Music: Jim Campilongo

Mar 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz

EXTRAORDINARY GUITARIST PAINTS ‘ORANGE’

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So I set up a day for us to go back to the original recording studio [Brooklyn Recording] and record “Backburner,” just “Backburner.” It killed me. I’m spending all this money on this tune I don’t even want to record. I’m sick of it. So [before we went back to Brooklyn], I had this errand to do of having to listen to all of the basics, and [I remembered that] the first day we’d decided that the sound [on the track] wasn’t room-y enough, and we had moved stuff around, and everything we kept was from day two and three. I listened to stuff from day one, just listened to “Backburner”s. I remember sitting there, listening to “Backburner” number three or four from day one, and I thought. “That’s pretty good, I didn’t remember this one.”

So I called up Anton, and I said, “You know, my solo is not so great on it, but it’s day one and there’s no bleed. I think I could overdub the guitar.”

We checked it out, and the rhythm track is awesome and there’s no bleed, so then it’s the day for me to record a whole bunch of stuff: overdub day. And if we got everything we’re supposed to do that day, we could move on and be on schedule and we wouldn’t be spraying too much money out of a fire hose onto our album efforts.

So we go in [to One East Recording], and I said, “Let’s do ‘Backburner,’” and I plug in and I play, and it isn’t happening, and I do it again, and it’s not great. I do it again and it’s okay, and I say, “I think it’s pretty good,” and Anton says, “You can do better.” Then I do it again and it’s worse, and it’s getting worse and worse, and time is going by, and it absolutely destroyed overdubbing day number one. So finally, and I never do this, we quit. I said, “Let’s just stop. We’re wasting time and money. Let’s just do something else,” and I actually did a great take for “Awful Pretty, Pretty Awful,” which was so needed. Then I said, “I want to do ‘Backburner’ again.” And Anton said, “Are you sure?” And I said, “Yeah,” and then I failed miserably a bunch more times, and that was the end of overdub day one.

Then we went back and finished everything else, and it was, “Okay Jim, it’s time for ‘Backburner.’” And I plug in and do one pass, and it’s just not good, and I looked around and I saw this other guitar laying there because there’s a little guitar repair guy in [One East owner] Matt Wells’ studio. It was one of the guitars he was repairing, and it belonged to a friend of Anton. I picked it up, and it’s not like a Telecaster I would normally play. It’s hollow body. It’s called a Thin Line. It’s got two F holes in it, and it’s got these incredibly heavy strings on it—I mean like piano strings—and I go, “I like this guitar.”

So, I’m playing it, and for about three days, both Yohei and Anton had been telling me, “Matt Wells has this amp, and some guy offered him $20,000 for it; it’s amazing.” So, finally Yohei goes, “Why don’t you plug in the Matt Wells amp?” And I go, “Fine!” So I plugged in that amp, and I have this weird guitar, and I started playing, and I’m in the control room and the amp’s in the amp room, and I think, “This sounds incredibly great!”

Yohei comes in and says, “What do you want me to change?” And I said, “Nothing. Just whatever you’ve got it set on, keep it there.” So I did a pass on “Backburner,” and it was fantastic. I don’t mean to sound conceited, but after everything that had happened, it was pretty much the performance. We might have gone back and done a couple of things on the chorus later, but it just sounded magnificent, and I was so grateful, because we just sweat blood over that tune from the first day. So that’s the amp story. Between the guitar and that amp, it just had a ferocious sound.

Mostly I just played through my Fender Princeton and Fender Vibrolux [amps], though. I’ve learned some things about how to get the sound I like from Darren Roven, who was an engineer on my other records, about miking guitars. One thing I like to do is I like to get the track and play it into the room again and record the guitar going into a room. On some things we not only had that, we would also add the plate reverb on top of that. I really like that faraway sound.






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