DANS FRIKKIE DANS – A WEST COAST ROCK TRIO
On the evening of the 27th of March I stepped into the SAE studios with a small West Coast rock trio, Dans Frikkie Dans, to record demo tracks for 2 of their original songs – what an absolute jam of a night. The night was filled with tasteful buffoonery and mildly witty gags that border on crude. The session had a completely casual atmosphere, and the band were more than a pleasure to accommodate. Aside from all of the shenanigans, the evening turned out to be a wildly productive night – successfully tracking 2 demoes, whilst capturing enough footage of the band’s camaraderie to compile a behind-the-scenes/bloopers reel.
Dans Frikkie Dans, is a blues-rock cover band that emerged from Veldriff, Western Cape. The trio consists of Louis van Lill (Vocals and Guitar), Hannes Carstens (Bass and Backing Vocals), and Ian Gous (Drums and Backing Vocals). They formed the band as a result of their love for classic rock and the demand for a live-gigging cover band in the West coast community. While the majority of their live sets consist predominantly of cover songs, they have written a series of original songs in the past year.
For this session, they chose to showcase 2 of their fan-favourite songs. The songs themselves are contrasting in style – to say the least. Slap To The Face, is a blues-rock inspired jam-off, while Jamaica, draws inspiration from reggae sensibilities infused with “pop” music elements. The band’s performance wasn’t anything short of impressive – they stepped into the session prepared for a live gig (without the drunken audience of course), and delivered several takes with the energy that you’d expect to see at a jam-packed music bar. The performances were lively and organic, and aside from Louis’s strained vocal performance – his voice was still in recovery from a weekend’s worth of gigging shortly prior to the demo session – the band managed to deliver very usable performances for both songs within only a few takes.
We put the band altogether into SAE’s live room A for a live performance recording. Each member was allocated a corner in the room maximize isolation between each instrument, and we made use of several baffle-screens to further cordon off each instrument – especially between the drums and vocals. As a result, Louis and Ian were placed at opposite ends of the room. Several more precautions could have been taking to isolate the band, however, considering the purpose of the session, it was far more important that the band have a direct line of sight and communication in order to maximize the energy and interplay of their performance.
I adopted a “less is more” frame of mind when making technical decisions – especially when considering microphone choice and techniques. The entire session was tracked through a Neve Genesys with – which limited me to 16 inputs, however, I utilized only 13 of these for this session – which was more than enough for the purposes of the session, and I primarily chose to track on the Genesys to make use of its 1073 mic preamps. The audio was tracked into ProTools through the Genesys and then through a UAD Apollo 16 A/D converter. I chose to record all of the tracks onto disk dry – knowing that it would afford me more flexibility at a later stage. I did, however, request that the band set up their equipment in the same way that they would if they were at a gig, or how ever they felt it would complement their performance. This meant that Louis would use a foot pedal to engage/disengage his guitar FX, and Hannes would utilize his compression and tone pedals. I allowed this in order to capture an authentic recording of the band’s sonic character, knowing that the resulting recordings could be used as a source of reference during the tracking sessions.
Abiding to the aforementioned principle, I chose to use a standard close-mic with stereo overheads setup, close-miking all of the kit’s components, and utilizing a AB spaced-pair technique for the overheads.
I made use of a single AKG C414 in cardioid, and with a 10dB pad on Hannes’s Ampeg BA115 bass amp, slightly off-center from the cone.
A single close-miked Tull G12 on the cone of Louis’s Crate Flexwave 120 amplifier.
All vocals were tracked with Shure SM58s. I opted for dynamic microphones on the vocals to reduce bleed from the other instrumentation in the room.
I dedicated two channels on the Genesys console as a stereo return from the DAW that would be sent via the console’s aux busses to the headphone amp in the live room for the band’s cue mix. I could have instead used the aux sends on each individual channel strip at the input stage to formulate a cue mix, however, doing it in the way that I did – allowed me to easily control the mix’s balance in ProTools using an auxiliary buss and channel sends, as well as affording me the option of adding software FX to the mix. Luckily I had created a ProTools template with all of the parameters preset – which saved a reasonable amount of time.
All in all, the session was a success, leaving both parties – the band and production team – excited and relieved. A big thanks to Brandon Swanepoel, Robert Verster and Wesley Bowers for their assistance during the session – the session would not have been possible with their help and fashionable camaraderie. And of course, thanks to Dans Frikkie Dans for their explosive and positive energy, and without whom none of this would be possible.