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  #1  
Old 05-26-2016, 03:07 PM
Rob Meany's Avatar
Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Hello from Rob Meany

Hello everyone - It's great to finally join Tapeheads and dive a little deeper into this wonderful online forum. Pacific reached out to me awhile back and was very gracious and complimentary of my work -- how could I say no? I said I would love to get this area of the site rolling by sharing a little bit about myself and my music.

I would also like try to make it an interactive experience where we all can exchange ideas and wisdom about music, recording, and what have you. I am certainly here to learn as well as share my own experiences. And believe me, I still have a lot to learn!

Just a bit about me. I am a Minnesota-based, singer-songwriter, keyboardist and bandleader of Terramara. We have been active for over 15 years now and have independently released three CDs of original material. And just this month I released my first solo album, entitled Ferris Wheels Unbound.

Terramara is a four-piece group with guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. Some say we sound a little like Steely Dan since we have a jazz-rock kind of sound. I grew up listening to classical and jazz, later getting into prog rock, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, early Chicago, Doobie Brothers, Neil Young, etc. Those are my influences.

Songwriting

A little about songcraft. I usually begin at the piano coming up with chord progressions and riffs. I then add some vocal melody ideas over my favorites. I record these ideas on the fly into (handheld cassette recorder in the 90s)(mini-cassette recorder in 2000-2005)(Zoom H4 Digital recorder in 2006-2012)(my iPhone! more currently). As I listen back to the strongest ideas, I assemble the verses - choruses and try to get a framework for the song. At this point, if I have inspiration, I will try to fit some lyrics to the melody lines. Sometimes this whole process can take only a few hours or several weeks. Or never.

When I have a finished song, I usually demo it up on my Pro Tools rig (Digi 002) and record some MIDI drums and keys. Maybe I will add bass or other ideas, but try to keep it simple. Then I take it to the band and we hash out an arrangement. In a band situation, I like to see what the other players come up with to enhance my bare tune.

Recording Process

A little about the recording process. At some point we go into a decent studio as a band and get real drum tracks and bass, mostly overdubbing the guitars and keys later in the process. I usually record my own vocal tracks at my home studio last.

Usually we do several takes of a song and decide which one is the best. Then we fix up the keeper and edit out mistakes, overdubbing cleaner parts. Sometimes for vocals, I will do 10 takes and edit together the best phrases. It's overkill sometimes, but you wanna put your best foot forward. If it's not sounding great, how can you get others to listen to it?

On the first record (Terramara) we were lucky enough to have access to a 2-inch analog 24-track. We did some additional tracks on ADATs (remember those?) synced to the analog tape. Unfortunately, all these great analog tracks needed to be converted to digital to release as a CD. Still, I liked how the analog warmth still carried over to the CD in some ways.

On the second record (Four Blocks To Hennepin), we used a technique where we could record the tracks through analog tape directly into Pro Tools. Essentially we were able to keep some of that warm analog sound while going directly to digital. Maybe some of you might know more about this.

For the third record (Dust & Fiction) we were recording straight to Pro Tools and Digital Performer depending on where we recorded. Overdubbing was done at many locations as smaller home studios became more common and more cost-efficient.

I was able to record a lot my new solo album (Ferris Wheels Unbound) at my home studio in Bloomington, Minnesota. I have a simple set up with the Pro Tools Digi 002 interface, a Universal Audio LA-610 (Tube Pre Amp and Compressor). I used an Audio Technica AT4050 for most tracks, including my vocals, percussion, and acoustic gutar. For the piano tracks, I used a pair of MXL V67N Small Diaphragm mics to record my grand piano in stereo.

I also have a bunch of soft synths and plug-ins for creating some additional sounds, but tried to keep it mostly organic on this record.

On all these albums, I have gotten a lot of help with production, mixing and mastering. I like to hire pros for this important work as it's hard to be good at everything. Especially technical stuff -- thanks all you audio engineering gods.

You can listen / stream all the albums at my site: http://www.robmeany.com/music-store Love to hear your feedback on these tracks.

I also have a few videos and will be posting some live Terramara tracks soon. Here are a few solo videos -- just piano and vocals of three songs from the new album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6b8...7D5fl79qSYhWPD

Where we go from here is totally up to you. Let me know if you have questions about my music or want to hear more about anything. I will open things up to discussion and look forward to reading more content in the AC coming from other artists and contributors.

Thanks for your time and to PS for the space and opportunity. Best wishes!

