Putting the fun back into live music!
Following our recent gig at the Cherry Tree, we spent Sunday 2nd December at the White Rooms in Rainham, Essex. The end practice room doubles as a recording studio.
When you’re recording music, it’s not the same experience as playing it live. We were set up in the studio with the guitar amp facing the wall and miked up, with the drums miked, and the bass guitar plugged straight into the mixer via a Direct Injection box. Dave used his own one because it has a few extra controls to thicken the sound slightly and make it sound like it’s gone through a valve amp.
It takes a long time to balance up the drums, and a fair amount for the guitar. The bass, on the other hand, is sorted out very quickly. No wonder that bass players hang about in the control room until it’s their turn, and so many of them get a taste for production!
For Chris, on guitar, the experience was very different to playing on stage. The engineer wants a clean sound to record, all the distortion you add with pedals etc., can be added later. The main similarity is that you play the guitar in exactly the same way – but it is recorded “clean” and all the “dirt” is added later. For Dave and Russ, it’s much the same once set up – you play. But, due to the clean sound that is laid down at first, you are very careful to do very clean fretwork on the bass and stickwork on the drums. Rattly notes or unclean hits just won’t do.
Once set up, we played our first song. The three musicians just play, Mark, the singer, sings from the control room, but that’s just so we know where we are, it’s not recorded. After a take or two, we moved onto the next song. Since many songs have repeated patterns, the odd wrong note can be corrected by copying it from somewhere else in the song – it saves time. Eventually we had all the backing tracks down. We didn’t add any extra overdubbed instruments. Basically all that is there is one each of guitar, bass and drums.
Then the Gladstone brothers went out in search of food whilst the Spagnols hung around for the vocals. Mark sang the lead vocals, and then Dave added backing vocals. In this middle of this Russ and Chris got back with the food. Dave’s backing vocals employed one of the tricks used in the studio that distinguishes it from live music. By double tracking the backing vocal (getting him to sing the same thing twice) slight differences are used to make a choral effect.
We left the studio at 3pm, 3 hours before our allotted time had ended. The other three hours will be used by the engineer to remix the tracks and we hope to have the results soon. It was a great experience though. Maybe next time we’ll have written some original songs to record!