Introduction; The entire process has changed for me ,
re-entering a studio and leaving my home set up after more than 10 years as a guerilla home recordist,
should be fun,different,and full of who knows what.
We will stay analog not for religious reasons but because it just sounds
so much better.
I embraced digital early on thinking it was the answer to so many issues
I found the truth was I was after a different approach
than most recording engineers.
So in finding an engineer
[Benny Grotto, credits;Aerosmith,Ben Folds,Dresden Dolls]
who is capable of making both formats sound good.We set sail.
In the past every aspect of the decision making process was in flux.
With only 8 tracks ,
decisions had to be made quickly,with no chance to redo,
the entire process has been the most fun and exciting time I have
I will attempt to chronicle the shift and see if anything is gleaned
Determined to record analog,
I brought in some old 2 inch reels that looked to be perfectly fine
some parts were never recorded on some parts we'd just record over.
Benny opened them,set them up,
they wouldnt play.
Not only would they not play,
they began to shed oxide particles
all over the head stack of the tape machine!
Benny had q-tips and alcohol out furiously cleaning the machine.
"Bad news guys,looks like your making a digital record
A few minutes later
"Give me a minute to make a phone call"
Within minutes Benny gave us the good news,
His friend Mega Producer Sean Slade said we could use some
of his out take reels from a previous session and record over them.
Apparently the recording angels were smiling over us,
we thanked Sean,
and started to set up.
we set out to capture
live off the floor piano and drums,
bleeding everywhere with some control thrown in for certain mics.
Tracking an upright piano with an AKG 414 on it
and a five piece birch ludwig drum set,
with 70's Zildgian new beat high hats,
and a mix of Paiste and Zildgian cymbals.
Micing Drums took longer than expected,
we really wanted to take the time and get great sounds,
and also set up many options for mix down.
some things worked right away,some things got scrapped.
There was a combination of approaches.
Old mics and new mics,tubes and transformerless
condensers,ribbons,and close micing techniques with dynamic mics
as well as
semi-distant and distant mic techniques.
All seemed to have their own character and place,
and as we started to blend these elements,
the drums took on a huge present sound that was never strident,
but emminently listenable.
I felt a little out of my element at first,
I hadnt been in a studio in over ten years,
The last 5 albums,
I was recording at home all this time,
when it came to drums I got good at working within
the limitations of one mic one track.
I found the process of being back in a studio
confusing even though I had a great deal of
previous experience working with multi-mic multi track recording.
Benny was great about this ,
patient,understanding and flexible,
and what occured was a combination of his
and my approaches to drums,which complimented each other well.
To everyones surpirse,
We tracked all of the albums basics in just a few hours.
Graham surprised me,
usually when someone goes into a big studio for the first time,
its like there is a microscope on everything you do.
It reveals every flaw in a glaring and unforgiving way.
Most people first time in are confronted with how much work they need to
do in order to sound just ok,
and get their ego kicked around in a harsh way.
This was a 13 year old kid going live to 2 inch analog tape,
no Doctoring,no B.S.,no man behind the curtain,no kidding.
I couldnt have been more proud as he tore up the tracks
like a lion taking down a gazzelle.
The more I listened,to what Benny was adding to this as an engine
Everything was working,we established a comfort level,
and the process was going as we hoped it would.
We finished relatively early
with Graham sleeping on the couch as I finished the last of the Bass tracks.
We started out hoping for Piano basics on an instrumental,and got side
tracked by a messed up sustain pedal.No Piano tech in sight.
We recognized we might have to have me track this at home on my piano
analog and fly it in to the 2 inch machine later,or
We may just bring in my 8 track and put it on top of
the Tweed console and mix it like that.
So we shifted gears and set up a bunch of vocal mics and went at it.
Neumann u47 Neumann u67 AKG 414 with c12 capsule and
my AKG 414 from home,a new model with many polar patterns.
We did a shoot out and for reasons that confused everyone in the room.
My AKG c 414B-xls won the shoot out with the U67 closely trailing it.
We whipped through 7 lead vocals in no time,
switched to guitar,I brought in my white Telecaster and a tiny Vox
I was too lazy to bring in my fender deluxe 85 as well.
We tried a number of the studios amps first,
and while they sounded good,
the Vox [this is a cheap 120.00 dollar amp]took the honors.
I am a huge proponent of small single speaker amps,
you dont have to get loud for them to open up,
there are no phase issues of mulitple speakers,
and your back will thank you when it comes time to lift them.
Rhythm guitar tracks were done quick with some switching of the amps gain
and boost section used to alter sound as well as a deluxe memory man at
There were a couple of mic techniques a shure sm57 close and an AKG 414
for a room mic.
A lot of this was done with a Neumann U67 a couple of feet from the
speaker and the AKG 414 as a room mic more than ten feet back from the
We then got on to backing vocals and added stacks of them with my AKG 414
we had laid down over 30 tracks of keepers,in light of this enormous
amount of progress we made an early night of it.
Day 3 Monday September 26