The Wayling Sessions

How It Started

It’s been a long time since the last post. A combination of distractibility, lack of discipline, isolation and Zeitgeist anxiety meant I had neither the focus or the material to maintain a regularly published blog.

On the positive side, that time off led to new opportunities and a safe, flexible way to get things done on the studio side.

Late in 2021, I received a message from Chris Bender, our brilliant FatC drummer, about an opportunity to sit in as a second guitarist in another band he was playing with, Wayling James. That’s where I met Tim Wayling, the lead singer and and co-composer in the group.

I began to think about how his voice might fit well (read better) over my songs. He kindly agreed to try out a few songs that inspired him.

The Process

All tracks were recorded remotely, guitars, keys, some bass and back up vocals here*, better bass at NeMo’s, drums at Chris’s, main vocals and harmonica at Tim’s. All tracks were Dropboxed back and forth, then mixed here at Mancave Studio.

Devil’s Blues

Probably the most interesting song in terms of process. It was originally tracked on an iPad mini while on holiday in Ireland. I originally wrote about it here, including the original demo. To update it, Chris recorded “real” drums to replace the Garageband programmed version, and of course Tim replaced all my vocals—thank you! All the guitars were as originally tracked with a Dano Pro through an iRig interface directly into the iPad. The clarinet bit and the bass were tapped onto the iPad using Garageband’s built-in interface. To remix, everything was imported into Logic Pro X.

Old Man Blues

The oldest tune on the mini EP, it’s been a standard in our live shows for years. This one was re-tracked in Logic as the original multitrack GB file was lost, although the demo is still around. Probably for the best anyway. Tim brought to it his harmonica (which I had always wanted for that tune), and an inspired performance on vocals.

I Know (Back In the Doghouse)

As this was the third song worked on together, we were now pretty comfortable with the process. This is another one where the original multitrack was lost although a mixed emo was around. Once I removed the vocals using an online algorithmic website that was used as a bed track for everyone’s parts. I also used a reverse process to isolate my original vocals. Although the latter produced some odd digital artifacts, I ended up adding that in a little bit on some verses as background, just cause.

So in the end, besides the bit of BU vox mentioned above, everything was redone, and far better than the original IMHO.

Next Steps

Well, I hope you will go to our Bandcamp site to listen to the songs in full! There is a download link (PWYW). If you haven’t already, you can also check out some earlier songs.

As for us, honestly, at the time of writing, I don’t know. I am still cautious about a return to live performing, and herding these Cats is always intrinsically challenging due to our various musical and life commitments. All I can say is stay tuned.

Until then, be well!

Life in the FatC Lane

I’d almost forgotten about this blog.

Truth is, pandemic distractions, a major commitment to a yard project, and a flurry of new tunes kept me away (squirrel!).

I also finally finished the formal recording of an oldie that anyone who has seen us live will know: Bowling for Dolores. It took on a life of its own as these things are occasionally prone to do, and sounds quite a bit different from the live version. Special thanks to the band Neil and Chris for playing and waiting, and warmest gratitude to Daniela Gassi for much violin goodness and her indulgence in letting me “fiddle” with the takes she sent.

Hopefully we can once again meet in person and hear this one live. Until then, be well!

Hello???

It took a little longer than expected, partly for reasons shown in the photo below, but the next single is finally out on Bandcamp.

Down went the internet.

Auto-Tune Me Out could be interpreted as the listener pleases, of course, but to me it resonates as a comment on how live performers in clubs (way back when) would sometimes be ignored. I introduced this song as a demo last August and this is the finalized product. A massive thank you to Chris Bender for hours of work on drums and backup vocals that really make this track pop. Also, thanks to my vocal coach way back, Jaclyn Serre, whose guidance and advise provided inspiration for the lyrical metaphor.

I’m hoping to have another tune ready for January, provided the migration from my 2008 Mac Pro to a brand spanking new Mac mini M1, a new OS AND a new Focusrite interface goes smoothly. So far so ok…some plugins don’t work so workarounds will be required.

Finally, it’s with great sadness that I heard that Relish Bar & Grill closed its doors for good this week. They hung in there valiantly but pandemic and financial pressures were too much for owner Joanne Clayton. Her farewell comments on social media held a note of optimism for a rebirth down the line. Let’s hope so as Relish was a deeply significant turning point in my life. I will always be grateful to Joanne and all her great staff, and ready to help when the phoenix rises again from the ashes.

So What Took You So Long?

Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been

The Grateful Dead

Those who know me well have heard me talk about finally putting out my music…for a while now.

