Posts Tagged ‘tuborg’

Right, I’m gonna see if I can get this blog back on track and hopefully get it finished before I die. Maybe if I just split it up into smaller posts I’ll be able to get back on a roll…
It saddens me to say that Slugbait decided to call it a day back in December, but hopefully this split (which we all decided to put up on bandcamp as a free download just before they announced their retirement) and any live footage that was recorded at their shows will live on as a testament to their greatness.
Anyway, onto day 3 (which was about a month after the bass sessions, sometime in July anyway). I got a call from Sebdog saying he was on his way out so I met him at the bus stop in BV around lunch time. He had of course brought the now customary 6 pack of Tuborg. We headed up home to get things set up.
I already had my amp hooked up with the tubes warming up for most of the morning because I had been trying out different mics and positions. For the session I ended up going with a blend of m88 on the dustcap and the soundstar around the middle of the cone. I also had my new silver bullets in opposite corners of the room in case we needed some ambience (not something you need too often in heavy guitars, but since most of Slugbait’s guitarwork is lead driven and fairly dynamic, I figured it might be useful in places).
Anyway, once we arrived up, after greeting the family and having a brew, we got down to some tone searching (i.e. playing with the knobs on the amp and Seb’s various pedals until we had a suitable sound picked for each song), as well as making sure again that all the mics were working (there’s nothing worse than taking ages to prepare for a take only to find out about halfway through that there’s no signal being recorded, which happens much more often than I’d like). All in all it took less than an hour and we were ready to get going by about 2.
As with the previous sessions we started with 4 Men, No Mic (to this day I’m not sure what that means – I keep forgetting to ask). Unlike the other sessions though, we spent a lot more time on it since we wanted to layer the shit out of the guitars (who cares if it can’t be replicated live, the important thing here is that it sound good on record, right? 🙂 ). For this particular song we didn’t really go overboard – there were only 3 guitar tracks at most at any one time. That said, they weren’t really doubled tracks, since the song is mostly lead work (“fiddly bits” is, I believe, the technical term) and a lot of it was off the cuff which would make doubling pretty damn tough. It works though, so…
Next we started working on FFWP. This is a much heavier song, so we needed a couple of layers of nasty guitar in the intro provided by a proco Rat doubled with some of the amp’s own dirt channel. After a few attempts of going straight from the heavy section to the quieter parts (which used clean guitars) we decided it would be much easier to just record these parts separately (which should probably have just been our approach from the get-go :P). But it was because we broke up the recording into separate sections that I somehow didn’t notice that we only recorded one pass of the second heavy part of the song, something I didn’t spot until I listened back to the sessions myself the next day, by which time of course, our illustrious guitarist had left the building. In fact, I’ll just take a quick jump out of our timeline here in case I forget to bring this up later: after a few listens over the next few days, I felt that it definitely needed an extra guitar track to beef things up, since this is really where the song gets going. I decided rather than call Seb back for more overdubs (after spending 9 hours here already!), I’d just throw something simple down myself and see if it helped. I added a couple of extra channels with guitar rig 3 loaded (I was using the “gratifier” amp – supposedly an emulation of a Mesa rectifier, although I’ve never gotten it to sound anything like the one Senior uses) and ran my guitar straight into my interface (the first 2 channels have a high impedance input for connecting instruments). I had to listen to the bassline by itself for a bit just to check my tuning – I ended up in drop C. After that it was a simple matter of following the bassline as it played through, double it onto an extra track, then pan the 2 tracks left & right and have Seb’s guitar playing in the middle. Here’s a sample with and without the “girth” tracks:

And that’s where I’ll leave it for now. Next time we’ll jump back to the proper timeline…

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Picking up where I left off yesterday…
In between my unsuccessful attempts at making more racket with my guitar (well, I was successful in making a racket, just not any worth saving), I decided I’d also have a go at doing some more vocals, specifically on A New Hope (since TV Zombie was done recently and I’m fairly happy with how that turned out, and none of the other songs are far enough along yet to warrant adding vocals).
So I dug out my (relatively) new Beyer Soundstar MkII (aka M400 – apparently a poor man’s Shure SM7, but of course I don’t have a SM7 to compare, being a poor man :P) and stuck it on a stand with my shitty pop-shield.
Beyerdynamic Soundstar II & ghetto pop-shield
Then I hooked it up to my ART tube-MP and set it up for a fair bit of tube gain (yum :cool:), set up some tracks and started firing away.
Having a few beers helped (good ol’ Tuborg ;)), as it usually does when I need to roar my head off in a quiet room (also, cranking the hell out of the headphone mix helps too).
singer's gotta drink...
Since I already had the room mics scattered around the place, I decided to take recordings from them too, for a bit of ambience (hey, if it sounds shitty, then I don’t need to use it, do I? :)).
Once I’d gotten a couple of passes through the song (I like to double track), and an overdub on a few parts where my voice had broken (if you listen to the old demos, you’ll hear that happen a lot, but I never bothered fixing it before), I sat down to see how well all the work I’d done so far would gel together in a mix…

Oh, before I sign off, here’s one last EXTREME CLOSE-UP! Wooooaaaoooohhhhh…
EXTREME CLOSE-UP!

