Recording – Day 2
Alibis Hit the Studio 2 – Revenge of the Studio
With the previous Saturday’s recording session having gone so well, hopes were high in the Alibi camp that the follow-up session would be as relentlessly positive and productive. As you will soon come to discover, dear reader, this was not to be the case…
The Alibis were already one member light come the Friday evening, as intrepid Little Drummer Girl Amy, having laid down the Phat Beatz on Saturday, was off to Germany to meet some friends over the weekend, leaving the Aliboys to go to the studio and finish off the overdubs to the three chosen songs.
Circumstances were different, all three hunks had been at work, having varying degrees of stress to cope with, and then a dash across town (in my case) or next-door (Rob) to get to Swanfield Studios, where Alex (manager, engineer and all-round nice guy) and Will (our engineer from the previous session, and also a fantastically nice chap) were waiting for us.
We had a quick listen to the previous weekend’s work to re-acquaint ourselves with our work, and then the guitar gunslinger, Rob-Dawg McVicar was up to lay down his guitar stuff. This was where things started to get difficult. Without wanting to get too boring, I shall elaborate.
The first song Rob got his teeth into was Cut Free. When playing this song, Rob alternates between using a plectrum, a slide and an e-bow. Playing live, there is a certain amount of wiggle room when it comes to putting one item down, grabbing another and continuing to play, but recorded music is an exact and demanding mistress, and poor Rob’s stress levels were hitting the roof. In the control room, both Jan and myself were in a tough place, trying to be both supportive of our colleague, but also having to say “that just wasn’t quite right – go again” if it was necessary.
Thankfully, brave little toaster Rob sucked it up and got on with it, eventually nailing a version we were more than happy with. Fallout was done in double quick time, and only a couple of takes were required to give Kojak the sleazy guitar riffs it was begging for. With Rob having nailed his parts, the pressure was now on me to get the vocals right.
I had a suspicion that Cut Free would prove my undoing, so decided to start with Fallout. A couple of up-and-down takes got the vocal chords warmed up, and then I got stuck in. Rob and Jan were as critical with me as Jan and I had been with Rob, and I found myself re-doing certain bits quite a few times. Often it was just one word in a sentence that was sounding off, which was incredibly frustrating.
Having finished the vocals for Kojak on the Saturday, that left only Cut Free, and soon we had major problems. Basically, when we rehearse songs, everything is so loud (and we are all wearing earplugs) that nobody had noticed I couldn’t actually sing the song properly in the register I had decided on. After a couple of horrible-sounding takes (although the choruses were apparently spot-on first time) we had to improvise and change the delivery style, to a more breathy, restrained verse. The word “still” was proving a major problem, with my voice wavering all over the place. Many, many takes later, we had enough to go on.
I really can’t praise Rob, Jan and Will highly enough for their help. It must have been frustrating for them, but they were very supportive as I struggled with my delivery, making all sorts of good suggestions. Will’s enthusiasm for the project really did spur us all on, and I’m sure we will be looking to use his considerable skills in the not-too-distant future.
I finished my vocals, and, with a mixture of relief, adrenaline and some embarrassment at my lack of preparation coursing through my veins, sat down to listen to Rob nail most of his backing vocals first time. There was just time for Jan to attempt an extra backing vocal for Kojak (which in all likelihood wont make the final mix) and then it was time to pack up, thank Will for his time and patience, and head off to have a stiff drink.
It’s now the Wednesday after the session, and we have heard the first early mixes, and I think there is unanimous excitement and a lot of pride in what we have heard so far. Hopefully the songs will be available for public consumption soon, and I think we now have a thirst to record a bit more in future as well, the guys at Swanfield Studios really were excellent, and hopefully we will see them very soon.
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