After much scheduling, discussion and postponing – Dans Frikkie Dans finally stepped back into the studio on the 13th of May. I had allocated the 5 hour session to tracking drums for both Slap To The Face and Jamaica. The band was eager to start the recording process at this point – having spent almost a month expanding and developing their songs at home, and they left the studio that afternoon even more excited than when they arrived.
The session went smoothly, with the band arriving an hour early to save recording time from time spent on offloading and setting up equipment – it took us almost 1 ½ hours to setup the drum kit for tracking and the guitar amp and bass guitar for guide tracking, and by 09:30 we were ready to capture the first takes – leaving us with almost a complete 4 ½ hours of recording time. With the those circumstances, I divided the remaining session time into two 2-hour chunks for the tracking of each song, with a total of 30 minutes for breaks.
As this was the first, and most fundamental, step in the song recording process – at least in terms of this kind of music – I had the drum kit set up in live room A on its own, while both the guitar, bass, and vocals were placed inside of the Neve control room. This was entirely for the sake of isolation between the drums and the rest of the band, since it was the purpose of this session to capture the drum performances that would be used in the final mixes – it was wholly important that the drum recordings be of high quality and have no bleed from other instruments.
The placement of the guitar amp, bass guitar, and vocals in the control room were not essential – as long as they were placed as far as possible from the control room monitors to reduce feedback into the microphones (In any case, I would dim the monitors during recording). The purpose of the guitars and vocals in this session was to provide the drummer with context to the song during his performance. It was important to me that Ian deliver performances as if he were playing with the entire band – this way I would capture a performance that encapsulated the same authentic and dynamic energy he would normally play with during his gigs and rehearsals.
I adopted a similar approach to the drum miking in this session as I did in the demo session, however, with a few adjustments specifically in the overheads and the snare drum, and the addition of a room microphone. I found that, with the demo recordings, I would have to make a lot of sonic compromises with the overall tonality of the snare drum, and I found that it lacked the right amount of snap and sizzle to cut through the mix, and to remedy this I chose to use a dual close-mic setup on the snare drum, still utilizing the SM57, but with the addition of a Shure SM81 in an almost coincidental pair arrangement, however, without the angled offset between the microphones. As for the overheads, I chose to use a mid-side technique centrally placed over the drum kit. I was aware at this point of the production that the final mix would need a lot of layers to completely fill the stereo spread of the mix – and I opted for a mid-side overhead arrangement to have the drums fill up the majority of that spread, that would otherwise not be as effective with a standard spaced-pair setup. Additionally, mid-side also ensures mono-compatibility of the overheads – due to the mono microphone. I made use of the AKG C451 for mid, and the Lewitt LCT640 in figure-8 pattern for the sides. The sides were split via a M/S balanced XLR cable (the polarity of which is switched on the split cable) straight into their own channel inputs.
I used a single Tull G12, SM58, and a Radial J48 DI for the guitar amp, vocals and bass guitar respectively. The microphone techniques for these parts were not important to this session, and would not be recorded in any case – they served only as a means to link the rest of the band with the drummer.
Initially, we had tried several takes with the aid of a click track, however, we eventually decided to record without – as it was throwing Ian off too much, and it would have harmed the productivity of the session if we chose to continue with a click. I affirmed that I would be able to align the drum tracks with elastic-audio once I started editing.
We managed to capture several solid performances by the time our session had finished. Leaving everyone involved with a sense of relief. Weed to celebrate their efforts as the drum tracks were playing back. It was a challenging session, with a few minor hiccups, however, as is the case with m took a listen to the day’s work before we called it a day, and I could tell the session was a success when the band, in a collective attempt, startost encounters with Dans Frikkie Dans, it was certainly a memorable one.