Permanent Revolution - Scratch Tracks Reflection
A lot of planning went into the first session with Permanent Revolution and although not everything went to plan, we did achieve exactly what we set out too.
Not long after I arrived Paul (Vocals, Guitar) and James (Drums) Arrived. We started loading in the drums and by the time this was done all the others had arrived. Matthew did not arrive and we did not hear from him. We started to chat and set up the mics as James assembled the drums. Even though I had done a lot of planning I had not actually printed out the work plan (I fully intended to do so but due to a long day at underground audio the day before, I stayed at a friend’s house and did not have access to a printer). This actually slowed us down, me checking my phone to tell the others what to plug where, but we did so without any confusion. We had everything set up and ready to go by 10:30
I had created sessions in advance for all the songs so that we could just open them and hit record without losing momentum, but because I did that in a different room we had to redo the inputs and outputs. This took us a couple minutes the first few times but Jaxon came through with the cascading inputs & outputs shortcut, which cut those minutes into seconds. 5 Must Have Protools Shortcuts
The band were professional, tight and hard working. We got very good takes from them. Even though these recordings were just for the purpose of using as scratch tracks the sound overall was pretty good, proving that our mic choices and placement were relative to the type of sound we wanted to capture. Pauls guitar amp had a great tone that immediately reminded Adam of the Sex Pistols and turned him into a giggling school boy. I think we really captured an energy akin to early punk records and the band had us all bopping our heads and getting into it.
The Bass drum did not have a hole cut out on the front and the D112 just sitting in front of it sounded quite dull, I will do some research over the week and may go for a different option on the front of the bass drum, I still plan to mic the Beater but after much thought and research I am thinking I may use one Royer R121 (ribbon, figure 8) as an overhead in the centre of the kit. As this was much more common on early punk recordings and will be easier for us to mix later. This will also allow us one more input to use on the bass drum if we need to. Why a Mono Drum Overhead is Awesome
I’m actually pretty happy with how the SM57 sounded on the snare and can already picture how it will sound with a mic top and bottom. I’m also very happy with how the AKG C414’s sounded as overheads. But I will also be using those on the guitar and have opted to use the Royer R121 as overhead so the characteristics are different. I am really excited about doing drums next week.
The Bass sounded fine through the amp and with a Sennheiser MD421 but after discussion with the band, we will record the Bass straight in through a DI at the same time as the guitar for simplicity and efficiency. Jimmy doesn’t use any effects or pedals and has a pretty straight forward bass sound, so his sound should be easy to achieve with or without an amp. We will run his bass through an outboard compressor on the way in. If we spend a bit of time getting the right sound and commit to it now it will save us a lot of time later. This is also how Jimmy has recorded bass in the past.
As I mentioned the guitar already sounded great. An Epiphone Les Paul, through a Marshall with 2 SM57’s is a pretty classic sound. The thing is you don’t listen to guitar with your ear pressed up against the speaker cone, so to add a bit of the realistic sound, you would hear if you were in the room I opted to use 2 AKG C414’s as a stereo pair but after some research, advice and experimenting I’ve decided to use the 2 C414’s in a Blumlein pair about a metre or so back from the amp (we will chase the flame when we set this up). I believe this will give us a more “live” sound and a bit more grit.
The Vocal mic picked up almost as much room sound as vocals and made it hard to turn the vocals up, we removed the pop filter and got Paul to sing closer to the mic so we could really hear him over the music and since these are only the scratch tracks the plosives won’t really matter as long as the vocals are a clear enough guide. In the future, some baffles might help to avoid this.
Bleed is inevitable with everyone in the same room. This is why we have chosen to record in this way (track over the scratch tracks). Discussion with the band confirmed that there will be no double tracking We want this to be a true representation of what these boys sound like and a way to get their message out there, loud and clear.
We kept 2 good takes each of all 10 songs and we were finished by 3:30. This allows us to be confident we will have everything we need to start tracking next week.
In reflection there are things we could have done better, I could have communicated better with my team and delegated better. Jaxon commented on the fact that we all could have communicated better with the band and when we asked them to do another take we didn’t really explain how it could be better. I think he had a point and I’ve taken this on board.I will make sure I have already printed out the rest of the sheets and put them in a folder in my bag to avoid any confusion with inputs next week so we can all collectively set the mics up without too much confusion.
I did hear from Matthew later that day and he explained he was at work and got the days confused, I have not held this against him whatsoever as we all make mistakes and he’s still only young. Unfortunately, he will be working all Saturdays and since the members of this band all work, Saturday is the day they can all make it. So I have respectfully removed Matthew from the team, while I still hope to collaborate with him on another project, hopefully in the near future.