Whatever Happened to the 25th Anniv. Recordings?
Sat., Apr. 18. 2020 5:30pm EDT
J. Jackson, lead singer and lyrics for ApologetiX here again.
I want to tell you a story. Like most good stories, there are some twists and turns, but it has a happy ending. However, you won't get the full impact unless I tell you everything that happened along the way.
We held the ApologetiX 25th anniversary concert on August 12, 2017, even though it was almost five months after our actual anniversary. A summertime show helped ensure better weather and gave out-of-state fans a chance to come during summer vacation. As a result, we had fans in attendance from 30 states and two Canadian provinces.
The entire concert was recorded on audio and video, as we planned to do a full-length CD and DVD. In the 32 months since then, many fans have asked whatever happened to those plans. We did release one single containing two brand-new songs from that show, "Bible O'Really" and "On the Road, Away from Home," in December 2017, but that was it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to live recordings, Murphy's Law often is in full effect — whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Despite setting up all of our equipment and having an on-site run-through the day before, we had significant technical difficulties while recording the show.
The ideal way to record a live show is to have the different vocalists, instruments, and drums recorded on separate channels, so the levels for each can be adjusted in the mix later by the CD engineer and producer. That works in a similar fashion to the way the sound man mixes them in concert. But what the people at our 25th anniversary show heard coming out of the speakers wasn't necessarily what got recorded.
With that many tracks, there are many more chances for something to go wrong. Some vocals and instruments didn't come through properly in the mix, while others needed touched up. Jimmy and I spent a day in early October 2017 listening to the entire show and making notes about everything that needed fixed.
We knew it would be a lot of work, but we rolled up our sleeves and started making the repairs that October and November with Chris VonBartheld (flying in from Florida for a session), Tom Milnes (two sessions), and me (three full sessions and parts of three other sessions). Meanwhile, Jimmy put in an unbelievable amount of hours working on mixes, repairing tracks, cleaning up noises, etc.
We tried to sing any vocal touch-ups in the way we had done them at the actual show, striving for the live "feel" rather than studio perfection. Our plan was to bring the other guys and ladies who had performed at the show into the studio later to touch up anything else that needed to be fixed.
Not everything needed fixed, mind you. For example, the tracks for Elaine's fiddle and Chris' piano on "Bible O'Really" were fine, as were Joe Cataneo's and Bill Rieger's guitars on "On the Road Way from Home." We were delighted with the final mixes of those two songs and hoped to finish more songs when our schedule permitted (since we were also constantly working on new parodies for singles).
Then disaster struck. In March 2018, Jimmy's computer system crashed. He and his wife, Eve, always back-up everything, so that shouldn't have been a problem, but then they discovered that the back-up had apparently failed. We still had the raw tracks from the original concert, but all of the work that we had done to repair them (except for the two tracks that had made it onto a single) was lost.
Jimmy and Eve tried everything they knew to retrieve or restore the missing files. Eve works in tech support for a large corporation, so she is quite familiar with solving computer problems, but this one stumped her. They even sought the assistance of a computer forensics expert, but his efforts also proved fruitless.
It was totally demoralizing. I didn't even want to think about that project. I don't think Jimmy did, either. So we moved it to the "maybe someday" section near the back of our minds. From time to time, some fan would ask if we were still going to do a CD and DVD for the 25th anniversary show, and that would bring back those painful memories as I'd have to explain it to them.
Fast forward to April 2020, as we're lamenting the fact that we can't put out any new singles because of the COVID-19 "stay at home" order from our governor, which prevents me from going into the studio to record vocals for the studio songs we've been stockpiling that already have their instrumental parts done. That's when God, who loves to step in when we're helpless, did something amazing.
Jimmy and Eve were cleaning their computer files to make space, when they noticed the raw files from the 25th anniversary show. They already knew we had those, but as they went to move them, the computer asked what they wanted to do with a number of other files with similar names. When they looked to see what those files were, they discovered all of the missing files that contained all of the repairs we'd made!
They couldn't believe it at first. But as they carefully checked out the files, they found it was true. After making sure they had everything, they called me on Monday evening. Not only did God preserve those files for us; He revealed their location at the perfect time. You see, Wayne, Tinch, and Keith can make their touch-ups in their home studios. The one person who can't do that — yours truly — finished all his parts in the fall of 2017.
I still don't know if and when we will be able to restore the entire show, but there were four other songs (besides the two we released in December 2017) I was especially interested in, because I had deliberately put them on our set list that night so we could get new recordings of those particular parodies. I felt the new live versions would improve upon the existing versions. I called Tinch, Keith, and Wayne and asked them if they would start working on fixing their parts for those songs.
We plan to release those four songs as our next two singles. I'm hopeful that we might be able to have the first single out by the end of next weekend, Lord willing. Isn't God's timing and provision amazing? I also contacted Brent Urmey, our videographer, to tell him the good news (he already knew the previous bad news). He is planning to start working with the video footage for those songs.
Want a better idea of the scope of what we'd lost and have now found, thanks to God? I was emailing with Jimmy on Wednesday night, and he said the following:
"Eve and I noticed this a few days ago after we started this project back up. I have a software plug-in that is set up to turn on only when I'm working on whatever project is open. When you are working in the session, it counts seconds, minutes and hours. When it comes up to 24 hours, it then will say 'day.' I have 56 days involved in this project! So far we have 1,344 hours wrapped up into the 25th project."
Praise the Lord! And stay tuned.