Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Myspace is dead, but the blogs aren't!

It's been years since we've actively used myspace, but going over old writings I thought it would be a shame to lose all the blogs we'd created over the years.  These first few posts will be reposts of blogs from 2007 onwards - not all of them, some were rather tepid, but the interesting ones.  Stories about songs and methods etc.

Saying that, here's the first batch: glancing overa ll the posts on our old mspace I've decided to retain the ones that actually talk about our music, rather than hold onto old rants!

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Bedtracks recorded

Current mood:accomplished
Thanks to everyone for showing up at Mushroom studios last night to help out with the gang vocals. We had fun recording there for two days and managed to get all ten songs with real drums. A big thank you once again to Jonas and Jesse for their excellent skills at the kit! The difference of replacing the programmed drums and loops with proper acoustic drums is amazing. Having lived with some of these songs for close to a year it is still a bit shocking how massive the difference is! I'll be posting roughs pretty soon, I've just got to sort through the bedtracks and choose the best takes. An additional thanks to Shawn Penner for his spot on assistance once again; a great engineer. The session ran smoothly and we got some brilliant sounds on tape (ok - hard drive).

I guess I should start editing right now. See ya.


The challenges of recording by yourself

Current mood:tired
I am a recording engineer and a record producer: that's my day job. I started as a muso, but when the bills started to rise so high that they threatened to topple over on top of me, I put that aside for a decade and concentrated on making other people's records. That turned out to be a good decision, as I got pretty good at my gig and made some excellent records: one of my favorite's is still Gilles Zolty's "Horny Astronaut" album ( Yet to see the light of the cosmos, but rumours has it, it may happen). So many, many months spent on end working in studios has made me very comfortable within those hallowed environs. It was with all this knowledge that I attempted to record myself drumming last night.

Now, normally when one sets out to record drums in a modern studio, there are at least two people involved. The drummer (duh) and an engineer, or at least someone in that capacity. On major label projects, there is usually a producer, an engineer, assistant engineer, drummer and all the remaining band mates, plus if things are really out of hand, everybody's girlfriends ( partners- whatever) and if we're really unlucky an A&R guy dropping to check out the vibe! Just say no to that scenareo.

Anyway, as I said, there's usually two people needed to record drums. That's because there are a lot of mics to set up (well I do that anyway), and then you want to process the signals to tape ( hard disk these days). The drummer has the tedious task of banging away on the kit for a couple hours while mics are setup, moved, re-moved, replaced, cables checked, outboard processing plugged in, eq's set, compression adjusted, and levels all the time being adjusted as the drummer slowly gets into it and begins playing at a level closer to how he will actually perform. You get the idea: it's takes a while.

Last night I had a quick demo session with a local band, they just wanted a cd to play to bars and promoters. No problem, sounded fine and everyone was happy. In the back of my mind all evening was the thought that I'd stay after the session and attempt recording myself playing the studio drum kit on the latest song I'd just written. It made sense and I didn't think it would be too challenging (other than the fact that I'm NOT a drummer - but hey, where would be the challenge if I was). Unfortunately, because the prior group had been performing live off the floor, I hadn't bothered setting up room mics for the drums, or any further ambient mics as in those instances all you're likely to get is a bunch of rank noise and the banal banter of band mates between takes. So I needed to set my room mics up, and a far mic for better reverb. And reposition the floor tom a bit, and of course move two mics onto that now, and replace the snare mic with a different mic etc etc. I spent the better part of two hours running between the control room and the live room, peering through the glass at the meters flashing away on the recorder.


To explain in detail. I would bang away for a few seconds, check to see that I wasn't clipping anything, run back to the control press record, return to the live room, play ten seconds on the kit, run back to the control room, press stop, rewind, listen, make a few adjustments to the appropriate units and repeat. This went on for a while. It was 2AM before I was satisfied. As it was, I'd stayed up rather late the prior evening as well and felt a bit groggy already: but I still hadn't recorded anything!

Now the true challenge: playing the drums. What I wanted to achieve was a fairly simplistic, tribal, eight note crescendo on the floor tom and snare drum, gradually increasing in intensity and adding cymbals on the down beats of every measure as I neared the peak of the song. But my backing tracks were a mess. I'd only written this song two days previously and the playing was raw to put it bluntly. Not very tight and quite hard to discern exactly where the beat was. This presented another small hurdle: getting my headphone mix right, so that I could hear what I needed to hear, and still stay on beat. More running back and forth.

Fast forward to 4:30, fourteen takes later, and no idea whether anything was good enough to use. Bloody tired, ears ringing, back stiff, and the old studio G4 mac struggling to stay alive for a full pass. Back it up, pack it up, drive home, play a game of NHL 2006,have a glass of wine, go to bed. Hey it's only 5:45 now, lots of time to get a full night's sleep.

Checked the tracks today and I think I did get something useful, but I confess the lesson has been learned. It's much better to have a drummer do the drumming!

(I am dead excited about this last song by the way, I think that's why I couldn't wait to do the drums myself - it will close the album and it is absolutely beautiful in every way!) You shall hear it soon enough I hope.

Ciao,

MRH    

    

28 Oct 2006

  • "The World Over"

    Current mood:ecstatic
    Our album is done. It's sounds brilliant, and we are exceptionally happy. Soon it shall be available to all of you. We plan on making personal copies for any one who's interested; individually numbered and varied covers. The artwork might take a bit of time, but the music is done. And now to have a little party to celebrate.    










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