First thing – drum sound – the mics were placed yesterday by my new friends at The Drum Doctor. Today we listen and tweek/fine tune. I am not needed for the most part. While they work on that I work with Bad Robot house engineer Charles Scott on moving equipment that we don’t need (Bad Robot has lots of synths!) to the corners of the room and out into the corridor so that make the most of the recording space. By the time that’s done the drums are ready for me to listen. It’s great but I wonder if the snare could be more T.Rex / Al Green – deeper – on those records sometimes it’s hard to tell the kick from the snare. We try a bigger wooden snare and it immediately has the desired effect.
Next we figure out where Matthew and I will be and how we will sound. Matthew is using the Hofner bass and we DI it. There is so much bottom end in those basses (they are short scale) it is a wonder anyone ever wants to use anything else… he has taken the couch, for now.
Matthew has also brought in a modeling amp he owns which he encourages me to try. I’m sceptical of anything digital but I guess times have changed since I last tried. This thing is great and we don’t need to mic a cabinet (essential if the drums are to be recorded free of spill from other tracks). I end up taking an AC 30 Top Boost preset and modifying the gain for less crunch. I then put my MXR 10 band graphic EQ pedal and Schaller tremolo in line and that’s a great sound for tracking. The telecaster is a little noisy but I find a spot in the room where it’s almost silent and luckily this is facing the window looking through at Fred.
Lunch break.
Song #1 is Period Piece (1989-90).
The first thing I need is a lyric sheet I can read. With my new contact lenses I can see wonderfully so long as the subject is more than 6 feet away from me. I choose the largest font Scrivener offers and we print it out. I can read it. Just. This is sad stuff. Getting old is not fun.
I teach Fred and Matthew the song. Even though the basic beat is simple, the structure is far from it. I discuss my krautrock intentions and we proceed. An unforeseen intro manifest itself.
A basic feel is established. I’m happy with both. I feel I can sing the song pretty well and play the guitar pretty well but not both at the same time, but I must try.
We decide that we will use a click track for this song. Charles creates a drum kit in Native Instruments Battery (virtual instrument). The mix is set so that Fred can hear the click for the whole song whereas M and I hear it only in the intro.
Several run-throughs.
Fred is paranoid that he will forget the end, so we record the last verse and ending.
Then we record several passes, now he doesn’t forget the ending…
We keep the last two passes.
After the break I listen. The penultimate take is the one. Drums are great. Bass could be better in places.
We then work on replacing the bass, but my guitar needs (IMO) to be muted because it is pushing and pulling.
We get close to what we want but by 8PM we are not quite there. That’s 10 hours in the studio and I don’t want to start working later and later so I call a halt. We’ll finish in the morning.
Dinner at Upper West on Pico near my hotel. Ridiculous fries with blue cheese and bacon and good Stone pale ale on draught (something we never seem to get on the East Coast).
Back here to write this and will have another look at that crossword now.