What have I been doing with myself??

It has been a year. A year. A year since I posted up on this here blog and since linking it to the record label site I have done nothing with it. All activity moved to Facebook and as a result I’ve not updated this in a while. So, heres a little run down of who has been in the studio, some pictures, some audio, some successes, some, “experimentation” etc, etc…

Going alllllll the way back to April when I switched over to using Facebook as the main port of call we have several records that were released around that time that were entirely produced or engineered at the very least at Condate Audio. I’ve put some links below to Spotify because I’m nice like that…

Riot Jazz – Gives You the Horn
Colonel Blast – For the Greater Good
Face of Christ – Year of the Prick

We then got on the case of finishing the Flying Cheep Cheep 3 track EP, well Mark at Germanium Music did after tracking at CA. I’m pretty pleased with how that set of tunes turned out. I’ll definitely be working on some more stuff as and when inspiration hits.

Next up was Manchester Soul lady Lauren Housley tracking some live soul tunes. By all accounts they are working on a new EP at the moment so most of the demos they did aren’t up online but if you head over to her Facebook page You’ll get to hear any new stuff they have been working on soon.

Colonel Blast then recorded their two tracks for the “Split Roast” release that Condate Record put out in May. You can hear all of the split, a five way affair between Colonel Blast, Magpyes, Cancerous Womb, Diascorium and Dyscaphia on Spotify.

Riot Jazz came back in and worked on some new tunes after this and so did an Opera Singer wanting to track some live strings, piano and acoustic guitar. Pretty mellow session, got some nice sounds out of the strings. These are all being mixed and edited elsewhere so as soon as anything sees the light of day I’ll get a link up here. There are photos from the session in the album at the end.

Next up was Ahab. There are currently no vocals on the tracks but a set of mixes can be heard here:

Shortly after this we had Riot Jazz back in again to track what will hopefully become their next official release. The mamoth task of editing the tunes goes to the drummer Steve but I think the tracks are coming back to me to mix and master. I hope so, I love working on their stuff! There are some pics of the session in the album at the end.

Last session through the doors at CA was a demo session for the Hardcore band Stuck in a Rut. This was a fun session, the guys were hilarious all day and made dealing with the morning after a heavy night before a breeze. First master of this no frills, straight up nasty hardcore is being reviewed by the band as I type so there should be some audio up soon that I can link to.

On top of all this I have been attempting to decorate the place whilst working, writing, gigging and recording with my own bands. There are some pics of this process at various stages in the album below. I think I’ve covered all the main points, hopefully this year will see the studio being used more frequently on some cool projects. I know there are a few personal projects in the pipeline that I need to make time to record so hopefully there will be more to report soon!

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Album a month…oh wait…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I said an album of tunes a month and I’ve obviously failed. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! I’ve had 4 bands in the studio in the last few months doing various projects from small quick demos to more extensive productions but more importantly I have actually worked on and completed (pretty much) the first Flying Cheep Cheep three track EP.

So starting with a little background to the project, it began as a way to get out the kind of music I’d been writing previously with a band called Otters Pocket out of my system. Whilst concentrating on the Colonel Blast music, every so often I’d get a hit of inspiration of a different kind and I’d hit the studio to demo it. Over the past year or so I’d written 5 or 6 tunes which got whittled down to 3 main tracks. At this point I’d sent these demos to a friend of mine Mark Lewis (formerly of Otters Pocket with me and now of The Jessie Rose Trip) to get a feel for what I’d achieved with the tracks. Fortunately he was well in to the music and we cleared time in both schedules over christmas to spend a week recording the tracks.

Now in a little twist to the project, Mark took the reigns of producer/engineer/mixer and I got to just be a musician for the first time in a decade! I thought it would be a lot harder to give up the control over the recording process, sound and mic placement etc but surprisingly it wasn’t and for the first time in a long time I was free to concentrate on pure performance.

With the odd drum part, backing vocal and double bass part aside I got to play every instrument on the album and not worry about how that sound was being captured. It’s a very liberating experience when you have spent so much time balancing both on a lot of projects, or just recording people, to find someone you actually trust to do a great job, and what a job 🙂

Here are some pics I took of the process and some of the equipment we used which was an amalgamation of both our recording set ups.

Now for some reason I can’t rotate the images around in the wordpress editor 😦 so you might have to tilt your head around a little! I’ll try and sort this out after logging out and in again at some point.

Here is a list of some of the equipment used on this record. The list is off the top of my head so I’ll update with a more detailed list once I’ve remembered everything. Once I’ve got the mix sessions back I’ll also post some screen shots up of plug-ins, automation, settings etc.

iMac 27″ i7
TLAudio Fat Track – Seriously nice preamps in this little beauty. Mark has too much money haha!
Focusrite Sapphire Pro 26 IO
TL Audio valve compressor
Focusrite Twin Track Pro
SM57’s – All over the shop! Guitars/Snare
Audix D6 – Bass Drum – Although I think we changed this for something a little warmer
Senheisser E906 – Guitars
Shure SM7b – All lead vocals
AKG C414 – All backing vocals

So there you have it. Below you can find the three tracks hosted at SoundCloud.com. Please comment here or at SoundCloud and let me know what you think.

Track 01 – Old, Worn out and Unloved

Track 02 – You Hope. I’m Not.

