Posts Tagged ‘bass recording’

So, about a week after the first drum & bass session, Costello got in touch with me asking if he could come out to add a bit more to the basslines he’d already laid down. Of course I said yes – he’d mentioned a few ideas the previous week and I was curious as to how they’d sound.
First of all he wanted to double track the bassline on each song, which is something I had never done before, but I could understand the need for it in this case: since Seb is normally playing lead lines all over the place, it couldn’t hurt to add some extra weight to the rhythm section (as long as I could avoid any phase problems that might crop up).
The second, and more important thing he wanted to do was to add some harmonies to the bass at the end of FDR, during the part where the guitar is pretty much fading out and all 3 vocalists are screaming away to their hearts’ content. This all sounded good to me 😎
On the day in question, he couldn’t get his hands on his own bass, so he had to borrow one (I’m pretty sure it was Mini’s), which had some pretty old strings on it. This had me worried for a moment, but once we started tracking it I figured I could actually use that sound to our advantage – Costello has a deep-seated hatred of high frequencies in his bass sound anyway, so blending the cleaner bass tracks from the previous day with the dirty sound we were getting now actually worked out OK. Especially after we added just the tiniest amount of distortion (I don’t like to use too much on bass, otherwise it gets messy in a hurry).
And so we got to work running through the songs. The double tracking was done in fairly short order, then it was time to get to grips with the harmonies on FDR. It was pretty much a case of sit back and let him play through it a few times – he already had some ideas worked out anyway which sounded great alongside the main bassline, then just for good measure he threw down a couple more little flourishes. In the end we had what was basically a big bass chord and it sounded great! Have a listen:

After that it was time for pizza and beer \m/


As mentioned in a previous post, I spent a good bit of Summer & Autumn 2011 working with Slugbait for their debut release. They wanted to get 3 tracks done for a split with another band, and I was only too happy to get the chance to work with them a) cos they’re all sound and b) to get some experience working with other people besides spending all my time on my own projects.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos during the sessions, so get ready for a big wall of text, or maybe I’ll throw in some live photos of the lads in action just to break things up…here’s one:
Slugbait kick back...
The adventure began in June once we could all finally get our schedules organised (we’d been discussing it since february). We figured the best way to start was to get the drums and bass down first so that the guitars and vocals had a solid foundation to build on. Also, we had to get the bass out of the way first since Costello (the bassist) intended to spend the summer abroad.
The night before the first session, Eoin (SG drummer, here taking on the role of assistant engineer) and myself had set up the kit and mics in the corner of the garage so that the lads wouldn’t have to sit through a couple of hours of sound checking. We used a similar set up to the one used when we recorded Eoin’s drums for the Stanton’s Grave stuff the previous year – i.e. close mic’ed all the drums (top and bottom for snare) and a spaced pair for overheads. For the toms, we used the Eagle tom mics, for the snare we had my trusty Beyer m201 on top and another Eagle tom mic on the bottom. The kick was the Eagle kick mic, and the overheads were the Eagle electret condensers (funnily enough, marketed as overhead mics…).
Next day the sun was out and the midges were ravenous. Louis, Costello and Seb arrived out in the evening and we got to work arranging ourselves around the limited space. We pretty quickly decided to throw the big doors open a) to try get a less “cramped” sound and b) because it was fucking hot in there, especially with 5 people in such a small space. Thankfully they’d been thoughtful enough to bring a couple of six-packs to keep us cool 😎
Once we’d checked to make sure all drum mics were working and the bass (which was being tracked using an ART tube MP as a DI through the Ampeg SVX plugin) signal was coming through, we checked out the headphone levels (so Louis could hear the bass) then we were good to go.
First up was 4 Men, No Mic. This was pretty straight forward – the lads ran through it a couple of times with no major hiccups. A handy way to loosen up.
Next was Fighting Fire With Piss (a name Seb came up with on the spot when I asked him what I should call the project file :)). Again, this was pretty spot on – the guys were well practiced at this point with these 2 songs.
FDR was left until last, because it was still a pretty new song – They had even been working on lyrics in the car on the way out, and figuring out how exactly it should flow. So, after we flew through the first 2 songs, myself and Eoin took a break while the lads jammed FDR a few times just to make sure they were all on the same page. I hooked up my guitar amp so that Seb could go join in and left them at it for a while. I also decided to leave all the mics running, just in case they nailed it while I was out of the room 😛
After they’d gone through the song 3 or 4 times they felt ready enough to take a stab at it, so we got back to work. Since the song was now fresh in their heads, we only needed to do a few passes before deciding we had a take worth keeping. There were a couple of transitions that were announced by some quick stabs (called the “stabby bit” naturally) that we decided to try a few more times. The main reason was to try some variations in the drums to see what sounded better – all kick, a mixture of kick and snare, etc. Once we’d decided what sounded best, we just pasted the new part into the song (sacrilege! :P).
And that was it for day 1. Before the lads hit the road, we cracked open a final beer for the road (except for poor Louis, the driver) \m/
And here’s a clip of what we had gotten by the end of day 1: