From left: Kevin Offizer (drums), Kevin Bong (keyboards), Cocoa the Tour Dog, producer/composer/artist Scott Woodruff (vocals, guitars), Tommy Suliman (bass) While reggae/dub project Stick Figure is a four-man band that brings frontman Scott Woodruff’s songs to life onstage, the process of composing, arranging, and recording is a solitary affair; in the studio, it’s mainly about Woodruff, his creative ideas, his gear, and his adorable canine second engineer, Cocoa.
Stick Figure’s new album is Set in Stone, half of which Woodruff made in his rustic new studio in the beautiful Santa Cruz, Calif., mountains. Woodruff was attracted to his four-bedroom home in Santa Cruz because the property feels remote and next-to-nature, but is minutes away from town and the beach. The artist helped lay the foundation for the studio about 50 yards from the main house, and then went on tour while a couple of music-loving contractors continued the work. When Woodruff returned, he couldn’t wait to start making new music.
“Some of these songs I started a few years ago, and I always knew they could be good songs if I could finish the lyrics, or in some cases write the lyrics,” says Woodruff. “When the studio went up, everything started coming together. I felt so comfortable; I wrote several songs in the first couple of days. All the lyrics that I had been waiting for the inspiration for—it call came to me because of this new studio.”
Woodruff’s arranging and recording platform includes a Mac pro running Propellerhead Reason and Pro Tools.
Working on his own and bouncing from song to song, as his creative process dictates, Woodruff uses a chart to stay organized.
Woodruff records his vocals to a Neumann TLM 103 in his one-room facility. He says that another key ingredient to his tracking process is the uplifting playback he gets on his ATC 100 monitors. “They’re new for this studio, and they’re extremely loud,” he says. “It really helps me get into it while I’m making the music to turn them way up. Fortunately, the studio walls are double-thick so the sound won’t bother my housemates or neighbors.”
Woodruff: “On this album, I mainly played my Fender Stratocaster and Taylor Acoustic. I have an Orange amp and a Fender Twin Reverb. Sometimes I plug straight in to get a super-clean sound, but on these songs I usually miked up one of my amps with a Shure SM57.”
“I control everything from the computer,” Woodruff says. “I do all the beats, drums, bass, the keyboard with MIDI keyboards.”
“When we play live, we’re a four-piece band,” Woodruff says. “We have drums, bass, keyboard player, and I play guitars and sing, but on the recordings, sometimes I’ll lay down seven different keyboard parts. So the live versions are sometimes a little more basic, but that’s cool—it just means the songs have a more natural feel.”