Corey Layman, the voice behind the late-'90s Pittsburgh band Hovland, and current bass player in the Karl Hendricks Trio, has plenty on his plate. He wears the hats of city planner, commercial and video-game music composer, husband and father. But a year ago, he decided to also write a song each week, record it using his iPhone, and post it to a blog on the website of his solo project/sometimes-band, Developer.
"It started as one of those crazy ideas -- 'I wonder if I can do that?' It was definitely aided by the fact that I'd be tinkering around and learning to record with the iPhone," Layman explains. Much of the music has been achieved with an app called MultiTrack DAW, which provides 16 tracks to work with. "I'd never need 16 tracks," he notes. "Except when I did the toy orchestra."
Layman plays all of the instruments himself, and while he's kept mostly to a standard rock setup, he's also branched out to include kitchen tools and the myriad kiddie instruments his 3-year-old son owns. "I bought my son a toy drum kit last year for Christmas and used that in one of the songs," Layman says.
With the pressure to keep up with a weekly schedule, one might assume that a songwriter would end up doing half-hearted work now and then. On the contrary, Layman felt that the rhythm of weekly deadlines -- and keeping up a standard of quality he set for himself -- helped him.
"There are only maybe three songs I don't really love," he says. "I kind of set the bar with my second song -- that was where I added drums, and it ended up sounding really good, audio-wise. I didn't really feel like I could come down too far from there, and I wanted to put drums on every track -- that almost killed me. When you have a 3-year-old, there are very few times [in the week] when you can play drums without him wanting to play."
Project 52, as Layman calls it, comes to a close this week with a live performance of the songs Sun., Sept. 5 at Brillobox, featuring the new Developer lineup (Chris James of Assembly and Geof Comings, once of Songs: Ohia, with help from Allies' Joel Grimes).
The thrilling conclusion -- Layman hopes -- will be the unveiling of the project's 52nd song. "It could sound really great, or it could totally fall apart," he laughs.
And the next day?
Layman doesn't hesitate: "I'm going to sleep. A lot."