simply layered to create a very "fat" sound. At the top, the brown strip is the bass guitar, and near the bottom, there are a couple tracks with acoustic guitar, which comes in during the verses...and B3 organ which surfaces here and there throughout the song. At the very bottom of the screen, you'll see the audio mixer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Budgeting Godzilla
What is Godzilla to me may not be Godzilla to someone else. Regardless, this project has turned out to be quite expensive. The budget for "Dishes" was only about $7000, while "Backstage Pass" has cost a bit over $20,000. This is a fairly big budget for an independent project. However, many labels will invest a good $100,000 or more into an album and its production, marketing, and distribution. This is a very rough figure, as every record label is different, and so are the needs of every artist and project.

I won't be too terribly specific as I may bore you...but here are some general figures.

Epuipment updates, misc (new computer, software, and audio gear neccessary for the production of the album, website upkeep, photocopies, etc.)

Costs for CD design work, mixing, string arrangements (this figure is extremely low as all these people are friends and did some things simply to help me out)

Nashville Recording Session #1 - Dark Horse Recording in "The Lodge" (Oct 17, 2003)
$6400 - drums, bass, 2 guitars, piano, 7 string players, recording time, engineer, cartage (see picture above), contractor (for all the players), piano tuning

Nashville Recording Session #2 - guitar overdubs with Mark Baldwin (Dec 12, 2003)

Nashville Recording Session #3 - Dark Horse Recording in "The Cabin" (April 6-10, 2004)
$1500 vocal sessions & percussion overdubs

Mastering at Mayfield Mastering (tentatively Oct 2, 2004)
$1000 approximately

$2600 approximately

So, this gives you a little feel where all the expenses lie. Independent projects have been done for much less. Much of the costs came in our multiple trips to Nashville, and in the fact that we hired so many players (including a string section from the Nashville String Machine). Tracking in a "real" studio is a bit more pricey than trying to do it at home, but you do get what you pay for. There's a lot that people can do these days in their home studios, but it's real tough to get great sounds at home for certain instruments. Keyboards and electric guitars can probably be recorded about anywhere, but drums, strings, piano, and even acoustic guitar really require a decent acoustic space...and I and many others would argue...a great engineer. I totally think it's worth hiring someone who knows what he's doing. Gear is important, but years of experience is what makes all the difference. Doug Sarrett engineered our October 17th recording session, and he did an incredible job of getting great sounds. He's worked with Point of Grace, Amy Grant, and many other artists.
Monday, September 13, 2004
 One Tune To Go
Today, I dropped off "Ladder" and the "Intro" to Dave. That leaves me with one final song I'll need to get to him for mixing..."Supposed to Be." This song is already pretty far along. I still need to work on a few vocal parts, but hopefully, I'll be wrapping the song up in the next few days.

I also met with Jeremy Slagle today and picked up the artwork for a poster which will be printed along with the CD jacket. These posters will be used for concerts and other marketing options.

We're still scheduled to master at Mayfield Mastering (in Nashville) on October 2nd. If all goes as planned, we'll see the duplicated CDs by the end of October.

Saturday, September 11, 2004
Progress Update
I've been working on "Ladder" (#8 of 10.5 songs) yesterday and today. All the songs pretty much need to be finished before the end of this week, as Dave will be out of town for a couple weeks starting next Saturday. He'll need to mix these last songs relatively quick.

It's really a weird feeling to be this close to the end. There's definitely a good amount of work to wrap up, but we're close. I'm looking forward to a serious vacation. =)

Friday, September 10, 2004
 Questions at the Crossroads
The processes of this album have made for quite a ride. There's been so many proposed release dates, I can't count them anymore! It's funny...I thought the last project was a lot of work, but this has been insane. I've fought , sweat, and tears to even see "Backstage Pass" to this point. Regardless, after all the struggle, I still realize the importance of finishing up strong. What would be the point of working on something 2.5 years without knowing you gave everything you have? That's just the end of all this, regardless of "where this album goes," I want to say that I put all I had into it. I continue to pray that God will use this project as a "fleece" in my life. I love music, I love making albums, but I can't continue to live this way if this doesn't in some way become my job. It's just tough to work on music passionately if you don't have the time and resources to make it happen. I'm doing it right now, but not without a fair amount of inbalance. Nevertheless, I hope to get "rebalanced" as soon as the work of the project is completed...maybe in less than a month.

I've always been incredibly passionate about music, but there comes a crossroads where you have to decide if God's blessing is really behind what you are doing. If I don't have God's blessing in pursuing music fulltime, I don't want to do it. It's not worth the struggle. If the Lord is behind it, the , sweat, and tears are indeed worth it because you know you're working towards something eternal.

My dream is not to be a rock star. I really want to impact people for Christ through my music. I've wanted to do it since eigth grade. The question is, "how can the music make an impact if it doesn't find its way into the hands of the people who need to hear it?" There just comes a place when you don't have the strength to knock on the door any longer...the answer to my continued pursuit may lie in the response which does or doesn't come from this project.

Regardless, the most valuable thing I have is my relationship with Christ. Really, this album is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I do pray that it makes a difference, but more importantly...I know that God is looking to make me more like His Son. After everthing, this is what really matters. Do I resemble Jesus any more than I did two years ago, and have I pointed others to Christ...if so, the album has been a success.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Mastering Moved to October 2nd
Well, we've moved the mastering date back again. Basically, Dave and I are trying to balance our "day jobs" with our "music jobs"...and it turned out that our original date, Sept 23rd, conflicted with some work opportunities. Fortunately, we were able to book another day only a week and a half later than our previous date.

Things are still moving along. Dave is currently mixing "Hurricane" (#8 of 10 1/2 songs) and I'm working on getting the last 2 1/2 songs to him for mixing. We'd definitely appreciate your prayers as this is a crazy time for both of us. Regardless, God is in control and I see every day how He is leading and guiding.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Musician Spotlight: Tom Tussing
In addition to a number of Nashville studio players, a couple Columbus musicians contributed to the sound of "Backstage Pass." One of those is guitarist Tom Tussing, who did much of the guitar work on my previous album "Dishes." Tom is both an incredibly gifted guitar player and guitar teacher. He keeps busy these days with 90+ students per week!

