Finis Only To Incepto – New Record Update 5

Tracking drums was a long process but we’ve finished. It’s all what you hear really. Some will identify with me when I say I analyze the sounds of songs.  It’s habitual when your trying to hone the craft of engineering and production. A bit a of curse too because you find yourself missing the emotive portion of a song.  It’s good to stand back and try to enjoy what you hear.  When tracking drums you have to live with hiss of analog if your aiming for raw warmth. Some the greatest records have unique nuances that some people overlook. The hiss, cracks and pops are part of the sound’s DNA.  Don’t fret over them they want to be included.  The perfect mistake always outweighs the pristine polished cut. As I mentioned before we tracked live without a click track.  Setting up BPM plug-in we never strayed beyond 4-5 BPM’s.  Not noticeable to the musician/engineer let alone the common music listener.  Put a BPM plug-in on a old Beatles or Kinks tune you’ll be surprised how many bands played without metronome.

We begin a new stage of tracking. The straight forward bass guitar. Steelesque is fortunate to have such a great player in Jerry Courtney.  Jerry also is recording-songwriter with tracking experience so explaining the process to him is not necessary. The main concern, as always when recording bass tracks, is how it sits amongst the kick drum.  They have a tendency to steal each others frequencies. Thoughtful EQing does the trick.  We will track rhythm guitar and bass together.  The simpatico between Courtney and guitarist, Eric Drake, goes way back.  They are Weirton’s version of the Glimmer Twins. I’d really like to very experimental with the guitar sounds.  We have a wide array of options with great vintage amps and guitars at our disposal. I have had the most success with low wattage amps.  Many guitar greats (Jimmy Page-Clapton-Beck) preferred smaller tube amps when tracking.  We will be courageous!  I’m especially excited to get these rhythm tracks in place.  Til next time…


Sealed In Wax,


Seeing The Light – New Record Update 4

Sometimes the price of your toll costs you one.  With one song remaining we can see the light.  If you’ve been following our progress then you would know that we are recording the songs live and keeping the best drum takes.  We feel we’ve captured the essence of the band with this approach.  Our last remaining song is called, “Price Of Your Toll”. It is one our strongest tunes with crossover appeal in the genres of bluesy-americana and alt country rock. Below is the song performed live.

We are confident we will begin tracking guitars and bass after this weekend.  The plan is to record guitars and bass simultaneously so we can set up some room mics to capture the fullness.  This will give the overall mix expansion and allow it to breathe.  The cabinets will also mic’d. The luxury of recording independently is the ability to experiment and try new techniques. We also understand that we would most likely be able produce some high quality tracks in some of the fine recording studios in Pittsburgh and WV areas.


Our goal is record as much material as we write and establish a large catalog of music for our fans, family and mostly us. Our creativity will not commandeered by looming studio costs. Songs are songs… and will have the legs to stand if captured in their honest form. Our monies will continue to be invested in the band to build our brand and rehearsal/recording studio assets.


The band would like to also recognize the amazing talent that left our world, David Bowie.  He has sprinkled his stardust upon all us.  RIP.

Sealed In Wax,


Dancing With Fortuna – New Record Update 3

I consider myself lucky to be immersed into a project with so much positive energy.  Its should be without mention that, Ron Castellucci, our faithful percussionist has created a home for the band.  He started the evening off with a home cooked meal for the guys.  We ate like kings (the Italian variety) and played records (Humble Pie Smokin’, Traffic Welcome To The Canteen etc).


Bruce Virtue and I were early to the session so we thought we’d make some drum edits to “Time Won’t Let You”.  A song about a Vermont boy that has a middle bridge guitar solo that builds through until the last verse.  It needed a little love.  We achieved dynamic correction and moved on.


The rest of the guys arrived and we got right to it.  Over the course of 3 hours we were able to track drums for Keith Lights A Cigarette, Ms Daisy, Mon River and Bury Them Bones. Mon River was redo as was Bones. We felt we had better takes in us and that assumption proved spot on. Both re-takes were stellar and definite keepers. Keith Lights A Cigarette is a tune about mister Keith Richards himself.  We have nailed this song on most takes and last night we didn’t disappoint and Ms. Daisy was in the hamper after our third go.

E and Jer

Tech talk: I cannot express how efficient the process has been.  The sounds in the headphones have progressed and sound full of energy. Often times a difficult thing to achieve.  The song template has certainly evolved over the past couple weeks. The Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt has changed the game. As I mentioned in earlier posts we record 10 tracks simultaneously with zero latency or compromise.  We often are using a series of plug-ins on each track and moderate chain on the stereo out and drum bus. Looking forward to digging into these tracks today.


We’ve been blessed with presence of Joe Castellucci, RonJon’s brother.  He has spearheaded the AV/Photography portion of the sessions.  His knowledge is unparalleled along with his “dive in” personality.  We can’t thank him enough for what he’s added to creative aspects of The Toro Toro Sessions. He is part of our family!


