This is the story of two tracks. One has been sitting on our hard-drive just waiting to have the last little finishing touches added for the last 6 months. The other came together in the space of about 4 weeks from start to finish.
A Simple Man. This was one of the first piano riffs we came up with. It’s got plenty of bottom end to it and a driving beat, the lyrics came together pretty quickly and we’ve been playing it in rehearsal for quite a while now (it’s a VERY fun song to play). And the recording has been around for a very long time as well, finished- yet not finished. There was always something there that annoyed me, telling me it wasn’t quite all glued together. And so I’d keep adding layers over the top, making these extremely long strings of effects on every track trying to fill in the missing pieces, but nothing worked. So I ended up going back to basics. Completely scratched the vocals and started over. This was actually the first time I’d had a chance to try out the new Universal Audio Neve Preamp plugin (BTW are you reading this UA, you’ve got a little fanboy over here- how’s about a sponsorship deal?).
This is a very cool little software plugin that works with the preamps on the Apollo Interface i’ve got to make them sound and act like vintage NEVE Preamps. And I liked it so much, that I decided to sell my beloved Twin-Finity 710 Tube/Solid State Preamp- it’s THAT good (BTW, if anyone’s interested shoot me an email- $800). Combined with the Bees Neez Shelise (that’s got a nice ring to it doesn’t it?) it fits my vocals perfectly, like sliding your hands into a perfectly sized pair of gloves. The other thing I’ve started doing is being a bit more brave with my effects. I used to always record a dry signal and then put the effects on afterwards with software. Which is fine, but it chews through a lot of processing power and tends to overload the poor little CPU quite quickly. So I took a little leap of faith and decided to save the effects as I recorded them- Neve preamp, Studer Tape machine, and 1176 Compression. And I’ve got to say, its a lot easier just having it DONE and not worrying about fiddling with the knobs after the fact when it comes to the mixing stage. So I got the vocals where I wanted them, and it just needed a little bit of an intro. This was actually quite easy (sort of). A few knob twists on my Roland Space Echo pedal and little chord plucking and the intro was done. And I was quite excited to be able to use the second pedal on the space echo for the first time on a track. You know, the one where it makes it sound like you’re guitar’s about to launch itself into space. Actually getting the timing right took about 10 takes I think, that was the challenging part. A few clicks later and it was on the internet. Hopefully the internet is gentle and kind with it.
Tough Talk was completely different. This one came about flicking through the presets on the NORD and playing a couple of simple chords. I really like the idea of being able to layer 3 different sounds on top of each other with that keyboard, so it’s got the Farfisa organ on top of the saxophone samples and maybe a piano? over the top. The guitar lick for the chorus came quickly and the lyrics were relatively pain-free to write (I think we’d just had some sort of bullshit argument so it was good inspiration). So most of it was already there about 4 weeks ago, there was just the breakdown that needed a bit of work (done as of last night- thanks to some helpful input from Olivia to just leave it alone and not put a whole bunch of unnecessary overdubs on top. Thanks Liv, I never know when to stop). The thing that really excites me about this track though is the vocal sound- once again its the NEVE preamp working its magic but I found a cool little preset on the AMPEX tape recorder plugin that makes it sound like I’m part robot. I’m reasonably in love with that sound- it’s got that cool little John Lennon Auto-Double tracking feel to it and he happens to be one of my songwriting heroes.
So two tracks in one week- both with their stories to tell. One short, and one long.
Thanks for reading,