Early 2016 I was tasked with writing, recording and mixing 8 tracks with a lazy indie rock feel for EMI Publishing music which has been one of my favourite jobs to date. As I was moving to a smaller studio I needed to write all the tracks in under a month so I could get the drums and bass down before I left,
Because of time constraints I had the basic arrangements and chord structures but not all the melody and lyrics were complete when we started tracking. If it had been me singing them this wouldn't have been too much of a problem but because in the end literally EVERY SONG ended up in a different key to the one we tracked (I didn't realise my voice was so low!) it meant the bass, guitars and synths I'd laid down either needed to be tuned up in software (Protools elastic audio or Melodyne) or more often than not re-tracked later.
I also found that because I had to get the arrangements down so quickly that they often needed a bit of changing which was a little tricky. If you have the choice always make sure everything is totally written before you start tracking!
Nothing Left - The first track I wanted to talk about is Nothing Left, mostly because I love the drums and bass! We tracked this with Tobias Humble on drums and Dan Rogers all in the same room to a rough guitar and vocal arrangement track.
Tracking - We tracked the drums with a fairly simple setup - Stereo KM184's overhead, 57 on the snare, u47 FET outside the kick and D112 inside all going into Neve 1073 preamps, and Coles 4038 and Royer 121 room mics and some tom mics. The bass was a Moulon P-Bass with Flatwound strings DI'd into 6176 channel strip. I usually go for flatwounds on more laid back tracks. Dan also used his avalon U5 preamp.
The hardest part about getting the drum sound was getting the sidestick part to cut through and sound natural. To do this I cut the verse snare parts into another track and used Slate Digital's trigger to trigger thicker sounding samples that I've collected.
The next stage was to get the vocals done... I was looking for an authentic American vocalist to fit the vibe of the album and found one after a friend recommended the talented singer-songwriter Robert Chaney. Vocal recording was a joy and we managed to recorded vocals for 2 tracks in an afternoon. Robert has an authentic and very dynamic voice so it was important not to get too close to the microphone. We recorded the vocals about 10 inches away from the mic (U87) going into a 6176 with some light compression at 4:1 to smooth out the edges.
Synths and Keys For the rest of the track I laid down some subtle synths to add a little dimension - a DSI Prophet 08 playing an organ pad in the verse and a Moog Sub37 doing a little lead line in the funk breakdown. However One of the funnest days I had working on the project was going down to the incredibly talented Andy Whitmore's West London Studio. We were looking at getting some electric piano and hammond tracked so EMI kindly let me book a day in. For this track the Andy's hammond playing really brought the track to life and helped it sound finished.