BEARSVILLE, N.Y. — "How does that sound?" asks Badlees guitarist Jeff Feltenberger, speaking through an intercom.
Surrounded by microphones, wires and audio recording gear, Feltenberger is laying guitar tracks on the song "34 Winters."
Producer Joe Alexander encourages Feltenberger to "play with more authority."
After a few seconds of constructive dialogue, the recording continues.
It's just one artistic moment in the 12-hour recording session that results in a completed track.
And while Alexander's choice word of "play" may have been appropriate, these men were actually at work.
Sequestered deep within the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, regional favorites and national recording artists The Badlees are working on a new album.
Bearsville Recording Studios, near the fabled Woodstock, N.Y., is the location, and, as of last week, the songs have been chosen, most of the tracks have been recorded and the follow up to 1995's "River Songs" was nearly completed.
Among the other intriguing sights and sounds from Oct. 14:
- Pete Palladino recording vocals for the up-tempo "Middle of The Busiest Road."
- Guitarist Bret Alexander laying some tasteful guitar work on a beautiful track titled "Thinking in Ways."
- Feltenberger adding some driving rhythms to the guitar-fueled "Silly Little Man."
Drummer Simasek, whose work already had been completed, popped in one day to just hear how things were going, and bassist Paul Smith — who along with Bret Alexander appeared to be very involved in the production side of things — experimented with a cello on some tracks.
Producer Alexander appeared to have the perfect disposition and ear for the project — suggesting but not demanding, critiquing but not berating, praising but not gushing.
The studio is considered one of the finest on the East Coast, with platinum records from artists like The Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler and R.E.M. decorating the walls.
Only a few weeks of overdubs and final mixing remain, and a spring 1998 release is being planned by the group's label, Polydor Records.
Although I conducted a few informal interviews with the band during a two-day visit, I tried for the most part to remain a fly on the wall and just observe the creative process.
We'll have a more comprehensive story next spring when the record hits stores, but, until then, know the production value is full and rich, and the songs — some heavy, some soft — are very, very good.