Late nights, one takes, coffee breaks.
We got the opportunity to get some tracks made at SAE’s new studio earlier this year, through a friend of a friend of a family member who was someone’s third cousin… ok we don’t actually know how we got the opportunity.
So we picked some songs we thought would suit a studio setting, packed up some gears and headed on in.
We hastily got working on some ‘scratch tracks’ which is basically the song recorded to a click, so that individual performances are basically re-recorded.
Obviously this isn’t the only way to record, but when you have access to such a lovely studio you take advantage of all the luxuries you can get.
To be honest we were all a little bit hasty recording with strangers in a studio. A lot of our influences shine in a live setting, and we were so used to being a live band. Capturing that essence is certainly no easy task for anyone & if you’re nervous before you’ve even made the individual tracks, then your performance is could go both ways.
The First Day/Night
In my head I definitely wanted to get the drums & bass parts done first, so that the other members of the band could take the time to tinker with their own sounds in the studio. Not only does mic’ing a drum kit take for-fuckin-ever, getting the drum sound you want is notoriously tricky, even if you can just “fix it in post”
The songs we picked were also not very demanding of these two instruments, fx wise, they don’t really change at all and basically form the bedrock for the songs.
Here’s a lil’ tidbit though. Tim got pretty much all the songs in one take. What a machine.
Drums & the rest of the instruments also had to basically be done in one or two takes, as we couldn’t punch in to certain parts of the song.
The Other Sessions
A looot of time was spent getting the jangly tones for the songs here. It also affirmed why Lane now plays primarily with an electric, it’s much easier to control tones through electric guitar pickups in a stompbox than with shitty acoustic guitar pickups that take ages to get the right tone.
Elizabeth was also nervous recording her parts, because vocals are dominant & the first thing scrutinised when people hear your music. They don’t go damn that bass tone is great, or I love the guitar melody. They usually judge on singers and their ability to carry the song. Which Elizabeth totally did.
Guy, also a beast, recorded multiple takes & they could basically take whichever ones they liked best for the songs. Guy’s also really talented at getting to the core of what a song should be, or where it should go, and then restructuring chords, sounds, & musical ideas into that. Most of this kinda shit you don’t really see because you do it all in rehearsals & pre production before you even get in the studio.
Percussion was pretty basic. Just some shakers and a tambourine or two. They are demos after all.
Brave New Heights
It begins with this chaotic fuckery on our collective instruments, and then launches into this downward unsettling chord progression, counteracted by Tim’s upbeat bass line and a driving beat.. which is apparently similair to every jazz drum 101 floor tom routine in everything.
Beat The Clouds
Ok well this one is straight up foot stomping. Literally. Lane always stomps for this song & I love it far too much. It has such an amazing summery, uplifting vibe that’s also really difficult to capture in a clinical studio session. Luckily it’s just a demo though! It’s one of our favourite songs to play live and always appears near the end of a set list as it just feels so damn good. My only personal qualm with the song is that it’s so perfect as 4 minute song, but I want to vamp on it for a fuck ton more.
We Learnt Some Things
All the top microphones in the world don’t make a good god-damn difference to your performance, & a good producer/engineer is worth their weight in gold. If they can transfer what you think the song should feel like into technical audio mastery, then you’ve found yourselves a winner.
Luckily these were all students at SAE who were learning their craft, & how to work with musicians. We had free studio time, which is unheard of! We’re so thankful that we got the opportunity to work in such a high class studio for a little while.
We didn’t go into these sessions thinking we were going to be able to release these as full CD quality ‘put this on your ep’ recordings. Sometimes you just gotta cut your teeth so that next time when you record… you get exactly what you’re after.
Also if you wear sunglasses inside, you’re automatically Father John Misty levels of dickishness.