Hey Eric. love this record
any production notes to share?.drums,vox,gtrs,verbs,mixing..etc
love the splatty drum sound on "On The Earth,etc,etc.. cheers
The P's Bees record was a real treat for me. I stumbled onto them at a Deathray show at Paradise Lounge in SF. I remember walking in to the club and thinking man they play cool stuff in between bands here. I then realized it wasn't a CD being played in between bands on the main stage it was a band playing in the corner next to the bar! I walked over to watch them play and was completely blown away. No mics on any instruments just on vocals and it sounded like a f***** record. The guitar was completely mind blowing. Unbelievable feel, parts and sounds coming out of this little Fender vibroverb amp. After they played I introduced myself and asked if they would like to record some stuff.
It took a while for things to finally come together and give us the opportunity to get in the studio and make a record. It was one of those moments when I needed a break from record labels, A&R folks, radio promotion people etc. I spent about 10 years slogging away in a small studio recording demos for local bands and there is something I really love about that experience. The purity of having all of the creative decisions being made only by the people in the room (band + producer/engineer) is a very liberating, inspiring environment to make music in. I'm always up for a good challenge, but Man... when the band wants one thing, A&R guy wants another thing, The president of the label doesn't like one of the lyrics, the radio promotion people want a shorter bridge, and the bands manager thinks a different song should be the single anyway blah blah etc. it can get a bit frustrating I just need a break from it every once in a while ala P's Bees, Deathray, The Dwarves etc.
By the time we started work on the record they had parted ways with their drummer. I made arrangements for a really great drummer from another band to play on the session. It was a really weird moment. I was so sure this guy would be perfect for this music and for some reason their was just no chemistry between the drummer and the remaining band members. After accepting the reality that it just wasn't working, I reluctantly decided to jump in and play drums just to make use of the time I had set aside to start working on the record. I just would hate to be that "hey I got a great idea... why dont I play on your record" guy, so I always say I only want to do it if they're comfortable with it and think its really working.
Being able to play on those songs was a real treat for me. It also allowed me to get a bit more adventurous with the drum sounds. Definitely very minimal micing. The drums were my 60s Ludwig champagne sparkle kit. All the basics were recorded straight to 16trk MM1200 15ips IEC/CCIR. Because I couldn't be in the control room to EQ the drum mics I recorded everything flat onto the MM1200. Once all the drum tracks were recorded I ended up making EQ'd copies of all the drum masters. It was something I had heard of people doing back in the 60s and 70s and this was a perfect opportunity to try it. Basically you put up all the tracks on the console that were recorded flat on the first master and EQ everything to taste. Then you record the EQ'd stuff onto a new multi track master. I basically made sure that everything was as bright as I would ever possibly want it. So there is no way I would be turning up any high end when mixing off of the EQ'd copy. If you try to boost high end on a second generation 15ips analog recording it will sound like an army of snakes attacking your song. I think the second generation analog is a big part of the drum sound on the record.
The micing of the drums was mostly as follows:
D20 on kick
Coles 4038 - Left Kit
Coles 4038 - Right kit
Northern Electric 633A salt shaker - Snare
either C37A or U87 for room mics
The song "On The Earth" had a slightly different approach. That was mostly a Mono kit mic and Kick mic. There was a close mic for the hihat on the left and the cymbals on the right (I think those were both coles). the Mono Kit mic was an AKG D202. I really tried to have it be a one mic drum sound in the mix but I had to give in and use a little of the hihat/cymbal mics to widen it out just a little. The mixing of the drums was very similar to what I usually do. Expander and distressor type thing. Probably not as aggressive with the compression as I do on some of the modern rock/pop records. There is definitely spring reverb being used on the drums in the mix.
Queen's night out was mostly a Mono Coles over the kit and a kick mic that was far enough away so it would also function as a room mic. lots of spring reverb in the mix. the fuzz guitar on that was hofner guitar that had a built in fuzz circuit. I believe we put that through Tom's vibroverb.
We mostly only used 2 amps on the record. AC30 and Vibroverb. The AC30 is responsible for the Heavier guitar sound like on Way To Your Heart. The Vibroverb is more of the clean sounds like on Musika Dlya Fil'ma. This poject was when I discovered the Neumann M-582 on the AC30. That has definitely become a goto combination for me ever since the Bees record. The guitars were mostly either a Silvertone Jupiter or a Fender Jazz Master. There were 2 pedals essential to the AC30 setup. The boss parametric EQ pedal and a compressor pedal I believe it was a Way Huge Safron Squeeze maybe it was my Dynacomp... one of those for sure. The guitar sound on 'Way To Your Heart' is one of my favorites of all time. He also had a weird custom Octave Fuzz pedal that he kicked in for the really gnarly sounding parts. He used that same octave fuzz for the crazy percussive flute type sound in the second verse of City Of Love (that is actually guitar).
the Bass was almost all done with instruments that had nylon flat wounds on them. We had a Univox and Guild that both had those strings on them and they were used for the majority of the record. The bass sounds were typically a commbination of amps. Usually either an SVT with a magnatone or Tom's Vibroverb with a magnatone. Fender Vibroverb is a great bass amp. Insane low end. The magnatone is set ver bright and midrangy with reverb on it. I blend in the magnatone to add to the attack of the sound and create a subtle space around the bass sound. Mostly 47fet, 47tube, C12A for the micing.
Nice Day was a song that was very new for them. They only had the intro and the verse figured out. I loved the vibe of that song and played a more significant role in helping figure out the groove, arrangement and overdubs and stuff. The Piano on Nice Day is an old Ivers & Ponds upright I borrowed from Jon Brion. Every time I remind him that I still have it he says "oh thats fine I'll grab it if I need it". Its been at my studio for 7 years now. when we tracked the drums, Angelina was playing the piano and singing at the same time while I we were pinning down the arrangement. Eventually when we started going for takes Angelina just focused on playing the piano. I had her vocal mic going through a Roland Chorus Echo SRE555 with some tape delay on it. Of course the piano ended up sounding really cool through the vocal mic. So you can hear the tape delay adding a sort of chorusy effect to the piano in the final mix. On this song I did layer some old 60s drum loops on top of my live drum performance. It helped that song have a slightly more modern loopy/groovey kind of thing to it.
Almost all of the keyboards on the record are casios. They had a Casio that they used live that was just incredible. They would put it through amps and guitar pedals and it was just really cool sounding. I also own a couple of casios and we tried to stick to those to give the record a specific "sound" with the keyboards.
On the vocals i used anything that wasn't expensive. I had been collecting D19s for a while leading up to this and we ended up really liking one of those (they all sound totally different) for most of the vocals. I did use the CMV-3 for the vocal on Home. Angelina stood in front of the doorway to the echo chamber and sang the vocal to add a natural reverb right in to the vocal mic.
This was a record I did completely for fun. i wasn't charging them anything to record it and for some reason that always seems to free me up psychologically to be more adventurous and experimental throughout the process. i take more risks. I guess if I try something weird that really doesn't pan out we all only loose our time and effort... and we were all there when the decision was made. It seems when a record company is paying me money to record something I get nervous about being to experimental. They only hear about it when I have to call them a week into working on a song and I have to say "Well... we tried some really crazy **** on this and it didn't quite work out. We're gonna have to start over". That is not fun conversation to have.