November – Bass Reamping, Synths…? Oh yeah, we totally re-recorded a song/ Putting loads of things that have nothing to do with ships on the ship, then burning the ship.
So far this month we’ve ran the recorded bass tracks through really distorted amps to get a huge sound, I’ve put little atmospheric synth type stuff on various songs, and re-worked one song that probably wasn’t going to make the album. Now it might.
And we totally re-recorded one song because it just didn’t have the spark it needed. I’d spent hours working on it, then listened to a rough demo we did back in the summer. The demo was more fun to listen to so somewhere along the line we fucked up. Luckily we have a STUDIO WHICH ISN’T JUST A GLORIFIED PRACTICE ROOM ™ so we’ve recorded it again, and now it makes me all tingly thinking about it. Sometimes the best thing about our band is how long we can spend on something then still be willing to say it’s totally shit and start again. In that respect, we don’t really have big egos.
Next, Whitty’s going to try to beat the Best of the Best ™ vocal comps from September. Then as each song is signed off by the band, I can start mixing and we can get to the important business of arguing about tracklists etc.
October – Guitar and backing vocal recording/ Building the rest of the ship
Guitar recording mostly involves me spending all my spare time in THE STUDIO WHICH ISN’T JUST A GLORIFIED PRACTICE ROOM ™ and getting on with it. Amps are set up, miked, things get loud, feedback abounds. This is the bit where I can really let loose and try lots of different ideas to try to push myself and the songs further.
I’ve got four amps to choose from which is a nice change from the last album where I only really had my AC30. In the first session I use a different amp for every part, layer multiple amps and generally try to use every tool at my disposal. It sounds like total shit, I have no idea what I’m doing. So I put two of the amps away and stick to just a pair – My AC30 because she’s my baby and I love her, and another amp that does awesome heavier sounds. Now I’m not confusing myself, things go much smoother. Still, it takes a fortnight to get all the guitars for 15 songs down then I end up re-doing a few afterwards. It’s just the way I work. I like to do the best job of those ideas I have, then I judge them. If they’re shit I’ll go back to the drawing board, but I don’t want to judge the ideas before I’ve recorded them or I might stop being excited about new things.
Eventually guitars are done, and me and Alex do backing vocals. Captain Horizon have lots of backing vocals, it takes a few sessions to get through them all.
The Rest of September – fucking around with things/ Fucking around with the keel
I had a few days away from it, then got stuck back in. Over the 7 studio days Whitty recorded vocals to 12 of the songs. We do the remaining three in our practice room which will henceforth be called THE STUDIO. Then I get on with Drum/ Bass editing and vocal comping. I didn’t do much, but there’s 15 songs to get through. It’s quite often minor stuff – there will be one bar out of 32 in a verse that I decide could be better, so it gets the nip/ tuck treatment. Vocal comping is more fun. Basically, singers rarely just sing through the song once when recording. We’re looking for the best of the best here. Usually, I’ll get Whitty to record the whole song through two or three times. This serves a few purposes. It helps us both get into the song – remember all the little details etc. It warms up Whitty’s voice, and it lets me set up various record-y type things like compressors, mic volume, a monitor mix for whitty to sing along to etc. Then once we’ve got three takes, we’ll start doing bits section by section – I’ll offer suggestions, Whitty will concentrate on delivering the lines to his absolute best.
The end result is that by the end of the session each line is recorded a minimum of three times, and sometimes there will be as many as 10 takes to choose from. I’ll go through all that and take the best bits from each take to make one performance. It takes time, we’re talking maybe 1 or 2 hours per song.