So we’re at the penultimate stage, hopefully, with most songs – we’ll start to ‘print’ mixes – which in our case means running various outputs (stems) from the Pro Tools Digi 192 interface into the analogue domain, summing the signals using Mick’s custom made analogue summing box (design courtesy of Graham Hinton and then compressing the output of that.

Here’s the whole system –

Drums + Percussion > Analogue Summing Box (ASB)

Bass + Guitars > ASB

Keyboards > ASB

Backing/Harmony Vocals > 2 channels of TLA tube mixer (flat – ie no EQ added) > ASB

Effects Returns > ASB

Lead Vocal > TLA tube mixer (flat EQ) > ASB
Inserted on this channel are –
Gain Brain compressor >
Audio & Design S27 Crossover (which splits the vocal signal into 4 bands)
Low and Low mid bands > Alesis 3630 stereo compressor
High and High Mids > Solid State Logic E Series channel compressors
Four bands are summed again by the S27

The output of the ASB >
2 SSL VHD preamps >
SSL X-Logic buss compressor (same as the rack unit of mine which we used on MIAFL and Antidep) >
Cranesong Hedd 192 Analogue to Digital converter. This box also has some tape and tube emulation which can be added to ‘warm up’ signals. We’re using a bit of pentode and a little less of ‘tape’.

That’s it.

For more on his system and studio gear, see Mick’s website –

First song printed is Rhinestones. A few decisions need to be made – how many backing vocals? I decide none in the first half of the song. I think the banjo needs to be louder (my moment!) and that’s about it, as soon as we get the banjo and the mandolin lead line working together it’s done. We upload a file for Dave to audition (we do this for all the songs). Next –

Double Happiness – Just fine tuning – more slide on part two, solo louder, vocal slightly wetter. Print.

Why In The World? – My guitar treated with tape saturation plug in to warm it up and make slightly less distinct. Organ slightly wetter. Matt and Mark up in the choruses. Print.

Westchester County Jail – Ride (turn up and down as needed) the pedal steel and solo, fine tune the harmony vocals, Mark’s Johnny Cash guitar down a little. Print.

If I Were A Song – Fine tune harmony vocals. Ride pedal steel (which is quite awesome). Find right level for electric guitars, and they basically mix themselves. Fine tune Joan’s piano overdub on Chorus 3. Print.

That’s Alright – This is already sounding just about right, I just ask Mick to make the chorus lead guitar as loud as it could possibly be without stepping on the vocal. Fine tune Mark’s rhythm sound. Print.

Broken Record – More pedal steel riding, fine tune harmonies, yadda yadda… Print.

We were thinking that I might sing/finish writing Rod The Mod this evening but I’m worn out from all this, and my old pal Dave Cummings (last Commotions tour & Del Amitri) invited me to a pub quiz with his mate Charlie Higson in Archway. I’ve hardly socialised at all so I agree. I knock off at 7. Get to The Star around 8.15. Very nice pub. Our all star team (D, C, me, Jon King of Gang of Four, Bedders from Madness, David Arnold, and late arrival Stephen Irvine) clearly intimidates the opposition and we win! No help from me, but I accept the subsequent free drink. I’d never met Jon or David before – both charming gents. Great fun. Who’d have thought?