Back to recording Guitars!

At the end of last month we took some time off to record the Acoustic Cyclops sessions, so this week it was time to catch up and track some more guitars.

We have 42 songs to record, and we’re well over half way, with the last 10-12 to go before we can start vocals.

The week, I worked on 3 new tracks. Each one has a different feel, so each song was approached differently. Using a mixture of guitars and pedals to create a few flavours, I tracked one song a day whilst drinking too much coffee.

I was lucky to get my hands on a Joe Meek VC3 compressor, and tried recording some acoustics though it. All off a sudden, the track came to life. To add some background ambience, I hung a mic out the loft window, and captured a few random noises and plans flying over.

Guitars : 6 & 7

It feels like we’ve been in lockdown forever. It’s been almost a year since anything has been normal.

Luckily, we have plenty of songs to record to keep us busy!

SAXOPHONE PENICILLIN.

Yesterday I ripped through a fast punky number, getting some great crunchy guitar sounds with the Jazzmaster and alternating between two mics on the guitar cab for the change between verse to chorus. (One was SM57, the other Rode M1).

This created an awesome change from each section, without changing any pedals or sound from the amp.

Lastly, a little bit of lead played with a slide was added, and double tracked. I’m my head I imagined it so sound like a backing vocal ‘oooh’. Sounds bit goofy, I like it.

Hulk.

Today’s session was a beast. The riff is so big, it required 4 layers of guitars to get it started! Then, I added a layer with a Bass VI through the Big Muff playing the main riff, just to make it meatier. It did the trick!

For the intro, the clean guitar sound was made by having the amp cranked near full, and then turning down the guitars volume pot. By sending less volume to the amp, it gives it a clean but also slightly hollow sound, which suited the part perfectly.

Sometimes you gotta try a lot of sounds and ideas to find something that suits the riff and the recording!

The Strat was used for the whole track, using a mix of different distortions & Fuzzes to create this chunky sound.

For the solo, I used an Octave Up & Down, to get that wide sound from just one guitar. I usually like to double track some solo parts, but this one needed to be tight, with a bit more balls to it. Combined with the Beast Master Fuzz, it sounds insane!

Bass Fuzz : Day 1

Steve sent over the tracks that he had been working on. He had already slammed down some guitars to 4 of them and they sounded huge!

He sent me the STEMS of the drums, guitars, Vocals and a guide bass (the original bass idea that Steve laid down when demoing). I quickly got to work on a track called ‘None One Electric’. There’s a lot of stabby bits in this track, so I was trying to get them as tight as possible.

I moved on to ‘Near My Beard’, I played a few takes of this one to see what would work best, keeping it simple was the way forward. After blasting through that I opened up the track ‘Eggs’. This sucker is a quick little riff that’s fun to play, I nailed that pretty quickly, which was a shame! I wanted to play it a few more times!!

To end this session, I went all lofi and recorded a really simple bass line for a track called ‘Porch Grunge’ (these working titles crack me up). There was no dirt/fuzz on this one at all, that very rarely happens

I can’t wait to do more

Guitars : Day 5

Time to get lost in fuzz once more. The coffee is brewing as I listen to the demo version a couple of times to get my head in the zone.

This one’s gotta be chunky. It’s going to take a few layers to thicken up, but that’s fine with me.

The Big Muff and Strat comes into action for the dark and deep guitars, the Jazzmaster is saved for the chorus and lead bits using the amp distortion from the Orange.

The solo part of this track wasn’t completely written, so I tracked in about 10 variations and picked my favourite one, then I doubled that, and just to add more spice, it added the Nashville tuning guitar an octave higher. Tasty!

One more track to fill out extra noises, bits of feedback and extra beefy parts and we’re done.

Guitars : Day 4

Today’s track is a lo-fi acoustic kinda chilled thing, that has been in my collection of instrumental demos for a while, until recently when I wrote the vocals and it all came together.

My main acoustic is a Framus, which I’ve had since about 95. I got it from a pawn shop in California when I was on holiday. Something about it stuck out, and I’ve had it ever since.

I played the track through twice, and used two mics to capture the acoustic. One up close near the 12 Fret, and another capturing the room. Pan those across the speakers, and it sounds big!