The day has finally come.

Although one song has already been put online through the Stir It Up Someday compilation, this current release is the first officially on the Félix and the Cats “label”, and a staple of our regular set list, in those days when we actually played live.

So here it is: Movin’ and Shakin’ the World on Bandcamp.

I want to thank Chris and Neil for sticking with me and going above and beyond in getting me the tracks to finally get this one properly recorded. Any errors in the mix are my own, but never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or at least kinda okay.

I hope you like it!

Be safe and be well!

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ManCave Studio Diary #8 – Console-ation

Fraz Milne at Relish on September 18, 2020

This pandemic-enforced isolation has provided an opportunity to spend more time and energy on recording projects. Other than catching one live show (Fraz Milne’s Looper Madness at Relish), things have been consistently anchored to home.

This has provided an opportunity to work on new songs, some in the works as I write this, and collaborating with the band to record parts remotely.

However, and with all the necessary precautions, a few sessions have taken place here down in the ManCave, namely with Arch Rockefeller to track drums played in the cozy drum booth by the masterful Alonzo Moore for an upcoming album. Both are consummate professionals and I thank them for their patience as I continue to learn better techniques to record. The opportunity to get more and better gear is a benefit as well.

I’ve also had a chance to work with other friends to mix their songs: Salabama’s upcoming full album release has been pushed back due to the pandemic, so the plan for now may be to release singles as the tunes are done and mastered. There should be something up soon, so keep your eyes open on social media.

Chris Scian has also been a guest to discuss mixing techniques, which led to a reissue of his song Frontline, which is embedded below.

Lastly, Omar Saab, frontman for The Lonely Hearts, and soon to be son-in-law, has been beavering away in his home studio in Hamilton on original material. His first release, under the Mean Streaks banner is Teenage Rush which is also included in this post. Omar also put together the video for this song.

I hope you will take a moment to listen to these two artists’ songs.

I should have another post for you in November, provided the pandemic doesn’t get in the way. As such, as urge everyone to be extra cautious as we enter this second wave.

Be safe and well!

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Reset

One benefit to the pandemic has been a chance to re-examine the tasks to which I have committed myself. Some new ones have been initiated, some strengthened, and a few may have to fall by the wayside.

Amongst the latter, this blog has been a consideration.

After some reflection, I have decided to change this blog’s publication frequency as compelling content seems harder to come by and, as you may have noticed, the length of the posts has grown shorter since I began a few years back.

Starting this month, the posts will appear monthly and will feature a greater number of smaller announcements, in many cases likely summaries of social media posts which I hope to make better use of. It will also allow me to devote more time to recording and practising, which need attention.

Things are in the works so there will be content, which I look forward to sharing with you next in October.

Until then, be safe and well!

By the Numbers

Do The Numbers Stack Up For Property Pensions? - iExpats

Again the days have drifted by and I lost track of “post day”, four days ago.

Still, better late than never.

This week’s post will be about one of the new songs written during the pandemic, although not specifically inspired by it.

Rather, the idea of things happening due to odds, the hope to beat them, and simply the concept of numbers themselves have fuelled this latest song.

Layered over that, I set myself the challenge of working in different time signatures (again numbers). This one has three – 7/4, 4/4 and 6/8. Huge thanks to NeMo and Chris for bass and drums, remarkably done remotely!

The title comes from the classroom game played many times when I taught.

I hope you enjoy SevenUp ©2020 R. Pelletier/Félix&theCats

Be safe and be well!

Fellow Travellers – Part 9

This week, I’m featuring another fellow musician who has recently posted some interesting remote collaborations on social media.

I got to know about Joanne Park from her appearances at Relish and through her posts. Not only is she a great and fearless bassist (playing and singing Yes songs unaccompanied save for her on bass is remarkable), she also plays a great guitar, particularly in the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed style.

The video below is Supertramp’s Logical Song, and besides Joanne, includes Joan Marshall on keyboard and Kristen Prince on saxophone. Worth a listen!

They had me at castanets!

Be safe and be well!

Pressure Treated

Thanks to Gary17’s weekly post, I was pointed in the direction of this quite spectacular cover of the Queen/Bowie classic Under Pressure. Please check out Gary’s post at Torontomoon.ca for details of the line up and how this video came to be. Also, please consider subscribing to his newsletter if you are a musician or a fan. It’s the least we can do to show support back for someone who has never given up on live music.

Here is the video. I hope it makes you feel good!

Be well and safe!