Dead Ellington at Little Eden Studios

I’m writing this update after just getting home from a 3 day recording session with Pete Steinkopf of the Bouncing Souls. It has truly been a dream come true. At the age of about 15 or 16, I saw the Bouncing Souls play Avalon with The Dropkick Murphys. I had never heard of them and was blown away. The music was fast but catchy, the words were as if they were written for me.  To this day, we always been inspired by their music.

Last Thursday night before, leaving for New Jersey, I went over to Joe from The Darker Hues’ house to pick up a bass to use for our sessions. This might be one of the nicest basses I’ve ever seen. It’s a 1970′s Fender American P-Bass. His band is awesome and so is he for letting us use it.

After picking up Brandon on Friday morning, around 4:30 in the morning, I head back to my house where Jason and James are waiting to pick us up.  We have a van but for anyone who doesn’t own a 15 passenger van or that isn’t in a band, those vans eat gas for dinner. Not just a little. A LOT! We try to save money anyway we can so taking Jason’s car helps since we didn’t have much gear to bring.

As we set out, it’s still dark out and there isn’t much to see. There is always something calming about driving super early, or really late. It’s like seeing the road at rest before any traffic sets in.

We left pretty early to avoid traffic, and hopefully avoid the impending snow storm scheduled to hit Boston that morning.  We made it out of Massachusetts without any trouble, however Connecticut seemed to have other plans.  After about an hour of driving we were in white-out conditions crawling along I-81.  We’ve had a pretty easy winter this season in Mass, so it was a bit surprising to see it snowing this heavily.

I decided to take some pictures of our trip to remember this journey.  I use Hipstamatic to document most of the trip. It’s a good way to pass the time and they are nice enough to help us out with the release of our new record.  Which reminds me, if you haven’t submitted your pictures to be included, please do!  Head on over to our kickstarter for more information on that.

 

 

 

Even with the snow dampening the drive, we still manage to keep good spirits. Here is James thinking I’m taking a picture of him.

Driving Vid

After a while we pull into the Vince Lombardi Service Center. This is my favorite rest stop area because I am a huge Dead Milkmen fan. They have an instrumental song off of “Eat Your Paisley” that is called Vince Lombardi Service Center.

Dead Milkmen were one of those bands that when I first heard the music it was weird. I wasn’t sure if I liked it but I wanted to hear more. Eventually it grew on me because I loved the honesty of their music. If things were wacky it’s because they are wacky. If something is played in a way that doesn’t make sense, it’s because they kinda don’t make sense. Honesty in music is something I’ve always held dear to me.

After a 6 hour drive, we finally arrive in Asbury Park, New Jersey earlier than we thought. Pete wasn’t around until 12 so he                                                                                      suggested we get food at Frank’s Deli down                                                                                    the street.

This place is supposedly legendary for having something called a Pork Roll. I’m sure other places in NJ service this, but this place acted like they invented it. It looks like Canadian bacon. Our waitress would not leave until she saw Brandon try it. James also had a sandwich that looked like it was bigger than him.

 

 

 

 

After that we pulled in front of Little Eden. The house belongs to Kate, the Bouncing Souls manager (K8 is Gr8), it’s a huge Victorian House not to far from the Asbury Park boardwalk. The band practices in the basement, which is where Pete does all the recording. This is the space.

This is the control room.

I’ve meet the band a couple of times, but I’ve never been on first name basis with them. I first met Kate when I was in college, I wrote a paper on her. I remember calling her and she told me her and her boyfriend broke up and she was kinda drunk. She said we could do it another time but I said let’s just go for it. Pretty funny. She remembers me till this day because it.

After a brief introduction Pete wants to get right to work. We have 3 days to do 5 songs. Brandon starts tracking his bass parts.

Normally we would record drums first. However we recorded them a little over a month ago at Wooly Mammoth in Waltham so that we could save some time and money. It’s a great studio and James did an internship there. Lots of bands will record drums somewhere else for the same reason or just to get a big room sound.

The great thing about working with Pete is he has a great ear. He tries different amps, effects, etc, to find the right tone. It’s crucial to your songs that the engineer understands the music you are playing and the sound you                                                                                 want to achieve.

A lot of the studio time is waiting for your turn and listening. After all the bass parts were done. We took a quick dinner and checked into our hotel. If there is one thing you should know about James and myself it’s that we LOVE mexican food. Pete told us to check out Tapatia. He said it’s like walking into mexico. The way you know you are at a mexican place is they never ask what you want on it. You get it as it is. And if you try to ask for none of something, it usually doesn’t happen.

When we enter this place, we see it’s a hispanic supermaket. When you look towards the back of the market, you can see a take-out area with some tables around.

I literally have not been in one of these supermarkets since I was a kid. They are awesome. they have the best sodas! Mexican soda use real sugar and they always have crazy flavors.

Growing up I used to go with my mom to one in JP. The groceries are always super cheap and good quality.

Brandon and James went outside to go to the liquor store one door over. They went out and realize they came right into the same store.

If you went back out and over one more door, you entered into a big mexican restaurant and bar. The kitchen for that place is the takeout place that we see here. So confusing but awesome.

For me personally I always like to see the independent stores in the area. It’s what makes that town different than any other town. I won’t find this place in another city.

Maybe I’ll see something similar but this is one of a kind. It’s the spots I always remember for next time. Asbury Park is full of places like this. It reminds me of how parts of Boston are.

After that we headed back to Little Eden. Jason did his guitar parts and we called it a night at around midnight. We were super exhausted. We were up all day driving and then recording. I wanted sleep.

 

Day 2: We record all day. The only time we have to hangout and explore is in the morning and late night. First thing We needed to get, was coffee. I love coffee, a lot. Small coffee shops are my favorite. We found Asbury Park Roastery.

This place is straight up about coffee. There is no place to sit because it’s being taken up by a huge coffee machine. Huge sacks of coffee all over the place.

Across from that was a Salvation Army. Thrift store finds are always awesome. Jason got a shirt that said “This Wolf is on fire” and Brandon got a shirt with Jimmy Walker on it.

After that we decided to hit the Boardwalk. Dead Ellington hasn’t done much touring but I personally have done tours working for bands. One thing about being in a different city everyday is that you rarely get to explore your surroundings. I guess this is why I always try to find sometime in the day to look around. You never know if you’ll be there again. Asbury Park is always a tour spot in the summer at Stone Pony but I’ve never ventured around. We decided to hit up the boardwalk area.

Personally I love going to beautiful places off season. Beach in the off season is awesome. No one is really around. All that is left is the old American past time. It’s takes on an outdoor museum feel with artwork and abandoned buildings.

I took a lot of pictures of the area because you rarely get to see it this empty unless of course you live here.

 

 

 

One of my favorite things ever is Pinball. I LOVE PINBALL. My favorite is Invaders from Mars and Medieval Madness. On the boardwalk there is an arcade museum. You pay 7 bucks for 30 min and play all the games you want. Or, you can pay 10 bucks and stay for 2 hours. I wanted to move to Jersey and work here just so I can play pinball all day. They had an awesome Elvis Pinball machines as well.

As we were leaving they had one of those strongman scales that you hit with a mallet to try and hit the bell. It was a buck for 2 wacks but the nice man at the arcade told us to “Wack until our arms fall off”. None of us hit it but we came close.

Jason then wanted a hotdog.

We headed back to start day 2 of recording with Pete. James had to do guitar parts, Brandon had guitar parts, Jason had lead parts and then finally some vocals.

 

 

 

Now from this picture it doesn’t look like James had any parts to do but he did. He was just cold. Jason here just wanted to put this mask on. It made the parts sound better.

One of the cool things that has happened every time we’ve gone into the studio is that we record a newer song. It usually gets finished or finalized as we are recording it. The first one was “Rather be Dead than a Liar” when we first demoed the record. The second one was “Heartbeats”. This time around it was a song called “Miracle”. Pete thought we were going to cover the ICP song and was really excited. Unfortunately for him it was a new song that I wrote for solo shows. Brandon and Pete worked on the a new lead line for this song that sounds amazing. It truly brought the song together. James did a great job with his parts until he forgot how to play his solo. Literally couldn’t remember. The little guy eventually got it. Jason finished all his leads in no time. It was time for us to get dinner. Pete suggest Vic’s Italian restaurant. We basically walked into the 70′s. The best picture to sum this place up is this one.

That sweater is unreal. It’s also super weird that is matches the baby’s sweater perfectly. Food was great besides the Alfredo that Jason got. James and Jason both said it was like eating cheesy peanut butter because it was so thick. Gross.

We then headed back to Little Eden to complete the vocals for Miracle. Once we finished, Pete got a text that Bruce Springsteen was playing down the street at a small bar. He was about three songs in already so we called it a day and headed to the bar called The Press Room. Jason, James, and Brandon were way ahead of me. By the time I got to the door to get my ID checked, I lost them. I get inside and the guy says its 20 bucks. I look at him and say “Its 20 bucks to get in this bar?!”. He says “Bruce Springsteen is on stage!”. I give him my 20 and start to walk further in to find everyone. Then I see the Boss walk off stage. He was done. I wanted to ask for my 20 bucks back but it was for charity. Not sure what charity but lets hope it was a good one.

I think my favorite part of this picture is the guy who is photo-bombing it hard. Then the guy who’s talking to security as if he is saying “You know the Boss was up there?!” but no realizing he’s right behind him.

After seeing about half a song by the Boss, we decided to head home.  But before that, we decided we would bring James to his first Gentleman’s club because frankly James is a true gentleman but that’s a story for another day.

We got back to our hotel and got rested for our last and final day.

Brandon gave some insight bright and early for Day 3:

Brandon Movie – iPhone

For day 3 I have no pictures because I did all my vocals and the rest of the guys did their vocals. It was a tough day. Belting out 4 songs in one day over and over until you get it right sucks. But we had an amazing time working with Pete. We believe this will be our best sounding record yet and will continue to work with Pete in the future. He made us feel right at home and was able to work quickly and efficiently. Seeing Kate is always a treat and being in the house of the souls is something I would of never imagined would happen.  Being in a band is a lot of hard work and I’m glad we’ve kept it together for as long as we have. I truly believe there is nothing more rewarding than being able to make a record or play a show with your best friends. Sometimes you deal with a lot of shitty things in a band but you also get to do something of the coolest things as well. I want to think everyone who made this possible from Jason, Brandon, James, Derek, Pete, Our kickstarter backers and Hipstamatic. We hit our goal but we still have a lot to cover ourselves so please continue to contribute to our kickstarter (http://kck.st/zzZsu3) and spread message. Refuse Rethink Rebuild.

-Sal

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