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In the studio: Silent Little Bells

December 9, 2011

Jon's feet.

This session was an exercise in letting go.

During the Distance sessions, we were as meticulous as possible: Every song was done to a click track (a metronome, to keep time), we overdubbed each instrument and voice in isolation, and this gave us control over every note, passage, and line in the songs. It let us copy and paste parts to create loops and layers, and it made for a pristine record. At times it’s too pristine. I joked with Chris during the mix down that the next session would be the garage rock album.

We recorded the tracks mostly live—no click track, no isolated instruments, so all the bass and guitar and drum parts are bleeding into the microphones. We did overdub some vocals, mostly because there aren’t 12 of us for a choir, but also because we didn’t have any more microphones or inputs on the board, so Joe had to sing his parts afterward.

At one point we did try playing to a click track. This was very frustrating in that I tried using the loop function on my delay pedal and discovered that I’m not a robot. Eventually we scrapped it and just played the songs like we’d practiced. We did fix a couple things here and there, fixed a lyric here and punched in a couple notes—I’ve never pretended to be flawless—but for the most part, what you hear is what we did at the time.

Here’s what we used, for any curious gearheads:

Jon: My red telestrat on “Silent Little Bells” and my friend Keith’s Gibson ES-135 on “It Started Well.” Effects: Hartman Compressor, El Capistan, volume pedal, Germanium OD, Malekko Ekko 616, and a Vox wah. Amp: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe miced with a Royer. I also play a glockenspiel in this song, but, uncharacteristically, I don’t want to disclose what we did to it.

Vocal mic is a Shure SM-7, which was also used for all vocal overdubs.

Jen: Roland RD-700, direct into the console. I think her vocal mic was an AKG.

Joe: Epiphone Viola bass into a 100-watt Ampeg head. I don’t remember what it was miced with, but it might have been another Shure.

Tim: We used Chris’s drum kit, which is a hodgepodge of stuff with Zildjian cymbals. The snare is a black beauty that Tim donated to the studio during the Distance sessions.

There are multiple room mics surrounding the drum kit.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. pattunes permalink
    December 9, 2011 11:45 am

    I can’t get enough of that lift when the chorus kicks in the first time.

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