Tom was quite a trooper during the making of "Dishes." It was a long process, and we ended up recording a good 2-3 versions of many of the songs. As an example, Tom recorded three different acoustic guitar solos (at three different times) for "Look Like You" before we decided that he had "nailed it."

Tom is particularly fond of Parker guitars as well as Mesa Boogie and Marshall amps. During the recording of "Dishes," I was still living with my parents and they were kind enough to endure many late nights of whaling guitar solos and screaming amps which echoed from my upstairs bedroom studio.

I've known Tom for a good 6 years, and have enjoyed working with him. Dave and I have many fond memories of recording and chilling with Tom. Dave used to work at a pro audio/music store, and I believe he first met Tom when Tom visited Dave's store as a costumer.

Tom has an amazing memory, and prefers to hear a song instead of seeing it on a page. I used to give him cassettes of songs, which he would listen to and memorize on the way over to my house...just shortly before a recording session.

Tom draws many of his influences from 70's rock players, and prefers good old-fashioned analog recording over today's more common digital recording standard.

Saturday, September 04, 2004
Another Song Out The Door...
Today, I finally handed "Hurricane" off to Dave for mixing. This is a big hurdle as this is the last of the "bigger" songs, with live strings, lots of background vocals, piano, etc. "Hurricane" ended up having 84 audio tracks...23 for live drums, programmed drums, percussion...17 tracks for bass, guitars, and piano...9 tracks of synthesizers and effects...10 tracks of live strings...and 25 tracks of vocals (that includes a lead vocal, a double vocal, 20 background vocals, as well as 3 tracks of vocal FX). Anyway, this sort of gives you an idea of how 84 tracks can be filled. Dave will be pretty busy with this one!

After this, I have two other songs which I need to pass off to Dave..."Ladder" and "Supposed to Be." My goal is to have these finished in time that we have a whole week before Sept 23 (mastering in Nashville) to simply make final mix corrections. This means I basically have about a week and a half to wrap up these last two tunes. Pedal to the metal!! =)
Friday, September 03, 2004

Notes for Next Time Around (Part 2)

Just thought I'd wirte a quick entry while I wait for my hard drive to defragement...all part of regular maintenance. For those of you who aren't the computer type, defragmenting essentially reorganizes all the files on your hard drive so that they are grouped in such a way that the computer can find and access the files quicker. When you create a "document" in any application (in my case, a session in Pro Tools), a number of smaller files are also created, and these are all neccessary for the main file (a document, or my case, a sesion) to function. Over time, these smaller files end up all over the hard drive and the computer hard drive's "needle" has to jump all over the "spindle" to find the files it needs at any given time. Eventually, with audio, a session won't play back (if you have a lot of tracks) if your hard drive is not regularly degragmented. Fun stuff, huh?? =)

Anyway, speaking of files...file management is a huge part of working on any computer system, especially when it comes to complex graphic, video, or audio files. It's pretty important to name all your files in a such a way that you can recognize them later...if for example, you "lose" a file and need to relocate it. Overall, I think I've kept the computer realitively organized during the production of "Backstage Pass"...but looking back, I think I could have had done better by laying out a precise system ahead of time, instead of trying to define it as I went. This may get totally boring...but here's sort of how I've tried to keep things organized.

Of course, every song gets its own folder. Within each folder is a number of sessions, and also an "audio file" folder and a "fades" folder. These sessions can't function without the appropriate audio files and fade files (crossfade files). It's important to keep all this stuff organized and up-to-date. It's also good to delete the files you don't need so you don't eat up unneccessary hard drive space...I suppose that's a given.

In addition to the song folders, there are specific folders for the strings, guitar overdubs, percussion overdubs, and vocals. For most songs, I end up with 60-90 tracks which generally take up 2-3 gigs of space (with 24bit/48kHz audio). These are the final edited audio files which I pass along to Dave for mixing. Right now, I've have about 100 gigs of "raw material" sitting on my computer.

I try to regularly back all this stuff up and I keep hard drives in three locations (addresses) in case anything severe happens (fire, burglary, etc.) I use the philosophy of "don't put the president and vice president on the same plane." Again, I suppose this is all common sense.

Some of the files which we recieved back from Dark Horse (from Oct 17) weren't labeled in the best way. For example, we had multiple "takes" for each song, but many of the audio files from take to take had the same names...instead of being labeled "take 1, take 2, etc." I think I will be much more careful next time around in making sure everything gets named logically.

We did have a little problem with "headphone bleed" at Dark Horse. Basically, the B3 organ leslie cabinet (which makes the sound) was miked in the same room as the grand piano. Rich obviously never played the piano and organ at the same time. He would instead leave the piano room and move into the main studio room to play the organ (the actual keyboard of the B3 was in the main room). Anyway, when Rich moved to organ, he took off the headphones which he had been using in the piano room and laid them on the piano bench. Since we were using a click track, the headphones continued to produce a "click" even while Rich was in the other room playing the organ. To make a long story short, the microphones which were recording the B3 leslie cabinet (which was located in the piano room) picked up the loud click which was coming from the open headphones which were sitting on the piano bench.

When we got the audio files back from Dark Horse, we realized that there were pretty loud "clicks" during quieter parts of the organ recording (because the mics were picking up Rich's headphones laying on the piano bench). The B3 leslie is generally very loud, so the click could only be heard when the organ was playing softly. Thanks to editing, I was able to get rid of the majority of these clicks, and thanks to mixing, the organ volume can be automated in a such way that no one will ever hear the clicks which I couldn't get rid of. Anyway, all this could have been avoided if the volume of Rich's headphones had simply been turned down. Lessons for next time around. =)
Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Obvious Hand of God
It's incredible to see how God has both provided and protected through this whole process. I'm sure other memories will come to me in the future, but here are several situations which have helped me to remember that God is in control.

First, I really believe God had a plan in bringing Rich, Dave, and well as the whole band and "crew" together. I don't know that we'd have been able to pull off a one day, 10-song recording session any other way. As an example, our previous drummer cancelled on us about a month before the session at Dark Horse (Oct 17), and a week later, Dave was able to book Steve Brewster, who totally turned out to be the man for the job. He, along with Mark Baldwin, Jerry McPherson, and Craig Nelson, are some of the best sight readers in Nashville...and in my opinion, the combination of these guys (along with Rich) fit perfectly the sound I was going for.

