Another month, another epic session.
The month of March found me rocking out with Collingwood’s Coyote Kids helping to craft their second EP – One of the hottest bands in town right now, and with good reason.
The Coyote’s are a “Band of Brothers” in the literal sense. These guys have a sound that blends all kinds of subtle rock and pop influences (and some slightly more obvious ones) and then filters those tones through a lens of skilled, collaborative songwriting to craft a sound that is truly their own.
They take the emotion and dynamics of the old school (think Rush, Zeppelin) and blend it with contemporary sensibilities.
I’ve dubbed the energy behind this sound as “Vintage Modern,” and its something I’m hearing in a lot of the new music that I love, from all corners of the globe!
I say “energy” because in my opinion, no two “Vintage Modern” bands necessarily sound alike, but when you FEEL the “Vintage Modern Vibe”, you know it right away.
Back in My Comfort Zone
No, not sitting in the relative coziness of the Red Room, but trucking all my stuff to a log cabin, and slaying tracks in close proximity to animals, tree’s and water, all with the glorious acoustics provided by a wooden structure.
I had met up with the boys in their jam space for a pre-production meeting, but having seen and been floored by their live performance, I knew my mission here was to capture that same energy and fist raising mojo that I saw down at the Casbah a few short weeks before, when they decided to take the plunge and hire me for an EP.
The songs they had chosen were right up my alley – punchy songs with plenty of dynamics, vocal harmonies and raw energy – working on projects like this is the REASON I got into this recording gig in the first place.
We got started around 1:00 PM and took our time setting up – I’m a firm believer that an extra hour moving mic’s around to really get the right tone out of that amp or the perfect amount of room sound in the drum overheads is the key to having a great recording.
If you don’t have a good source, all the studio majick in the world is not going to be of any particular assistance, and it will probably make you resort to heavy drinking or strong anxiety medication.
The approach included tracking all three of the boys together, bass, guitar and drums, with bass being run direct into the board, the guitar amp isolated in another room, and all three of them playing in the “drum room” with headphone monitoring – in other words, it was “off the floor” but with good isolation and no vocals.
I used a similar approach for the solar powered Willow Smoke sessions and have always enjoyed the vibe that is created with everyone playing live – It’s gotten so bad that I almost insist on drums and bass being tracked together as a bare minimum these days. Since we had planned this out during the pre-production stage, the boys had already been practicing “sans-vox” and were on the money performance wise.
As anticipated, once we got the tones locked into the monitors, we were able to lay down four (4) keeper drum tracks, and a good portion of the bass and guitars as well.
After a break for pizza and a necessary coffee following an afternoon of Pabst, whiskey and other treats, we spent the early evening locking in the guitar parts and bass lines through systematic overdubs.
Because these guys have their live tones down to a science, I committed what many engineers would consider a crime, and allowed the guitars to be recorded with the stomp boxes locked and loaded – no DI’s.
It seemed critical at the moment in order to maintain the vibe, and with a nice Fender Deluxe tube amp and a couple of decent mic’s (including one of my trusty SM57’s as a close mic and a large diameter condenser 3 feet back) I was confident I could capture a killer guitar tone.
I have zero regrets and will do the same in the future if it’s warranted, as during the mix I’ve had to do almost nothing to the guitar sounds to have them sounding exactly the way they need to sound for these songs.
We also had some fun getting Dane to change the FX while Kale focused on performance (or vice versa if Dane was playing guitar on that particular song).
Sometime around 10:00 PM, we starting hitting the vocals.
The portable vocal booth and my AT2050 performed admirably as always, and with a bit of carefully timed whiskey shooting, we managed to get some solid lead vocal takes on tape – although we tracked them clean, in the mix phase we decided a bit of filthy distortion would really fit the bill.
Once 2:00 AM arrived we were all getting a little burnt out. We called it a night and reconvened at 8:00 AM to lock in the harmonies – daylight savings time caused us to start a bit later, despite the best of intentions.
At the end of fourteen (14) hours, we had just about finished four (4) songs – definitely a record for me and living proof that practicing like crazy before a session is absolutely worth your while if you are serious about getting some quality recordings made without totally deflating your wallet.
Has this blog left you thirsty for rock? If so, why not check out the finished product?
The Coyote Kids – Our Life (EP)
1. No Way, Jose (3:05)
2. Our Life (3:39)
3. When To Stop (6:11)
4. Butterscotch Parade (4:51)
5. Win Some You Lose Some (3:49)
More photo’s from the session can be seen on the Coyote Kids Facebook Page
Read about the second day of the EP session: Continued in Part 2
All photo credits go to Troy Franklin of the Coyote Kids except the band shot by Jolly Randall