Can you tell us about the new record?
All songs were produced, written, and arranged by Five Fingertips, who shouldered lyrics, vocals, and all instruments, save where noted below. Additionally, Five Fingertips engineered those sessions recorded at his project studio in Athens, GA. Those initial sessions included guitars (electric, acoustic, bass), acoustic drums, synth keys, and lead plus backing vocals. The name of his project studio is La Otra Mitad del Mundo.
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Any other musical participants?
Why, yes. Moving alphabetically...
Multi-platinum record-man, John Keane kindly contributed backing vocals on "The Lines." He also whipped up some rather complex drum programming across the board -- meaning, the entire record. He co-produced the song "The Poster Children." Those nifty handdrums were his idea. Mr. Keane also crafted the funky piano figure on the chorus of "The Nave," even though the actual plinking and plunking were left to Mr. Fingertips. John equally bandied about assorted real-life percussion -- cabasa, tambourines, shakers, one-shots, and the vibraslap -- on all tracks. Basically, if it rattles and shakes, that's John Keane on the mic. Of additional and very special note is his lilting, spectacular pedal steel guitar, haunting "The Key." Mr. Keane also engineered those recording sessions, booked at his namesake studio in Athens, GA. Those sessions included guitar overdubs (electric and acoustic), acoustic piano, and John's own backing vocals, as well as those of Thayer Sarrano. John has worked in the studio with the Cowboy Junkies, Hugo Largo (their Drum album being an all-time personal favorite of Five Fingertips), the Indigo Girls, R.E.M., and Widespread Panic, among countless other groups of Athenian and international reputation.
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The gifted Thayer Sarrano kindly offered backing vocals on three songs: "Time Is Tasteless," "The Poster Children," and "Musical Chairs." If you have not yet heard or seen this talented singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist, we would advise you to listen and look into this, forthwith. Thayer has released two albums of her own making, under her own name, she with her own band: King and Lift Your Eyes to the Hills. Those records were released in 2009 and 2012, respectively. She has recently mastered her third album -- Shaky -- which was released August 2015 on the Guildwater label. We at the Guildwater Group are exceptionally proud to work with an artist of her integrity and caliber. Five Fingertips would kindly like to thank John and Thayer for their participation.
Who mixed the record?
John Keane of John Keane Studios in Athens. More about Mr. Keane further below.
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Who mastered the record?
Greg Calbi of Sterling Sound in New York. Speaking alphabetically, he has worked with Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, Elvin Jones, John Lennon, the Ramones, Sinéad O'Connor, and St. Vincent. This is but a short-list of a discography of epic quality and proportions. More about Mr. Calbi further below.
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Under what genre should I classify this music?
No genre. Some music is more complex, simpler, longer, or shorter in duration than others. But all music is one. There is no more intrinsic worth to an early symphony by Haydn (say, little ol' Symphony No. 32 in C Major, whose "Menuet & Trio" is quite nice) than to a three-minute ditty by Britney Spears. There is no more innate value to an organ piece by Dieterich Buxtehude (first, ask Bach, who walked miles to hear the guy; then listen to "Magnificat Primi Toni," BuxWV 203; just be sure to make it to the 5-minute mark) than to a spinning platter by Milli Vanilli (please don't ask us). Play any of these four tracks in the far reaches of the galaxy and the space dust and asteroids remain indifferent. Human cultural constructions assign value, worth, and hierarchy to sound. That said, Five Fingertips prefers Papa Haydn to Britney Spears, and even to Five Fingertips (and so should you). Additionally, since the subject has been raised, it is of note that, once you get past the initially navish (as in the "nave" of a cathedral, not the "knave" of deception) gravitas, many of the organ works of Buxtehude are so "psychedelic" as to make Led Zeppelin's "In the Light" off the Physical Graffiti album sound like the trite radio-friendly bubble-gum pop that it is. Some may disagree, just not John Paul Jones. Speaking of Mr. Jones, have you ever actually taken the time to ponder the wonders and subtleties of his bass-line for "Ramble On," as found on the Led Zeppelin II acetate?
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In conclusion, marketing departments invented genres so as to confuse and better control consumers. The consumers then rebelled. They pirated everything in ear-sight. They robbed Peter, Paul, and Mary to pay no one. If you yourself are guilty or confused by this peroration, it is living proof that what we say is true. The Marketing Department of the Guildwater Group worked very hard to reach this point of divine, transcendent obfuscation. Here are the results from our laboratories.
If you must label Five Fingertips in one word, call it "pop." If you find that word distasteful, but still wish to adhere to una palabra, call it "rock." ("Una palabra" is Spanish-speak for "one word.") If you wish to expand your horizons, and must label Five Fingertips in two words, call it "pop rock." If you must label Five Fingertips in three words, although we don't personally see why that's necessary, in fact, we insist that you are going too far, too fast, call it "independent pop rock." This sounds snappier than "dependent" or "subjugated pop rock."
