Alexander Baldy – Smacking the skins
Good god I’m exhausted!
After a great deal of anticipation on both our parts it turns out that the recording session at Alex’s today was extremely inspiring and encouraging. This was the first time we’d attempted to do a full days song writing and recording session this millenium (the jam we recorded in November 2007 didn’t count), originally we had only planned to put down a completely new take of ‘Give a little Help – Rock version’ and rewrite an old Absurds (old Antikrish project) song now entitled ‘Boy Trouble’. Things didn’t strictly go to plan but the end result was much better than we expected.
As with our usual tradition we sauntered off to the local convenience shop at the beginning of the sesh because I personally can’t do any music without food in the tank. I grabbed some bits, scoffed them down and then had a practice with El Baldie to warm up. The difference to our jam back in November was astounding, everything was much tighter (in time), cleaner and more energetic than before and I was so incredibly chuffed to learn a track Alex has written this month called ‘Come on’.
‘Come on’ is an extremely energetic and punky rock tune which I thankfully picked up the basics of almost straight away; when Al first played it to me I was concerned with my lack of chord practice to accommodate it!. Al also ad libbed the drums and it was a shame we didn’t record the early warm up because it was almost perfect in places and we were too knackered to perform it after doing everything else during the main session. I can’t be arsed to mix it down now, but we recorded a little bit of ‘Come on’ and I may post it over the weekend if it sounds OK.
Boy trouble was a bit of a non-start, the drums are pretty demanding and I also need to tighten up my knowledge of the track so I recorded a guide guitar for later used and we’ve shelved that temporarily. Saying that the jam run through we had was again encouraging and I think it’ll be a lot fun when we get it sorted.
‘Give a Little Help’ on the other hand went very well indeed. I began by putting my Danelectro through the Marshall and then straight into the desk with slight distortion. I double tracked the same riff guitar for good measure. Afterwards I put a new acoustic down using Alex’s 70’s Yamaha and then Alex put down the drums (godly snare control today I might add). It’s amazing the drum sound we got using the AKG microphone as an ambient and the SM57 just on the bass drum.
During the jam I finished a practice of ‘Give a Little Help’ by going into a riff of a much older song written by Al and it merged perfectly. After the energy of the main song the added splice from the other tune brought things down into a lazy and almost hypnotic mantra. I came up with an ascending guitar to go with the added guitar (which I’m extremely pleased with) using the Electro Harmonix Polyphase pedal through the Marshall, and again double tracked it.
Sadly the whole session had taken it’s toll and by 3pm Alex was dozing off slumped up against the studio wall, and I personally was too tired to try and remember how to ‘bounce’ tracks down to free up some space on the Tascam to allow Alex to record a vocal and backing, plus any bass guitar we wanted to add (or call on the services of Dan Murr, bassist extraordinaire). So at that point we called it a day. I spent most of the evening with my feet up by Al’s very funky fire chatting about various things and reminiscing about the old days and how they’ve very much come full circle of late.
So all in all, very encouraging and 3 songs were greatly developed and 1 recorded into. I’m working Saturday but imagine I’ll get a few samples from the session on here at some point!!!
Watch this space!
CLICK TO PLAY
To prepare for my imminent visit to the States I’ve been doing a fair bit of overtime during the last 3-4 weeks. That along with doing my usual comics business it’s really taken it’s toll. Working from seven to eleven every night. It really makes life a drag, I don’t think that’s right. Ahem.
Anyroad, I finally found myself relatively free this weekend so I decided to do some music at home around my nephew Kai’s 10th birthday which involved a sleepover of three hyper 10 year olds (I got dragged into lots of lightsaber fighting, football, Wii-ing etc).
Alex and I are gearing up to a days recording midweek sometime in February because I have one days holiday to take before I zip off Stateside. So to prepare I thought I’d have a bit of practice on the Tascam.
Dan Murr (sometime session bassist and founding member of rock group Mary’s Dog) is a work colleague and mate of mine who recommended I use the drum software Beatcraft by Accoustica.
It’s very simple to use and has tons of samples of all kinds of kits which you can eventually make a backing tracking from by adding beats and measures a bar at a time. That doesn’t take as long as you’d think as you just edit several patterns and then throw them into a built in sequencer. You can also layer effects on each sample i.e. put distortion on the snare, reverb on the hi hat etc. I’d really recommend it for all you budding John Bonhams out there.
I put the drums down onto the desk on Saturday along with a guide acoustic track thanks to the Ovation electro-acoustic’s input which I plugged straight into the desk. I initially put the main guitar riff down with the Danelectro (again Direct Input or DI) but the guitar effects built into the Tascam are not the best; Alex likened my first take as similar sounding to Gary Moore (which isn’t good folks, too much reveeerrrbbbbbb). The good thing that came from the first take was an overdubbed pick guitar track that I put on the final verse.
The kids eventually cleared off Sunday morning and I had an empty house at my disposal. Ha ha neighbours, suck my plums! I cranked up the fender twin amp, plugged in the Danelectro along with my Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal to get a nice fat tone for the main heavy riff. After that I again used the Fender twin with Marshall pedal and Danelectro to get the pick guitar sound on the final verse.
I did put down a bass guitar track but it was too busy and made the mix even muddier so I decided to leave it out for now.
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This one is a reworking of pretty old song written quite literally just as I started hanging out with Al. The original is quite a rock driven effort (and one of my fave tracks to play) , however we decided to try and pull it to pieces and re-record it in a ragtime /bluegrass style which at the time I thought was pretty funny, and now in reflection even more so because it was all recorded in the space of 3 hours and by far and most the easiest recording we ever put down. Guitars and drums first, then lead guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocals and bass. One after another, it was such a hoot, a hootananannny even.
Shake your fleas Grandpa!