To thicken up the center, I added a 12 string, and all a sudden the track came to life and sounded complete.

The lead was done with the Strat and the Raygun FX EchoHead to make it atmospheric and swampy. I doubled this part and the two delays bouncing off each other sounded cool!

That’s all for now. More guitars soon

Guitars : Day 3

It’s freezing today. I couldn’t sleep last night, my head was full of ideas for today, so I over slept this morning.

One large coffee later, and I’m set up ready. First off, I listen to the demo and make some notes, then get started on some skeleton tracks to ‘None more Electric’.

2 hours later and the main work is done, with just some additional feedback and noises to add.

The Strat got used for the main chunky riffs, with the Jazzmaster offering it’s jangly/ringing overtones for the overdubs. Once again, the Beast Master Deluxe made an appearance for the solo.

Looking forward to our next session in a few days.

Guitars : Day 2

Yesterday went so smoothly, hopefully today will be the same.

Today’s song has the working title ‘Eggs are Normal’, and is a proper fast paced beast.

I quickly laid down a rough skeleton track, then started fleshing out parts.

First doubling up the intro and heavy riffs with the Russian Big Muff. It’s so hairy, and aggressive sounding. Pair that up with the Crunchy Soda Drive on the jangly chords and it fits so well!

To make the ringing chords sound a bit thicker and spacy, I used the Cool Cat Chorus, and the Raygun FX EchoHead Tape Delay. It gave it a nice swirly sound, that builts and crashes like a big wave.

Now the session is over and I’m itching to do more tomorrow.

Steve

Recording Guitars: Part 1

We only released Cyclops 01st Jan, but we’re already tracking guitars to album no.5

I got an nice early morning start, and began setting up and getting the sounds all together, so I could just blast through the track.

The song for today is ‘Near my beard’.

The main sounds used for this was the Strat and Jazzmaster through my Orange CR120 whilst using a variations of mic and positions (SM57 / Rode M1).

For the crunchy sound in the middle, I used the faithful Beast Master Fuzz, through a small practice amp. You can hear it breaking up. It’s nasty!

The floaty bit of lead guitar in the chorus, is a Danelectro Cool Cat Chorus. I love that pedal so much, I bought two. I’ve had the first one since the 90s, and use it on a lot of tracks.

Drums – Session 2

All of a sudden I had another 18 demos recorded. I sent them out to Lee and Sam, and they loved them.

We booked the studio once lockdown lifted start of December, hoping to get a day in to record 8/9 tracks.

Within 4 hours, Sam had blasted out takes for all 18! The man is a machine. He’s never practiced them, and only heard the demos a couple of times.

The Technical Guff

We usually record the drums in a similar way each time, using about 6-8 tracks.

1. Kick – D112 style mic

2. snare – SM57 on top.

3&4. Toms – Shure clip on tom mics. Easy.

5. Overhead – Rode M1

6. Room mic – RM1 Ribbon Mic.

7. Trash / Lofi Room – Old CB radio handset.

Drum tracking – Session 1

While everything in the world is going mental, and we’ve barely seen each other this year, we still managed to squeeze in a quick drum recording session.

Sam was given 9 tracks to work on, he learnt them perfectly as all 9 was tracked in around 2 hours!

I think half of these tracks will be put towards album number 5 next year.

More to follow.

Steve

Guitar City – 6th June.

After a month away from recording and playing it was nice to get in the studio and get creative.

We’re getting close to the finish line. We have 4 tracks left to do main guitars on and just a little bit of bass and vocals to go.

Tonight, we worked on (working titles):
-Crunched
-Lips
-Wana see you laugh
-Red beard

A pretty mixed selection of tracks there. One is fast as f**k. It’s going to sound awesome on the album with the other tracks.

Studio update – 5 June.

We spent most of May listening through all the recorded tracks so far, (Almost 30 songs!) we made some notes and then mixed half the songs.

At the end of May, we released our first single from the album, titled ‘Hide in the shade‘, along with two b-sides and my original demo version of ‘Beast on your back’.
The b-sides ‘Slugs’ & ‘Skinny Head’ could easily fit on the album, but we have so many other tracks already chosen for it.

