Monday, October 1, 2012

Suppurating The Studio Part II: Decrepit Boogaloo

As the week starts rolling, I'm stoked to report that our resident skin-beater, the affable Mike Hamilton has finished all the drum tracks for the next Exhumed record. Mike did a hellva job tackling loads of blast beats, d-beats, thrash beats, punishing double bass, and all with a smile. 
Mike getting set up on day one.
This was the first time an Exhumed album has been made recording to a click track - which is really standard procedure for most bands - metal or otherwise. The beauty of the click is that it not only keeps us a bit more on time (as much charm as records like "In The Sign Of Evil" and "Reek Of Putrefaction" have, we never wanted to re-create that level of musical ineptitude - even when we were doing it!), but it allows the drummer to punch in much more easily. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of "punching in" during a recording, it's the ability to begin recording in the middle of a take - continuing to play with a partially satisfactory recorded performance and simply tacking on an additional sections as you go. Punching in has been the norm for guitars even back when we used to record at a 16-track studio with a 2" tape machine back in the early '90s, but it was more difficult for drums (on our budgets at least) - and if you don't have the click guiding your tempos, it can be a nightmare trying to get a song to remain even close to consistent speed-wise. 

Rob hard at work in the studio.
The biggest advantage of all of this for this album is... due to our minimal rehearsal time (two weeks to learn ten songs) we were writing all the clever bits as we were recording. Mike was filling in the skeleton of the drum parts on the fly - constantly coming up with new and different ideas for fills, accents, and beat changes as we went. That added a different level of creativity that can be mentally exhausting in the studio. The studio situation can be stressful even for the most prepared musician (time / budget constraints, recording nerves, equipment problems, weird headphone mixes, hearing your parts being put under a microscope etc. are all very common factors that can stress out just about anyone trying to give their best performance). Add that to the physically demanding level of drumming that playing this type of music entails, and you can see that Mike had a herculean task in front of him. He really rose to the occasion, beating the crap out of his kit, channeling his inner Dave Lombardo for awesome drum fills, and taking the drum parts way further than what I had imagined. The thing that's so appealing about working this way to me is that you are really getting a representation of that particular moment - something new and fresh plucked out of thin air and committed to tape (okay, hard drive) while it's new and fresh to the person playing it. which is just a cool, honest thing to represent as far as I'm concerned. 

We were knocking out two to three full songs a day, plus we tracked an intro that we put together in the studio, an outro I had been toying with, and we came up with a quick grind tune (about :50 total length) on the spot that got recorded as well. We'll see what ends up making the cut for the actual record, but it was great to have the time to develop a killer vibe in the studio that allows for that kind of spontaneous shit to happen. 
It just wouldn't be the internet without more pictures of cats. This one was guarding our guitar cabinets.
It was also killer to break up the process with a Friday night birthday party for Rob and Mike at Rob's house with all the Gravehill folks, several dozen beers, some Gentleman Jack and killer bbq. Saturday night was great as well, as  Mike and I celebrated the completion of drum tracking (that day we tracked the final album song, wrote and tracked the intro, wrote and tracked the aforementioned grind number, and got the outro done as well- fucking productive!) by attending Leon del Muerte's birthday party across town in LA for loads more beer and bbq with our friends from Murder Construct, Nausea, Dreaming Dead, DIS, Eat The Living, Panties, and tons of other folks. It's kind of nuts, Rob, Mike and I all have birthdays within three weeks of each other (not to mention Exhumed alumnus Leon's in Rocktober and Ross' in September - but please DO NOT bring up astrology around me - blech!!). So we have lots of excuses to get wasted this time of year. 

Sunday was spent being hung over while our ace engineer, John Haddad (who in a somewhat ironic turn of events is about to start recording the drums for the new Intronaut record next week) was going through and editing all the drum tracks - double checking our work, cleaning up little weird studio stuff, and making sure all our i's were dotted and t's were crossed before we take the whole thing across the state line into Arizona tomorrow to start tracking all the other elements of the album. To give you an idea how excited I am about this, every day this week, I have been waking up from dreaming about guitar solos, riffs, and all things recording. I'm up at eight in the morning all excited and then sit and think about riffs for a half hour before I can fall back asleep until eleven or noon and we get started. It's like I'm seven years old on Christmas morning or something, haha! Although no one has brought me a Millennium Falcon yet (hint, hint!). We're grabbing a trailer tomorrow morning to take all our gear eastward and start looking for a suitably ruling guitar tone.  I'll keep you all posted!

Harvey and the boyzzzz....

1 comment:

  1. I swear this album will be so fucking sick my dick will explode!!!!! Book in the Chattanooga, TN area sometime soon so I can get you to sign my SG again like you did at the Knoxville stop for Summer Slaughter! Can't wait for the new album!