Friday 30th July
Hard to believe how close we are to the finishing line. When CT sent through the schedule, I wasn’t convinced we’d manage to fit so much in to such a short period of time. After all, on our debut album, by day 18 we were exactly half way through the making process. Here we are, day 18 and, in 24 hours or so, it’ll all be done and dusted! Well, apart from the mastering, artwork, sleeve stuff, release schedule et cetera. But that is a different blog for a different day.
First thing I had to do was drop Mike off. Chatting with him, I was pleased to hear that he had liked what he had heard. He thinks, from what he has heard, that what we have recorded is more cohesive and, as a result, more commercial (I ain’t talking Bon Jovi, I just mean that it will be an easier record for people to “get” on first listen – finally, we sound like you would expect a band called SPiT LiKE THiS to sound). He dug the guitars, too, which is important to me as it was the first time he had heard the new SLT vibe.
Listened to the mix we put up last night and it was sounding pretty good. I have a theory that magic pixies come in and mix it overnight – similar to that story about the cobbler who had things come in and make shoes – because last night all I could hear was a bit of a mess. That’s tired ears for you. Luckily, CT knows what the fuck he is doing so, even with tired ears himself, he was able to create the magic (either that or it IS magic pixies).
Didn’t sleep so good last night. Tired during the day so had 4 litres of Pepsi Max to keep me going, along with as much tea as an English man can bare (a LOT!) and approximately 20 caffeine tablets. All of these things are great for keeping you alert during the day, but are less conducive to sleep as one might like! Of course, this meant that I was knackered today. The solution: 4 litres of Pepsi Max, as much tea as an English man care bare and 20 caffeine tablets. Ah well, only one more day to go!
CT was looking resplendent today in his SLT-Shirt – with his matching gig bag, I felt I should get a picture of the man, the legend…drum roll please for Mr Chris Tsangarides
On with the show. The harmonies in “Very Very Good At Being Bad” are pretty magnificent, even if I do say so myself. And no pitch correction here, Siree! It sounds so good, I have decided that it needs to come earlier in the album track listing. No later than Track 4. I’ve had a jiggle and here is how I see it at the moment:
2. Normalityville Horror
3. Zero To Sixty
4. Very Very Good At Being Bad
5. Dragged Kicking & Screaming
6. Teen Angel
7. Suicide Kid
8. Oh No! Here We Go!
9. The Dumb Song
10. Dead To Me Now
Naturally, the above means nothing to you – yet – but, trust me, it’s awesome. We’ll see how close this is to how it ends up. Notes of mine that changed how “Very Very Good At Being Bad” will sound forever include:
* Guitars one side then the other
* Longer vocal delays, wetter
* Fade “indeed” harmonies
* Bring out “yeah”’s a bita
So, when you get the album and compare the end result with my notes and decide that you wish the guitars didn’t come in stages, you have me to blame, not CT. But you won’t, because it sounds fucking great. Recorded the versions with and without vox to hard drive.
NEXT! “The Dumb Song”. Dumb in name, not in nature. In fact, this proved to be the longest mix and the most technical. This is a favourite of mine and includes a track called the “low robot”. More on that later.
The usual track tidying of guitars, bass and vox began. And then continued. And went on for a bit more. This song has a very choppy groove – great stuff – but the odd millisecond chop here and there tightens things up even more and makes them sound fabulous. It isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it does make a huge difference. It totally done my head in, and I wasn’t the poor bloke sat in front of a screen having to edit it all.
Bass guitar on this song is the hugest bass guitar I have heard in any song ever. Imagine standing on a fault line when an earthquake goes off. That doesn’t even come close to the rumble on this bad boy. In fact, the whole rhythm track sounds immense.
All the editing caused my brain to wander. At one point, I thought I saw a space man. Turned out to be a bee keeper (naturally). That lead me to think about the TV show “30 Rock” and the doctor in it, called Dr Spaceman. Except it is pronounced “spa-chem-un” – hysterical. Honest! Oh, and then I realised that I’d not had stomach acid here like I normally get. Worked out it is because we are on chalk and the alkaline from the cliffs gets into the water that, in turn, gets into me neautralising the acid. Interesting, eh?!
