The Recording of the Third “Family of Man” Album
Spontaneity is what my acoustic-folk band “The Family of Man” has always been based on, but one thing that has so far remained a constant is: we record an album every July. However, circumstances for this latest batch of songs which will make up our third album (hopefully completed in a couple months or so) were still informed by one rather spontaneous change: where we record. It was only days before we were planning to make our annual trip to Mendocino to record in that same storage container that produced the previous two albums (Inside The Box and Heads in the Sky) that we found out that circumstances at the property would not allow us to be there for the amount of time we would need. As fate would have it, however, we were able to contact another wonderful couple who lives in the Humboldt forest and has hosted us for several visits during New Years. Without a second thought we adjusted our trip to the north to go…further north.
This new space is a small plot of land down a long windy road which then becomes a windy dirt road, which then becomes a small house hidden within the forest. A small river flows right behind the main house, and much like our previous recording space, there is a smaller hut outside of the main house across the garden and past the beehives. we call it “The Honey Hut”.
This is the space the vast majority of things were recorded during our 6 day stay. using a portable recording device we would one by one spend some time in the Honey Hut adding our individual parts to a growing puzzle of songs. Getting the process started is always one of those things where you just have to throw yourself to the wind and hope it’s all going to piece together in the way we collectively heard it in our heads. After some rough first takes, and a little quality control with the recording process, things started to flow.
In a very similar way to how “Heads in the Sky” was conceived, these songs were all formed over the previous year and played for each other either in rough GarageBand demos passed digitally, or in band practices. One notable difference is that, for the first time, I wrote several songs for the record. Where both our previous albums were formed from song ideas originally from Wilfred and Aliyah , this album will be the first where all three of us contribute songs.
When I initially was writing the songs that have now been recorded for this album, I was simply writing them out of necessity and personal release. Formed out of some rather rough emotional times that went down over this previous year, I found myself needing to just have a creative release that was a bit of a faster turnaround then my other creative outlet: filmmaking. conceptualizing, writing, casting, directing, and editing a short film is often a process that takes me over a year to complete. Writing a song is something that can be completed in a matter of days, and it was what I needed. These songs were really just a form of medication for me, never really intended to be something more than a way to work out whatever it was that was driving me crazy in my own head. Through sharing them with Wilfred and Aliyah it started to become clear to myself that Family of Man songs aren’t really defined in any other way than songs that the three of us hear in our heads and actualized through the recording process. The songs I wrote became redefined as Family of Man songs.
To say I’m nervous about them being heard is an understatement. However nerves and excitement can often be close relatives.
The recording process felt far more exhausting than previous years. 2 major things had changed which influenced this: we decided to record every single instrument / vocal separately as to have the most control in the mixing process (and ultimately have the highest quality sounding album yet) AND…we had about 4 days less than we normally do to record the album. Needless to say, this is not the greatest combo. The challenge was taken on with full force however, and we would spend literally every waking hour doing something that was contributing to the album. if someone was cooking dinner, another one of us was recording a part. If one person needed to take a nap, the others recorded. In fact, on one of the rare moments all three of us decided to take a break and go to the river to relax for a bit, we still brought the recorder to document the journey…and some sound clips from that made it onto a couple moments on the album. Towards the end of the process, I was beginning to feel a deeper connection to the insanity of Jack in The Shining.
One thing we discussed as far as how we wanted this album to sound compared to the others was scope of instrumentation. We wanted to include a broader range of instruments throughout the songs and experiment more with things that we had previously only briefly tapped into. The album contains the instruments we’ve used before (guitar, percussion, flute, ukulele, piano flute, bongos, etc.) but also includes some new ones (saxophone, banjo, piano, a wider range of percussive…objects, and a moment with a choir of friends belting along with us).
The songs all occupy their own land in many ways. “Hero’s Journey” has a psychedelic western feel, “Twin Sized Bed” alternates between backcountry twang and a foot stomping folk-march, and “The Way” is an expansive gospel-infused sing-a-long.
I’m incredibly excited to release this album so you can hear what we’ve heard for the previous months. I’m currently mixing the album (which is becoming a much longer process then our previous albums due to how this was recorded) and hope to get things to a point where we can announce a release date as soon as possible. We will be releasing a bunch of behind the scenes videos from the trip through our Facebook leading up to the release, as well as all the announcements concerning the album like track list, album art, release date, and more. “Like” us on Facebook for all the updates.
UPDATE: The album is now out! you can download / stream the entire thing all for FREE below: