I had a great week in Los Angeles from July 27th thru August 1st, laying down more tracks for my upcoming album, Albatross. This will be my fourth album since becoming a solo artist in 2006. But in many ways, this will be my first new record in quite a while.
Technically, my first album came out in 2007, my second in 2009, and my third only a few months ago, in March of 2012. But these release dates actually belie when the records themselves were written and recorded. After my debut Welcome to the Danger Show came out in March of 2007, the songs for my second and third albums were all written and recorded simultaneously over the course of 2007 and 2008, with a few other recordings coming later.
So while I only just released a record less than 6 months ago, it wasn’t really “new” to me. In fact, Albatross will showcase all the songs I wrote in 2009, 2010, and 2012. You could say it’s the first album of a new era, and thusly, I wanted to work a little differently than in the past.
While there will be some familiar names on Albatross, there are plenty of new ones as well. As I’ve previously reported, drums and percussion were recorded in Boston this past April/May with Patrick Hanlin. He’s an old friend, but this is his first appearance on one of my albums. He also will provide accordion on a handful of songs. And when I traveled to Los Angeles this past month, I once again sought out a mixture of the old and the new.
The first stop was the beautiful Beach Studio in Hermosa owned and operated by Eddie Jackson, a very talented producer, engineer, and drummer. I knew I could trust Eddie to get amazing vocal and acoustic guitar sounds - the all-too-important basis for every one of my songs. Eddie engineered a few sessions on my second album, Beneath a Balcony, joining in on the percussion ho-down in “Blessing in Disguise” and later mixed and mastered the album.
He also mastered my third album, Anthems and also logged a few shows with the Dead Messengers as a fill-in on drums. On Friday July 27th, I traveled to Hermosa Beach and cut all of the lead vocals for Albatross in one go. Towards the end of the session, another familiar face dropped by, Kellianne Noftle, to sing backup vocals. She can be heard on both my first and third albums, and she added her voice to three of the songs on my new record.
The next day, we knocked out the entirety of the album’s bass tracks. Having only used one bass player since I was 18 years old, it was quite a departure for me to have someone other than Frogs playing bass. Nevertheless, we lucked out with Andrew Perusi, a great kid from the east coast who nailed all ten songs. He was even able to keep up with my frenetic recording pace, an essential for playing on a Marc M Cogman record.
With bass and vocals added to the drums and percussion, I put on the acoustic guitar and wrapped up my two days with Eddie by recording all of the acoustic tracks. This is often my least favorite part of making a record (as I’m a lousy guitarist and prone to f—kups) but having a skilled engineer like Eddie allowed for everything to come out sounding great.
The next morning was Sunday, July 29th, and I moved camp from Beach Studio to the Octagon House atop Topanga Canyon. It was here that I sat down with Dead Messengers veteran Steve McDonald to crank out some electric guitars. I first met Steve when he came to record on Welcome to the Danger Show over 5 years ago. Since then, we’ve played countless shows together and he’s become my de facto electric guitarist. In the past, I often made use of Steve’s warbling leads and excellent slide guitar work for my big country-rock tunes like ”Incurable Blues”. But this new record is a little bit different, and so Steve got to flex the muscles he earned as a guitarist in Bay-Area punk bands long before we met. Add in the fact that Steve built his own Leslie rotating speaker cabinet from scratch and we mic’d it up, and the results were awesome.
Monday morning, July 30th, I went to work with someone I’d met before but never made music with - Kyle Frederickson. Best known as a member of the Boston (now L.A.) band the Everyday Visuals, Kyle is a whiz with anything you can strum, from guitar, to banjo, to mandolin. I went to his home studio in Atwater Village to get all three on Albatross, as well as lap steel guitar. I won’t go into much detail about the session, just know this: Kyle will be appearing on many Marc M Cogman records.
I flew back home to Oklahoma City a few days later. There’s still some piano and organ to record, as well as fiddle/violin and even a trumpet track. Those will hopefully be done in the coming weeks/months. But I can say this: the record’s more finished than it isn’t, and that’s pretty exciting.
More updates to come.