The Song and the Process. The Ramble by The Hipwaders

hipwaders-golden-stateThe Ramble holds a special place in our hearts here at A Man, A Band and A Plan… Sort of.  This was the song that my daughter choose for her first ice skating solo last summer. It had already been one of our favorites and The Golden State album is one of my recommended choices for people entering the world of Kindie music. I met head songwriter/ Hipwader Tito Uquillas at my very first kindiefest (definitely a theme around here). He is a full time paramedic (still working 24hr shifts for a private ambulance is a rare thing these days) and I am a full time firefighter so we had a few things to talk about. It’s always fun to exchange stories with people in the EMS industry. We also share a music making philosophy – Get in a band with musicians better than you as we both consider ourselves songwriters first.  Well we didn’t exchange CD’s at that time (my usual way of obtaining music),  it was at another kindiefest 2 years later and Hey Josie (also on The Golden State) was a big hit on Kids Place Live at the time.  It seems after that first kindiefest, on his last day, he went and spent a day in Central Park roaming. Having already visited many NY destinations greenwich-village-circa-1980s-public-domain(Greenwich Village, Wehawken, etc)  connecting all the things he had seen on TV and movies while growing up. He then set off on an adventure of a different sort.  The goal that day was to walk through Central Park and head to the Museum of Modern Art.  Being a California guy this open space in NYC came a bit unexpected.  He came upon a cool foot path that took him through the trees and rocks, winding through arches and over bridges, through bushes around ponds… Then he found out the name of the path was “The Ramble”.  800px-Central_Park_New_York_City_New_York_23_croppedHe had an idea and quickly sang into his phone. The original version he says was more of a hop scotch rhythm to it.  More of a chanting version sans bass, drums and guitar.  So he takes this back to California and has a version of this song in mind.  He also has some other songs and the band goes and road tests them- meaning they’re rehearsing them and putting them in their live shows. The Ramble has started to morph. He looks up birds of Central Park and finds a warbler which works. After a year of practicing all the new stuff they head into the studio.  By now the Ramble is completely different.  The chanting rhythm has been exchanged for a drum rhythm and the full band version is rocking.   They now have a tom-tom dominant drum line (Tito wanted more tom like Christopher Walken wanted more cowbell) and the guitar riffs and bass line are set.  They now need a studio to record in as they are ready.  Through a series of events they end up at control-room-a-2Studio Trilogy and record with Willie Samuels.  Willie has a great story as to how that ever important drum sound in The Ramble came to be…”I do something when recording drums where I have my “standard” microphone set up, but I will usually throw up one or two “oddball” microphones in random locations around the drum kit just to see if any “magic” comes from them (usually not, but its a fun experiment). On those sessions, I put up an old RCA 77 ribbon microphone about 5 feet out in front of the drum set. It was a weird, and funky sound that didn’t seem to contribute much to the drum sound.  BUT while mixing The Ramble, I was having difficulty finding a drum sound that fit the vibe of the track.  I pushed up the fader with that RCA microphone on it and everything just came to life. It gave the drums this great old Bo Diddly quality that really fit what Nick (Hipwaders drummer) was playing with all the floor Tom work.  I took it a little further and pulled back all the other mics and the drum sound on that tune ultimately ended up being almost completely just that one microphone”…  Basically he’s saying most of  the drum sounds came through the one mic.  Which is not how you usually record drums. So very cool. Which is why you hire a good engineer.  Which is a story for another day.  Moving on…    Tito is an inspirational type of songwriter.  He can go six months without writing anything and then write six songs in two weeks. He usually writes the chorus and melody and then fills in the rest.tito Occasionally he’ll find a guitar riff and work from there.  Go have a listen to The Ramble and the rest of  The Hipwaders catalog as it’s some pretty tasty stuff.  They’re headed back into the studio this year for a yet to be named new CD. I’ll be looking for it and you should as well.    Go support a kindie artist today!

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