In Search of...: The (not so) Secret Diary of a Band

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Week 4!

On Monday we started the final week of recording. Having wrapped up week 3 by finishing the tracking for at least half the album in 4 days we felt pretty good! However we knew that we still had a load of songs to record plus all the overdubs for them and most of the overdubs for the previous weeks work, the pressure was on.

Steve's approach as a producer is all about the vibe and there could be many takes before he felt he had the best one. As a band we like to feel that we are all about the vibe too so this was great news for us. However, take after take can be an exhausting affair not just physically but emotionally. It's really hard to create an amazing energy when playing the same song, over and over again, in a studio environment. Also the studio can be an unforgiving place for a musician as everything is under the microscope and it can be a very revealing experience as things that you have been playing for ages suddenly don't sound so great when you look at them in detail. Steve kept all our spirits up and was an incredibly positive person to work with, never once letting the energy die. He was forever spurring us on and generally created a wonderfully positive atmosphere for us to create in; the man never stops moving and grooving to the tunes! This inspired everybody to give it their all and dig into their energy reserves and we managed to get all the tracking done by late wednesday night (about 1 am!)

This left us with 2 days to do all the extra bits and pieces that the songs needed. These ranged from backing vocals to more cello lines and a few other surprises that you will have to wait and hear. It was great to have those 2 days at the end as it was a chance to experiment with sounds, layers and any other strange things we wanted to have a go at. It also gave us time for Steve to make some suggestions of things to try and adapt for the songs. By Friday night (just!), everything on the whiteboard had been cleared by about midnight. It was decided that we could have our first real drink in 4 weeks and we headed into Bath to celebrate what can only be described as a truly epic 4 weeks.The celebrating led to some sore heads on Saturday but hey, we had been very good boys for 4 weeks solid!

So all the potential songs for the Album are done and now its up to producer Steve to mix them and see what we all feel makes it onto the actual record. We have had an incredible time and would like to thank everybody at Realworld who made it such a memorable few weeks. They really are a lovely bunch of people and it's a very special place. We all feel incredibly privileged to have had this experience and feel that it has really improved us as a band, both musically and as people. Plus we didn't kill each other; always a bonus !!

We now excitedly look to 2011 and what it may bring. Needless to say we will be gigging and promoting the Album and just trying to raise the profile of the band as much as possible. Thanks for all your support over 2010, it makes doing this worthwhile. There'll be another blog up over Christmas reviewing the year, plus some more photos and hopefully some videos from our time in the studio. But for now have a lovely christmas and a great New Year, and we'll hopefully see you all next year.

Lots of Love,

Pete, Ben, Nick , Jay and Kieran 

Monday, 13 December 2010

Week 3: Recording!

Monday saw us move in to the Wood Room at Real World to begin the recording progress. Pete had been struck down with a cold over the weekend so was left at home to try and get over it whilst Nick finished off some of his parts and Ben, Jay and Kieran came in with all of the equipment for a day of setting up. This initially consisted mainly of building dens (officially 'booths') within the studio for each of us. The Wood Room is a beautiful and intimate space, and certainly a lot cosier than the rehearsal studio we've been cooped up in for the last 2 weeks.

Set up days in studios are always relatively drawn out affairs, and with the mix of instruments we are using on the album, it meant there were a lot to do, from housing the drum kit to microphone placement, building boxes to put amps in and finding somewhere for Nick to sit! The end of the day saw us run through some stuff as a band to get all the levels sorted for Tuesday - when the red light would get turned on for the 1st time.

We knew from the outset that we would have to be working hard over long days to get everything done in the time we had. This means we had to hit the ground running on Tuesday and make the most of every day. With Pete still not at 100% this meant starting without him singing and working on stuff that Ben sings lead on and songs we were planning on doing the vocals for afterwards. As mentioned in previous blogs, Steve's approach to getting the best out of the band is all about getting the vibe right within the band and with each song. This has so far meant everything to dancing sessions in the studio, football analogies and watching belly dancing videos whilst playing; all a bit mad but it seems to get results!

As the week progressed we got into a good groove of doing the basics of two songs a day - the pace we had agreed we would need to work at in order to leave enough time at the end of the final week to do various overdubs and backing vocals etc. Each song is different though, and requires different amounts of time. Sometimes this is because we're trying to capture the live sound in a relatively artificial environment with no crowd and only headphones for company. Sometimes it has been because the recorded versions contain lots of extra parts that we want to do straight after the skeleton of the song has been laid down so that the vibe of the song is still fresh in our minds when we do them. Sometimes, it has been simply because various members of the band needed some whisky.

The week ended really well with everything on schedule and all of us very excited about the way everything was sounding. We all know that the final week is likely to be even more intense as it gets closer to the end of the session, so a weekend off certainly felt deserved, but we're all already excited about getting back in on Monday morning to carry on!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Week 2!

The week got off to a less than ideal start with Nick returning from a weekend with his family with a stinking cold. He was quickly dispatched into quarantine and the rest of us got back on with getting the 12 songs we have selected for the album into shape.

Some of the songs were pretty much ready to record from the day we walked in but other ones have taken a lot of work. Steve has been very keen to sort out 2 aspects of the sound of the album. Firstly, what was the "urusen sound", and how we wanted to get that across, and secondly to make sure that album has a flow and cohesive feel to it.

Whilst some people may argue that albums are now a thing of the past in the age of itunes etc, we still feel very strongly that we want to be able to produce something that people will want and be able to listen to as a body of work. Having been playing the songs for 2 weeks non-stop now, we are all pretty sure we are achieving this with the, as yet untitled, album.

As far as the "urusen sound" goes - we are definitely clearer on that after this process, and all very excited about how the album is shaping up, but you'll just have to wait for it to come out to find out what it is!

With Nick missing 2 days of the week recovering from man-flu / not infecting the singers with it, we were sad to have to cancel the showcase we had planned for Thursday evening. We were all quite excited about playing some of the tracks to an audience, but producer Steve took the executive decision that we needed to concentrate all our remaining time on the album. So again, an apology to those of you who were planning to come along, rest assured we will be coming back to the South West in the new year to make up for it!

Nick coming back into the studio did signal a change in focus for the week, as we started to separate to concentrate on particular things. Firstly, Nick started on an intensive writing session with Steve and his assistant Joe in order to make sure he had all his parts ready and in place for recording next week. At times, this has run to 3 and 4 parts - sounding rather "epic"!

The last couple of days have been quite stop/start as we've been required to do things like mic tests for Steve. All of a sudden, having spent the best part of a fortnight in old hanger playing music, the prospect of making an album at Real World Studios has become very real. Getting to see Steve and Joe in their "natural environment" also gave us an insight into quite how lucky we are to be working with them. Nothing is being rushed or done half-heartedly with this record and we've all agreed that we've never worked as hard as whilst we've been down here.

Another weekend of relaxation is in store - plus some updates on our online pages so check them out. Then on Monday it all beings in earnest!

Urusen x