Producer / Engineer / Bassist: Jeremy Sagar
'AFTER ALL ...'
... the production
Nordstrom relates, "Jeremy & I first met 30 years ago when he had just arrived on Vancouver Island from London, England with his partner, dancer Gina Purves-Hume. They were making quite an impression on the Islandís emerging music scene. Jeremy was performing his songs on sitar & guitar at these funky multimedia events down in Maple Bay. Very trippy times..."
"Jeremy soon headed off to San Francisco to study East Indian Music with Ali Akbar Khan and Zakir Hussain in Marin County. When he returned to the Island he got a gig playing in a hot Victoria group, Scatterbrain, with guitarist Tim Zurowski. I tracked Jeremy in down at Harpo's nightclub one day & wasted no time in getting him onboard as a bassist on my first solo recording, 'Stages'. We have remained friends ever since."
"We both moved to the prairies at the end of the 70s. The scene on the coast was not really happening for either of us at the time, so Jeremy & his wife Renske moved to Saskatoon, while MaryAnn & I landed in Edmonton. Jeremy worked with a big lounge band called The Canadian Connection who had juicy house gigs in Regina, Edmonton & Saskatoon. I worked a solo act in the lounges in Edmonton & travelled extensively on the northern circuit."
"Eventually Jeremy & Renske moved their family to Edmonton too. Jeremy joined me on the bar circuit for awhile there & he also toured with the Buddy Knox Band. He eventually got himself established on the Edmonton scene, playing with several different bands including the Rault Brothers & Gaye Delorme. He also started picking up freelance engineering work for CBC."
"Jeremy produced an album for the Lionel Rault Band in the eighties & was gigging regularly with Gaye Delorme's Incredibly Deep Guys and Lionel Rault's Little Known Facts. In addition to his work in Edmonton as a performing/recording bassist, Jeremy has been working as the senior recording engineer at Access Network for over 15 years. He has also produced dozens of songs, jingles & mini-soundtracks in his ever-evolving home studio."
"With his experience in the studio & his familiarity with my music, I knew that Jeremy would be the right person to oversee production on 'After All...'. It was just a matter of finding the time."
Once the decision was made to record another album, the stage was set, but no one knew that it would take four years to finish the project. Like a fine wine, this one was allowed to mature & develop its own character.
The majority of the tracks were recorded at three different locations on Vancouver Island. Monteís home-based Helicon Studio was the scene of the initial & third phases. Ace studio drummer Pat Stewardís tracks were captured there, as well as many of the project's subsequent overdubs & countless listening sessions.
Being self-financed for this project, Monte allowed himself the luxury of not being in a hurry. There was a great deal of waiting involved between steps & the process was shelved at several points. At one stage Monte spent a year re-learning all the songs on the piano while visualizing the arrangements.
Two international contributors recorded tracks that were sent in by mail on CD & used in the mix. Bassist Keizo Endo of the progressive rock group Wappa Gappa recorded several tracks at his studio in Tokyo, while singer/songwriter Peter Gustavsson recorded several guitar & vocal tracks in Thomas Brixmar's T-Rec Studio in Varberg Sweden.
Jeremy Sagar also contributed several bass tracks recorded in Protools at Access Studio in Edmonton at this time & also sent them to Monte by mail. For some reason both Keizo & Jeremyís tracks did not synch properly back from CD onto Monteís VS880 system & it was decided that further technical assistance & an upgrade was required.
At this point Monte engaged Tim Zurowskiís Willow Creek Studio in Victoria. The bass tracks were successfully imported & aligned. During the next three sessions Monte recorded several vocal, piano & guitar tracks. The two-hour travel distance to & from Victoria became an impractical factor for Monteís time budget, so the expanding project was then transferred to the Roland VS2480 system rented from Wayne Forseth at Long & McQuade Music in Victoria.
Using the VS2480 proved to be a very good decision. Peter Gustavssonís contributions were recorded in Sweden at T-Rec using the same format. There was no problem with aligning any tracks when they arrived on a data disc.
Portablility was a bonus feature when the Mellotron & Baldwin Harpsichord tracks were recorded in Nanaimo during two sessions at Paul Gogoís Supergroovy Studio. Monte had long envisioned using a real Mellotron on this recording & was very pleased to finally accomplish this step with Paulís vintage Tron. The cameo harpsichord track was a serendipitous bonus.
Further intensive tracking was done at Helicon Studio in Crofton over the next six months. Having the 24-track system in-house was a key step in completing the overdubs of the project. Two of the songs lyrics were actually rewritten during the process.
These overdub sessions involved recording Larry Blatchfordís Hammond organ tracks, Doug Rhodes' soprano sax, Nick Jarvieís background vocals & also percussion tracks performed by Monteís wife, MaryAnn. Monte played the Godin A4 fretless bass on the instrumental, 'Headwaters' & used a Fender Jazz Bass on the instrumental, 'Deep Green'.
Jeremy returned to Helicon in the Spring of 2003 for a weekend of bass track recording & also captured a cameo digeridoo track by James Batchelor. Jeremy was impressed with the VS2480. I suggested we find a studio using the VS format in Edmonton when we reached the final stage of production.
