Maren Alford: Making Dreams Come True (Part 3)
Note: This is part three of a special four-part series by Gretsch guest blogger, Maren Alford.
“In the Studio”
Who wouldn’t want to meet a real rock star? When my band NOT UR GIRLFRENZ had the chance to meet Jaret Reddick, frontman for the amazing pop punk band Bowling for Soup, we were all in. I didn’t really know what to expect, except for what I’d seen in music videos and pictures online. When he walked in, spiky hair – check, tattoos – check. Plus a really great smile. I was pretty surprised what a normal guy he is, knowing that he’s sold over a million records, been nominated for a Grammy, toured all over the world, and most importantly is the voice of CHUCK E. CHEESE!
We talked with Jaret a bit and then played a song for him. He had seen our videos online and was pretty impressed with what we were doing. So much so that he said he’d like to work with us and produce two cover songs! Are you kidding me?? We chose two songs and then set a date to go into the studio to record them. A full eight-hour work day in a real studio! I didn’t think that day would ever get here.
When I walked into the studio I felt an unexplainable energy I’d never felt before. I looked around and was in Heaven. Before I even made my way back to the instruments and where we’d be actually recording, there was already so much to see–gold records, cool posters covering the walls, and video games were just the beginning. I walked into the room where we would be recording and my mouth was wide open for the first few minutes, as my eyes tried to adjust to the dim lighting. I looked to my left and saw racks and racks of snare drums and cymbals, and when I looked to my right I saw all kinds of amps and pianos, and stairs that led up to a loft completely packed all the way to the ceiling with all different brands and sizes of drum sets. Eight hours wasn’t going to be nearly enough time to spend at this place.
The engineer already had a kit picked out for me, and had put brand-new drum heads on for the very best sound. I sat down at the kit, got everything adjusted just the way I wanted it, but noticed there were not as many toms as I normally use–so I had to rewrite a few parts right before recording. Then it was time to check all 10 drum mics, hitting each drum slowly over and over, then played a simple, slow beat to make sure all the mics were still working and were balanced (this took awhile). Finally it was time to set up my mix and record a scratch track for me to play along to. It took a couple minutes to get used to everything, but after a few takes we were able to get a good scratch track.
Jaret came out and asked if I was ready to cut my first-ever drum track. I was looking forward to this historic moment, but was also really nervous. All I said was…“Sure.” I stretched out my wrists, fingers, arms, and ankles, took some deep breaths and told Casey (our engineer) that I was ready. For the first song, in order to really concentrate on staying with the click and listening to everything, I had to play almost the whole thing with my eyes closed. That also helped to calm me down because I felt like I was playing at home with my headphones on. By the second take I was completely comfortable. Afterwards, Jaret came out and said that I played with the click better than “about 96%” of drummers that both he and Casey had ever worked with! That made me feel pretty good!
Once I was done and Liv and Gigi were recording, I got to check out the video game I saw earlier. While I was working on getting the highest score (which I didn’t come even close to), Jaret called me back in to add a little tambourine and shaker to one of the tracks. Luckily, we did both in one take each! Guess being in school percussion paid off!
The last thing to do was record the vocals. I even got to sing a little backup on one of our songs, and I felt so cool singing into the vocal mic–I’d never sung into a studio mic before. Before I knew it, eight hours had gone by in a blink of an eye and it was time to go.
Working with Jaret was awesome–he was kind, he knows so much about music, and most of all he believed in us. He didn’t treat us like little kids, more like fellow musicians, and that was amazing to me. Hopefully we’ll be back soon, to record our first original song next time. But being in the studio was an experience I’d love to relive everyday and will never forget.
— Maren Alford
Latest NOT UR GIRLFRENZ news:
Maren, Liv, and Gigi released their very first single in October, a cover of the U2 classic “I Will Follow”. Enjoy it on SoundCloud. They also headlined their first show in October, returning to Lava Cantina for the first time since winning the “Battle of the Legends” competition there in August.
Watch for them at the “Women Who Rock” show at The Curtain Club in Dallas in December. They will be opening for the former lead singer of the all-female rock band Vixen.