Now, we are back into recording mode. Only 5 songs left to complete for the album, we’ve recorded about 30 songs so far and there’s still more to come.

Keep an eye out for some studio footage soon.

Thanks for reading

Steve

Studio Update

For the past few weeks we’ve been working hard to make up for the few set backs we’ve had, but now we are flying through the list of 50 odd songs and getting back up to date.

After a few weeks tracking drums, bass, guitars and vocals, it was time for a mixing session.

Everything is sounding how it needs to before we even started mixing, so it didn’t take long to have a mix for the first track finished. Now we have a skeleton mix to work towards with the rest of the album tracks.

All the songs have now been selected along with a rough track order.
We are getting closer.

Almost there!

Steve

Back in the Studio

After computer issues and other set backs, we’re back in recording mode.

With everything previously recorded for this album having to be trashed, we moved our gear into a new studio (who we share with Spun) and now have a room we can leave everything set up, which makes things a lot quicker.

We started with a few test recording sessions that ended up going so well, we’ve decided to keep them. I recorded about 25 drums tracks in a few days, so we are getting back to speed pretty fast.

Lee tracked down some new bass parts, using a dual RAT distortion I made a few years ago. It sounds pretty hairy! – And it sits so nice with the new drums sound we have been getting.

Whilst we’re re-recording songs, we’ve started working on some new demos at the same time, which is keeping it fresh. There’s about 50 songs demoed for this album, and it’s getting really hard to pick what songs/direction we are going to go in.

Vocals on Thursday, can’t wait to try out that new Aston mic!

Steve

Studio Diary – April update

Over a month ago, our main recording computer stopped working, which has set us back a bit. We needed to work on a solution, as buying a new MacBook isn’t an option.

Time to dust off the old Mac mini. It’s old, slow, but may just get us through some recording.

Good News: The album sessions we’re backed up.
Band News: When they we’re opened up on a different computer, they we’re completely messed up, playing the wrong speed, and all the tracks out of sync to each other. That explains all the error messages.

So, it’s back to square one. Re-recording on a much older machine will be a bit more restrictive, but I’m looking forward to the challenge

Steve

Vocals – Beef Sessions part 3

For the past 4 sessions we have been tracking Drums, Bass and Guitars to 8 tracks out of the ridiculous 40 song list.

This week we managed to crack through 5 tracks:
Road, Hello, Lips, Skinny Head & Red Beard.

When we record vocals, we usually record 3-4 takes of lead vocals, then pick the best one. This time, we’ll pick the best bits of each take and piece together the parts that fit it best.

To record vocals, we use the Aston Origin, which doesn’t just look amazing, it sounds brilliant on pretty much anything.

Lead vocals (and backing) usually get double tracked, plus a lot of backing vocal ideas get put down, but not everything ends up in the final mix. It’s good to record more than you need and have options when mixing.

Dave also provided some backing vocals on Skinny Head & Red Beard. I didn’t realise he could sing that high, and then he says ‘I can hear another even higher vocal’ and then he actually did it. haha! It sounds huge!

Next week we have 3 tracks to starting recording Vocals too and a few left over parts to finish.

Once this session is complete, we will take a step back and start making some decisions on what tracks to release, what is next to record and also make a start mixing. It’s going to be a busy few months for us.

Almost half way there now!

Even more guitars?! – Beef Sessions part 3

Tonight we finished off the two remaining tracks, Hung & Another Skeleton.
I had a chance to try an new OP Amp Big Muff Fuzz Pedal (Smashing Pumpkins model) and it sounded huge, Like ripping velcro of a Yeti.

A couple of tracks had a few acoustic parts to try out, so we quickly set up 2 mics, one close and one far away, picking up the nice ambience of the room.

Once the acoustics were nailed, me and Dave laid down some shakers on Sludge, which sounds pretty sweet.

Check out the little video update below:

Next time, Vocals!

Preview(opens in a new tab)

More Guitars – Beef sessions Part 3

With more Drum & Bass tracked for another 8 songs, it was time to get fuzzy with some Guitars.

These songs are a little more straight forward, but we still had some cool ideas to experiment with. Different fuzzes mixed at different times create huge differences throughout one song.

It was a cold evening and the Coffee machine was broken, but we worked solid through 6 songs, each with about 6-8 guitar tracks.

