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Mew: "And the Glass Handed Kites"
Old 13th March 2013
  #1
Lives for gear
Mew: "And the Glass Handed Kites"

Hi Michael,

Thanks so much for agreeing to do this Q&A. I have tons of respect for your work: "And the Glass Handed Kites" is one of my favorite records. Songs like "Apocalypso," "Special," and "The Zookeeper’s Boy" are particularly great songs.
I have some questions for you, as I am very familiar with the record and have been listening and wondering for some time.

Guitars And Bass:

I really love the guitar sounds on this record. They sound dangerously twangy and agressive without being really overdriven much of the time. How and what did you settle on using for the guitars for this record? Also, how did you accomplish the crazy detuned guitar intro to The Zookeeper’s Boy?

The bass has a really cool punchy and overdriven sound. I’d be interested in knowing how this was done.

Record Continuity:

This record flows from one song to the next so seamlessly, for many songs in series. How did you manage these smooth transitions? It sounds as if the songs are all on 1 Pro Tools session! Please share some insight as to what techniques you used in transitions!

I realize this is a lot to ask, so thanks in advance for you time and generosity in sharing info with us.

-Dryw
Old 14th March 2013
  #2
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

Dryw-

Thanks for the kind words- Mew are a great band and I'm very proud of that record.

Bo plays mainly Fender guitars (Jaguar and maybe a Tele) and Johan was mainly using a Rickenbacker (4001) bass. We generally recorded the guitars with a pair of Vox AC30's (1 combo, 1 piggyback both with the eq mod on the back which I absolutely love) in really tight, dead rooms with a fairly long throw. Pretty sure the bass went through my 70's SVT head with an 8x10 and some kind of guitar amp. With the guitars, we discovered they sounded even better when we ran them through the front end of an Echoplex EP1 without engaging the tape. I think that happened after the bass was cut. I generally like to record bass with distortion- either a separate amp or some kind of driver just as long as it doesn't seem extraneous to the overall tone. This often goes to its own channel. I'll also drive the main amp pretty hard as things tend to sound a bit better to me when they're just on the verge of blowing up. A bass through a high gain guitar amp usually needs nothing more than an SM57- in this case, we could have used whatever was lying around- a JCM 800 with a 4x12 Marshall bass cab.

As for the detuned intro to "Zookeeper's Boy".... I don't remember what happened there. Bo seems to be good at creating that type of effect- I think it's just tuned down and multitracked.

A couple of the songs were written to flow together, in fact, a few were recorded in pieces and assembled as we went. Also, the record works as a unified body of work and was made with that in mind. Dynamically, it functions that way, too. That was reflected in the sequencing, which I wasn't present for.
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Old 14th March 2013
  #3
Ah, some firsthand experience with the Echoplex as a pre... cool!

Have you ever used yourself or recorded a guitarist who uses an Xotic EP-1 booster pedal? Is it actually similar sonically to the Echoplex trick described?
Old 14th March 2013
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post
Ah, some firsthand experience with the Echoplex as a pre... cool!

Have you ever used yourself or recorded a guitarist who uses an Xotic EP-1 booster pedal? Is it actually similar sonically to the Echoplex trick described?
I´m interested to know if Michael tried this pedal too. I´m using very often when i´m recording guitars and it´s really GREAT.
I´m curious about the pedal effect compared with the real Echoplex boost section.
Old 14th March 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by fexurbis View Post
Dryw-

Thanks for the kind words- Mew are a great band and I'm very proud of that record.

Bo plays mainly Fender guitars (Jaguar and maybe a Tele) and Johan was mainly using a Rickenbacker (4001) bass. We generally recorded the guitars with a pair of Vox AC30's (1 combo, 1 piggyback both with the eq mod on the back which I absolutely love) in really tight, dead rooms with a fairly long throw. Pretty sure the bass went through my 70's SVT head with an 8x10 and some kind of guitar amp. With the guitars, we discovered they sounded even better when we ran them through the front end of an Echoplex EP1 without engaging the tape. I think that happened after the bass was cut. I generally like to record bass with distortion- either a separate amp or some kind of driver just as long as it doesn't seem extraneous to the overall tone. This often goes to its own channel. I'll also drive the main amp pretty hard as things tend to sound a bit better to me when they're just on the verge of blowing up. A bass through a high gain guitar amp usually needs nothing more than an SM57- in this case, we could have used whatever was lying around- a JCM 800 with a 4x12 Marshall bass cab.

As for the detuned intro to "Zookeeper's Boy".... I don't remember what happened there. Bo seems to be good at creating that type of effect- I think it's just tuned down and multitracked.

A couple of the songs were written to flow together, in fact, a few were recorded in pieces and assembled as we went. Also, the record works as a unified body of work and was made with that in mind. Dynamically, it functions that way, too. That was reflected in the sequencing, which I wasn't present for.
Excellent info! Thanks Michael! I looked around for info on the eq mod for the ac30, and had a hard time finding anything... who offers it?

Also, if I understand correctly, the songs were pieced together after the actual tracking was complete? It sounds very much as if they had performed that way: the inter-song continuity is very convincing, and is a very special feature of that record.
Old 15th March 2013
  #6
Michael Beinhorn
 
fexurbis's Avatar
 

I have never tried this pedal as a booster or tone modifier- but anything is fair game if it sounds great.

As far as the Vox eq mod, it can be found on the back of specific AC30's- right about where the badge is. It's two knobs- they seem to act like bandpass/notch filters. The tonal variations can really bring out the best in an AC30. I've only seen the mod on older amps, but there is probably someone around who still does it.

A few of the songs were pieced together after they were tracked- including the build into "Apocalypso". Most of them were recorded as is and everything came together organically. Any editing that was done is actually a credit to Silas, their drummer who is extremely solid and made the transitions sound very fluid.
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