John and Eric recently went into the studio with musician Shelby Earl to work on her upcoming debut album. Shelby is a self-described singer, songwriter, lover, pal from Seattle — and a lovely lady to boot, who happily agreed to share with us what it was like working with Two Winters in the studio.
“I started making Burn The Boats just over a year ago. A few months into the process I met up with Roderick and played him rough mixes of the basic tracks I’d done with the help of some friends (members of SHIM, the Maldives, some former Fleet Foxes, and others). At that stage there wasn’t really an official ‘producer’ involved, but Ben Kersten (Grand Archives’ producer) engineered the early sessions and had done a great job capturing the sounds. Roderick was excited about the songs at that point, but there was a lot of work still to be done. He knew I was feeling a little lost and he said ‘you’re making a killer rock record and I’d love to help you finish it as a sort of ‘creative advisor’.’ We didn’t really know what that would look like, but we scheduled a few days with Eric Corson at his home studio, with the idea that we’d at least work on some lead vocals and maybe try some overdubs. That first session was totally stellar! It was clear from the get-go that the three of us were a great team and that John in ‘producer’ role was working really well, so we decided to officially define it as such from then on.
We proceeded to do most of the lead vocals, all the backing vocals, and all the overdubs together. John also brought in Michael Lerner (of Telekinesis) to track and re-track some drum parts.”
Both John and Eric both also contributed to a bunch of the tracks. At the Start for example, the penultimate track on the album, is a lovely duet between John and Shelby—you can listen to it from the Listen block at Shelby’s website.
Eric took over engineering duties, a job John describes as “bedevilingly difficult” in his latest column for the Seattle Weekly: “In the old days, recording engineers wore white lab coats and horn-rimmed glasses and treated their profession like some seriously nerdy business, learning their trade through lengthy apprenticeships and trade schools.” Despite the absence of lab coats and horn-rimmed glasses, Eric aced the job, according to Shelby: “Eric was spectacular to work with as well. He is a solid, steady force in the studio and a super talented engineer. He worked his ass off—both during tracking and in mixing the entire album. His role was absolutely crucial to my record sounding as good as it ultimately does. Eric is super humble and I’m not sure he knows how good he really is!”
And it looks like John and Eric will be in the studio to help out other artists more often in the future. As John wrote, “it’s gratifying to put all the things we’ve learned in years of playing and recording to work in the service of someone else’s music.” Shelby adds, “This is Roderick’s first official producer credit on a record that isn’t The Long Winters, but he has other stuff in the works now and will definitely be doing more of it in the future. He is really, really good at it – his imagination is wide open and his contributions took my songs to the next level. At the same time, he was really respectful and honoring of my opinions in the studio, and the essence of the original songs remained intact. That is no easy feat! Working with him in the studio grew me a lot as an artist. I am totally grateful that he believed in me enough to invest as much time and creative energy into my project as he did.”
Shelby Earl’s album Burn the Boats will be out on March 8th. For more information, visit Shelby’s homepage www.shelbyearl.com.