Track 03 – Safe at Last

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An album a month…

Now this may sound daft but as a way to keep myself constantly creating I have decided to write an album a month for however long I can. This may only last a month. It may last all year. It may last forever. The point is to try and create something, whatever it is, in a set time frame.

Who knows, there might be some gems hidden away there. Most of it might be shit. I don’t want to impose limits of any kind. Whatever style takes my fancy, whatever instruments to hand, wherever I am throughout the month once that month is up the album is done.

It’s the 20th of September. SO lets say around the 20th of October there should be something to add to this discussion.

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Flying Cheep Cheep

My on off solo/partnership musical project “Flying Cheep Cheep” was on the cards today. It’s a musical project I dip in to every so often when I need to try something new or work on something a little less extreme. It is a logical extension of my first ever band which lasted in various incarnations for around a decade and when I’m sat on my own with a guitar it is the style I invariably write in.

Anyway, this project is now a joint task force with my good friend and musician extraordinairre Mark Lewis. Currently blazing across stages with The Jessie Rose Trip, Mark is getting involved with the whole process. Hopefully now I won’t go mad from working on this alone haha! Below are some demos af tunes that are in various stages of development. Check them out, any ideas are welcome!

I’m Just Like Him by Shftrnstp

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A/B & Amplitube Metaaaaaaall!

So today I’m demoing out some ideas on some tracks for a band I’m in at the minute called Acolyte. I also just got hold of the Amplitube “Metal’ AU for Logic so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and check out the plugin whilst getting down to developing some ideas.

I also wanted to conserve CPU so intead of software monitoring the Amplitube plugin I decided to take a signal from my Marshall Mode 4 and used a Boss A/B pedal to send a clean signal straight to my Focusrite Sapphire Pro 26. That way I could monitor my playing and react to the tone of my amp that I know and get a clean signal for re-amping later…

So here is a gallery of the hour long session. I ended up using a blend of my DI signal from the Marshall and a re-amped version of the clean signal. I then sent them to a bus for compression and EQ. You’ll notice there is a no holds barred cut of the frequencies below 100hz, I like to let the bass sit in the frequencies below any guitars and also it cleans a real gainy signal up. I also set up a reverb send on bus 11. The amplitube settings were pretty good in the end, I don’t usually use plug-ins for any proper recording, I much prefer getting the sound right with an amp, but for the purpose of getting a few ideas down and an idea of what it could sound like in the mix it’s pretty cool.

Below is an audio sample of the tune I was working on. The guitar I ended up putting down is on the right, the left is the other guitarists track sent via dropbox. Still working on aspects of the whole track, but it doesn’t sound too bad considering it is a plugin mostly. Plus there is no bass guitar in there yet haha!

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Riot Jazz

My first foray into the world of recording serious brass came recently in an encounter with Riot Jazz, a nine piece brass/drum/MC outfit currently tearing up festivals alongside their monthly nights in Manchester.

Relishing the idea of recording a band made up of musicians who can read (music) and play their instruments (for once) I set about working out the logistics. First of all they wanted to do it live, in the same room. this immediately presents a whole host of problems with bleed, phase issues, etc etc… After a bit of faffing I set them up with the drummer up on a riser at the back of the room, the three trombones and three trumpets lined up on the opposite wall with their backs to the drums. I figured this would allow their bodies to act as some separation from the drums. The sousaphone player was then placed facing a side wall with a separation board between him and the drummer. The mic, an SM57 was placed and taped inside the bell of the sousaphone. I used SM57’s and Senheisser e604’s on the rest of the brass. and I used a combination of the Audix DP-5a Drum Mic set, 2x SE4400 as overheads L&R and an SE220a high up behind the drummer centrally over the kit. This mic did pic up general room sounds too but once the drums were going it provided a nice option for super compression on the drums.

The band did two or three takes of each tune. They did 7 tracks in all and had a dep trombonist in reading who just turned up and layed it down no fuss. It just goes to show what can happen when you get a tight, well rehearsed band in your studio. No messing, just solid playing. I felt like I was in a 70’s cop show all day!

I spent a day doing some basic mixes, the drummer took away the files and had a faff with them, then they came back to me for a final mix and master. Hear some of the results below…

Seeing as though I am backdating a lot of this at the start of this blog there is a distinct lack of pictures. Future posts documenting recordings and any prior recordings that I have done that include pictures, will have pictures and possibly video 🙂

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You really can’t polish a turd…

…you really, really can’t. It is a mantra to live your entire life by. You can’t polish your own turd. You can’t polish someone elses turd. You could probably soak a turd in varnish and polish that once it had dried, but it’s still going to be the varnish you are polishing, not the stinking turd underneath. You wouldn’t expect someone to ask you to polish their turd, yet many bands do.

I’ve had other, whimsical, spur of the moment blogs designed to “really get my ideas and thoughts across man“, but, several days later these always fall by the wayside. Real life takes over. I forget to blog. With this one I intend to be different though. I am merging it with what I actually do which is play in bands, run a studio, put gigs on, run a label, teach sound recording and session.

There are several reasons I started this blog. Contained within these pages will be things I have worked on, projects of my own, experiences out gigging, interesting musical shizz I find lying amongst the detritus of the interweb, artwork and anything else I decide to turn my hand to having a go at.

I am fed up of polishing your turd.

For those of you who want to record with me its gonna be an online CV for you to check out, a little insight into my thoughts on recording, audio in general and samples of things I have done. Contact me through the various options on the contact page.

On with the slew…

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