The Great Commoner is a truly unique album. Each member of the band anticipated recording and producing it more than any other collection of songs we've worked on, and it has proven to be a blast to create. Here is its story:
By the winter of 2011, we had been playing most of these songs for about a year, and we were absolutely DYING to finally lay down some tracks. People had been asking "When are you going to record Dear Penelope?" or "When can we get a copy of Marriage Song?"
Well, there were several obstacles in the way of recording:
1. Luke Lillard, Jesse Murray, Clayton Schmidt, and Trevor Haught (the whole band but Justus!) were all in the rigors of senior year at Bryan College.
2. We didn't have any money.
3. We didn't have a space in which to record.
4. We didn't have the equipment needed to achieve the kind of sound quality the new songs deserved.
So, what happened? The Lord opened several huge doors: First of all, Michael Minkoff (sound engineer and founder of the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal) offered to make Brock's Folly a sponsored band with the Nehemiah Foundation. That meant he would record and mix our album FOR FREE!
But we still needed a space. We approached Bryan College about our need for a place to record, and the Department of Operations was incredibly generous! They offered to let us use Brock Hall (our namesake) for recording during Christmas break.This killed two birds with one stone: we got a recording space PLUS the guys in school would have time to record because school was out. Eureka!
And so it was, on December 30th, we gathered. First came Jesse, Justus, and Luke. We turned Brock Hall into a labyrinth of dorm mattress baffles, cables, tables, swaths of uncut fabric from the local La-Z-Boy factory, umbrellas, old theatre walls, and a golden dog head (leftover from a school production) we christened the Recording Hound.
Clayton came soon afterward, driving from his Christmas in Wisconsin, and started setting up drums, and was followed by Michael and Phil Hodges. Coffee was made, french presses broken, instruments were tuned, baffles were arranged, computers were turned on, cables were plugged in, and we all held our breath as recording commenced.
Tracking proved to be extremely challenging, but equally rewarding. We all took turns at our instruments. Clayton killed the drums in the first two days, and a rigorous schedule was established. Hours upon hours were spent at a time, getting the right tone and takes. Very quickly, a nap area was established using leftover mattresses, and coffee was in constant production.
After several days recording in Brock Hall, we carried all of the gear up a flight of stairs to the Rudd Atrium, where we tracked certain instruments and vocals that needed the spacious, majestic reverb that is naturally produced in that room. It turned out wonderfully. The reverb was so perfect in the Atrium that a tradition was quickly established to end a day of recording by singing the doxology there.
Wondering which songs we recorded?
Here's the final cut:
1. William Jennings
3. Primary Issues
5. Same Table
6. Dear Penelope
7. Foxy Lady
8. Shaming Cupid
9. Marriage Song
10. A Lesson in Dying from Heather
11. Romans 8:11
12. Night Before
13. Who Will Speak? (Postlude)
Brock Hall was the room we started in, the room we were named after, and now, the room we were recording in. And it was perfect. It sounded great: big and spacious, but clear and defined.
We recorded all day every day, oftentimes late into the night, and by January 10th, we were done. There were some later touch-ups and re-recordings, but 90% of the tracks on the album were recorded in the whirlwind of those eleven days in Dayton.
This is where the story starts to slow down: mixing (and remixing [and re-remixing]) had to be done around the schedule of Michael and the band, and since those rarely aligned, progress was slow. Very slow. In fact, it has been almost two years since that snowy winter of recording in Tennessee.
But, we are happy to announce that the album is ready to be sent to the mastering engineer, which brings us to this kickstarter.
We need some money in order to get this album into your hands. Here is a cost breakdown:
$1,200 for mastering
$1,600 for duplication (pressing CDs, cases, inserts, etc.)
$1,200 for some very basic advertising so that we can get this CD into the hands of as many people as we can realistically expect.
If we can raise this money (or more!!), then we will be able to finish this album in a matter of several weeks. It has been a long race, and we want you to join us in crossing the finish line.
On a final note, we want to make this clear: we are very proud of this production. The songs were painstakingly written and intentionally recorded. We love the way it sounds, and we think you will too. It is an honest and transparent product of our hearts in an effort to praise our Lord and relate the events of our lives. Please join our hearts by enjoying our music.
Photos Courtesy of Sarah Becker Lillard.
Risks and challenges
At this point, since the vast majority of work has already been done, the main risk of this project is reaching our donation goal. In other words, our biggest risk is losing your interest! But at the same time, you can be our greatest asset in achieving our goal. So please, donate what you can, share this page with your friends, and let the world know about what we are trying to accomplish.
Once funded, we will be fighting the clock, trying to get the Great Commoner mastered within a few weeks, and get the duplication done by the end of January, ready to ship by the first of February. This will certainly be a challenge, but knowing that everyone is waiting for the great tunes should be a great incentive.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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