Journey Church Band - The Orange EP

The time has come again! The Journey Church Band releases their 4th EP this weekend! We've dubbed this EP the Orange EP. It boasts 5 songs this year (previous years only had 4) that were recorded through out the year at our Weekend Gatherings. These songs have been some of the most powerful and meaningful songs throughout 2016. 

Why do we do it? Journey Church has an amazing team of musicians that lead all those who attend our worship gatherings each week. As a way to celebrate that and share that worship between Sunday gatherings, we decided to produce a collection of songs each year. We hope that these EPs help those who love the worship music at Journey Church enjoy that worship throughout the week. We also love to share these recordings with those interested in checking out Journey Church. We believe it gives guests a taste of what's to come at the Weekend Gatherings. If you'd like to tune in live for the worship and a message, we encourage you to visit one of our Weekend Gatherings in person - Sundays at 9am, 11am, and 5pm at The Commons at Baxter and Love in Bozeman, Montana. Can't make it in person? No worries, tune in online at livestream.com/journeybozeman!

Feel free to cue up some music as I describe the EP creation process and a few of the things learned on this year's process over previous years...

The Process

The process actually begun about 3 weeks later than previous years due to our hectic schedules. It begins with choosing the songs. Worship leaders Brandon Edwards and Alex Smith brought me a list of 7 songs they were considering for the EP and I went to town combing through 12 months and 6 terabytes of recordings to export each song. We record 30-45 channels every gathering, every weekend. I export the board mixes so that Brandon and Alex can hear the various performances. Some songs were only done two or three times, while others have been done more than 5 times. In total, this process generated over 2,000 audio files weighing close to 90GB.

Once they had the board mixes, they narrowed down the songs and chose their top 5 favorites. From there, the work begins on creating the individual song project. I comb through the weekends each song was performed and pick what I believe will be the best musical foundation. I'm listening to overall performance for each instrument and vocal, as well as overall tonal balance of the musicians. I will typically bring in all of the files from one weekend's gatherings and then augment each song with a few instruments or vocals from other weekends. Since we play to a click track each week, it's easy to synchronize the performances and make it seamless. For each instrument and vocal, 3 files are brought into Logic; one for each gathering. Between the 5 songs, that comes out to about 650 audio files weighing in at about 25GB. 

After the desired parts are all lined up, I go to town editing and making initial mixes and plugin choices. This process takes about 4 hours per song. During this time I am listening to each part and correcting any wrong notes or rhythms by choosing different takes from the various weekend gatherings. This year I only had about 1 week to accomplish this. Not a huge deal if I didn't have a day job AND a weekend trip to The Gorge to see the Dave Matthews Band. Lets just say I did a lot of editing on the go. Shout out to JH Audio for creating amazing in-ear monitors I can trust to mix on!

The last three days of the process this year consisted of intense mixing sessions where I smooth out all of the mixes and received feedback from various sources in order to catch as many things as possible. For those that have never done that, imagine picking your favorite song and listening to it on repeat... for 2 hours at a time... on as many different headphones and speaker systems... 3 times in one day... and then do that for 4 more of your other favorite songs. So yes, I have heard these songs a lot. 

The final day-ish of the process is mastering. Mastering is like the black voodoo magic of the audio world. It's where the songs get their final sonic polishing. Typically someone other than the mixing engineer is doing this part, but due to time and budget constraints I once again did the mastering on this. Luckily i've got a lot of really great presets that get me 80-90% of the way there which is a huge time saver. Once again, each song is listened to a bunch more times by a few select people on a wide range of playback media in order to ensure the best experience no matter what you own. 

All done, it took about 60 hours of clicking, dragging, listening, exporting, and repeating to complete this year's EP. That's around the average, perhaps a little faster. The biggest difference is that it was all done in 3 less weeks! 

New This Year

Each year there always seems to be some new part to the puzzle that keeps things fresh, makes things sound even better, or creates a fun new challenge. This year's EP project was no exception. I'd first like to say that this year's EP has been graced by a few new musicians and vocalists to the already amazing worship team at Journey Church. It's always fun getting to know and work with new people as we welcome them onto the team!