Rob Meany
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Last edited by Pacific Stereo; 05-26-2016 at 03:21 PM. Reason: Removed email address
  #2  
Old 05-26-2016, 04:11 PM
Dude111 Dude111 is offline
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Welcome ashore
  #3  
Old 05-26-2016, 07:36 PM
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johns82 johns82 is offline
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Well I listened to Ferris Wheels Unbound and so far like what I hear, thru a computer at least. This can have a real detriment to the sound for sure.

If I can be so bold I like the non covered up voice tracks. I did take a few notes and no offense meant, this is much better then the new stuff I hear now and days!

Not in order: The View, to much plug in sound for me BUT this could be the internet sound! Never Say goodbye had a flat sound but I liked the song very much.

The song Silly Game had a nice touch of "Bop" but light. I really did like "That much I already Know", great "Bop" drum intro and slide into the melody.

"Jumping the Tracks" had some nice ambiance sound even coming thru the internet! Ambiance seems to be limited in some tracks BUT the could be the net version.

Cover of Snow some how reminds me of Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne"
This is a good sounding song.

After life Was really good and probably in my opinion the best song on the album followed by Quiet Desire.

Well let's see what others thought of my opinion, and this is my opinion and not a criticism. As stated the first song was "After Life" and I wanted to go to the next song but couldn't as I really enjoyed it! Sat and listened to the whole song!

Over all the album was good and with 80% something I would put on a mix reel to reel tape.

Can the album be had in a analog version. I will consider this a great part of my album collection and really remiss if only digital is available. I'll try to get a chance to listen and decide on more music I am interested in in the future. Good luck with your music!
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  #4  
Old 05-27-2016, 07:39 AM
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RockSolid87 RockSolid87 is online now
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Great vocals! The music is great too. Reminds me of music from the album "Lamps" by the band "Esterlyn." Your vocals are reminiscent of Jason Germain from the band Downhere.
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  #5  
Old 05-27-2016, 09:20 AM
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Welcome and hello!
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2016, 10:10 AM
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Pacific Stereo Pacific Stereo is offline
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I am so glad that Rob joined us and agreed to be the trailblazer for Artist's Corner. No doubt this section will grow slowly. But we're hoping that over the long run, this section becomes a vibrant and exciting place for Tapeheads.

Rob's work is terrific, and I hope exposing everyone to it means growth for him and Terramara and for us as well.

Also, please don't forget that this section is wide open to all performing musicians with material; independent, professional, semi-professional. If you have contacts with folks, bring them! Everyone is welcome to come and tell us about themselves. We'll listen!
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net
  #7  
Old 07-07-2016, 09:32 AM
Pacific Stereo's Avatar
Pacific Stereo Pacific Stereo is offline
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Rob was recently interviewed about the new record on INSIDE MUSICAST. You can hear the interview HERE.

Lots of videos to see on his YouTube channel, HERE.

Also, you can have a look at a review for Ferris Wheels Unbound (love the record, by the way) HERE.
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net
  #8  
Old 07-07-2016, 11:33 AM
vince666's Avatar
vince666 vince666 is offline
frozen into the 80's. :)
 
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a warm welcome to Rob and a great idea to add this new section!

and a curiousity from Rob... Terramara has a precise meaning in italian language... "terra" is earth and "amara" is bitter so "terra amara" (eventually compressed in terramara) means bitter earth in italian... was it only a funny coincidence or was it made on purpose?

CHEERS,

Vince.
  #9  
Old 07-07-2016, 12:37 PM
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Nakdoc Nakdoc is offline
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Welcome Rob. We've had discussions on another thread about recordings made in simpler times, you know, 4 or 8 tracks and a plate reverb. I know your experiences do not go back that far, but I read between the lines that you admire and recognize some value in old sonics.
How important are the economics of recording old school vs. new? How does the availability of a digital home studio change the song writing process (as compared to your early cassette tape days)?
  #10  
Old 07-08-2016, 10:39 AM
Rob Meany's Avatar
Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Thank you, Dude111! Good to be here.
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  #11  
Old 07-12-2016, 09:36 AM
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Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Thanks for the comments, johns82. If I could add a bit to the your notes on each track:

The View -- yeah, I told my producer there may be a little too much reverb on this track -- that may be what you are hearing? At any rate, too much of the audio sauces (plug ins) can get messy in the mix. This track may be the most "produced" of all.

You are right on with the "bop" on Silly Game and That Much I Already Know. These two are really cut from the same cloth, with a fast, jazzy tempo in 6/8 time. I have grown up listening to jazz, especially Miles Davis and Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck, and it tends to leak into my pop songwriting as well.