We sit on two more songs. The ever elusive Waive It and the epic journey of a tune called Price Of Your Toll. Waive It always poses a challenge rhythmically because when played with the varied syncopation it takes on a different life of it’s own and has considerable pop appeal.  While Price Of Your Toll maybe the staple song of the project and will be treated as such.

Thanks to Joe Castellucci for taking some great photos last night.  Happy New Year from Steelesque. We hope you had a blessed Christmas and or Holiday.

Sealed In Wax,


Layin’ Bricks – New Record Update 2

Bricks, at least the first few you lay, will improve the longevity of your building. Our building has been coined “Toro Toro”. We figured the only only thing tougher than one bull is two bulls.  Steelesque drummer, Bruce Virtue, has our bricklayer.  With mortar still being mixed we’re happy with foundation thus far.  We’ve knocked out drums for Seeking and Hiding, Ferriswheel, Bury Them Bones (maybe) and Mon River. 

You never hear what I’m saying-I know you prefer it that way- you know you starve what you won’t feed and empty pockets never pay now- such a treasure never found the “X” must’ve blown away- no need to look in other towns-there’s no real estate- sometimes your lost and never found- a search party is on it’s way-sometimes your jewels underground- see the sparkle use your spade- plant the seed and let it be and soon you will need a vase

-Seeking and Hiding

Plug Ins?  We use Logic X.  Well during the tracking we take this approach. We have the kit fully mic’d with 5 microphones. With some simple EQ and Compression on each mic (in that order in the chain as well). EQ should come first with drums followed by compression. Guitars and bass go direct with one scratch vocal input (simply a Shure 58 Beta). We also have a submix into the last track.  The submix, in a separate room, handles the percussion and mandolin.  That is a total of 10 tracks we track simultaneously.  Of the 10, we are mainly focused on capturing the drums, and use the other tracks as reference tracks. We’ve been able to capture the energy that way, and feel it won’t be lost when we overdub.  Of course this only possible because of the very awesome Apogee Ensemble. It is the first Thunderbolt 2 audio interface to offer superior sound quality, the lowest latency performance and the most comprehensive studio functionality all in one box. Made for the professional home or commercial studio, Ensemble features legendary Apogee AD/DA conversion, 8 Advanced Stepped Gain™ mic preamps, front panel Guitar I/O, and digital connectivity for a total of 30 x 34 I/O. Video feed is provided of both rooms meaning that we can see each but there is some latency between sound and video we are trying to sort out.

Last night I mixed four of the tunes w very little time spent on EQ-ing.  Mixed a stripped down version (bass-drums) and a full mix for reference and rehearsal.


Plug Ins?  We use Logic X. I also through the following plug-ins on the stereo output for kicks: CLA 76, PSP Vintage Warmer, EQ, MultiPress, and 1.3 Soft Plate Reverb (not this order in the chain).  I dig the Studer J37 Abbey Road-Plug-in. I really gives the drums a driven warm sound. I add it to the drum bus.

Till next time folks.  Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged.

Sealed In Wax,

Robby-Songwriter – Steelesque

Chasing The Sounds – New Record Update 1

The moment you realize the ghost of great sounds stands between you and the music you hear in your head.  I have a strong affinity to music and tones from a traditional standpoint. Meaning that the music mixed and engineered by the sonic greats (Glyn Johns, Tom Dowd, Phil Spector, Nile Rodgers, Brian Eno, George Martin, Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin, T-Bone, Lee Scratch Perry) has leaked into my soul.  So we are chasing the sounds through the analog woods with digital engines.


Steelesque is tracking our new record in Weirton, WV.  We have completely occupied a house owned by our percussionist, Ronnie Castellucci.  I’ve stolen ideas through past experiences and present day experimenting.  I think it’s safe to say the foundation of any record, with any rhythmic elements, needs good sounding drums.  I’ve managed to capture, from what I think, a solid sound starting point.


I’ve used a hybrid of the Glyn Johns micing technique and added room microphones. If you’ve worked with Logic X you know the track replacement feature is quite amazing in producing beautiful organic drum sounds. The guitars and bass are going straight into an Apogee Ensemble Interface, which is unbelievable at converting analog sounds into a warm sounding tracks.  The guitars will be overdubbed using only vintage small watt amps and classic guitars.  Our Studio B area houses our mandolin and percussion sounds, that are merely providing reference sounds while tracking the drums.  They will also be recorded at a later time.  My idea is push the boundaries with this record and create sounds classic in nature but progressive in thought.


We are currently working on two songs: Bury Them Bones which teeters on the T Rex palette with early Stones-Iggy Pop attitude and a song called Seeking & Hiding. S&H is more of a songwriters work up that carries Neil Young overtones with Black Crowes delivery.

We’ve coined our new record – Toro Toro Sessions.  We collectively discuss our ideas outside our recording space.  We usually park ourselves near two Toro lawnmowers.  That’s the inside folks.

Reference Records Presently: Wilco-Star Wars, Alabama Shakes- Sound & Color, White Denim- D, Dylan and The Band Basement Tapes.

I’ll keep you all posted with what’s shaking in the WV Sonic Planet Studios.