The Reverberations chief songwriter and lead guitarist, Dave Berkham recently informed me that we have known each other for ten years! I went to see his band, The Midnight Callers, at the short-lived Chaos Cafe on SE Powell Blvd in Portland, OR, a full decade ago just last week. Dave and I have become good friends over the years. It was an honor to get to record and mix Changes. Dave and I have been plotting this album for a long time. We worked on a single with The Callers years ago, but it was a quick collaboration. With The Reverberations' album, we got to dig in. Changes was all of us, The Reverberations and me, working together at 100% to make a record that already existed in our minds. Since we were making a psychedelic record, that left a lot of room for experimentation.
Let me tell you about the process. First off, I no longer live in Portland, OR, or have a studio there. Dave called me up sometime in the summer of 2017 at my home; a small, remote, 500 square foot solar powered cabin in the Mojave Desert. He asked about what options we would have for recording together. There were two options; I could come up to Portland and we could work in one of the studios up there or we could get a vacation rental out here in the desert and we would use my mobile recording rig. The Reverberations opted for five days of tracking at a house we rented in Joshua Tree.
Dave sent practice recordings of the songs we were planning to record. The songs were excellent to begin with. And even more interesting, there were transitions between the songs. Some sounded intentional, some sounded unintentional because guitars were feeding back. I mentioned to Dave that I really liked what was happening. The Reverberations performed these songs in the proposed album order for the short tour they had planned on their way to Joshua Tree from Portland.
Arriving on a Sunday afternoon, we tracked Monday through Friday. The band also slept in the house. Guitar amps were set up in the kitchen and laundry room. I took the Nord keyboard direct. The bass amp was behind a couch we set up for playback listening (behind John, Ian and Bob in the photo above). And we set up the drums where the master bed had been. This room had a raised wood floor and wood paneling! Ian's drums, the same vintage of Slingerland that John Bonham used on Led Zeppelin I, sounded... well, just like Bonham in that room! We followed up with a day and a half of tracking in The Reverberations' rehearsal spot in Portland, using a smaller version of my mobile rig.
I mixed Changes at my solar powered cabin sporadically between February and April of 2018. I would send mp3 mixes to the band. We honed the mixes until the album was finished. I used a lot of analog compression including a UREI 1176, Chandler LTD-2s and a Distressor. All of the delays that you hear are analog as well; a Space Echo, the trusty Ibanez AD202 and others. The flanging and phasing in the mix was done by hand. I didn't use any plug-ins or pedals. It was accomplished by splitting a signal into two different paths and manipulating the timing and pitch of one or both of the paths. There's a fair amount of backwards tracking on the album, like the cymbal at the top of So Strange.
The Reverberations' Changes hits the street February 7, 2019. It will be available on vinyl by Beluga Records and on all digital platforms.