If all that is way too bland to please the nomenclature-loving, hair-splitting, genre-splicer in you, we say: "Touché!" We've never fenced. Until now. It's never too late to start. We look down. We kick a pebble with the toes of our collective wingtips. We "look at the floor, and see it needs sweeping." There shouldn't be any pebbles indoors anyways. Not on hardwood. It may scratch. Stalling for time, we sweep. Still flustered, we dust. Flummoxed now, we mop. Slow-like. We put the mop aside. We wait for the floor to dry. (Tracks are for studios.) We sit on the couch. We "look at the wall." We notice that a fresh coat of paint wouldn't hurt anyone, save perhaps that spider over there, the one with the web so well-spun. But Sherwin-Williams is closed at this hour. No fresh paint. Just product placement. We used Murphy's Oil Soap on the floor. We are cornered. We exhale in exasperation. The collective breath of our Marketing Department wisps away the last lingering traces of moisture from the freshly mopped heartpine. From our laboratories, we offer the following instead.
If you must label Five Fingertips in more than three words, call it "independent pop rock with a dash of syncopation, a hint of prosody, a touch of dissonance, and a spoonful (100 milligrams to be imprecise) of humility." Basically, this means that you will find this sonic tincture somewhere between acid house, adult contemporary, zouklove, and zydeco in your local record store, speaking "A-to-Z."
What of the recording process?
Five Fingertips' new "sonic platter" was recorded at two locations. All acoustic drums, all bass, many electric and acoustic guitars, all lead vocals, and all synth keys, were committed to tape (computer hard-drive) at La Otra Mitad del Mundo, this being Five Fingertips' project studio in Athens, GA. Other parts were accomplished just around the corner from there, at John Keane Studios, also in Athens. Those particular tracks encompassed many acoustic and electric guitar overdubs, plus a Yamaha acoustic piano on "The Nave." They included equally Mr. Keane's pedal steel, as well as his backing vocals, plus those of Thayer Sarrano.
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John Keane mixed the record. As noted above, Mr. Keane has worked with Hugo Largo (their Drum album being an all-time personal favorite of Five Fingertips), the Indigo Girls, R.E.M., Widespread Panic, and the Cowboy Junkies, among countless other groups of Athenian and international reputation. Mr. Keane also engineered the recording sessions booked at his namesake studio.
Greg Calbi of Sterling Sound in New York handled the mastering. You might know Mr. Calbi for his work on St. Vincent's Birth in Reverse, but you would be wrong not to recall John Lennon's Walls and Bridges. Just last year, Greg added The U.S. Albums of some caterwauling Liverpuddlians to his discography, quite a feather in an already formidable cap. Other Calbi credits of note include: Ani DiFranco, Elvin Jones (played drums with North Carolina-native John Coltrane), the Ramones, Sinéad O'Connor, and some guy named Bob Dylan. We aren't completely sure, but we think Bob was briefly a weatherman for a local television station out of Charlotte.
What of the gear and instruments used?
For initial, original tracking at La Otra Mitad del Mundo -- this being the mouthful of a project studio of Five Fingertips in Athens, as noted above -- the electric guitars used were the following three. First, there was the newest thing, the Fender Jazzmaster, this being an early 2000s remake of a sunbursting 1962. Second, there was the older thing, the Gibson Les Paul Special, this being a 1977 remake of a 1955. Its stated color is "T.V. Yellow." This certainly sounds better than (but it still looks a lot like) "jaundice." Third, there was the oldest gizmo, this being the 1976 Gibson Marauder (ask Ace Frehley), woodgrain. This discontinued guitar was not a remake of anything. It was Gibson's failed attempt to please its own demographic, while enticing a Fender crowd. Gibson pleased and enticed neither, which is just fine by Five Fingertips. These three axes (this is metal-talk for "guitars") are the possessions of Five Fingertips. They have recently been repaired, set-up, and tweaked to a heretofore unknown perfection by Scott Baxendale at Baxendale Guitar in Athens. Need a guitar set up? Or perhaps just a guitar? We would point you in that direction -- posthaste. Returning to the record at hand, the other electric guitars used included a Fender Telecaster, and a G&L especially fitted out with heavy-gauge strings by Mr. Keane to discourage superfluous string-bending. These two are Keane property.
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The acoustic guitars abused on the new record were either a late 1980s Martin (ownership Keane Studios), or a 1962 Gibson Hummingbird (ownership Five Fingertips). The latter was purchased in Nashville, and answers to the name of "Loretta." That's not a rocking-chair growling on "The Poster Children." That's vintage 1962 fret-buzz, courtesy of Loretta and open-G tuning. Bass guitar was provided throughout by a Fender Jazz Bass at La Otra Mitad. An early 2000s Gretsch USA Custom 3-piece kit offered acoustic drum sounds at stated location. Also at La Otra, the main vocal chain was a Neumann M149 through a Neve 1073. Assorted background vocals were sent through a Neumann M150, Shure SM7B, and a Sennheiser MD441U (ask Prince), routed variously through a Millennia HV-3D or API 512c preamp. Vocal compression was sometimes provided by a Tube-Tech CL1B. The vocal contributions of John Keane and Thayer Sarrano were recorded at John Keane Studios by the man himself, using a vocal chain, to which only Mr. Keane is truly privy. Regarding DAWs, La Otra Mitad likes Steinberg's Cubase. John Keane Studios prefers Pro Tools.