Church of Hed: The Father Road – Recording Notes (Side 3)

Side 3 of the studio production notes for the 2022 Church of Hed album, The Father Road, covers the recording of this aural travelogue from Western Illinois to the Appalachian range. Check out the prologue, where we analyze our studio setup, recording approach, and the hardware and software used on the album. The prologue also includes background on the overall Rivers of Asphalt concept.

More fun with the Alternate Mode TrapKAT. Photo by Angela Williams
More fun with the Alternate Mode TrapKAT. Photo by Angela Williams

In addition to the prologue, the recording notes for The Father Road span four sides, ironic considering no desire on our end to release a vinyl edition of the album. Nevertheless, it serves nicely for splitting these notes into five parts.

Side 1 offers insights on the album from the Pacific Ocean outside of San Francisco Bay to the desert border between Nevada and Utah. Side 2 looks at the recording of this trip down the Lincoln Highway from Western Utah to the Mississippi River. Side 4 chronicles the rest of our journey, from Bedford, PA to Times Square and beyond.

11. Open Road Illinois LH 02:44

Open Road Illinois LH essentially restates the motif of the original Open Road Illinois from Rivers of Asphalt. However, since the LH covers fewer miles in Illinois compared the Route 66, the track sports a shorter length. The absence of the original’s Berlin School synth freakout keeps things more concise.

Here’s the original 2010 video from Rivers of Asphalt.

In addition to the relative brevity, Open Road Illinois LH boasts a more intense performance of the piano-powered 5/8 pattern. A Moog synth melody also adds to the track’s sense of propulsion. I improvised the coda based on the breakdown from the original version before that track descends into the synth freakout.

12. Plainfield Crossroads 03:38

The Lincoln Highway and Route 66 cross paths in Plainfield, Illinois; even sharing the same roadway for a few blocks. Plainfield Crossroads marks the occasion with a short synth-based interlude featuring an LFO-driven Moog Sub 37 patch and the Make Noise 0-Coast, per usual. The combined MoogCoast remains my main synth for leads, sequences, and arpeggiations, with the 0-Coast effectively serving as a third oscillator.

Here’s the studio version.

And a live in-studio version!

After two “verses” of the piece an arpeggiation appears, allowing for a restatement of the Midwest motif that first appeared at the end of Prairie Waves. For this arpeggiated take, the motif chord progression sports the combination of the Korg Z1 and the Streichfett, creating a bespoke string synth sound as opposed to piano and organ. This modern sonic approach better serves to document the old road across the southern suburbs of Chicago.

13. Avoiding Toll Roads At Night 03:01

The interstate from the Chicago Skyway to the Indiana Toll Road remains one of the worst stretches of highway in the country. Is there a better reason to traverse Northern Indiana on a nighttime journey along the Lincoln Highway? Old roads offer the best opportunity to truly understand the land, as opposed to arriving as quickly as possible.

After an opening of spacey road ambience, Avoiding Toll Roads At Night features a fast DrumBrute pattern with kinetic electro trap kit drumming overdubs. Synth melodies from the MoogCoast continue the evolving story of our surreal road trip before ending in a blaze of string synth, as we prepare to enter Ohio. The piano-based chord and rhythm sequence returns later along the journey when The Father Road reaches New Jersey.

14. The Red Brick Road 05:01

The chord progressions and song structure from The Red Brick Road were written for a track from Rivers of Asphalt that didn’t make the album. The melodies are new; featuring a mix of MoogCoast and an electric piano from the Yamaha MM8 run through an Elektron Analog Drive for a measure of grit.

The long coda from this track remains one of my favorite sections from The Father Road. The trumpets last seen in the valleys of California in Sierra Ascent 1 finally return along with a distorted piano pattern. I originally planned on having Stan or someone provide an epic guitar solo over it, but went with the composed melody in the end.

15. Flying Teapots Over The Alleghenies 04:18

Flying Teapots pays tribute to the World’s Largest Teapot which sits along the side of the Lincoln Highway in Chester, West Virginia. Once again, the old road begins climbing the mountains, with the range being the Alleghenies. As such, the track features the same drum machine beat from Sierra Ascent 2 and Wasatch Descent, with a slightly different bass synth line.

Ultimately, this slow jamming groove features a spacey piano with a reverb contributing to a sonic vibe that simply welcomes you to crawl inside. Lately, I’ve been playing a version of Sierra Ascent 2 and Flying Teapots as one long jam. Look for it in a future live video from Church of Hed.

Check out the other installments of the series cover the recording of Church of Hed – The Father Road!

The Prologue

Side 1

Side 2

Side 4


  1. […] article covers the production from Utah to the Mississippi River when the LH crossed into Illinois. Side 3 takes us through Illinois all the way to the foothills of the […]

  2. […] As a prologue, let’s provide a few insights on The Father Road album itself and our recording setup, including the DAW, studio gear, and other items relating to the album’s production. In the other four articles, we’ll dive into each track and the bespoke recording approach making each a sonic reality. Enjoy the journey. Check out Side 1, Side 2, and Side 3! […]