We still needed one more element to add to the show: A USB pad controller for Brian. We decided the Alesis ControlPad looked like it would do the job, and had ordered one. But it was now or never time, even though we didn’t have anything for it to trigger, so we hooked it up into Brian’s MacBook Pro.
At the same rehearsal, Brian and I were jamming when I hit on a riff that Brian really liked. I was able to reproduce it, and Brian recorded it (a good thing, as I “lost” the riff later on). But maybe I was just too tired, because I had a devil of a time getting the timing right on it when coming back from the chorus. Brian had it nailed at first, so I suggested he sing it and that would jog my memory to follow along. But with me playing different versions of the riff, I started to confuse him too!
So, we decided this was a perfect opportunity to integrate the controller. We’d record two measures of the loop as a synth bass riff, and after the chorus, Brian could hit the pad and bring it in, essentially cuing me. That worked. As a bonus, later on in the song, Brian could play the riff to give me a nice bass bed so I could stretch out a bit more on a solo.
I booted up Sonar on my main music computer, played the riff using a soft synth, and exported it as a file. Now the question was what to use as a host. Fortunately, I had an older version of Reason lying around, so we loaded that onto Brian’s Mac and as the Alesis ControlPad comes with a template for the ReDrum module, we used that as a sampler.
Given that the Alesis controller has eight pads, and ReDrum can load ten channels of samples, it seemed like a good match. We also tried using the NN-19 sampler (shown just below ReDrum), but actually ReDrum was all we needed.
Brian felt strongly we should integrate the song into the act, even though we didn’t have much time to rehearse it. My initial instinct was that it was taking a chance, but Brian has a good sense of what’s possible and he has a good track record of being right, so I figured what the heck. As it turned out, we played it at the festival and pulled it off without a hitch.
However, now I needed to leave for a conference with Harmony Central on the 1st, not returning until the 4th. And Brian had to go to LA on the 7th for some gigs with Public Enemy, and had a flight booked to make it back into New Mexico on the 10th, the day of the gig, around 11 AM. As I had to tweak some tech things on the 5th, that gave us one more day of rehearsal to get things right.