The virus slowed down the process for a few months, but I just began work on the ninth and final song for the album. There's still work to do on the other tunes - I need to replace the "scratch vocals" on 4 of them, for example. Singing over the completed instrumental may be the most enjoyable part of song writing.
But I have to say I truly love the whole process, and I thought I'd explain how I go about it in these days of Covid. Suffice to say, the days of recording with a full band in the room are all but over, but as always, it's important to make sure the songs still have that "live", interactive sound. Here's how it usually gets done, including with my latest song "The Shaman":
I start out by recording "scratch" guitar and vocal parts on my computer. This is done to a click track set at the tempo at which I think the song works best. I send these tracks to Mikie Martel at "The Sanctuary", a recording studio set up in an old church that has great acoustics - especially for drums and vocals. At that point, I bring my drums to the Sanctuary and I play along to the scratch tracks. After getting a rough mix of the drums, we're ready to start layering on the other instruments.
First, Mikie - being an excellent bassist - records his part to the scratch track and the drums. Next, I send the song to a real guitarist, who can record their part at home and replace the scratch rhythm guitar part. Now we have a full rhythm track, including drums, bass, rhythm guitar (either electric or acoustic or both), and scratch vocals.
With a solid rhythm track, the other instrumentalists will feel comfortable playing along to the recording at their home studio. This is why I hire excellent guitarists such as Steve C., J. C. Carman, Mike Flanders, or Ben Deberry to record the rhythm tracks. They've got to be right on!
Instruments that get added on may include lead guitar, B3 organ, piano, slide guitar, pedal steel, banjo, or dobro. I've even added a few chords on my "open D" tuned acoustic for depth. I should add that during the process of instrumentalists recording in their home studio, they will often record two or three takes, which allows me to edit in parts from all of their takes to make one solid track. This is one of the ways I can make sure the final recording sounds as if we've played the song together on stage hundreds of times!
Once recording is finished, Mikie mixes the song, and then the two of us will make minor adjustments - a little less vocal here, a little more guitar there.
I have to say again - "everything happens for a reason". Even though I've been frustrated at the virus slowing down the process, I've made important changes to the existing recordings during this delay that have done nothing but make them better. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but the final result makes it all the more rewarding and worthwhile...