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OK, on to the meat – this is the main reason I started this blog: to discuss the recording of our first EP.

Most people reading this have probably heard all our demo tracks by now (all the stuff up on myspace and bandcamp – if you haven’t heard it, you’re probably here by accident 🙂 ), but you may not be aware that the majority of those tracks (all of them except Floyd the Barber, in fact) are just demo versions of our songs: stuff I just put together at home on my DAW. In essence, it’s all fake, and doesn’t represent us as a band. The instruments were all done by myself, and I programmed the drums. This is why they have never been put on CD for sale – they are available as a free download, and that’s how they’ll stay (until we delete them perhaps 🙂 )

Anyway, I digress…

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to get cracking on this idea. For the EP, we decided we’re going to re-record 3 of the old songs, which meant I could just open up the old project files and record Eoin’s drumming over them, then remove the midi drums. Easy-peasy, eh? Then we’ll probably add one of our new songs, which we’ll be starting from scratch – not so easy…

Naturally, we opted to start with the easy songs. So on the 19th of June, 2010 I got Eoin to come out to my house (hidden in the foothills of the Cork & Kerry Mountains :p) to get started. We spent a good few hours on Saturday evening setting up the kit and microphones, checking to make sure we were getting a good signal, and a good sound for each mic (I’d already spent some time on Friday night adding in the extra tracks I would need on each Cubase project).

We started with the kick mic. When we recorded Floyd the Barber back in October last year, I used a kick mic that I got with a drum mic set, but I don’t know if it was the mic itself or the way I positioned it, but I couldn’t get a decent sound from it – I ended up processing the hell out of it in the mix and still don’t like it. This time, I used a more recent acquisition: a Beyerdynamic m88. This is what I use for vocals at practice, but I’d heard it can be pretty good as a kick mic since it has a huge proximity effect (look it up :p). sure enough, we tried it out and had a nice meaty ‘thwack’ from the kick.

beyer m88 inside the kick drum

Next, for the snare I used a Beyerdynamic m201 on the top and an Eagle G158J (from my cheapo drum mic set) dynamic on the bottom. The 201 gives a nice crack (well, it picks up the nice crack from the way Eoin hits it 🙂 ). Just for kicks, we tried sticking the 201 into the hole on the side of his snare to see what it might pick up – horrible sound! Nothing useful, unless you’re doing some strange electronic song. It sounded more fake than my fake software drums 🙂 Back to the top of the beater side it went!

beyer m201 on the snare (also, note the dampener)

The tom mics, I was less worried about – I used the cheap G158Js on them last time around (I should have mentioned that the recording of Floyd was kind of  a practice run for this endeavour 🙂 ), and they worked out fine, so  I used them again. They’re handy because they’ve got clips on them to mount them to the drums, which is good, because as of yet I haven’t got a lot of mic stands.

We spent a bit of time getting the overheads sorted out – last time we didn’t really have much of a scientific approach, and the stereo image ended up being slightly skewed to the left. It wasn’t too bad – all it took to fix was a little volume and panning adjustment in the mix. This time though, I wanted to get it right at the tracking stage. We started out with the 2 mics (again from the G158J set – battery-powered electret condensers) above the centre of the kit in an XY formation for the least phase problems (lots of reflections in the garage), but when we listened back, the image was very narrow, even when the mics were panned 100% each way. So we went back to trying a spaced pair system. Eventually we got them sorted out, and sounding pretty good if I may say so myself.

spaced pair overheads

Once we were set up and everything was working the way it was supposed to (after having to repair on of my cheap mics – one of the XLR pins tried to disappear into the shaft! Grrrr!), we decided it was time to get to work (this meant removing our ‘drum tech’ from the room, since it was well past his bedtime!)

We started out with TV Zombie, since it’s a nice slow song, and after a few runs through it (and a couple of cans of Tuborg 🙂 ), Eoin found his stride and we started to power through it. We recorded a couple of passes of the entire song, then we started working section by section to give us plenty of options at mix time – if there’s any mistakes, we can just edit in a part from another take. Horrifying, isn’t it?! :p Well, I guess that’s just how recording works these days… 🙂

after spending an hour or so on that song, we figured it time to break for the night to start again fresh the next day.

creative juice

Next day was much easier – everything was still set up from the night before, so we were able to just get cracking right away. We checked what we’d got from the night before for TV Zombie (it’s always a good idea to re-check what you’ve worked on with a fresh pair of ears), and, happy enough, moved onto Shut Up And Eat Your Freedom.

This one took a bit of work to get right – maybe it was just the time of day, but for the first few passes we couldn’t get the flow. I realised during this process that the guitar tracks for the demo version have some terrible timing issues, so for Eoin to use them as a guide track was throwing the song all over the place. No problem – I fired up guitar rig, plugged my guitar straight in and recorded a fresh pair of scratch guitar tracks 🙂 The going went much smoother after that.

Next we tried A New Hope (aka No We Can’t aka NObama). We flew through it – no recording part by part here: 4 passes, one after the other. After recording the 3rd pass, we knew it was the keeper, but went for a 4th anyway. Then we just added a few different versions of the intro to choose from at mix time.

And that was it – all done. time for more beers \m/