Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recording Process Pt. II

Finishing a record can be a never ending process. I'm sure it would have been with us had Ryan not stopped us when he did. We always had something more we wanted to add or track or effect, but there comes a point when somebody has to say, "alright, thats enough shit," and that's when the recording process ends. For us, that day came in late February.

I would say it took about 20 or so trips to Edwardsville to get everything done. Maybe even a little less. Which is not bad when i think back on it. After our initial 3 day basic tracking marathon, the sessions were sporadic, but by no means sparse. At least a couple times a week, all three of us, or one of us, or two of us, in whatever combination, would be at the Wasoba residence working on the songs.

About midway through the recording process, a fellow named Chad moved into one of the tracking rooms upstairs to become the third permanent resident of the house. Chad is more well known by this name: Emperor X. All I can say is look around on his website, look up videos, songs, he is prolific and has some amazing stuff out there. He is also a great engineer and producer and had bits of input for our album. He also helped Ryan mix Worm Farm. But what was even more awesome about him moving in for me personally, is that he was (is) a member of (the somewhat defunct) The Cadets, a band who I have admired and loved since I was 17 or 18, and whose album "On the Death of Science as a Major World Religion," is easily in my top 10 albums of all time, and I think is one of the most defining albums of the "indie" genre to ever have been made, it's a masterpiece. This album is hard to find, but it blows many, many great albums out of the water. So i got to geek out with him about that.. and it was good.

Someone asked after the last 'recording process' blog whether we had to scratch or change any songs to make the album work. The answer to this question is no. But there were two songs that we completely re-invented while recording them, "New Letters" (the first song) and "Sweater Weather" (the last song). "New Letters" was a song we played only two times live, during our first two shows as EXERCISE. The idea behind it for the studio version was that Trevor would lay down the basic guitar/vocal backbone of the song, and Justin and I would take whacks at it with overdubs and make it crazy and weird and do whatever we wanted. It worked out well, all the parts are great, plus the marimba appears again on this track, and it totally serves the purpose of an "opening track" exactly the way we wanted. We used Ryan's crazy 7 stringed jazz guitar for this one, which is the same as a 6 string, but only above the low E is a low A.. it's actually really sweet to play. "Sweater Weather" is one that we've also only played twice live, and it also serves the purpose of the "closing track" perfectly. There is not too much of a story behind this one, it was originally a "solo" song of mine, that now sounds like a syrupy forest, complete with really awesome drums and wooden pipes from an old pipe organ that my mom gave me. You'll see..

Part III coming soon.

Who are all you anonymous people?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Best New Band!

EXERCISE has been nominated as the Best New Band in St. Louis!
Check it out: The Nominees...

Thank You! I don't know how it happened, but it's awesome.
Vote for us!

Love you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One thing bands didn't have to think about 20 years ago...

The ability to search for your band on the internet.
A name like EXERCISE doesn't lend itself to being searched for very easily. Try Googling "exercise st. louis" and you'll have to scroll through about 50 pages or perhaps more to get to anything related to us. The other day, "exercise st. louis" got us up to page 22 (the highest ever) of the Google search results, but today we're no where to be found. Try anything you want really, "exercise music" gives you a multitude of new agey jock jams type cds, "exercise band" gives you a list of rubber strength training equipment. "Exercise myspace" seems to do the trick, although the first search result is for a band called Exercise One.. which frankly I find very annoying. And searching "exercise myspace" for some reason doesn't link you to our myspace page, it only gives a link to our photos or blog..
It's not until you combine everything, "exercise music st. louis myspace band," (or something) that Google gives in to placing us at the top. Actually "exercise st. louis myspace" puts us at the top, and "exercise music st. louis" puts us at about number 5..
But damn you, Google, and all the gyms in st. louis too.

Maybe it just hasn't been quite long enough yet, but if the band Health can make it on to the first page of search results just by typing in "health," then god damnit we should too. One day...

Here's an anecdote about our name. Orginally, Exercise was going to be the name of the 2nd Berlin Whale album. So when BW fell apart and we wrote new songs, we debated for a long time about whether to keep the name Berlin Whale or change it, and what we would change it to. We changed it, obviously, and using the name Exercise was a way for us to kind of uphold any semblance of what once was, even if we were the only ones to know it.