It's crazy to think about the angels which God has provided to protect us. I often just take this reality for granted. Nevertheless, there have been times when I've been blantantly reminded of God's "security system."

A month before we went to Nashville (around Sept of 03), a burgler broke into my apartment and suprisingly, took nothing with him when he left. This could have meant the loss of the entire album as most of my work was still on one computer, which I kept in my basement. I actually arrived home (I think) not long after the theif had broken in, and I believe the sound of someone home may have scared him away. He actually climbed up the wall and out the small 1X2' basement window! God not only protected me, He also perserved all the recording gear and information which I desparately needed for our first session at Dark Horse on Oct 17.

On the trip down to Nashville in October, we could have easily had an . The driver of our van went to change lanes once without noticing another vehicle in the van's rear right blind spot. Fortunately, our driver saw the truck next to us in the nick of time and was able to quickly swerve back into our current lane. God keeps His angels busy!

After returning to Nashville, a hard drive was mailed to us which contained all the audio files which we had captured at Dark Horse on Oct 17. It arrived safely, however, we soon discovered that the project had for some reason not yet been backed up at Dark Horse (they usually store all the backup data on what are called Exebyte tapes). If the hard drive had been damaged in the mail or if the information had been deleted off of the Dark Horse radar system, we may have lost $6000 worth of work!! (Radar is the system we used to record with on Oct 17; information is usually quickly removed from the system and backed up so other musicians can use the system)

It's also been amazing to watch God provide for my financial needs, as well as the financial needs of the project. Several months ago, I lost my 3.5 year job (due to financial layoffs), yet the Lord has continued to provide for me through freelance positions. This has not only allowed me to make the day to day ends meet, it's provided for me the time flexibility neccessarily to wrap up a mammoth undertaking. Just as the Israelites collected manna every morning, I've seen God's gracious provision fall consistently, day by day.
September 2004 Newsletter


Well, things are moving along quickly! Dave has close-to-final mixes for seven of the eleven tunes. We will be finishing up the remaining songs over the next several weeks. Lord willing, on September 23rd, we’ll be in Nashville having the album mastered at Mayfield Mastering. We now hope to have the finished CDs in hand by the middle or end of October. We will be having a CD release party (possibly in October) and I will keep you posted on when and where that will be.


More than a finished CD, this whole process has been an incredible and challenging life experience. God has used this project (among other things) to teach me a number of lessons throughout the past two years.

Since the first issue of this newsletter (June 2003), I’ve received tons of encouraging emails and comments…and honestly, some days, those words have been just what I’ve needed to persevere through what at times, has seemed like an unscaleable mountain. Your prayers and financial support have made a huge difference, and I pray that you will see the fruits of your investments not only in the presentation of this project, but more importantly, in the lives we’ve all been praying it will reach. As Psalms 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” It is only through His blessing and His empowering that this project will truly be an eternal “success.”

I continue to covet your prayers. Above all, please pray that I will have a pure heart through this adventure. Pray that I will stay grounded and accountable. If I lose sight of Christ and my need for Him, I might as well as throw in the towel, as I would be (as Solomon wrote) chasing the wind.

Also, please pray for this distribution of this project…pray that God will put it into the hands of the people who will be most challenged by its message.

Sunday, October 31, 2004
It's Almost Time
The copies of "Backstage Pass" should be shipping from the Oasis factory either Monday or Tuesday of this week. Hard to believe they're almost here! Thanks to everyone who has helped out by pre-ordering the new album. The "free deal" is unfortunately over in about 15 minutes. =( Regardless, the album can still be pre-ordered...just no free poster or "Dishes" CD. Click here for details:

The CD release party is on Sunday, November 7th from 2-4 pm at Grace Brethren Church in Powell, OH. For directions, click here: Enjoy free charactures by artist Phil Gegner from 12:30 to 1:30. Get to the party by 2:00 and enjoy free food, cotton candy, live music (we're doing an unplugged set of about six tunes...with a bigger concert to follow in the near future), some thoughts from some of the key players in the production of the album, as well as a "flashback to 1989" powerpoint presentation. There will also be some great deals on product..."Backstage Pass" CDs for $12.00, "Backstage Pass" posters for $2.00 (regularly $3.00), "Dishes" CDs only $5.00 (a $12.00 value) with the purchase of "Backstage Pass." Stop in and pick up your CDs if you pre-ordered...or stop by and simply buy the new CD. If you pre-ordered "Backstage Pass" and you are out of town, your CD(s) will be mailed to you as soon as I have them. If you are in town, your CDs will be mailed to you on November 8th if you can't make it to the party on November 7th.

Please RSVP for the party by emailing me at: You don't have to RSVP, but it will us in planning. Thanks. =) Hope to see you there!!

# posted by Marc Andre @ 11:33 PM  
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A photo of the piano used on the new album. Darkhorse Recording in "The Lodge". Oct 17th, 2003. 
# posted by Marc Andre @ 5:10 PM  
A New Planning Stage
Have been keeping pretty busy recently. I talked to my production manager at Oasis duplication, and he said the CDs are scheduled to go into final production at the "factory" this Friday. They received the PMCD (pre-master CD) on Oct 20th and received the artwork proof (from the graphics department) on Oct 21st. Now, it's time to simply print the booklets, duplicate the CDs, shrinkwrap the finished pieces, and mail them to Columbus. The CDs should go out the beginning of next week with 2 day UPS ground. That means we should see copies of the new album before the end of next week.

In the meantime, I've been updating the web site, planning for the CD release party (more info later), creating advertising pieces (business card ads, posters, etc.), preparing several set lists which will be used at concerts (song order with transitions), practicing piano and vocals, writing newsletters and updating email lists, planning for concert possiblities...a lot of stuff, I suppose. I've also been trying to work more (at my day job) to keep everything afloat while I wait for the CDs to arrive. After the CDs get here, I will definitely still be working, but will have the extra income of CD sales which will help tremendously. Yeah, I've put a lot into this project...but as they say, you can't make money if you don't first spend it. Of course, my main objective is not to make money on this album. It will be quite a while before I turn any sort of profit. First, I will be to pay some remaining expenses associated with the production of the album. When you buy a $12.00 "Backstage Pass" CD, it will be worth every penny if not more...unlike some huge duplication jobs which leave CDs being only "worth" a dollar or two (not to include all the time and sweat someone has invested to birth that CD). I really see this as a long term investment.