Jumping the Tracks turned out better than I expected. My producer cleaned up a lot of the extra tracks and left a lot of space in there, giving it a an open sound. Vibey track and one of my favorites.

Thanks for the note on Cover of Snow as well. We have been getting a lot of good feedback on this song so I must be headed in the right direction here. I do remember the Fogelberg song -- it does have some of that nostalgic vibe to it as well.

And Afterlife has really been one of my favorites over time as well. I think it made a nice opener for the album.

Great review, and I do appreciate your in-depth listening. I have not made an analog version of this album yet. If there was enough interest, I might consider it, but it can get expensive.

Thanks!
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  #12  
Old 07-12-2016, 09:42 AM
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Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Thanks for the comment, RockSolid87. I have been checking out the references you mentioned and I can hear some similarities. Very well produced songs!
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  #13  
Old 07-12-2016, 09:43 AM
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Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Thanks, Scorpion8! Good to meet you.
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  #14  
Old 07-12-2016, 09:52 AM
Rob Meany's Avatar
Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Good word sleuthing, vince666! Yes, "Terramara" means "bitter earth", or I have also heard it can also be interpreted as "fertile soil". Regardless, it was a random choice at the time with little thought to the actual meaning. So it really has nothing to do with the band or it's music, but was more of an odd word that rolled off the tongue? So hard to find good band names these days...
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  #15  
Old 07-12-2016, 01:36 PM
Rob Meany's Avatar
Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Great question, Nakdoc. The economics are everything in recording these days (at least for most independent artists). Digital recording equipment continues to become cheaper and better, while the vintage analog gear becomes more expensive and less available. That said, most people still seem to favor the analog sound and will opt for recording that way if they can afford it. Most recording studios don't even have a 2-inch analog tape machine anymore.

I like the idea of recording on an old 4 or 8 track, but it would also limit the choices one has in terms of what can be added or layered into the final recording. On the other hand, with digital recording there are endless tracks so there too many options. It gets hard to make choices about what to include and how things should sound.

As far as the songwriting process, the new technologies have been a great boon. It's relatively easy now to capture you musical ideas at any time anywhere, and then make them sound professional even in a home studio. Still like cassettes though...
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  #16  
Old 07-12-2016, 02:32 PM
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vince666 vince666 is offline
frozen into the 80's. :)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Meany View Post
So hard to find good band names these days...
I'd say Terramara is a really great name for a band, congrats!

And it's nice to know that the italian meaning of your band's name was something you did definitely take into consideration.

Cheers,

Vince.
  #17  
Old 07-13-2016, 11:13 AM
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One of my favorite recordings is Janis Ian's "Breaking Silence". She was not signed to any label at the time, and had taken a second mortgage to pay for the production. With little money to spare she hired a Nashville studio musician to produce and kept the layers and processing to a minimum. The results are honest and thrilling. I wonder if you find it as easy to back off the layers and effects in digital, as if you followed the discipline of 4 or 8 track analog, or are you always tempted to "keep going" on a track?
  #18  
Old 07-19-2016, 06:26 PM
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Pacific Stereo Pacific Stereo is offline
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I've got myself the definitive Terramara collection (you all should, too!) and one of the things I find most fun with all artists is hearing and identifying influences. There's a number, but some standouts are the Dan, Level 42, some Guaraldi for good measure, some Chicago, Supertramp, some Doobies... I even hear some Jamal. Very fun.
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I RESTORE VINTAGE AUDIO AND VIDEO GEAR. Master technician for Concept, Quadraflex, Calibre, Pioneer and Sony. Endorsed by Richard Schram for Concept product restoration. Factory technician for both Yamaha and JVC. Sonics consultant for Denon. Pacific Stereo store manager, service manager, Central Service lead tech, liquidator at our demise. Pacific Stereo curator. Infinity IRS dealer. Music buyer for one of the first CD retailers in the USA. Authorized servicer for virtually every brand on the planet at one time or another. Music addict. Mastering & recording engineer, weaned on a Neve (no other console sounds like a Neve!). Industry-respected ears. Head Tapehead.

Need vintage audio & video repair and restoration, or unobtanium semiconductors and parts? Ask me! And do visit the website: pacificstereo.net
  #19  
Old 07-25-2016, 08:34 AM
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Rob Meany Rob Meany is offline
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Hey PS -- I think you pretty much nailed it. I might add Joe Jackson and Stevie Wonder and a few other 80s artists, but you are spot on for the rest. I'm actually amazed you mentioned Guaraldi!
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