Another gloomy morning in ‘darkest’ Nottinghamshire – it’s nearly July apparently! Ah but the rain will not deter me from telling you about our studio time for the album ‘Motion Owl’. So, with the curtains still drawn, still tucked up in bed with a shih tzu across my legs, we begin.
Having nailed down the ultimate compromise with the Mrs regarding the choice of our new laptop (Macbook Pro; Superb for producing music and she thinks it looks pretty) We had the basis of our recording studio. It’s a simple studio set up, but does the job and leaves just enough room on my desk for a coaster and the biscuit barrel (for when Chris comes round).
Let work commence! We had 13 or so songs written and ready to go so we recorded basic demo’s of each of them, listened to them a heck of a lot to try and get an idea of where they would go or where they wouldn’t. Two of the songs didn’t make it sadly. They just didn’t cut it. Thats how writing goes though, for every good few songs you write you also write some right old shite! I must say though that the two ‘dead’ songs have been recycled into another great song for the *cough* second album maybe baby?
The demo’s that had survived were then used as guides for the actual recordings of the songs, for endless overdubbing, chopping and changing. I find that recording and mixing vocals is the hardest part of any project, many would probably agree. Getting vocal to sit in the right place in the mix is a delicate balancing act. I got it wrong a lot of the time and it was up to Chris to moan at me repeatedly “that lead vocal is ripping my face off!”.
On the subject of recording vocal… Myself and Chris had finished all of the recording parts and had drummer Dave round to have a listen to the first draft of the mixes. “Dave, I’ve heard you sing, why don’t you sing a few lines on that last song?” Asked Chris. Oh the beauty that unfolded from there! Dave is a master at singing – but only when he’s taking the piss. It’s strange, you whack Michael Jackson on and he will sing like a bird, all the lyrics, phrasing and pitching is perfect. Now, chuck him in front of a microphone and it all goes tits up. Fucking hell, me and Chris were listening from the ‘control room’ and could not contain ourselves. The combination of Dave’s over emotive singing face and the Tarzan like notes coming out of his gob were too much for us! On dave’s vocal track, the recorder picked up a tiny squeal in the background of Chris absolutely howling ‘ooooohhh maa ribs’. I know, I know it sounds like me and Chris are horrible bully’s but we are all mates and good mates take the piss don’t they? Thats what they are for, right? Dave finished his nine hundred takes and walked back into the room as we were still wiping the happy tears from our eyes. Needless to say I left Dave’s vocal on the track, it’s extremely low and you’ll need bat ears to hear it, but it is there.
Chris loved playing with our little midi keyboard, you can play and record any sound you can think of. From the standard piano to a cat in a washing machine, literally anything goes. When it came to the production of our songs, the midi keyboard would always push the biscuit barrel out of it’s place, and would have Chris hammering away at the keys over and over and over until he got the sound he wanted and until he could actually play the little ditty he had in mind. His little ditties on Kids and Rising up are amazing, they make the songs! Getting there though was a long and frustrating process, to the point of wanting to chuck said keyboard out the fucking window. If either of us were to hit one more wrong note and have to do another take it would have been good night Vienna.
Mixing the album was a long slog, the hardest part. Three of us sat in the studio trying to make sense of all these sounds (cat in a washing machine) flying at us. We must have done about four different mixes of each song until we got them right. The biggest difficulty is getting a great sounding studio mix to translate well to say a car stereo or headphones, it’s all a compromise I guess.
So theres a little insight into our enjoyable, frustrating and overall productive time in the studio. The Official release for the album will be sometime in August (will confirm).
To see Dave doing his superb MJ impersonation, got to our Facebook page and give it a like! Click HERE!
I’ll drop in same time next week,