On one track (Red Beard) I could hear an idea, kind of like morse code or something glitching in and out, almost like keyboard sound. – With the help of a few pedals, including a Boss Phase Shifter, we manage to get this weird, but awesome sound. I can’t really explain it, but it will be hidden in the mix somewhere!


These tracks have such a good feel to them, reminds me of music around the late 90’s. I can’t wait to hear how they’re going to sound finished.


2 more guitar tracks to finish next week, along with some overdubs and some acoustic.

More soon,
Steve


Steve

Bass Fuzz – Beef Sessions Part 3

Tonight (Tuesday 29th Jan) we went into to the studio to recorded another bunch of bass tracks.

We started with heading over to Tesco’s to get a hot chocolate and some dinner. It was freezing, with some snow expected. so, we hurried back to the warmth of the studio.

We thought we would try a RAT pedal tonight. I normally go for the Big Muff PI but we were after that guitar tone, like a Dinosaur Jr kind of sound.

We slammed through 8 tracks.

Skinny Head

Road

Another Skeleton

Red beard

Lips

Surf City

Hung

Hello

We even pulled out my Schector ultra bass VI for a few overdubs. It sounded massive.

Next week we start guitars. Can’t wait.

Until next time.

Meatarm

Beef Sessions Part 2 – Vocals

After a small break over Christmas, it’s straight back to work on the tracks we started recording in November/December.

The first vocal session was a couple of weeks ago (3rd Jan) and we got 6 songs finished, main vocals and backing.

Back to recording more vocals today, as well as a few guitar overdubs left too, then this batch of songs are complete.

Some extra backing vocals was added to Rip & Spice with a bullet mic, usually used on harmonica. Sounds pretty lofi!

15/40 songs down, Part 3 starts Tuesday, this is going to be insane!

Steve

Beef Sessions Part 2 – Guitars

This week we’re working on 4 tracks:

Goon, Little Riffchard, Skate and Sludge. (Working titles of course)

A nice mix of old and new song ideas, it’s amazing to finally hear them come to life.

We messed about using a mix of big and little amps, getting some pretty cool results.

As always, its super fuzzy.

Today went too fast, I could of done another session, but it’ll have to wait until next week, with another 4 songs to piece together.

Night night.

Steve

Recording ‘Skeletons’

When we got back together after almost 2 years, I had a pile of almost 40 demos building up. It was time to get busy!

 

Skeletons: Laying down the Bones

When we discussed making another album, we decided the next release should be a mini album. Something short, raw and fun.

After selecting 8 tracks from the list of 40 odd demos, we headed to the studio and jammed through them. Instantly things came together and we had shaped the demos into complete songs.

Day 1: Drums and Bass

We tried something a little different to our previous recording sessions and tracks the Drums and Bass together. Dave and Lee steam rolled through the rhythm section like beasts.

I remember, for a Drum room mic, we hid the microphone under the sofa at the back of the studio. Added a nice but trashy depth to the drums. For those interested, we used an Aston Origin mic. Same mic we used for lead vocals and acoustics.

For the drum intro to ‘Where are you?’ we recorded directly onto an a Cassette Talk Boy (As seen in Home Alone 2) This was mixed in with a recording of Robin’s (my little boy) heart beat, which I recorded in the hospital only days after he was born. You can hear this in isolation on our teaser video 1/8

Bass was tracked using an old Russian Big Muff, a few Raygun FX pedals and an MXR Bass DI+.
It is proper dirty, and sits in the mix like a 2nd guitar.

Day 2: Guitars!

I used my old Orange CR120 amp along with a Strat with a JB humbucker (usually I would only use my Jazzmaster-but this Strat is awesome!) along with a selection of Raygun Fx pedals, (including a Beast Master, Soda Drive & Fuzzbender MkIII) and a Big Muff.

Recording was a simple set up of an SM57 for all the main guitar parts.

The ‘telephone’ sounding guitars we all done using an awesome mic called the Wasaphone. It sounded so good, we used it on some vocals throughout the album.

We always like to double track the main guitars, sometimes this includes solos. Sometimes it can be a lengthy process but it can sound so good!

 

Day 3: Vocals

So far, we had mixed things as we had recorded so it was all coming together fast.