The CD release party is scheduled for Sunday, November 7th at Powell Grace Brethren Church in Powell, OH from 2-4pm. Snacks and beverages will be served.

We will be doing a “mini-concert” starting at 2:30. A bigger “kick-off” concert will follow in the near future. Stay tuned for details.

For directions to Powell Grace Brethren Church, click here:

# posted by Marc Andre @ 4:43 PM  
Saturday, October 23, 2004

"And now we wait"...this picture was originally going to be used in the "Backstage Pass" CD booklet. However, we ended up going with a different look. The new album sports a 12-page full color stapled booklet, designed and photographed by Jeremy Slagle (

# posted by Marc Andre @ 1:00 AM  
Friday, October 22, 2004
5-7 Business Days Away
Looks like the CDs will be here in Columbus in 5 to 7 business days. I am intially ordering 1000 CDs. The estimated bill I recieved from Oasis Duplication (around $2800 for the whole printing and duplication process) reflects a potential overrun of 50 CDs...or a possible underrun of 50 CDs. Basically, the final bill may change according to how many CDs the duplication plant outputs. I could recieve anywhere from 950 to 1050 CDs, and will be billed accordingly. There is always a potential of an overrun or underrun...that's just generally the understanding when you are doing any sort of duplication, whatever the media (books, DVDs, CD, etc.).

Oasis will ship the CDs to me in boxes of 120, each of which will contain 4 smaller boxes of 30 CDs. So...I will receive approximately 9 to 10 large boxes of 120 CDs (through UPS ground). Shipping those many CDs overnight would be mighty expensive. =)

I just recently received the final bill for mastering. We had to make a number of small changes after our trip to Mayfield Mastering on October 2nd. In the end, I received three different reference CDs in the mail, each shipped FedEx overnight. All of these things (not to mention additional hourly charges for last minute changes) really added up. There is always an element of suprise in any creative endeavor. =) In the end, I'm incredibly happy with the work John Mayfield did.

I've been beginning to plan the CD release party. It still looks like it will happen on November 7th in Powell, OH (tentatively 1-3pm). This intial release party will be a smaller event, and will be followed by a bigger "kick-off" concert at a later time. Stay tuned for more details.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 11:39 PM  
Thursday, October 21, 2004

Mark Baldwin contributed a number of guitar riffs and tones on the new project. Taken Oct 17, 2003 at Darkhorse Recording. We later recorded additional guitar overdubs with Mark in December of 2003.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 8:51 AM  
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Oasis Receives PMCD
This morning, I received a call from Tom, my production manager at Oasis CD Duplication, who wanted to let me know that they had received the PMCD (pre-master CD from John Mayfield), and they were beginning final production on the album printing and duplication. Only about two weeks left until we see the finished CDs here in Columbus.

In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of miscellaneous work. Today, I was preparing all the shipping labels for the pre-orders. The pre-order CDs will be mailed out immediately after I receive the duplicated copies of the album. I've also been doing some planning in regards to concerts and distribution possibilities. 'Backstage Pass" will soon be available on,, as well as a number of other online stores. I am also working on some options of getting the album onto some music download stores (iTunes, Rhapsody, etc.) I am also planning to get the album into some Columbus music stores. In addition, I will be submitting several songs to a number of radio stations across the country. The work is really never done. =)

# posted by Marc Andre @ 8:46 PM  
Master Shipped Out
John Mayfield (mastering engineer) shipped the PMCD (pre-master CD) to Oasis Duplication yesterday. They should receive it tomorrow (Thursday). That's the final step on our end. We should still see the finished CDs here in Columbus the very beginning of November. Finally. =) The CD release party is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 7th. More details to come.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 11:01 AM  
Monday, October 18, 2004

It's been just over a year since our first recording session at Dark Horse recording in Nashville. Many of the live instruments you hear on the new album were recorded on October 17th, 2003. Photo taken 10.17.03.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 7:45 PM  
A Rainy Monday Update
Well, it's been a little while since I've updated the here's a summary of what's a happening.

I recieved the 3rd reference CD from John Mayfield this past Friday, and have been listening to it over the weekend. The new album will be CD-text encoded, which means the song titles, my name, and my web site should show up on CD players which support CD text. I stopped in to Best Buy this weekend and tested the reference CD on a number of players to make sure the "text" is working right. Also, had to pick up a new CD player as my TWO discmans just recently died...maybe from old age. =( It's hard to listen to reference CDs without a player. Another tax write-off, I suppose. =) I am currently set up as a small business under "10x12 Productions" which allows me to record all the album-related expenses as business expenditures. Many of you probably already know this, but it really pays to keep track of every little purchase you make, every mile you drive, etc...if do some sort of independent "work," it really pays to get set up as a business. Mr. tax man may be much more friendly come April. =) If you are a looking for a "tax man" and would like to know who I work with, email me at:

Anyway, turns out that there are two small corrections which still need to be made on the master...and hopefully, John Mayfield can take care of these soon and get the PMCD (pre-master CD) to Oasis Duplication in the next couple days. As soon as Oasis recieves the pre-master, I should have a better idea of when the CDs will be here. It's still looking like they will land in Columbus the first week of November.

The money is a bit tight now, and I am still working to raise about $1500 which will go towards the remainder of the duplication costs. Any CD pre-orders are appreciated as your advance purchase goes toward funding the last costs of production. If you would like more details about pre-ordering the new "Backstage Pass" CD, go to:

# posted by Marc Andre @ 11:02 AM  
Thursday, October 14, 2004

The new  
# posted by Marc Andre @ 9:41 PM  
Audio Samples Now Available!!
Download audio clips from the new album at:

Pre-order "Backstage Pass" before October 31st, 2004 and receive either a FREE 11x17 "Backstage Pass" poster (a $3.00 value) or a FREE copy of "Dishes" (2001), the CD. For more details, click here:

Click here to look at the poster:

The new is here.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 5:02 PM  

The CD cover of "Backstage Stage." The album should be available the first week of November.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 5:01 PM  
John Mayfield is finishing up the last of the mastering changes today. I should receive a new reference CD any day now. After I approve the changes, the PMCD (pre-master CD) will be sent to Oasis Duplication. Hopefully, this will happen by the beginning of next week. The printing of the CD booklets began this past Monday.