I used the editing time to tidy away some of my bits from the studio – my throat sweets, teas, headphones etc. Damn, I’m leaving tomorrow. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, I get to go back home to Vikki and the pets and prepare for Wacken with a brand new album in tow but, on the other, I’m going to miss the recording process, Dover, the lodge and, of course, CT. It’s only been a few weeks but I feel close to the guy – and I’m not normally one of those people that easily forms bonds.
Speaking of CT, I was listening to how punchy the kick drum was sounding and I thought it sounded proper heavy metal like, when I realised that it was CT that basically invented that sound for the kick. Before him, kick drums were annoying little bassy thuds that you could barely make out at the bottom of the mix. So, I asked him about this and he designed the sound for it out of necessity – ie, he wanted to hear the bloody thing. The trick to getting that clicky bass drum sound is to take out the low mids and keep the bass and add treble. You then get a bassy thump but with an audible click. Seeing as every single rock and metal album since the late ’70’s has featured this sound, a lot of people have a lot to thank CT for. Indeed, whenever I have recorded in the past, I always requested a “clicky kick” – why I waited so long to go to the man that invented it is quite beyond me!
Finally, a mix was happening and I had a ton of notes. I mentioned this was a complicated track, so I practically had a page full of notes. These are the ones that made the final edit:
* Remove Gilez’s stick count between intro and verse 1
* Hot space must be a DEAD stop, remove drum reverb
* Fix bent out-of-tune guitar chord at 2m11s
* Robot FX on robot bit
* Single voice on intro
* FX up on verses
* Robot – V down, low Z up
* Swop first drums
* Take ooh-shah’s out of V1
and on and on and on I went. Well, not that bad – as usual, CT had already adjusted most of my notes before I had the chance to read them out.
There are lots of cool bits in this song. The backing track for the verses is mad – good mad. I defy anyone to work out exactly how we created it – all the different parts. It will all be able to be replicated live, as well, it’s just us being clever. Some of the adjustments lead to more improvements. For example, when Gilez’s stick count was removed, I thought of putting a guitar swell in. Five minutes later, we had a new part which sounds great!
My favourite part of the day though was when I asked CT to try and put a robot effect on the robot voice in the robot part. This will make sense when you hear it, I promise, and it isn’t as naff as it sounds! In response to this, CT disappeared into a cupboard and emerged with two effects boxes made by Lovetone: a Meatball and a Big Cheese. One is an envelope filter, the other a fuzzbox. You combine them to, effectively, create an analogue synth and this is what we put my “low robot” vocal through to make me sound like a robot. We’ve gone totally C-3PO on yo’ ass – and it sounds cool, man!! CT commented that he only gets those toys out for “special” people…
Once we’d finished playing, AKA, making stuff sound crazy bonkers, we committed “The Dumb Song” to hard drive, forever, at 7.48pm. Except it was a false start as, three beats in, CT forgot to push the reverb on a drum and we had to start again. And then the robot was too loud but then it all went perfect and, you know what, I reckon this is our best sounding song on the album. So far – got two left to do.
Opened up “Dragged Kicking & Screaming”, did a bit of editing then balanced out the drums, guitars, bass, handclaps etc and then called it a night. It was 10pm, CT had taunted me with the nicest smelling chips in the world (made DIY using potatoes dug up that afternoon by his mate Bazza), so my belly was giving me a right telling off and, as I mentioned at the beginning, I was pretty zonked. With my blog to write, food to eat, cardio to do – and with dead ears – it made sense to stop whilst we were ahead.
Before I go, I must mention the end of this song. It’s so funny, makes me laugh every time I hear it. It is us giving ourself a rousing round of applause for a job well done on the handclaps. It was a spontaneous reaction to the four of us having a bunch of fun in the studio doing something daft like handclaps (daft to do, sound great in the right song). Those and the gang vocals really make us sound like a band of friends – which we are. Can’t wait for you dudes to hear it.