This is what we look like attempting to write a song late at night.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recording Process, Part 1

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures or write anything down, like mics or amps or guitars or pedals or plug-ins or mishaps, but I will do my best to recall as much as I can...

The whole record was made in Ryan Wasoba's Fiancee's house in Edwardsville, Illinois. It's a nice two story home undergoing some remodeling. The downstairs portion of the house is reserved for living, eating, being comfortable, while the upstairs half is strictly business, two rooms to track in, one control room, one bathroom. As I mentioned before, it was a brutal winter during which we made the record, and it was punctuated by the fact that there was no heating in the upstairs half of the house, save for a space heater that was used sparingly. Lots of hot tea and coffee was consumed, and several trips to the liquor store kept us warm on the inside.

We started recording the first weekend of November, 2008, all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Everything was recorded into Pro Tools LE on an Acer laptop. The gear was minimal, but it was all used well. When we started, we didn't have an album title, or even have names for all the songs, but the first song we did was Tail Feather. The drums for the entire record were tracked in an awesome sounding room, hardwood floors, green walls, two windows and a closet; no acoustic padding, no blankets, no nothing. You can really hear the sound of the room in the snare hits on Tail Feather and in the toms during the choruses of Tail Feather. There was a 10-ish foot long hallway between the drum tracking room and the control room where we had a mic (Shure 849 i wanna say) placed to get a natural hall reverb for the drums. That mic is mixed in during the end of Tail Feather, along with the overheads, and it is one of my favorite sounding parts on the record. Since it was the first song we did, the guitar sound ended up being way out of place from the rest of the record, and we had to add in the all important and infamous lime green Chorus pedal from Target. Infact, I think all of the guitar parts ended up being re-recorded for Tail Feather. It is a little hard to hear, but during the Chorus pedal riff of Tail Feather (during the verses), listen for a marimba. Ryan had this super old Marimba from a garage sale or something, but he could play the shit out of it, and it appears a few times on the album, makes for good texture.

Right around the end of day 1 is when Trevor got incredibly sick. This was bad because we had the next two days scheduled to get the basic tracking done. So the next day, Justin and I went out to Edwardsville sans Trevor and did most of the tracking for Robot, Lasso, and Panama. For the most part, guitars and drums were done live at the same time. There was a lot of experimenting with guitar sounds and effects arrangements, but that again came later on when we were focusing on overdubs and additions. It was kind of a shot in the dark for Justin and I to record these songs without being able to hear any of Trevors parts, but it worked. It took us about 5 takes at the most to get Robot, and another 4 or 5 to get Lasso/Panama.

Trevor came around on day 3, and we managed to track everything that weekend except for Claustrophobe, Sweater Weather, and New Letters.

Part 2 coming soon..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a video of us practicing our Tetris. Wait til the end.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Welcome to the EXERCISE blog. We've never done this before, so if you wouldn't mind making the first move, that would be great.
You can listen to us here, or check out some lo-fi videos of us here
. Having never been responsible for a blog before, i'm not sure how this will go.. we will try to update you with the grossest, mind-blowingest, detailed details of our lives as often as possible, cause it turns out that's what people want to hear about these days.

For those of you who don't know, we used to be a band called Berlin Whale. After an abundance of band member changes over an abbreviated amount of time, Berlin Whale faded away, but resolved to make new musics with its new members. Out of that confusion and general disapproval from the public came a new set of chesty songs under the name EXERCISE, a threesome including the likes of Justin Hickey, Bo Bulawsky, and Trevor Berkholtz. EXERCISE played its "first" show in July of 2008 in St. Louis. In February of 2009, EXERCISE finished recording its debut full length album with Ryan Wasoba of the band So Many Dynamos, local fan favorites and long time friends. It was a 3 month long process,
forged during the frozen winter at a two story home situated in a small southern Illinois town. The record will be released in its entirety in the summer of 2009, followed by tours, including one "pre-release" tour in late May with our good pals Netherfriends from Chicago.

But enough story telling, this is what our
album cover looks like. We adore it.

See you in the future!

love, exercise