September 2016 Studio Diary Day 2

After a super quick day yesterday, Day Two kicked off with starting a third new tune “For Coca Cola”.

I’d imagined this tune to be a potential closer for a record, though I don’t think it does any favours to think in those terms too early. Besides, I sometimes feel I only right last songs, and not enough middle ones, or exciting ones or, y’know, catchy ones.

Anyway, my direction was for it feel broken. We dropped some tape-wobble (not a technical term) on it. Then we worked on the drums. As I didn’t want it too big, I worked on the beat first. Being relatively inept I hoped for quite a broken and unsophisticated beat to add to the atmosphere.

Since demoing this tune (which appeared as a bonus on the physical version of U-Boat) I have had a place in mind where it takes place. It is old Russia, or the Eastern Bloc or some such place, a ballad played on a broken piano with some half thought out accompaniment. Whether the original lyrics will stay or not, I’m not yet sure, but it is about the people left behind, the mass market, consumerism, populism leaving them behind.

After my rough guide we handed the drumming to Dan, who added much needed polish. From there the whole thing started to swell with echos and drones, yet with still just a piano and a drumkit as instrumentation.

The final return to the opening piano line is then accompanied by a growing wall of noise. I like that the recent songs haven’t resorted to Sonic Youth, drumstick on guitar board noise making and have found more sophisticated methods of working. However… here we just piled the noise, asked Dan to purely filled, distorted the fuck out of everything and tried to blow the speakers up. Great.

No vocals down though. With a lavish production, I do wander whether we should re-work the original, but that’s for later.

After lunch we returned to Becoming Dust and added the vocals, five pages of the fuckers. Good job all my melodies have about two notes, not that that necessarily makes things easier. We then found ourselves at an interesting point. Jamie, Lee and I are usually heading in the same direction without discussing too much, but here we weren’t sure. As this song had no real end point in mind at the start we were at a juncture.

Jamie and I felt we should add more little riffs on the piano and guitar and drop them around the vocals but Lee felt it all felt too robotic and loop led, and needed something more human in there. I realised he was right. Everything was looped, which fits the feel of the track as a whole, but it didn’t have enough character at this point.

I dicked around on the guitar for a bit and found something. Dan too worked out a couple of lines. Suddenly the main section of the song seemed more interesting and the end of the song where i expected it would go HUGE did so, but in a different way. Instead of hitting the distortion with the root chords, we added loads of chiming guitars working slightly different lines, keys and a repeatedly smashed old ride cymbal.

And it sounds kinda cool. It feels like it fits alongside other tracks. I’m not sure if it has the attitude I thought it would. An aggressive stop-start bass line we had was replaced by something smoother, which does work.

Making tracks like this, outside of a main context is kinda of strange. With one eye to an album in the future, you can confuse yourself with thinking too much about how this fits on an album, and what is better for the song itself.

In times like that, you just need a break from the song, so that is what we did. Some extra acoustic guitar to Highlands and the day was done.

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