Still at Adrian’s studio at Double Bay, we came up with basslines for several songs and cleaned up some of the work we did previously.
This method of recording is very new to me. In the past I have been over-prepared. This time I am writing stuff on the spot. Hours wasted on a bassline that didn’t work for I Just Wanna See You, before just deciding on something simple, and using the same old basslines I’ve used before. I guess there is something to be said for falling back on instincts when approaching a recording like this.
That said, some really good stuff came from improvising. A mellotron line for The Bedford Arms and a walking bassline for Done With Love came out very well.
I initially wanted to work with sample drums only. Having been a bit obsessed by LCD Soundsystem (RIP) and simple recordings of recent Paul Westerberg, I figured real sounds were not important as long as the songs were there. But it’s looking like a real drummer will need to be drafted in, and proper drums recorded.
So for the moment, we are stuck on this drums impasse.
On the other hand, one Untitled song I’ve pretty much decided will get the flick. A finished tracklisting is getting closer.
First two days involved just running through the songs and getting them down. We did almost everything to a click track, to make it easier to add drums, bass, or whatever else later.
We worked at Adrian’s home studio in Rose Bay. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Walk around from Adrian’s studio on the hill and you can see all of Sydney Harbour.
All I brought with me was my Art & Lutherie acoustic which I’ve had for 5 years now, and travelled the world with me. I also brought my Mustang bass that was not used – yet. In the era of protools, we did quite a bit of mucking around with synths and drum sounds for the demos.
We started by playing to samples, but in the end, Adrian tracked midi drums to a click. We played both live and got excellent takes that still had feel and detail.
I walked in with 18 songs. We recorded demos for 14. They are, in order:
1. Untitled 1 (It’s Never Gonna Happen)
2. The Bedford Arms
3. Done With Love
4. It’s Been Too Long
5. Untitled 2 (Meet Again)
6. Untitled 3 (I Know You)
7. Find the Sea
8. Time To Go
9. Show You My City
10. I Just Wanna See You
11. Death Disco
12. Untitled 4 (Gang Of Four)
14. Victoria I
9-14 were all done on electric. I even used a Stratocaster and a Les Paul for the first time ever on a recording.
For the record, songs not tracked so far are:
15. Victoria II
16. My Life Has Been Good
I am usually very good with song titles but this time around I am stuck. It’s worrying that there isn’t one clear line or idea in these songs that stick out that feels like a title. Many of those songs are cut and paste jobs from various scribbles in my notebooks. I put them in an order that makes sense. I am considering doing the Jebediah thing and just naming them something completely left field (what is Military Strongmen?).
I don’t think I’ve ever played guitar so much in one consistent sitting before. Usually in bands you can have a break. My fingers were in a lot of pain by the middle of day 2. I had to hold frozen peas in one hand. But we muddled through (woe is I).
Some songs are in states of unfinishedness. Many gaps for lyrics, and many placeholder lyrics too. I will need to live with these tapes for a bit and make notes.
I had lyrics for one song – Death Disco – that was written in the studio. I’ve never done that before, and the whole song has only two chords. But that speed and fun is why I’m working with Adrian. I don’t love recording – and I hate labouring over it. The song is about the club nights at Notting Hill Arts Club on Wednesday nights.
In the end, very exciting. Next session is just over a week away. The aim is to drill down the arrangements, finich the lyrics, start adding bass and get the songs to a point where we can start inviting people in to help.
And also think about what songs wont make it. As 3 songs come under 2 minutes, I might be able to allow 11 songs.
1. Double Bay, driving on the way to the studio. 2. Producer Adrian Deutsch. 3. My world while tracking. 4. My view of Adrian while I was recording