October 2016 Studio Diary Part 2

After quickly scrawling lines in the lyrically gaps from yesterday’s late nighter, we head to Greenmount for the last day of tracking.

A surprise guest awaits us. Mr Rob Slater recorded our first EP at Greenmount, but we have not had the pleasure of his company in the studio since then. Which was kind of weird but cool, as two of the songs we were finishing up are really much more like our earlier stuff. So I’m sure Rob was thinking, God, these guys haven’t moved on much. The amp I use is even his old Orange, so pretty retro all round.

We dropped the bass that didn’t get done the previous day and then focussed on Hammer & Anvil as it felt there might be potential there for something quite cool. Vocals were added first, using a voicebox through an amp and then we proceeded to build. I think it’s interesting how some songs need the vocals on early in order to be able to create the rest of the song. Most of The Smiths songs were recorded without the band knowing what melody or idea Morrissey had, and they only found out in the studio. And he’d only do two takes and that was it. No discussion! I remember reading Johnny Marr saying that if they’d known what he was going to do, they’d have written the songs differently.

We’ve led with vocals on Hammer & Anvil and Becoming Dust too, because I think the vocals are very rhythmical in those. Beats + Vocals makes sense, with everything else working as texture. A pointer I had for H&A was Scenery by Arab Strap. The way the opening and verse have tape hiss and studio sound and it sounds lo-fi and then the chorus hits and these strings come in and its lovely.

To that end we worked the choruses, adding an MBV like guitar and then Jamie came up with some beautiful violin work. The vocals, so distant and lo-fi, and the guitar and violin all kind of playing off the melody – the only chorus on the whole album – worked so well. It’s catchy but certainly not in a pop way. We then just structured the choruses to step up each time, which Jamie switching up an octave for the last. We added a third time round the chords on the last chorus – I was willing to sacrifice vinyl run time for it! – and some great bvs from Dan to add that extra pop feel. Just a shame the lyrics are quite violent and negative, but this is as good as you get with us.

Super happy with that, I proceeded to deliver the vocals for the remaining three songs – The Invisible Anchor, For Coca Cola and Escape Notes. The latter is maybe the only time I’ve fully had sweat dripping down my head recording vocals. I had to really try. Some of it was quite high but needed properly belting out. It felt good though and this was the best time I’ve had recording vocals. Jamie put some kind of compressor (?) on the vocal feed to my headset which made me sound good to me, so it was more fun than usual.

So that is that. There is one final day of mixing and a couple of songs do need some quite significant tweaks (Becoming Dust in particular) and one may yet end up featuring a special guest vocalist, but the meat and potatoes of it is all there and we all feel confident this is the international smash hit Philophobia Music has been waiting for all these years.

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