Typical day 1, I had forgotten how long it takes…
We started at 10 AM and didn’t play any music until early evening.
Drum Sounds – Fred is is using Kevin (Dambuilders) March’s Gretsch kit with a ‘Shudder To Think’ logo on the bass drum!! I guess Kevin played with them also. We’re renting it from Kevin. Getting a drum sound is never quick, but it sounds great. The kit is in the small far end of the room allowing us to get a tight dry sound if we want, but also, if we mix in the room mics we can get pretty Zeppy if needs be. Not something one normally notes, but – the hi-hats sound especially great prompting Fred to start thinking about buying them from Kevin.
Bass – this is pretty funny. Rainy plays a short scale modified Fender – a Mustang, I think. We were pretty much all set on using the Mark bass amp (great modern Italian amp – small and loud) we used in rehearsal which we all loved, but Geoff persuaded us to A/B with the Fliptop (Ampeg B-15 – the amp I have always used) and sure enough the Fliptop won. I guess I’m not going to sell mine and buy a Mark, as I was planning…
Electric guitar – we used my Matchless all through rehearsal and it sounded great but it seemed a little bright and brittle for the first song so we tried various combinations of heads and cabinets, eventually settling on Dave’s Fender Deluxe Reverb into my THD 2*12 cabinet with the THD power attenuator in between acting as a master volume.
Acoustic guitar – I’m rotating the Collings and the new Taylor to be the bright new stings guitar or the dull old strings one. Right now the Taylor is bright so we started with it. I usually record it with my Coles ribbon mic, but Geoff preferred the Neumann 150 that I use live (and used extensively on ‘etc’). There is not so much room for a big acoustic sound in a band recording, so this make sense.
Vocal – My Neumann U-67 is acting up again. The fried egg noise is back. I really thought Neuman/Sennheiser had fixed it. It is off to a NY tech to be serviced. In the mean time we are using one of the studio’s 67s and I’m not thrilled by the sound, but we are only doing guides, and I might just be placeboing… The vocal channel, as planned for the entire record (as we are moving from studio to studio it seemed prudent to bring the same equipment for consistency) is U-67 > Daking mic pre / EQ > Empirical Labs Distressor Compressor.
Song 1 – That’s Alright
Rather annoying to start with a song I haven’t finished lyrically, but somehow wires were crossed (I’m sure I said let’s start with Westchester). More annoying is that this is one of those songs of mine which seem to infuriate musicians in it’s cyclic and confusing arrangement… We lost a few hours just hammering out exactly what and where the chorus is… Maybe this should worry me, but I recall the same vibe recording Don’t Look Back.
Well, we get pretty close on several takes and Dave wants to take it to pro tools and he and Geoff chop up a few takes into a comp which is pretty much exactly what we want. I don’t know why I should feel like we’re cheating – this is exactly how I’ve tracked vocals for my entire career – why should drummers be expected to play 100% prefect takes?
That’s about it for the day – we’re trying to keep it to 10 – 9 and we finish around 9.45… we’ll deal with the guitars in the AM. At least we have one basic in the can.