On his return to Edmonton, Jeremy contacted Stew Kirkwood at Sound Extractor Studio and found that the facility would be perfect for post-production needs.
Stew Kirkwood became the head engineer of the project with Jeremy producing. Additional vocals sessions involving Michael Sabourin & his daughter Michelle were overseen by Jeremy in the summer of 2003. Their performances are particularly uplifting to the songs.
Monte flew to Edmonton in November for the final vocal sessions, which were once again done with Mike & Michelle Sabourin. At that point Monte, Jeremy & Stew had a series of edit & initial mix sessions. The project was finally mixed & mastered in January, 2004.
While all this was going on the material for the CD booklet was being compiled & fine-tuned. The collection of the various translations was accomplished by email from all over the planet. Things came together rapidly once the mastered disc arrived in the mail from Jeremy.
The CD booklet design & layout was done in black & white by Monte with Barry Newman at this point. Once this was done, Monte took the design to Pacific Music Marketing in Victoria, where Jeff Carter then reproduced the layout in colour. This was the final step of the 'After All...' project, which had taken four years to reach completion. The project was manufactured just in time for Monte's 50th birthday. It was a nice way to celebrate a milestone.
Monte's notes on the recording of 'After All...'
The project began in the spring of 2000 with the working title 'Every River Meets the Sea'. Jeremyís first step was to record drummer Pat Steward in Monteís home studio. With a case full of world-class microphones, a vintage Ludwig drumkit & a drummer Pat's caliber, the stage was set for two marathon sessions of inspired recording.
Monte recalls, "I first met Pat at a jam session with Len Hill in Parksville in 1979 when Pat was just 16. It was already obvious that he was going to be going places with his talent. Sure enough he went on to play with Brian Adams, Colin James & the Odds. He is a highly sought-after studio drummer who has played on scores of sessions."
"We started out these sessions on the Roland VS880. It has input limitations so we decided to record the kit to stereo with an overhead to capture the room sound. My guide vocals & guitar were on the 4th track. I like to approach my recordings in an analog style & was looking to capture a real room sound. Jeremy did a great job of mic placement to facilitate this. I built the subsequent arrangements up from Pat Steward's drum beds & my scratch tracks. We changed recording formats a couple of times as things progressed."
With these solid rhythm beds to build on, great care was taken to tastefully define & embellish the songs. Monte built scratch tracks as guides for subsequent overdubs using the VS880. The next step was Monteís selection of musical contributors. "I had an idea of who I would like to play the instruments on certain pieces but as time went on some interesting developments occurred."
"First of all, Jeremy was working on several of the songsí bass tracks in Protools at Access Studio in Edmonton. While this was going on I was working on the keyboard arrangements & virtually relearning the guitar-based songs on the piano."
Monte recalls, "During my trip to Japan in April of 2001, Dave Pite's wife, Masako & I were having a conversation about musicians. Masako recalled an old friend of hers who was a successful studio musician in Tokyo. They had lost touch over the years & I suggested she search for him on the web. By the end of the week she had found his website & made contact through email."
"When I got back to Canada, I checked out the website she had found & was introduced to the work of the Tokyo based progressive rock band, Wappa Gappa & bassist Keizo Endo. Through emails between Masako & myself an introduction to Keizo was arranged. I sent him my CDs, 'Ptarmigan' & 'Northstream' to listen to & he sent me two CDs by his group, Wappa Gappa.
"In an email I asked Keizo if he would be interested in contributing some bass tracks to my new project. He agreed & I sent him a CD with a few bed tracks to work on. A few weeks later I received his bass tracks in the mail. What an honour it is to be able to have Keizo's participation in this recording. I hope to someday contribute to one of his projects."
"Around this same time, a Swedish musician named Peter Gustavsson contacted me by email. He was looking to acquire a CD copy of my Ptarmigan album. Ptarmigan has a bit of a cult following in the progressive world & was even bootlegged on vinyl in the eighties. Over the course of several emails Peter & I became aware of certain synchronicities in our respective musical lives & we have subsequently developed a great friendship."
"In an inspired moment I decided to surprise him with a gift of my original Ptarmigan 12-string guitar, so I bundled up the old Espana & mailed it to him. Peter was very excited to get this delivered to his door & was soon working on guitar & vocal tracks for several of my songs. Peter recorded at Thomas Brixmarís T-Rec studio in Varberg Sweden using the Roland VS2480 format.
"How poetic it was to have Peter playing my old guitar on the three Glen Dias / James Lithgow Ptarmigan songs from 1970. He was playing the same instrument I had used performing those songs back then, but now in a different millennium & on a different continent."
"Peter translated the albumís song titles into Swedish & sang a chorus in Swedish on the song 'Abandoned Memories'. My paternal roots are from Sweden so it is quite moving for me to establish these connections at this point in my life."
"I have family there that I only met a couple of years ago & have this great connection with Peter. My wife is half Norwegian & speaks the language, so we are looking forward to travelling to Scandinavia as soon as we can put it together."
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