Recording Continued after Springfield
You can read about the Springfield session here parts one, two and three . Looking back I’d happily go back there again with more knowledge and perhaps record only the drums and bass along with basic rhythm guitar parts. Time was never on our side and this was often when the mistakes were made.
The recording desk.
Released in the UK in 2006 the Korg D3200 was and still is a classic multi-tracker. By chance there was a music auction where my wife Kirsty works, I put a cheeky bid in for it and it was mine.
In reality it is a fairly basic machine that’s delivered reasonable results. We recorded the album on the desk highest sample rate of 48kHz and 24 bits. Higher quality that a CD but it falls short of what you can achieve on a typical DAW running Pro Tools etc. (digital audio workstation).
The beauty of the Korg was how cheap it was and the number of mic inputs, 12, for simultaneous recording. This allowed us to have 10 mics on the drums and a couple on the bass.
Rightly or wrongly the Korg was used for recording, mixing and mastering. This album as not recorded with Pro Tools etc.
Substantial planning went into preparation for the album, its predecessor had taken nearly a year to mix and master. We were determined not to make the same mistakes, to a certain extent we didn’t, we just made new ones.
From the early mixes I could hear that the drums sounded great in the big room. I had the option for a direct sound or allow some room spill to add a bit of air to the album. The bass came out fairly well, with a mixture of cabin and DI. To this day I’m not sure how effective it was but I found a good sound quickly.
Happy with the drums and bass I had a listen to Stu’s guitar and here was where I realised that I had made a big mistake.
I remember the afternoon that I turned to Greg and asked if the Stu’s guitars sounded too bassy. As he tapped the A and B buttons on the Saturn controller trying to break Derek’s numerous Athlete King records he didn’t seem to think so but to be fair he had been playing the bass all day. I had tired ears as well but something wasn’t sitting right. Against my instincts I decided to keep the mic in place (it was probably too close to the grill) and recorded his guitars.
Back in the studio I wrestled with this frequency for weeks; the mixes were starting to build though. Then came in the indecisiveness.
The vocals recorded at the lodge were a mixed bag. Some sounded really good while others sounded weak. For months we would take the desk down to the practice room and re-record them. Then one afternoon while listening to the ever present influence; Nevermind I heard Kurt’s doubled vocals and decided that would be the key. Eventually double vocals would play a big part in WdB2
Overdubs were next. A few parts of acoustic guitar were added. Sitting back over the whole project there were a few songs that, to my horror, started to sound poor compared to others. Quoted didn’t feel right at all.
I removed the ‘Springfield’ vocals and my guitars and completely re-recorded them in the home studio much to the delight of my neighbours. I had nothing to lose with Quoted so I free styled some distorted guitars in the style of Nirvana; then I added a voice changer to the vocals and recorded the newly written lyrics. Mixing this song was fun, a few automation tricks were used to enhance the middle of the song to build up to the crescendo
Greg had made a mistake just before the end, I couldn’t cut and paste a clean part so I left it out. The part without the bass sounded brilliant (no offence Greg!), it added so much to the build when the bass comes back in.
The Morningday Effect
It’s hard to explain exactly what happened halfway through the recording of this album.Springfield was weeks behind us, the drums and bass were in place. The guitars were touch and go, the vocals were hot and cold.
I was getting fed up with the shouty vocals. Morningday had done reasonably well and for some reason I tried to merge the two music paths which in reality should have remained separate.
The albums balance began to veer towards quiet vocals peppered with acoustic guitar. Medicine was the biggest casualty of this.
I was unhappy with the my original distorted guitar, it swamped the verses and sounded awful so I recorded an acoustic guitar and some guitar vocals and sat with that for a while. On it’s own it sounded OK but within the album it didn’t sit. Weird Decibels 2 was becoming unfocused.
I remember walking out of Camelon Tesco with a couple of bottles of red heading towards Stu and Lisa’s for a wine night, I had my headphones on. The album just didn’t sound good at all.
This was a real low point. The money spent on the cottage, the hours spent recording, re-recording and mixing seemed to be in vain. Every time I saw the guys they’d ask how it was going, it was hard for me to admit that WdB2 wasn’t working. But it’s amazing what just a few changes can make…
I ditched nearly all the changes I had made. The Medicine acoustics were scrapped and replaced with chunky Soundgarden like distortion that was like the original riff but more control. I added double tracked vocals at a higher octave and screamed my lungs out for the ending.
Feeling choruses, the vocals were shortened and more punchy. Sorted
I took the decision to drop Smash the Glass entirely (it is now a B side to Kill it Kill it), the band supported me on this…just.
Curtain hits the cast, end vocals doubled up to epicicity (new word)
Suddenly the album, albeit short, was now leaner and far more focused.
Then there was the Dancer…
The dancer changed a few times, clean guitars were replaced with finger picked acoustic, subtle backing vocals were added. Stu’s acoustic pedal recording didn’t fit so I sample it, delayed it, reversed it and made it sound like rain to fit with the lyrics. It worked. Stu then dubbed acoustic over the verses.
The ending vocals were doubled. The Dancer went from filler to single.
Mixing was still in full flow, mastering was near. I felt happy to announce a deadline date. Something I hadn’t done before. It was mistake and cost us nearly six months and I almost walked away…