Album number 3….where do I start?
I guess by saying hello to Amos Polglaze, because he’s probably the only person reading this.
I’ve never written a bodge before, and aside from 3 highly fucked Farthing Wheel albums, I’ve never recorded an album. Big mistake right?
Well I’m too old to care about anything except my greying hair and thinning pubes, so I’m doing it anyway.
How did I convince the band to go along with this?
It all started with the Triumph and Beyond demos we did way back in 2009. They were tracked roughly through an Mbox 2 using a combination of Pro Tools/BFD for drums, and Garageband for guitars, vox and keys. We roughly threw down 2 songs during a jam in less than an hour, and they came out in very low-quality and raw, but we all liked the vibe, and enjoyed the process. Triumph and Beyond was eventually tracked at Bergerk! Studios with Al Smith and sounds great, but we had a hard time organising our schedules. Between local shows, touring, work and surgery, we found it pretty hard to really dive into the process and the whole thing was a bit of a blur.
Late 2010 the album comes out, does well, and we play a bunch of Australian tours and head to the UK for a massive tour with Alestorm, and by March 2012 we find ourselves back at home writing for the new record.
What changed in that time?
Well a major change is that Cabba, Jesse and I live together in a big house; Jim is our surrogate housemate and supplier of whis-kay, and Dysie lives around the corner. Cabba has a little demo rig and has been tracking to Reaper, Jesse has been writing out full structures on paper, Dysie has been Guitar Pro-ing and using Cool Edit, and Jim and I have been laying riffs and licks between Reaper and Pro Tools. Needless to say, there has been a whole lot of material floating around!
In October 2012 we decided to get a bunch of demos/preproduction together to give ourselves and a couple of labels an idea of what our new material sounded like. By then I had upgraded my Mbox and Tools rig, and we spent a month of weekends drinking way too much and tracking some pretty sloppy stuff in a little room upstairs. We were having an awesome time hanging out and recording that a simple track count turned into 40+ tracks – practically an album style effort that we only realised had blown out like that after we stopped having fun and started to mix. Mumma. We had a nice Rode Classic II mic, a few decent plugins and not much else. What came out were 5 pretty awesome sounding demos.
We were all happy with them and had a blast so we thought we’d re-direct our recording budget into some affordable studio gear and do the album ourselves.
We went from this (demos):
3rd Gen Mbox w/Pro Tools 10
iMac 2.5GHz w/20Gb ram
Rode Classic II
Yamaha HS50M nearfield monitors
to this (additions):
Classic API VP26 preamp
GAP Pre-573 preamp
Radial J48 DI
FMR Really Nice Preamp
FMR Really Nice Compressor
Digitech Bad Monkey
East West Symphonic Orchestra (Gold)
A couple new plugins including Slate VCC/VTM, Valhalla Room/Vintage
Furman Power conditioner
Champion Ruby/Drum Menthol and Rubra Espresso
Some acoustic foam
Why did we make these particular choices?
Look, great studios are great studios! They have a tonne of gear, multiple options, a big live room and sweet converters to make the analogue sound turn into full-range digital sound once tracked to the computer – or if going to tape…a TAPE MACHINE!
The down side is that we’re not a huge band and we all work jobs and don’t have the time or budget to get the most out of an extravagant studio experience. All of us have tracked with different bands in different environments and usually it all ends up the same – 1 instrument at a time. Granted that 1 instrument is afforded the luxury of some pretty sweet gear, but the budget stops us trying heaps of different things and we pretty much need to commit to a sound and hit record.
So we’ve kitted ourselves with just enough equipment to get a variety of sounds for voice, guitars and bass, and percussion – and our wood floored games room is just lively enough to have some tasty reflections to keep things interesting.
But what about your drums dingus?
Yep, drums. Can’t do much at home without either sounding like a dry set of buckets, or resorting to sound replacement etc – which is totally cool, but from step 1 you’re losing that acoustic vibe. Man, I’m a drummer, and the best thing about playing is the dynamic and how they sound pushing air in a nice room. So for that we have budgeted some studio time.
We left it a little late to book Bergerk! We were pretty devastated to discover that Al was booked out for months ahead – but great for him! He’s awesome and is actually closing tracking services at Bergerk! in I think June, and moving solely to mixing and mastering work. If you ever want some stuff done by him you’d better be quick!
Anyway, Cabba and I panicked a little because we hadn’t anticipated needing a backup. We took some time to do a little research, and came up with a few names. I sent emails out to a shortlist of studios including Couch, Underground, Poons Head, Crank and Satellite, with a rough time frame and a quote request. Many were way out of our initial budget, and for the most part they wouldn’t have actually been our first choice. It came down to Poons Head and Underground. I’d done a mix at Poons Head in 2005 and was blown away by his drum room the amount of quality vintage gear he had there. Underground is run by an old drummer friend Brody Simpson, and while being a more modern studio, I was also keen to be in the presence of a drummer who knows my style.
In the end Poons Head gave us a great package and the right dates so we jumped on it.
It’s also a chance to track through some classic gear onto 2-inch tape and keep the performances pretty fresh and raw, which is how we’re looking to do things on this record.
What are we actually recording?
I’ll be tracking drums for 12 songs. 3 are short, 8 are 5mins+ and 1 is 12mins.
There are a couple of acoustic tracks that don’t have drums but will have percussion, so probably way too much material for 1 CD, but not enough for a double… We’ll see how they turn out and decide then. If the fit on a disc, don’t be surprised to see 14-15 songs!
Does self-produced mean that your album will sound like shit or cum?
Don’t expect early Bathory, but don’t expect Dark Side of the Moon either. While we definitely have high hopes for the sound of this record, it’s a huge task and we’re all very aware of our (my) limitations. But we have a clear and reasonable goal in mind, and we’re confident we can pull it off. I can guarantee we’ll run into problems, and I’ll be detailing them along with our progress – and of course photos and videos etc too.
We’ll be experimenting with a few things we’ve never had the time to do, and we’ll be spending a bit more time on live percussion and more involved soundscapes and samples. So to answer your question Amos it will be a load of cummy-shit. Which is pretty good right?
That’s probably all that needs to be said at this point. Drums start this Thursday Feb 28th.
If you have any questions or abuse leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!