There are a few new tools implemented on this EP I'm personally excited that we got to use. If you're not an audio person, you might just skip this section! For those of you that like cool kit, this year's EP has 3 new things:

 1. This year's EP is the first to feature the preamps and converters of our new Vi3000 audio console. Purchased last August, the Vi3000 has been an amazing new tool for our audio engineers to create great mixes week in and week out. I feel like they have a discernibly higher level of clarity and accuracy. In addition to the mix in the room, the Vi3000 also distributes audio to our Livestream that's new this year. We strive for a very well controlled mix in the room, and we've been incredibly happy to hear how well it translates to our online audience. 

2. We upgraded our kick drum setup to include a Shure Beta 91a mic inside the kick drum, and our Audix D6 moved out a little bit in order to implement a 2-mic setup for our kick. This is a pretty common technique, but we've just now been able to implement it. It makes getting a powerful and controlled kick drum sound so much easier! The D6 handles the low end thump, while the Shure Beta91a takes care of the attack of the better head. These two mics mix together to create the unified kick sound. The biggest benefit is that the mix can be adjusted during different parts of different songs to give exactly what's needed. 

3. This year's EP makes use of Waves Audio's new Waves Tune Real-Time plugin. This plugin's purpose is for vocal pitch correction. Yes, we use pitch correction for our post-produced music. We feel it puts the last 5% on to our amazing vocalists' performances. On previous projects we've used Waves Tune for pitch correction. The principal of this plugin is that it scans the audio and creates a visual representation of each note so you can tweak it as needed. Waves Tune Real-Time was designed to be a real-time correction so it doesn't have the ability to tweak things after the fact. I originally thought of just trying the plugin on the rough-mix stage and then re-do it with the full blown plugin. In previous years we would spend 4-5 hours combing through the vocal parts to make sure each pitch is correct and as it should be. This year, thanks to Waves Tune Real-Time that process was cut down to 1-hour total of just double checking. Brandon, who's normally quite particular, said it was "just perfect" without any manual adjustment. That's saying A LOT. Not only was it perfect, it sounds pretty dang good, and for the most part happens without being audible. Thank you Waves!

The Band

First off, I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the members of the Journey Church Band each weekend! They bring all the have to worship and their excellence does not go unnoticed! The following are the musicians that played on each song on this EP. 

1. Fully Devoted

Drums - Eric Venhuizen

Bass - Will Johnson

Keys - April Bennett

Acoustic Guitar - Brandon Edwards

Rhythm Guitar - Alex Smith

Lead Guitar - Brian Regan, Logan Schelvan

Background Vocals - Gina Daws

Lead Vocals - Alex Smith

 

2. Good Good Father

Drums - Garrett Stannard 

Bass - Alan Beard

Keys - April Bennett, Halley Bennett

Organ - Halley Bennett

Acoustic Guitar - Alex Smith

Rhythm Guitar - Brandon Edwards

Lead Guitar - Daniel Navarro

Background Vocals - Jamie Brown, Brandon Edwards, Brittany Graham, Sarah Hessler

Lead Vocals - Alex Smith

 

3. Transfiguration

Drums - Eric Vanhuizen

Bass - Luke Strutz

Keys - Halley Bennett

Acoustic Guitar - Alex Smith

Rhythm Guitar - Brian Regan

Lead Guitar - Joby Rudolph

Easter Choir: Michelle Abrams, Shannon Criswell, Connie Horning, Mariah Jallings, Melisa Jallings, Rick Massey, Matt Meyers, Daniel Navarro, Darlene Navarro, Rebecca Nelson, Elizabeth Rudolph, Malise Thomas, Sam Trammell

Background Vocals - Brandon Edwards, Brittany Graham, Alex Smith

Lead Vocals - Gina Daws

 

4. It Is Well (Through It All)

Drums - Nate Greer

Bass - Luke Strutz

Keys - Halley Bennett

Acoustic Guitar - Alex Smith

Rhythm Guitar - Brandon Edwards

Lead Guitar - Daniel Navarro

Background Vocals - Gina Daws, Brandon Edwards, Alex Smith

Lead Vocals - Carling Peck

 

5. Great Are You Lord

Drums - Eric Vanhuizen

Bass - Luke Strutz

Keys - Halley Bennett

Acoustic Guitar - Brandon Edwards

Rhythm Guitar - Alex Smith

Lead Guitar - Daniel Navarro, Logan Schelvan

Background Vocals - Gina Daws, Iris Eckles, Joanne Iszler, Daniel Navarro, Serena Stapert

Lead Vocals - Brandon Edwards

 

Mixed and Mastered by Kevin Butler at Constellation Studios