I received the "Backstage Pass" 11x17 posters today.
To view the poster, click here:

The CD release party is tentatively scheduled for the 1st or 2nd week in November.

Today, I'm creating mp3 demos of the songs from "Backstage Pass" and am also working to post the new web site. I hope to have all this stuff up and running in the next day or so.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 10:15 AM  
Monday, October 11, 2004
And When Will The CDs Be Here?
Good question. John Mayfield is making the final mastering changes for "Backstage Pass" this Thursday 10/14 and I should have a reference CD the day after. Oasis Duplication already has the artwork and is simply waiting to receive the audio master, which John Mayfield will send out just as soon as I approve the new reference CD which I should receive this Friday. With all this being said, hopefully we'll still see the duplicated CDs by the end of October.

The new website as well as audio clips from "Backstage Pass" should be up by Monday 10/18. Stay tuned. =)

# posted by Marc Andre @ 2:43 PM  
Saturday, October 09, 2004

Pianist and string arranger Rich Barrett joined us at the Oct 2nd mastering session at Mayfield Mastering in Nashville, TN. How about a smile, Rich? =) 
# posted by Marc Andre @ 5:30 PM  
What's The Next Step?
Well, two and a half years have passed and "Backstage Pass" is almost finished. So, what's the next step? I suppose for one, I'm trying to spend more time relaxing. It feels like I've been through a whirlwind the last couple years, and I honestly want to just step back and ask God what He has for me next. I've tried a lot of things, and here I am again, focusing on what I love - music. I went to college for communications, worked five years in television, did a 2 year youth/music internship at my church, and eventually found myself working freelance jobs to support what I enjoy the most.

Despite the waiting (and relaxing), there are things which I can be doing in the meantime. For one, I'm spending a fair amount of time working to pay for the second half of the duplication costs. I still need about $1500 to $2000 to wrap everything up, but I believe God will provide somehow. He has already met so many needs along the way.

In addition to earning money, I am beginning to focus on the "live performance" side of this adventure. I'm currently considering the possibility of purchasing a multitrack hard disc unit, which I would use in a live setting to play back some of the intricate synth and string parts from the album...basically, a live band would play along with some of the recorded sounds. I wish I had a 20-piece band, but for the time being, I think I will have to combine a smaller live band with some recorded tracks. There are a lot of bands which do this sort of thing these days. Dave will be outputting tracks for me for both "Dishes" and "Backstage Pass." Essentially, all the main instruments will be synths mixed down to 2 tracks, strings mixes down to two tracks, etc. There will also be an included click track for each song. This click track will be fed to the drummer's headphones during a live performance, so that he and the rest of the band has a tempo reference when playing along with the recorded tracks. I should have a much longer set with songs from the two albums. I am currently praying and thinking about putting together a band.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 4:36 PM  
Friday, October 08, 2004

Mayfield Mastering Oct 2nd, 2004. Dave plays the audio mixes from his Mac G5 directly into John Mayfield's mastering system. 
# posted by Marc Andre @ 12:45 PM  
The Mastering Trip (Part 2)
This morning, I emailed the final mastering changes to John Mayfield. And now we wait...

Anyway, a little more about the mastering trip...this stuff gets pretty technical, so read what you'd like. =)

It's amazing what mastering can do for a project. It was great to have Dave's computer at the mastering studio as we were able to make last minute mix changes on the fly. Overall, John had us raise the level of the snare drum on every song. The 2 and 4 hits are pretty important in rock, and our snare levels were just slightly lower than the "standard." The louder snare drum at times buried the lead vocal a bit, which left us also readjusting the volume of the vocal in places. We also made a few distortion guitar level adjustments in places. There were a couple moments when I felt the sound needed to be a touch bigger, and the additional distortion guitar level seemed to help.

John did a ton of stuff, but I'll try my best to highlight some of the most crucial adjustments.

Equalization adjustments (bass, treble, midrange, etc.) were made to each song. The goal was to get the "highs, mids, and lows" to match in level from song to song. Overall, John rolled off (decreased) some of the really low stuff which actually ends up "muddying" the overall sound of the mix. I'm talking about frequencies which fall way below your typical bass guitar or "rap boom"...more in the 20-30 Hz range. I think John also "brightened up" (added more high end) to most of the mixes.

In mastering, multiband compression is added to the mix of each song. Essentially, compression "smooths" out the overall dynamics (or volume) of a recording. Multiband compression involves multiple compressors (generally contained in one unit) which are applied to various frequencies of the recording. As an example, John added a lot of compression to the low end of the songs. This compression helped to not only "smooth out" the low end, but also aided in giving the kick and bass guitar more "punch." Other variations of compression were added to some of the high frequencies as well. Basically, the compression helps to keep any one frequency from "jumping out."

Limiting was also applied to the overall mix of each song. A limiter is a bit like a compressor except that it does less dynamic "smoothing" and instead creates more of a "brick wall" which doesn't allow the volume of a recording to exceed a certain volume level (so your volume meters tend to stay at a more consitent level). Anyway, one of the goals in limiting is to get the overall volume of the CD up the levels of other CDs which are currently on the market. Before we started working on mastering "Backstage Pass," we did some A/B comparisons with several other albums which are close in genre.

This process entails the placement of songs in the appropriate order, as well as the creation of spaces or crossfades between songs. Songs which were similar in style and emotion were placed closer together, while additional spacing was added between songs which were a bit different in nature. Spacing isn't neccessarily based upon actual beats (in other words, the next song doesn't need to start on a "beat" of the previous song). Usually, at least in our case, the spacing was totally determined by "feel." Most of the songs had spaces between them, although there were two songs which transitioned directly into each other with a musical transition.

John also added CD text to the new album, for those CD players which support CD text. Basically, the name of the CD, the song, and the artist will scroll on CD text enabled CD players.

Stay tuned for more details from the October 2nd mastering trip.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 11:45 AM  
Thursday, October 07, 2004

John Mayfield at Mayfield Mastering (Nashville, TN) working on the new "Backstage Pass" album. October 2nd, 2004. 
# posted by Marc Andre @ 9:48 PM  
Some Final Corrections
Tonight, I've been making notes of any final mastering changes. There are still a few tiny corrections which need to be made...some spacing between songs, a volume level change or two, a few tiny clicks and pops which need to be removed, etc. I'll be sending these changes to John Mayfield tomorrow. Hopefully, John will be mailing the master CD to Oasis duplication by the first part of next week.

