While trying to record some musical ideas, I stumbled onto a whole bucket of inspiration. I realized that between an old netbook (Windows XP. jealous?), an old mixer and the wonders of Audacity open source software, (download for free here), I had the makings of a home studio. I just needed to be able to connect the mixer to the netbook as an audio source. Turns out, this is not expensive, USB interfaces can be had for less than 30 bucks, fitting in nicely with a going-for-broke lifestyle.
It seemed too good to be true. I can record my own content with equipment I already own and a few extra for the interface and some more cables? I'm on the edge of my seat. So I tried it, and tried it, and tried it, and tried it (I had to learn the software and master some settings) and with the help of my DI/preamp and Emily's awesome mic, I'm recording some pretty decent tracks. I'll have them up shortly.
Recording the guitar through the DI/preamp slightly reduces the natural acoustic sound but this can be tweaked to acceptable with a decent pedal. I use L.R. Baggs' Venue D.I., which might be overkill but it does really a great job. The advantage of this method vs. the superior sounding condenser mic method is the silence. Remember, we're doing this on a dime and we have dogs so our silence options at home are, well, non-existent. I can record guitar and weedwhack at the same time, although I choose not to, because only the guitar's pickup is being recorded. Same said for using a dynamic mic for vocals, if the dogs can shut their kibble-holes* for 5 or 10 minutes, I can actually record a whole song's worth of vocals without worry of floor creaks or other background noise that a condenser will inevitably pick up.
Is it perfect? No, but with some repetition, tweaking of the dials, and the help of audacity forums it's becoming possible to make some pretty good recordings.
In the next post I will rant a bit about cables, headphones that give me a headache, and discuss methods, with which I am experimenting, that are allowing me to add bass and percussion using my acoustic guitar. Still a work in progress but also, surprisingly simple, simple and cheap. Love it.
It's been nearly 4 years since we have abandoned the comforts of a steady income to pursue something more meaningful, full time. Since then we have existed on part-time jobs and the slowly growing Tin Can Tourists, our act and our passion. We began this, as some do, through necessity more than idealism, you see, after moving to a tourist town near the Mexican border in Arizona we realized that full-time employment was difficult to come by. One evening while feeling especially defeated by this we decided to inventory our skills and passions and take matters into our own hands.
I was 38 and Emily was 33, college educated, poor as hell and bored as hell, not enough money to enjoy the great town we live in and now, just for something to do, we were setting out to reinvent ourselves. Emily has always been a gifted singer and performer going back to her childhood and continuing as an adult, impersonating Liza Minelli at pride weekend, I had also done some singing and was performing the occasional open mic, playing passable guitar, covering music I liked. With the strict "no idea is too crazy" rule in effect, we entertained making some money playing music, after all, we had kind and sharing friends who were doing it, we lived in a town that supported a lot of live music, how hard could it be?
It was really hard, it still is, had we known how hard, we may have moved to the next idea and been farming medical marijuana our something, but we didn't, we started practicing what would become our first few songs with the intentions of becoming what we'd always wanted to be, Tin Can Tourists.
So what then? Well, we went in to this not knowing anything about creating and managing a growing music act. Nothing about p.a. equipment, nothing about recording, or booking, or touring, or writing, or promotion... We're learning it on the fly, we read and read and reed, and we failed, a lot, and what follows, is what we learned, where we read, and how we fail.