Archive for October, 2010

TV Zombie – Cork Rock City

Posted: October 17, 2010 in Recording


OK, so after my last post, one of the kind folks over at pointed out that I’d obviously focused so much on getting some click in my kick track that I ended up cutting out all the meat, so I decided to go back to the drawing board. But not yet, because in the meantime I started working instead on TV Zombie 🙂

You may remember that we’d recorded this one in sections, so the first job was to edit these sections together with no timing problems and no pops or clicks between each part. This took a couple of hours. phew…

With that finished, I started working on a rough mix. This was after I’d upgraded to Cubase 5, so I was eager to play with some of the new toys that came with it. The EQ and Compressor plugins come with plenty of presets (yeah, I know, but, well…) for all number of situations, so I started with these and then tweaked them a little depending on which drum track I was working on. I was able to get a pretty good sounding mix in about half an hour this way.

Next day, I happened to get an email from Mike at drop-d magazine (also of Homeless Productions) telling me that they’re putting together a compilation of Cork acts called Cork Rock City, and asking if we’d like to submit a song for it. I figured, since I’d been updating TV Zombie lately, I’d give them my fresh mix with the new drum tracks. This way, they’d have a different version from the old demos on our bandcamp, but it would also be different from the EP version, since I haven’t added any other new tracks yet, so it’ll be a one-off special 🙂 But then I thought, maybe I’ll update it a bit more, since it still sounds fairly close to the old version. So I decided to record some new vocals – I’ve never been happy with the fact that I fluffed a few of the lines when I recorded the original, or that I use the same chorus twice.

So, roll around last friday night (15 Oct 2010): wife and kids in bed, I had a few hours before the baby’d be up for her feed, so I got down to business. I grabbed myself a drink and headed out to the garage.

No beer this time - I was on water for my throat.

I set up my trusty Beyer M88 (instead of my Studio Projects B1 which is what I used on all the old stuff) and my brand new ART Tube Mic Pre. This presented a problem of it’s own, since I’ve never used an external preamp with my Alesis IO26: I wasn’t quite sure how to hook it all up. I ended up using the XLR output from the ART into the XLR input on the IO26, which meant I was still using the IO26 preamp also.

Mic preamp setup

I later learned that the best way to do it is to use an insert cable (of which I have none :p) to bypass the IO26 preamps. Oh well, we live and learn… It ended up sounding fine anyway 🙂

I also put up a blanket on a mic stand behind the mic to tame some of the reflections from my hard walls – I’ve noticed before that I got a lot of room sound in my vocal recordings, although I was hoping that the fact I was using a dynamic instead of a condenser would help in that regard this time. I also used a pop shield since the proximity effect on the M88 is pretty huge.

Mic, popshield & "acoustic material" :p

Once all this was set up, I added 6 tracks into the Cubase project and got to work. I used 6 because I like to double track, and I also prefer to sing in parts to save my voice – so there’s 2 tracks of verses, 2 of choruses and 2 of bridges. Then there was nothing to do but start screaming 🙂


Once I’d gotten all the tracks done (incidentally, I wrote new lyrics for the 1st chorus to better reflect the theme of the preceding verse) I sat down to get started on mixing, but was soon alerted to screams from the  bedroom – time to go feed her highness :p

Next day, I decided the song needed a little something extra to differentiate it from the demo a bit more. I went looking for some samples on youtube 🙂 It wasn’t too long before I found exactly what I was looking for: a long rant on the evils of TV. Perfect! I downloaded it, brought it out to the garage and started chopping it up to scatter around the song. I figured a quick intro, and then I filled the long outro with a few quotes.

After that, it was a matter of a couple of hours to massage the vocal tracks a little (EQ, compression, delay etc.) to fit in with the rest of the song, then I added in an extra delay track with some fairly big echoes on it, and automated it so it only kicked in in several places (like the final “open your mind” for example).

The first mix that I exported was at about 4am, so naturally it was a bit off – the crazy delay was a bit too crazy and the vocals were a bit high in the mix. The latter is fairly typical when I’ve been working on a particular element – notice how the drums are a bit louder than necessary in the version earlier in this post. So I just headed back out today to bring things back under control a little. Hopefully this is the keeper, look out for it on the Cork Rock City comp when it comes out on November 1st…