David Ruis - Wash Over Me

By Simon, 5 July, 2023
Wash Over Me

Most of this CD was recorded live at the Industrial Revolution Conference near Toronto, Canada, and features David Ruis, Iain Lovatt, & Chris Janzen on vocals. David Ruis brought the live recordings down to Los Angeles where he partnered with Jason Halbert to finish the project. I wasn't at the original live event (I got involved a bit later as I'll explain below).

Now I should mention a few things about Jason. He's one of the smartest, and hard working people I know. Jason had previously been the keyboard player/programmer in dcTalk, and was a founding member of SonicFlood. He had moved to Los Angeles to become music director for Backstreet Boy Nick Carter's solo project. At the time, Jason owned Mower Studio in Pasadena, which was built inside the shell of an old lawn mower dealership (the studio was previously known as Lawnmower & Garden Supplies Studio when it was owned by Kevin Gilbert).

Around this time, Jason was hired by Randy Jackson to be music director for American Idol contestant Justin Guarini’s band. However, Kelly Clarkson says she "stole" Jason after winning American Idol. Jason is currently the Music Director for the Kelly Clarkson Show (NBCU). Wash Over Me was released in 2003, the same year Jason started working with Kelly.

With the celebrity gossip out the way, you'd think it would be a simple case of mixing the tracks from the event in Toronto, right? Well, you could, except the one thing that hadn't been recorded, at the live event, was the crowd's response to the songs. The only stems that existed were from the band on stage, and there was insufficient bleed to get a good impression of the crowd. So David Ruis enlisted Jason, myself, and various and sundry people from the swirl of the Ruis' lives to solve this dilemma. 

I just want to add that "enhancing" live recordings is quite a common practice. The most notorious being Kiss' Alive! album that was almost entirely re-recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York. In the case of Wash Over Me, since the crowd sound was missing from the original recording, it was felt that the recording was incomplete and not ready to release, and so that's exactly what we dubbed back in. All we needed was a crowd.

We got together, on a weekday evening in June 2003, in the sanctuary of Tujunga United Methodist Church, and I brought along my portable multitrack recorder. This was the first time actually working with Jason, and, as gracious as Jason is, I found the whole evening quite terrifying. When you bring recording equipment to a recording session, you realize that any failure wastes everyone's time. Jason is one of those people who is lightning quick with technology, knows all the shortcuts/keystrokes, and can have a track rolling well before the average person gets a chance to look down and even see the play/record buttons. That's why he's so popular with the A-list crowd.

The rent-a-crowd at Tujunga United Methodist Church
Jason Halbert, left, the various and sundry rent-a-crowd, and David Ruis, right

Our assembled rent-a-crowd, of just over 30 people, went through the songs one by one, singing along, then overdubbing, making crowd noises, and singing parts again where necessary. Jason also had some cool studio tricks, that he'd already shown me over at Mower, for thickening up vocal parts, so I was confident he could take all these parts, harmonize, re-pitch, double & triple track what we were recording, back at his studio. We just had to get the rent-a-crowd recordings solidified, and you can hear the final results on the CD.

And with all the "crowd stems" recorded, I left it up to David and Jason to finish mixing the album. As I've mentioned above, Wash Over Me (VMD8027R) was released in 2003, but it was also re-released in 2004 under the title Winds of Worship: Refiner's Fire (VMD8069).

Winds of Worship: Refiner's Fire