Yesterday, I mailed the approved artwork proofs back to Oasis Duplication (which I received from them this past weekend). This means that they are only waiting on one thing...the master CD. They'll begin the duplication process just as soon as they receive the final master CD from John (actually called a PMCD - a pre-master CD. This CD will be used to make a glass master (the actual "master"), which will be used to stamp the duplicated CDs).

After the PMCD is mailed to Oasis, I will simply be waiting for the new CD copies to arrive here in Columbus. In the meantime, there is a good bit of other work to be done. I need to begin planning the CD release party. All the songs from the new CD need to be converted to mp3 snippets which will used on the new web site (for sample downloads). The new website will go online just as soon as the new CDs arrive. I will also be working on options for distribution and marketing.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 9:24 PM  

Dave at his Mac G5 (running Nuendo), transferring mixes into John Mayfield's mastering system. To the right is a laptop which he was using to check email and read the latest audio forums. October 2nd, 2004.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 6:55 PM  
The Mastering Trip (Part 1)
Despite a few small hiccups, mastering at Mayfield Mastering (Sat, Oct 2) went incredibly well. We arrived around 8:45 am, but spend a good hour and a half setting up Dave's computer. We were attempting to put Dave's CPU (the "body" of the computer, if you will) in John's "machine room," but for some reason, we couldn't get Dave's monitor to work with an extension cable of that length. To make a long story short, Dave set up his entire computer in the "main" room. Fortunately, his new Mac G5 was quiet enough as to not interfere with the mastering process. Loud computer fans are generally a no no in the mastering room.

Instead of giving John Mayfield a data CD to import mix audio files from, we played each song live out of Dave's computer and straight into John's computer. This gave us the option of making last minute mix corrections "on the fly" if neccessary. However, the situation was complicated as Dave's computer decided to crash a number of times throughout the day (something which had never happened before with such frequency). Fortunately, after a number of reboots, we were able to load everything into John's machine. The problem wasn't neccessary with the Mac G5. The problem seemed to be associated with one of Dave's PCI (internal) effect cards.

We really had to monitor the playback of Dave's computer as each song was played back into John's mastering system. Even though we had heard the mixes before, we wanted to make sure that the computer was actually playing back things back correctly. We had a few glitches, but were able to fix most of the problems by simply starting the playback of the song again at the top. Funny things can happen when you're running a slew of tracks and effects (some songs contained over 100 audio tracks).

Stay tuned for more details from the October 2nd mastering trip.

# posted by Marc Andre @ 6:30 PM  
Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Mayfield Mastering (Nashville, TN). Saturday, Oct 2nd. From the left: John Mayfield, Dave Bechtel, Marc Andre. 
# posted by Marc Andre @ 10:50 PM  
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Home Sweet Home
Praise the Lord for an awesome weekend! Mastering went incredibly well, and I am so pumped about how this project sounds. There are still a few small corrections which need to be made, which John Mayfield (mastering engineer) will probably take care of in the next couple days. He gave me a reference CD which I've been "proofing" over the last couple days.

I also received artwork proofs this weekend from Oasis Duplication. I will be "signing off" on the artwork in the next day or so. Hopefully, Oasis will also be receiving the PMCD (Pre-master CD from our mastering engineer) by the end of this week or the beginning of next. After that, we will simply be waiting for the finished CDs to arrive in Columbus!

I should have some pictures posted of our mastering trip in the next couple days. Also, stay tuned for some interesting details from the trip.


"It is hard to live like a prince if you think you are only a peasant."
posted by Marc Andre @ 7:45 PM
Websites, Newspapers, and Television Ads
Have been updating the website ( Check out the new expanded "bio" and "news" sections. Also, click on "buy CD" to see the new store look. I'm learning lots of interesting stuff about Dreamweaver. =)

Today, I'm shipping a couple CDs out to some local newspapers which may be doing some reviews on "Backstage Pass." Also, working on the possibility of airing a television ad on SkyAngel televsion. Stay tuned for details. Please pray for God's will in these opportunities.

Now that the project is finished, I've really been trying to focus a lot on practicing piano. I have a couple keyboardists which play for me during shows, but I also need to be ready to play all the songs (from both CDs) from memory if I'm the keyboardist for the night. =) I took music theory back at Liberty University in 95-96, and I tell you, that stuff pays off. It may be boring at the time, but it makes a huge difference in song writing and performance. Keys are key.

Thank you to all of you who have been praying. I can feel the coverage. =)
posted by Marc Andre @ 1:28 PM

A cool picture depicting the children of Israel and the gathering of manna. 
posted by Marc Andre @ 8:09 PM
When The Manna Ceases
Wow, this has been a pretty encouraging day. I really feel like God has given me some new leads and insights. Had lunch with my good friend Dave Bechtel today, and among other things, we discussed some marketing ideas. I'm looking at some options of possibly getting some reviews in some local papers, and I'm also considering putting a short ad on a local televsion station which actually broadcasts nationally. I've been told that there are indeed some people out there actually "making it" doing the independent music thing. Dave told me he knew a guy who was doing just that and was making about $80,000 a year! So, I suppose it's possible to do music fulltime and not be the "starving artist"...that is, with a lot of work. (Believe me, I sure don't need that type of money...just enough to eat and pay rent. =) )

I had a good friend tell me he thought I may be losing perspective of my original intentions in regards to this album and its promotion...and I think he's right. I haven't been focusing so much on being popular or making a lot of money, but I have been worrying a lot about whether God will continue to meet my basis needs...and I think this fear has overshadowed the ministry aspect of this album. I want its words and messages to draw people to Christ, and I honestly have been looking at the waves instead of Jesus. The Lord promises to provide for us, and I shouldn't doubt that He will continue to provide for me, regardless of forboding circumstances. I need to just keep moving ahead, and trust that God is going to take me where He wants me to go, while meeting my needs along the way.

