A music blog from Ireland.
Settled for the moment in Chicago, Autumn Owls have been taking time out from the fun parts to keep notes on the serious business of recording, which got underway this week at Engine Studios. The band are working with Brian Deck and in Part One, bassist Adam Browne mentioned the preparations that underwent Autumn Owls’ trip and cited two albums, The Moon and Antarctica by Modest Mouse and Roots & Crowns by Califone, as records the band admire that led to choosing Brian for the sonorous task of producing their debut album. In Part Two each member took turns to recount the past few days spent gigging and doing interviews. The same practice continues this week, with a few short video clips from Engine Studios along with some photographs.
As previously mentioned, the working title for the album is Between Buildings, Toward The Sea. Doing these tour and studio diaries has shown how their spirits fare as time draws on from the fresh start to the ultimate finish. You can see differences between Adam, Gar and Will here, and I think this is the entry I’ve enjoyed reading the most, perhaps because you can tell Adam seems understandably crabby from the descriptive style of short sentences that musicians love so much! But there’s also a sense of observing the band’s humour, nerves and instrumental nerdery. I’m looking forward to hearing the album. There’ll be a Part Four from Soma Studios next week, so check back.
Monday. Tired. Smelly. Granola and orange juice breakfast. Tuna sandwiches for lunch. Yellow Taxi to Engine. Hello Brian. Hello Dorian. Hello John. Drums and Bass. Set up equipment. Expensive microphones. Grand Piano sounds great. Leslie and Hammond. Rhodes. Fender Vibro King. Super Reverb. Ampeg heads and cabs. Surrounded by top notch gear. First day set up always takes time. Viola Snatchquist stares ominously down from the wall of the control room. It’s a creepy picture. Engine is in the midst of moving house so various people walking in and out of studio. CD’s of bands and artists who have recorded at Engine adorn the walls. Lots of Iron & Wine. Brian Deck tuning drums. Hard drives hooked up and sessions open. Relieved they work. Volume adjusting and levels. Patch cables patched. Volume adjusting and levels levels levels. Drums sound great. Quick run through of “Semaphores.” Tweaking sounds and levels. Brian Deck puts a pink towel on the end of a microphone stand and we’re ready to go. Over the next two days it becomes painfully and embarrassingly obvious that my bass is out of tune in all the tracks I recorded. Shit! Time to fix intonation and re-record my parts.
Thursday morn and after a few days in engine studios the routine is well and truly defined. Band shower at 9am (it’s quicker and environmentally friendly to wash together), Subway to Wicker Park and coffee at the studio for 10am (tea for Purtill, much to the American’s amusement). The lads are continuing to work on drum and bass. Drums are sounding excellent and we are now making progress with the bass sound. It looks like I will be putting on my guitar tomorrow. We seem to be on track with the recording schedule although we are all still a little anxious of getting everything recorded in just twelve days. The guitar equipment has me excited about starting but a little nervous about not having the comfort of my usual setup. The last few days have been easy for me. I played along with the lads for some live takes but the nature of my fussy guitar sound means there probably wont be much I’ll end up keeping. We finish at around half nine and are relieved to have the backbone of the songs in place. After a long shift in the studio we go to our usual spot for a few beers in Wicker Park which is only a block away from the studio. Wicker Park is located in Bucktown which is a a cool part of town with lots of good bars, record stores and book shops. After a few well earned Sierra Nevadas its on the subway again for a sleepy 10-minute journey back to downtown for some 2am chicken wings and red wine. Will has proved himself to be a formidable force in the kitchen ensuring that we still get our necessary daily sustenance (even if it’s at the most bizarre times of the day).
We’re moving out. Our time at Engine Studios is up. Its been amazing, the live room is great, really high ceilings, and quite an extensive choice of drum kits to chose from. In the end I used a Ludwig kit from ’60s/’70s. 20″ kick and 12″ rack, I used a stainless steel 16″ floor tom, which weighed a ton but sounded huge. Although I swapped it out for an even bigger sounding 18″ Gretsch floor tom for Great Atlantic Drift. I used my own Pearl Masters Studio Birch Snare and Sabian AA cymbals. The drum sound was exactly as I’d hoped for, big but with a short crack to the overall snare sound. So, drums are recorded, Bass has been (re)recorded, Grand piano has been abused by a drummer and two guitarists (we’re no pianists, we knew that before we got here, now Brian Deck knows it too). Next on the list is guitars. Gar has Semaphores, Unconvinced, Spider, Spare Room and the acoustic tracks for Kiss the Wine Down. Although things didn’t run all that smoothly. Gar’s first amp, the Vox AC30 was quickly worn out by his constant Carlos Santana-esque licks, I think he blew a vacuum tube. Then he killed the Fender Twin Reverb with his Brian May riffs, so he had to make do with the Fender Super Reverb, which wasn’t to everybody’s liking in the beginning, but after Brian fiddled about with some overdrive pedals, we found the sweet tones we were looking for. So we must say farewell to Engine Studios, but we’re off to Soma Studios on Monday for week two of recording. Looking forward to it.