Usually, we would record all the music, then record all the vocals, then begin mixing. When’s there’s 20-30 tracks to record, it’s a lot to do.
This time, to break it up, we’re doing vocals to a just a few songs, then mixing and finishing the song off, before starting vocals on the next batch.
This week, I worked on 3 tracks (Slabhead, Gonzo Junk & Porch Grunge). A mixture of old and new. slabhead and Gonzo Junk have been around for a while, they almost made it on Skeletons, then Down the Wave, and was sidelined when chosing tracks for Cyclops. These versions are sounding great, and I’m glad they finally made the cut!
Once vocals we’re recorded, I spent a day mixing each track. A couple of additional guitars we’re added, some taken away, before it all began to fall into place.
Once the mixes are complete, I listen to them on a crappy Bluetooth speaker, then I go and listen to them outside in the garden studio/workshop on a louder, bassier set up. If anything sticks out then I go back to the mix, before I send it over to the other guys for their comments and changes.
More Vocals on Sunday, time to experiment with some mics!
We had already recorded some bits of vocals to a few of the older ideas some time ago, however there’s still around 35 tracks that need vocals recorded!
Last week I had a chance to record a couple of tracks at home, as well as get a session down at Bleeding Ear studios to really blast some out at full volume.
The main microphone I use a lot now is the Aston Stealth. It has 4 voices which basically change the characteristics of the mic. (2 for vocals, one for guitar and 1 that’s lofi/ribbon sounding). My other go to vocal mic is the Aston origin.
Lately, I’ve been recording 3-4 takes and using it my favourite bits. Most the time I keep 2 takes and blend the 2 through the song, sometimes pumping the double up on choruses.
For backing vocals, I usually jam a lot on the spot, and then try double, or triple it to make it really thick. Sometimes I have crazy ideas and we end up with 25+ backing vocals! I will cut them down when I get to editing them later.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Out Fri 27th July 2018 through Instereo Records, ’Skeletons’ is now available to order on 10” Vinyl, CD and Download.
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.
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.
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.
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!….
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.