I thought this was an interesting verse: Joshua 5:12 - "And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." God may provide for us in various ways through different stages of our lives, but He will always provide for us. He wants our attention to be on Him and not on our need.
posted by Marc Andre @ 5:52 PM
Discerning God’s Will
I wrestle sometimes with how open and honest I should be in this blog. I don’t know who, or if anyone, is indeed reading these entries. If anything, it is a good exercise of writing, and it gives me the opportunity to get some things off my chest in a productive manner.

If you are reading this, you may have stumbled across these writings by chance…maybe I gave you a little business card which pointed you to this site…maybe you simply enjoyed the music and wanted to read a little more about what went into it. Either way, I pray that this blog is an encouragement to you, and I hope that you can in some way relate to some of the struggle contained here within…

I have to be honest. This is a challenging time for me. I am pumped about having finished the album, but I am also terribly fearful at times. It seems like much of my “day work” has dried up, and I’ve been left with a decision as to whether I should really pursue this music thing or put it on hold…or even quit altogether. I do think I am in a different place than when I finished “Dishes” (2001). I had really high hopes for that project, and from a business/marketing position, it totally bombed. I even started giving away CDs because I thought the project sucked so bad. Turns out now I have people telling me that they still listen to that CD, and are encouraged by it. Anyway, I think I am trying to be a little more balanced in my thinking this time around. You never know how something is reaching people. I often make a judgment call based on CD sales, whether people are responding to my emails, coming to my shows, etc.

Ultimately, I really want “Backstage Pass” to make an eternal impact on people’s lives. I am just scared that I’m going to have to throw in the towel in some respect based on the financial losses which may be associated with the project, and my small business. Without money, I can’t afford to put in the time to make this thing happen. I don’t have the time to work a full time job and promote this album. It’s next to impossible. Now, I don’t even have much part time work. This is the crossroads I’ve been at for a long time…and the naysayers don’t help.

I’ve been told people can do this independently and survive. I just need wisdom to know which path I’m supposed to take. My goal has never been to make a lot of money…I just want to be able to make music and not have to worry about whether or not I can eat and pay rent. God says that He will meet our basic needs…but what if we are outside of His will? God opened so many doors, and allowed this project to happen…but how do I know He didn’t allow all this just to let me fail from here on out? I suppose I’m not the one to decide what failure or success is…but having boxes of CDs in my basement which won’t sell seems a lot like failure to me.

The reality is, I don’t even know if this album is going to sell. It’s been out three weeks, and I’m still trying to lay the ground work to even do shows, or promote the album to record companies or radio stations. It’s sort of a waiting game at this point. I need to get promo packs together, and it looks I won’t have those until next week. In the meantime, I am just feeling very discouraged at times. I love the album, and it seems like a lot of other people do too (check out some of the comments I plan to post on Dec 1)…but am past my ability level in some ways. I am not a business man. I make music, and I lack the tenacity which some people have to keep promoting, to ultimately be pushy. I want my music to get out there, but I don’t want to be arrogant in the way I tell people about it. I really need someone who will take me under their wing…someone who is willing to take a chance with me…and take care of the stuff (promotion, marketing, etc.) which I am not terribly gifted in.

If you happen to be reading this blog, I would ask for your prayers. There are so many conflicting voices in my head and I really want to do the right thing. I will gladly take on the unknown if I know God is for me, and not against me. I do need strength and perseverance, and I need wisdom to know how to distinguish His voice in this choir of confliction. What would the wise Godly man do? Go get a regular job and "settle down" like the rest of the world, or keep adventuring through the unknown?
posted by Marc Andre @ 7:33 PM
In a Holding Pattern
As of right now, I am doing a bit of waiting. Just mailed out some forms to ASCAP last week, and am working through some stuff to get "Backstage Pass" registered with BMI. Many radio stations won't play your music unless you're registered with one or both of these organizations.

To learn a little more about ASCAP, click here:
To learn a bit about BMI, click here:

I also recently registered 'Backstage Pass" at the Library of Congress. This is basically where you go if you want stuff copyrighted. Click here to learn more:
Last week, I sent out CDs both to and also Soon, both of these places will be carrying "Backstage Pass." Currently, you can purchase CDs through

The album should also soon be available at (if you simply want to purchase the album as mp3 files).

Next week, I'm meeting with my graphic designer to discuss ideas for the promo back. We may be using some silk screening to create an interesting design for the front of the promo pack. This past week, I was also out buying CDRs, jewel cases, and printable CD labels which I use to create "promo CDs" for radio stations (and other interested parties). The CDs will probably contain 3-4 songs from the album. This will save's better than sending out $12 albums...and it saves time for those who listen. As an example, radio stations will only have to listen to the songs which we are promoting for radio. If they are interested, they can request a full length CD.

I'm reminded how expensive all this promotional and shipping stuff can be. I've accumulated quite a supply of labels, business cards, bubble wrap, boxes, shipping envelopes, posters, CDRs and cases, etc. I do have some friends who are going to be helping me out with some stuff...and it will be good once CDs are being sold through That will save me from having to ship all the CDs myself. =)

posted by Marc Andre @ 1:53 PM
Email us at: and tell us which two "Backstage Pass" songs you would like to hear on the radio. For a track list and audio samples, click here. We will begin posting listener comments at starting Dec 1st.
posted by Marc Andre @ 1:14 PM

From the "Backstage Pass" .
posted by Marc Andre @ 2:03 PM
Round 'Em Up and Ship 'Em Out
Life has keep me on my toes the last couple days. Regardless, it hasn't been hard work...just lots of little details which have needed attention. Shipped out a number of CDs yesterday to some various folks in the music industry. I'm also working with designer Jeremy Slagle on some promo pack ideas. Generally, a promo pack contains a photo, bio, sometimes a reference letter (or reviews), and contact info. It's important to have a promo pack ready to send out to interested venues (churches, youth groups, etc.), radio stations, labels, etc. The goal is to keep the promo pack cost-effective, yet interesting.

A friend of mine has volunteered to help with concert booking. I've done a few small things recently...a small concert at my uncle's church in Bristol, TN and also a small concert this past weekend at a youth retreat put on by my home church Powell Grace Brethren church. I hope to start doing more concerts in the coming weeks. I've been busy practicing my set-lists (song order and transitions)...I'm trying to create a few variations which can be used depending on the venue and band arrangement (how many players I will have involved). However, I'm sort of taking a break today vocally as I woke up with a sore throat and may have pulled something in my diaphram area...possibly from lifting some stuff on some freelance jobs last week. I am however working on some song charts today. Basically, I would like to put all the song charts from "DIshes" and "Backstage Pass" on a CD in PDF form. That way, I can just hand musicians (who might be out on a show with me) a CD with every chart they'll need. Should streamline things a bit. I will feel much more prepared to get out and do concerts after some of this prep work is completed.

