We had a GREAT time Friday, and Chip and I were jacked up like two little kids leaving grandma’s house full of candy bars and cake. It was fucking wonderful, and we fell in love with the process set forth by both producers.
I told my wife, Julie, that she really needed to get in there and watch a little of what was going on. She had just started hearing us rehearse, which is completely different from when she typically heard the song as a finished product. She had already talked about how cool it was to hear that side of the music, so I knew once she spent some time with what we were creating with these producers she was going to be blown away. She happened to come in on a song that we had been playing since WAY back in the Satchel Foot days. It was a jam that we played to warm up at rehearsals, and we named it “Song A” because it was a simple groove in the key of A. (We eventually wrote different parts to it and it became more of an actual song.) It had been more of a jam-out tune with no real chorus, and the hooks were in the beginning guitar parts. Julie knew the song well and hopped into the control booth with the producers, eager to hear us get to work.
I don’t think any of us knew what we were getting into, as after only hearing it once, Scavone and Mitschele punched in on the mic and simply said, “Let’s all meet up for a powwow in the main room.” At this point we still weren’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing, lol, but we were ready for either.
“How many times do y’all play that first hook?” they asked.
I had to think about it for a minute, and I said, “Four each time.”
“Annnndddd how many times during the song?”
Again, I had to think about it and said, “Four, I believe.”
There was SILENCE for what felt like 17 minutes, and they both—almost simultaneously—said, “Yeah, you lost us completely after the first go-round.” Let me say, people, that is a damn hit right in the gut, but totally understandable. These guys were working on trying to make the songs the best for the listener. The issue was that we had been playing it this way for years live, and now we were trying to make it album-friendly. In the end, there were a multitude of changes, like keeping the original four times on the hook at the beginning and then end. As Mitschele put it, he wanted us to “bury the hook.” The changes didn’t take away from the overall feel of the song, and they were subtle yet intricate enough that even studio-meister Trey Walker had to get up, step out, and take some time to breathe some fresh air. By the time we nailed the final take three hours later, it was transformed into one hell of a track that blew us all away, including my wife. She came home and posted this:
“I am one seriously lucky lady.
I’ve been enjoying the music this man has shared with me for the last 12+ years.
The fun, the stress, the mess, the joy.
Dancing, smiling, head bobbing, all of the things.
Today was different.
Today I saw some serious work, and in a bit of a different way than I have seen in rehearsal.
Today the work involved a LOT of give and take.
Today the work involved giving up lyrics or licks that were loved in a song.
Today the work involved smiling and laughing.
Today the work involved listening.
Today the work involved loving the person next to you because they are a serious badass in a totally different way than you are.
Today the work involved stepping up and letting everyone know you are a badass yourself and have amazing skills to offer.
Today the work involved taking a deep breath and walking away for a minute when you are tired.
Today the work involved thinking about your art, your craft, your skills, in a whole new way.
Today the work involved giving all of your heart and soul … for the great big whole!
Today was difficult. Today was fun. Today was rewarding. Today was scary. Today was overwhelming. Today was heart-fulfilling.
Today was amazing.
I am amazed at how these phenomenal musicians have worked together with great big smiles on their faces to create such beautiful music together.
My heart is big, and I will be counting down the days to listen to the album for the first time.
Thank you, Rusty, for allowing me to watch this amazing journey over the last few years! I can’t wait to see what the next years bring for The Deep Shallow Band.
Rock. This. ” — Julie Stevens
There were many more moments like this on the album. In “Friend,” Trey and I both had different ideas about what the drums should do, only to find that neither of them made the cut. In fact, Mitstchele and Scavone both felt like the drums shouldn’t even be played for more than a measure, then to actually hold out for one more count after most listeners would anticipate. Then Trey threw down an intro but felt like he shouldn’t even play any cymbals or the high hat, which became my favorite part of the song. Hell, at one point Mitschele came out and strapped on a Telecaster while Scavone jumped on the piano to change the ending to make it feel like a bridge. When they both heard “Friend,” they got excited and said, “Man, we can’t wait to get to work on this song.” That was a true highlight for me as songwriter. Since it has been recorded, multiple people have cried while listening to it. Now, these are very close friends who know my backstory, but this song moved them in some way, and that’s all we can ask as songwriters and musicians.
I was amazed each day at what was transpiring in the studio with this fantastic band I assembled and two truly fantastic producers and songwriters. And we hadn’t even begun the vocal work and solos. The fun had really just started.