As most of these tracks we’re demoed, I had the Vocals ready to go, and did 2/3 takes to most songs and cut together the best bits, and then double tracking most the lead and backing Vocals to get them nice and thick sounding.

We use the Wasaphone mic again for a mix of clean/lofi vocals. It’s just so much more fun than using plugins to create sounds.

 

‘Skeletons’ Available on 10″ Vinyl, CD & Download

Order ‘Skeletons’

Out Fri 27th July 2018 through Instereo Records, ’Skeletons’ is now available to order on 10” Vinyl, CD and Download.

Update #5 – Back to Beef

After taking a couple months break from recording to play some festivals, see Dave get married (Congrats Dave!) watch Back the the Future in an our door cinema and get some perspective on what we had already recorded, we are back on full steam.

Two weeks ago, I gave brought another three song ideas to the table. We thought we had the 11 tracks for the album nailed, so this changes everything. But these ideas have something we are all excited to try out. Within 2 weeks, the songs we’re practiced, tweaked and ready to record….

Today, we’re back in the studio tracking drums to the three additional ideas and Dave’s drumming is on fire! It sounds incredible. It isn’t long before he has nailed some great takes for each song and we are listening back. It’s almost surreal how quick these have come together.

Next week, we lay down the final guitar and bass parts, leading way for the vocals the week after.

It’s so close now, these three new tracks may have put us back a couple of weeks, but it will so worth the delay.

More soon,
Steve

Update #4 : Guitar World

So we’re on our 3rd day in the studio, finishing the remaining guitar and bass tracks.

Last week we managed to knock out half the bass tracks after spending a bit of time playing with pedals and microphones getting the right sound, as well as start work on a couple of guitar layers.

This week we booked another long session and was able to get smothered in guitars. We had plenty of different Fuzz pedals and Fx to hand and worked on some interesting sounds for different songs & sections. It’s starting to really come together, with each song now building it’s own character. It’s always fun messing around with sounds and fx pedals, a lot of sounds are made in the moment you can’t always recreate, it adds some something unique to each take you record.

After a long day, we had accomplished all bass tracks and all the main guitars. We have some overdubs and some acoustics still to do, but next we will be doing some vocals.

Can’t wait to hear how this record comes out.

Steve

Bass tracking. Update #3

Today I got on a train and headed into Southend to start the bass tracking for our second album. 

I arrived at the studio to see Steve waiting to get going, we both couldn’t wait to add some guitars to these drums tacks we have been listening too for 2 weeks. Dave done a great job on then and now it was our turn. 

We decided to start with 6 songs, so nothing was rushed and we could take our time getting a nice biting bass growl on the go. It definitely sounded BIG!!

I’m really happy with how it went and how it sounded. 

  
Looking forward to getting back to it next week. 

This album is going to sound AWESOME! 

Lee. 

Recording update #2

Last weekend we had a long session recording a tonne of drums (which are sounding AWESOME!) and this week I’ve spent mixing & editing the tracks ready for recording everything else on top.

We have all the music to these tracks written and well rehearsed, but some of the vocals have been left until last, so during this weeks editing session I had a chance to tackle a chunk of melody ideas I had, as well as go over the pages of scribbled lyrics and notes I’d built up the past 6 months.

Bass and Guitars are next and we’ve got some new toys to play with!….

 

Back to the Recording studio… update #1

It doesn’t feel it, but a year ago today we released our debut album ‘Stuck in a Void’.

A year to the day later, we have started tracking drums to our second album. Originally we planned to do another EP, but once we started writing the ideas didn’t stop and we we’re itching to be challenged by another full length.

Previously, we wrote and demoed all our songs before we even fully jammed them in a room. This time, the only demoes were rough dictaphone style recordings of riffs and melodies which were then fleshed out in the practice room, with only some live recordings capturing the finished ideas.

This is our first session with drummer Dave (also our first recording anyone else besides me and Lee), which has added a nice dynamic to the writing, so i’m really excited to see how these sessions come out.

We had a long day booked at the studio to get set up and work on some cool drum sounds, with intention of getting may half the songs tracks. Within 8 hours, Dave had nailed some great takes to all the songs.

More to come soon.