Since our last blog, For The Record has again thrown more challenges at us. The finish line is starting to come into view, but it’s not without some hurdles. Pretty soon 8 out of 10 songs will be completely recorded and mixed. That’s very much on schedule, but we have arrived at this point with a bit of turbulence.

The weekend of April 5th and 6th found Max Feinstein and me at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ; a renowned studio at which Max interned in 2010/2011. We fired up the monstrous Studer A800 tape machine, the Neve 8088 console, and captured a live drum solo in the big room. The drum solo, titled “Nomad“, is an idea I’ve been kicking around since 1999. I’m not the biggest fan of rock drum solos, mainly because so many lack a proper beginning, middle, and end. So I wanted a drum solo that told a story, and I bounced some ideas off Max. We decided the “story” would be this wanderer who begins his journey reprising several drum beats and fills from the entire album. Next the solo would take on a life of its own; a moment to let loose and do some improvisation. Finally, the nomad is approached by an antagonist, a drum machine. The real drums then battle this machine, with my chops running near full blast by the end to slay this beast. We also planned for the machine to win, but we’re not so sure that’s the case.

The rest of April saw us finish recording “It’s Been A While.” Then on April 29th, we experienced our darkest day on the project thus far. My co-pilot Jonathan Bross suffered a stroke. For those who don’t know, Jon has been the man responsible for recording most of For The Record at his studio called Sound Over Sound Productions. He and I have been working together since 1998, and he is my friend, so my heart sank to hear the news. The entire project was more or less put on hold for the month of May while Jon underwent his initial treatment and therapy. Every single artist who worked with us in the past year sent their best wishes for Jon’s recovery, and all we could do was wait for more news.

As no visitors were allowed at first, I began to wonder if Jon would still be himself. Would his memories be in tact? Would he remember me and all of my friends and the work we’ve done? Would he remember our grand plans for the future of this album and his studio? How long would it be until I was able to go back and at least get my tapes? Would it be insulting to ask about finishing the album without him? It was a long month anticipating all of those things.

Jonathan Bross

Co-Producer / Engineer Jonathan Bross

On May 27th, Jon’s girlfriend Robin sent me this message: “Jonathan says ‘how u doing brother” “He’s concerned about you completing your album.” In that instant I knew that this was the same Jon that I had worked with for so many years. I was moved to tears. Continuing to talk to Jon via Robin, I cautiously asked what he would think of carrying on the project at his studio; a loaded question that preyed on my mind for weeks following the stroke. As if without reservation, the response was “…he would be totally cool with that…” It’s hard to put the emotion I felt into words. Jon was recovering, he remembered everything, and he cared just as much about finishing this project as I did, even though I was sure he’d be missing it. It’s a defining moment for the spirit of this project, and I’ll never forget it.

I visited Jon for the first time on June 1st. I already knew from our conversation earlier that week that he was recovering well, but to see him in action put a huge smile on my face. Although unable to move most of his right side that day and having some speech issues, this was very recognizably Jon. His voice, his mannerisms, and his personality had made it through. We talked for hours about several topics, and I knew he was going to okay. As of this writing, Jon has improved considerably. He is able to walk with a cane and his speech has improved greatly, as have his motor skills on the right side. His journey is far from finished and it’s a day-to-day challenge, but he is looking pretty damn good. We’re all very proud of him. Jon lacked the insurance to cover his medical expenses, so if you would like to donate to his medical bills, you can do so here (and thank you to everyone who already has!):

I came back into Sound Over Sound to reconvene mixing on June 2nd. Although I’ve operated the tape machine throughout the project, I had never actually even loaded up a reel of tape, let alone had to do maintenance. Armed with Jon’s own advice from the past year and a little help from the internet, I figured out how to load and calibrate the machines. Over a few sessions I was able to learn my way around the control room at Sound Over Sound on a skeletal level. Nine days later I printed my first finished mix since February, and I’ve been steadily mixing this record by hand ever since.

I was really looking forward to mixing this album with Jon, but as fate would have it we would only mix one song together. Mixing that one song with Jon served as my compass for mixing the remaining nine songs, so I consider that opportunity a blessing. While I am excited to be a able to continue working at Sound Over Sound and add analog mixing to my résumé, a part of me still feels alone in that place without Jon to bounce ideas off.

What’s left? We are still only halfway through recording “The Tidal Track“, and I have yet to record “More Than That” with my cousin Meagan Partington. At this rate we should be looking at a complete wrap on production by the fall, then it’s onto mastering and getting the package together for pressing.

One last note: On May 2, 2014, after 14 years, I worked my last day in the banking industry. Some might say leaving the corporate world was too risky (Hi Mom and Dad!), but an overwhelming amount of people believed in me. In the three months since then I have faced some considerable challenges head-on. This new life chapter lacks a steady income and benefits, but it also lacks alarm clocks and daily meetings. I have been able to stop and smell the roses, but I have also stressed more over this project than ever. There are many times I feel utterly alone, but I am constantly reminded that is not the case. I’ve been the rock of so many bands and projects before, and at last it’s time to be my own rock. With friends like this, I’m not too worried.