It hasn't been long since I was recording last, but this is different. Very different.
Firstly, I've been sitting on a lot of songs. They needed taking beyond the home demo's and sketches that I had scattered around. It was time.
Secondly, this is a band.
For a while recording, to me, has been about assembly. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean generic production line, get it on the conveyer belt and here's a record that sounds done. But rather, let's assemble some great players, people who we know will do a great job, and let's record these tunes, bit by bit, by bit. Make a mistake? It's OK, we can go back and fix that. There's always been a bit of a safety net, and I've definitely needed it sometimes. I'm not ashamed of it, there's nothing wrong with this approach, and it's kind of the norm these days, stop and start, stop and start. But it has left me finding it difficult to gather the adrenalin, the excitement, and the energy the same way I do when I play live.
Not this time.
This feels a little meaner, a little more dangerous, a little more exciting. For the first time in a long time I feel I am part of a band of musicians who are just going to play. Live, together, and to two-inch tape. It feels a more honest representation of actually what I sound like and what I do. Actually, more importantly, what we do. It's invigorating.
We have 3 days in the studio, 2 days left. 8 tracks to cut. 2 down. I purposefully hardly brought any gear to the studio, and so far for both the tracks we've recorded I have used the same guitar (a rented Telecaster) and the same amplifier (my trusty Bludotone Bludodrive). No pedals, except for tuning up. I wanted this album to sound stripped down, raw, energetic, aggressive, a performance record. All about the vibe, the feel. Less about 'perfection'. Production is minimal, and taken care of by myself, the band, and our engineer, Anthony Gravino, as we go along.
I also can't believe that this is my first time recording analogue, to tape. It's extremely satisfying, and that sound... There is nothing like it, no plugin, no emulation, that can get that beautiful warm, glue on your sound. It sounds like a record immediately. There's also a beautiful lack of freedom. Something about the limitations in recording this way that really spurs you on to capture something magical.
It's sad that this is kind of a novelty now. Recording a band playing live to tape. But sometimes it's the old fashioned way of doing things which are still the best.