I’m waiting for the man (caterpillar mix #1)

July 27, 2009 2:01 PM

VU & Nico challenge - I'm Waiting for the Man Caterpillar

So… VU & Nico is one of my favourite LP’s from way back in my dark goth days of the early 80s (we used to cover this song).

I have been in about 17 minds whether to post this or not. I recorded the instruments and was going to get a mate to do the vocals (*). But, I had a free evening and thought “**** it – I’ll give it a go”. And I did.

This is the FIRST thing I have ever sung on, if you exclude a gig we played for a friend’s 18th (20+ years ago – the friend was/is a huge Gary Numan/Tubeway Army fan so I sang and played keyboards on “Bombers”. Those 2½ minutes are burned into my psyche).

I have found out that I have absolute deafness when it comes to mixing my own vocals. Fine for other people’s vocals, but weirdly unmanageable on my own. The first version I played to Ewan had the vocals really low in the mix and he forced me to get them up in the mix. (I thought they were just right – he couldn’t hear them!).

I feel better about them now. Of course, in an effort to confuse, I have distorted them heavilly and sung in my best Lou Reed NYC drawl (“best” being a relative term).

Please be gentle.

(* the mate was Ewan Jones and he did play unexpected lead guitar bits – thanks)

posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I think this sounds great. Your voice sounds really confident, and the mix works. It's lou reed, so a polished, 'trained' voice would sound out of place with the material, I think.
posted by umbú at 5:45 PM on July 27, 2009

I'd like to hear your voice with less distortion (not none - I think it works on this track), and I think you should keep doing vocals on stuff like this, that's gritty and sits, presumably, in the heart of your vocal range to build confidence in your singing. I imagine having more confidence will help some with your inability to mix your own vocals.
posted by EvaDestruction at 4:10 PM on July 28, 2009

wow - thanks for your incredibly kind comments! I had really good fun doing this once I had got over listening to me coming back out of the speakers! I will do some more challenges and inflict my caterwaul (caterpillarwaul?) on others. MWAAAUUGHH MWAAAUUGHH MWAAAUUGHH (evil laughter).
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 3:43 AM on July 29, 2009

Yeah, your voice totally works here. Definitely try recording vocals on some more stuff—don't let the old psychic damage fuck with you forever.

I don't know if you (think that you) struggle with tonality; this style is so sort of talky that it's hard to tell one way or the other there, so I'd be curious to hear you do something more explicitly melodic. But you're laying on bite and attitude really well here. You don't sound like someone I'd expect to have reservations about their vocals.

Cover some Guided by Voices some time, if you're looking for suggestions. I think you'd be able to nail some Pollard-esque vox no problem.

I have found out that I have absolute deafness when it comes to mixing my own vocals.

Between general ear-blindness, being hyper-attuned to your own singing (so you can "hear" stuff even if it's not up in the mix because you're basically mirroring it in your head when you listen), and any nervousness about the vox situation in general, that totally doesn't surprise me. Learning to mix against your bad habits is part of it, but having someone else give you a second opinion on the mix like you did is a really good idea.
posted by cortex at 8:42 AM on July 29, 2009

This is cool. I love the driving. I'd like it with a real bass maybe, but I love these chopped-up drums. The whole thing works really well together. And yeah, your voice sounds great.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:37 AM on July 30, 2009

This is pretty well perfect. I love distorted vocals like this. I can kind of see you performing this through a megaphone. The whole thing is very driving, a bit of a Butthole Surfers vibe to it. Very nice.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 4:02 PM on July 31, 2009

This is probably the best non-novelty song I've ever heard here.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:17 PM on August 7, 2009

I really enjoy the way you thin the texture down, reaching nothing for a moment around 2:26, and then back. That is to say, I enjoy the effect. I'm a little curious as to why you put it where you put it; to me it seems a little arbitrary in the middle of the verse there. Hold off for another line, to just after "sweet taste," and to me it makes sense lyrically. And seems to work better structurally too, maybe just because of the asymmetry.
posted by eritain at 11:36 PM on September 12, 2009

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