Lacing the Studer A827

Surfacing from our self-imposed isolation, four weeks of re-ignited friendships, stories, laughs and of course, recording, we struggle to comprehend the unfolding horror in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with its people and the families who have been separated and forced to flee their homeland, many of whom are trapped. Their bravery and resistance to this invasion is inspirational, a reminder of our humanity against such inhumanity. Making music seems so immaterial in such times until I am reminded of the power some songs command over us, especially in times of hardship.

Standing at the main console, tape rolling and in record with the band ready to cut another song fresh from the mind of the song-machine that is MK, I wonder…is this the right snare and kick drum combo? Is Glenn on the right bass for the song? Is Richard ‘splanging’ through the best amplifier? Should Greg be on a lap steel rather than a pedal? Why doesn’t Danny just get on the Bongos instead of a shaker and rainstick? All these questions are soon answered as Ianto counts off and the band gets rolling. Our instincts were right, mostly.

Running these sessions with me is resident BG engineer, Rowan McIntosh, a familiar surname to many as Rowan is the son of guitarist Robbie. Alongside Rowan is Eve Morris taking ALL the pressure off me as she controls both the Pro Tools (PT) rig AND the multitrack tape machine transport. Every take is recorded both to tape and PT and every playback is aligned by Eve. (using the tape signal path means there is a delay coming back into PT as there is a physical gap between record and playback heads which needs to be compensated for after each recording) Completing the team is Edie Dellafield, making notes of everything that occurs throughout the day as well as prepping mics, headphones as well as providing a never-ending supply of coffee and proper tea. 

The live takes are the most exciting as it all comes together so quickly. Quite often it will be the very first take that makes the album. The first time the band EVER play a song together will be the one you hear. It’s not that we don’t try any harder to improve things, it’s just that often the combination of heightened awareness, spontaneity and freshness is difficult to beat. More often than not, the second and third takes can seem over-confident as everyone has played it through and ‘learned’ it therefore has an air of confidence which is not always the best for the song. We will decide on a take and then the band will take it in turns to ‘scope’ their performance. This means listening whilst zoning in on a particular player’s performance with a view to repairs or possible alternate offerings, ie. an overdub or alternate takes. The way musicians play off each other in the same room is part of why we all chose to be musicians.

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