CD sales have been going pretty well. Yesterday, I filled out some paperwork so that my CDs can be made available on and CDs should be available at within the next week or two. I may visit some local Columbus stores in the next day or two to inquire about getting some CDs on their shelfs. In the meantime, you can buy CDs at through PayPal. Just click on "Buy CD."

PS. Sorry...ran out of photos...but will hopefully get some at the next concert event.

posted by Marc Andre @ 1:59 PM

A photo taken this past July at Urban Hope, an inner city ministry in Philidelphia, PA. "Shaq" (the little boy) was attending "Kingdom Kids" the week that I and some other Columbus folks were in PA..
posted by Marc Andre @ 3:41 PM
The CD is Finished...Now What?
Good question. Well, it's been a while since I've written in let me bring you to speed on what's happening. Last sunday was the CD release party at Powell Grace Brethren Church. Things went really well...there weren't a ton of people there, but we had a good time, and it was a good practice experience for the band.

This week, I've been pretty busy working on some Enya-type music for an author friend of mine. Check out his website at: It's been fun working on this music, as I really haven't written anything since the completion of "Backstage Pass." It's also been a bit challenging musically as this is a genre I'm not terribly accustomed to working in. Had a terrble time trying to find some "monk" samples, but finally came across a couple of cool CD-Roms which had some of the sounds I was looking for. On top of this, I've been working two part time jobs...trying to make ends meet. A lot of money was spent on the party last week, and I've also had to spend a good amount of cash on shipping supplies, posters, and other advertising pieces. I'm hoping all this stuff will pay off. Mailed out the final payment to the mastering engineer this that was good to finally get over one of the last big financial hurdles of this project.

So what now? To tell you the truth, part of me just wants to rest. I've put so much into this project, and I just need some time to recoop, and to refocus on the Lord. I've been terrible at reading my Bible recently, and my prayer life needs a bit of work. It's just funny how weeks can so quickly get planned for you if you don't set limits for yourself. Even Jesus, when He was here on earth, made priority for some things and let other things slide. He was indeed human, and like us, He couldn't take every opportunity which crossed His path. I feel like I've been working like crazy just to find a moment of peace and quiet.

Tomorrow night, I'm headed to a high school youth retreat put on by my home church, Powell Grace Brethren Church. I will be performing some songs there...some tunes from "Backstage Pass" as well as songs from "Dishes." I'm also beginning to make plans for some local concerts. I've been told a record company won't even consider you for hire if you don't already have a local following. It is quite overwhelming to the look at the idea of "getting my music out there" nationally. There are a number of key locations right here in Columbus which I'd like to perform at over the next couple months. With this comes the need for promotion...and a band. Right now, I'm working on getting some key players together who will be willing to go out play shows regularly. It's tough to pay players unless people show up at your concerts and buy your CDs/tickets. A catch 22. I could definitely use prayer in this area. I am also trying to assemble a volunteer team which will assist me in concert and event planning and promotion. There's no way one person can do this all. I hope to have the first "real" concert come December.

There is also a lot of paper work to be done. Radio stations usually won't play your music unless you're registered with ASCAP/BMI. Hopefully, my songs will be registered soon. I am also working on getting my CDs on,,, and a number of other online stores. There are also some key local stores which I hope will carry my CDs under consignment.

It's sort of like constructing a building. Every piece depends on another. How can you hire a band if you don't have any money to pay them? Why would people come to your show if you were without a band? How do you make money without working? How do you plan concerts and have band practices if you're out working your day job 30-40 hours a week? Can volunteers be depended on? You want to pay people to assist you in planning, but you don't have money to pay you find yourself busy trying to find people who will commit and not drop out on you at the last minute. When people drop out on you, you find yourself again doing everything, and you have no time to work so that you can have that you can pay the band, the sound guy, and the promotional people. You need radio play (or at least it helps) to promote your stations sometimes won't even play you if you're independent (not under a record label)...unfortunately, a record label may not hire you if you don't have a local following, but you can't get a local following because the radio stations won't play your music. You wonder why there are so many starving artists. =) I just glad God is bigger than all the questions, the naysayers, and the politics. I am also glad that I am not defined as a person by the "success" of my music...I am loved by God and am valued regardless of whether "I make it big" or not. I do hope that it gets out there (even if it takes time)...but more importantly, through this project, I've been reminded even more of what is really important in life.

posted by Marc Andre @ 2:47 PM
Song Backgrounds
From now on...each Monday, check out the blog for a background behind one of the songs from "Backstage Pass."
posted by Marc Andre @ 10:42 AM
Thank You Volunteers!
Thanks to everyone who helped out with the CD release party yesterday at Powell Grace Brethren. What an awesome kick-off!!
posted by Marc Andre @ 10:38 AM
Lots of Preparation
Been busy lately. Yesterday, I mailed out all the pre-order CDs (that is, to people who live out of town, or people who I don't see frequently).

If you pre-ordered "Backstage Pass," click here for more info:
If you would like info on buying "Backstage Pass," click here:

Have been doing a lot of preparation for the CD release party which happens this Sunday (November 7th) at Powell Grace Brethren Church. There are a number of volunteers involved. If you can't make it to the party, stay tuned for some photos from the big day. Click here to read more details about the party:

Last night, we had a band practice for the release party (Dave Bechtel (drums), Shawn Wright (bass), Rich Barrett (piano), Todd Alex (guitar).) Went well...anxious to start playing out again. =)

Spent this morning putting up posters at several locations including some local schools.

Looking forward to a little bit of rest after the party on Sunday. It's been full throttle the couple days. =)
posted by Marc Andre @ 3:41 PM

"Backstage Pass" is here!!! 
posted by Marc Andre @ 7:15 PM
The CDs arrived today in Columbus! They turned out GREAT! To order a copy today, visit and click on "buy CD". Don't forget about the CD release party on Sunday, November 7th. For more details, read below.