Seeing as my time in the studio is over I thought I'd give you some thoughts as to the album, our buddies at Sound and Motion studios and working with Gordon Raphael.
Shark - what to expect:
I think a lot of people are going to be quite surprised with the songs we've put together on the album. Hopefully pleasantly so :) If I look at the development of the band, this past year has been the first time we've really felt fully settled in terms of the lineup. We started off as a four piece back in '07 then Giles our guitarist moved to the UK then we were a three piece and had to adapt to that. After getting Arjuna we were pretty much straight into the studio without too much time to write with him. I'm not trying to say that our self-titled EP and "Kiss The Plastics" have bad songs in. In fact we're really proud of them. But this past year we've been really focusing on writing as a four piece and trying to deliver something that's varied and still sounds like us. We feel we also have a better understanding composition-wise on how to write this type of music as, remember, we're from a very punk-based background.
So the cd is almost like a summary of what we've been through in the past year and we've had a lot of time to refine most of our material. Expect the usual dancy type songs, some mellow ones but whatever "categories" you may feel they fall in, we've done our best to make it really melodic and memorable and included some cool rhythmic stuff and more tricky playing to satisfy the muso's :)
Working at Sound and Motion
Our relationship with S&M goes back to the middle of 2008 when we recorded two songs for Kiss The Plastics (Dirty Dancing and Tiny Islands) and we couldn't have asked to work with more knowledgable and chilled out dudes. They've been awesome to us and we've learned a lot from them. I haven't been to many studios in the country but it certainly is rated as one of the top ones in the country gear wise and they've all been in the industry for many years, working with some top artists, garnering a clutch of awards in the process. We're also lucky in the way they believe in our music and Matt and Fuzzy have given us a constant pool of advice to draw on, something really important to us as we're not the most experienced studio band yet.
In terms of tracking they're definitely flexible as they were completely open to our request to track most of the songs live as opposed to laying down each part separately and pulled it off exactly in the manner we wanted. Their live room is one of the best things about the studio as the acoustics are perfect for tracking live. If any bands are reading this, I would definitely recommend checking it out as an option for your next album.
Many thanks to Fuzzy, Matt, Carel, Jenna, Gavin and Tyrone for being so chilled to us and making such a comfortable environment for us to get creative. You've been a big part of our album. We look forward to working with you in the future!
Working with Gordon Raphael
Before "Shark", none of us had worked with a producer before so we went into the process with only vague ideas as to how much one can add to an album. All we knew is that we wanted one to help us with the songs and getting the right sound. So we were really fortunate to get Gordon done all the way from Berlin to work with us.
You would think that working with such a big name would make one nervous and in awe of him, but Gordon's such a chilled and friendly joke-a-minute guy that any feelings anyone would have like this are totally disarmed. It's important for any musician in the studio to feel comfortable and 100% confident in what you play and Gordon's done his job in that way by giving advice and encouragement to each player when they need it.
He's not one of those ego maniacs you often hear about in the music world so always takes aboard any suggestions we might have to get the right sound. As he's been around the music world for a while, he knows many techniques to make whatever sound is in your or his head a reality. He's always saying "That's easy, it's only 2 buttons" and it really is like that. He's got a simple approach in recording - he wasn't worried about microphone bleed when we set up all our amps in the same room (what this means is that the mic on the guitar amp for instance picks up other sounds in the room like drum kit and bass) and this is definitely an old school mentality) and he has loads of unconventional ideas that goes into making everything you hear sound unique and in the right place. For instance we put a microphone in the hallway to get a natural reverb when recording a guitar lead and this sounded really cool. It's all about the final result and if you have to use unconventional means to get that final result, then experiment and do it.
We hope we can work together with him some time soon.
So there it is
It's been fun sharing our studio experience with you. Still a bit of work to be done with vocals, mixing and mastering but that's not really my bag. We're all really proud of the progress of it. It's been hard work but having the cd's in our hands will make it all worth it.
See you at a show sometime soon!
Karl and The Plastics