— as told by Mike
It’s a very interesting experience when you undertake a project of creativity. After many experiences with songwriting and composing in general, I have concluded that I can’t force anything – works of art need to be allowed to reveal themselves in order to take life.
That being said, this album revealed that this effort needed to be a collaborative one – we needed help.
Seattle is a very neat place, and Brighter Days was a freak of a project. We felt pretty good about writing some tunes, and then orchestrating them for full orchestra… but then came the part about tracking the orchestra…
…how on earth are we going to get an orchestra to record this stuff?
In November of 2015, I played a glam rock tribute show at the Moore Theater featuring works by David Bowie, T.Rex, and ELO with the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Before the show, a bunch of the orchestra musicians got together for dinner down at the Yard House and we started talking about this project I was doing with Ethan and how we wanted to make a point that mental health was very important, and that talking about dealing with depression shouldn’t be frowned upon in society.
After that, my friends Casey Cheever, John Benefiel, and Daniel Mullikin, decided to help Ethan and I by testing out some of the condensed arrangements I had done for these tunes. It was because of their enthusiasm and willingness to help that propelled our courage further to ask others to join in. I asked Dexter Stevens and Lauren Redburn to come record in Casey’s basement, and I recorded Mike Lundquist in his band room in Kirkland. After all the winds were recorded, we recorded our string section including Rachel Nesvig, Sada Doup, and Kim Roy in a church basement.
[Casey Cheever in his Basement Studio Space]
Over the last few years, we have accumulated a good amount of recording equipment (and knowledge) in order to record our songs from previous projects we had together, as well as our own solo projects. Ethan and I have had lots of fun during this process, but we’ve had many obstacles through our endeavors. When it came to the mixing process, we learned that it is much more beneficial to have a separate mixing engineer who is emotionally removed from the writing process. Part of the problem we had with our previous project was the realization of how much work it was being our own mixing engineers – there were too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s very easy for egos to clash and to believe that one opinion in group projects either trumps or have equal weight to other counterparts. This conflict automatically splits the group into two (or more) parts, which can result in negative results. However, when hiring an engineer, it polarizes the band as a unit, and the recording engineer is left being the “expert” in his field. That being said, we hired Andrew Bloom from Chartreuse Muffin Studios – best decision ever. We gave him the rundown of our project and what we wanted it to become, and he offered us ideas and concepts that were brilliant. As a result, he was able to share his creativity and knowledge of production through our own music, resulting in some truly extraordinary works of art. But the best part of hiring Andrew as our engineer was that we gained an extraordinary friend in the process.
[Mike Jauregui and Andrew Bloom at Chartreuse Muffin Studios]
THE WEB GURU
During our brainstorming of this giant project, we were talking to Eric Souza, one of the parents of our students that Ethan and I were teaching at the time, about this project. We expressed what we were trying to do and Eric was willing to help us get started on making the web-site you are all reading from now. His wonderful knowledge, good heart, and solid character will always be dear to us and we appreciate he and his wonderful family for being the people they are. To learn more about Eric and his family, check out his website.
[Eric Souza and his wife, Emi]