Atomic Brother Demo Session: Hands Up and Perfect Day

On Sunday, James and I spent the day in my studio working on recording demos of two Atomic Brother songs, “Hands Up” and “Perfect Day.” We decided that it’s about time to start recording demos of the songs we have to really see if they are any good. Plus, neither of us is really adept at writing vocal melodies and lyrics while we are playing our guitars, so this is the best way for us to go, giving us references from which to write lyrics and melodies. And once things are recorded in the computer it is really quick to arrange the song.

Things really started on Weds when I began programming the drums in Logic. We decided to go with programmed drums right now because it is faster and cheaper than having a drummer come in the studio and spend a bunch of hours to record something that is only going to be temporary anyway. It also lets us play with tempos; speeding things up, and slowing them down happens at the touch of a button, instead of having to re-record the drums all over. So, I am using BFD for my drum samples and programming the parts using the matrix editor. For these 2 songs, the drum parts are based on things that Rob Kelly played with us in the rehearsal studio. I spent a little while with each song programming his basic groove and a few fills at the turnarounds to get us going. Programming the drums for “Perfect Day” turned out to be harder than I thought, and the one I thought would be the hardest, “Bullet In Your Brain,” (we didn’t demo that yet) turned out to be the easiest!

With James over on Sunday, we reviewed the tempos of “Perfect Day” and “Hands Up” and recorded guitar and bass. James play all the parts with my Les Paul Custom through his Mesa Boogie Mark IV amp, mic’d with a Heil PR-40 on center. We also took a direct line to have a clean signal for re-amping. I played all the bass parts with my Ibanez SB1200 through my Mark Bass TA501 amp and Mesa Boogie 15″ Road Ready cabinet, mic’s with a Shure SM58. Yes, I said SM58 on the bass. Years ago, when I started out recording demos in my parents garage and could only afford SM58 and sm57 mics, I loved the bass sounds. Years later, I still love that sound. Anyway, the bass was also direct for re-amping. 

Today I started working on the rough mix of “Hands Up” to use to work on lyrics and melodies. I had a little balancing to do in the midi for the snare drum and hi-hats, and also chose some new hats. The kit I’m using is a mix of different Zildjan cymbals, Pearl kick, a lucite snare and DW toms. Sounds really nice. I’m doing some experimenting with really clean guitar sounds, with a touch of delay and reverb in verse 1, and a more bell-like clean sound from the Jimi Hendrix collection in the chorus, mixed with the distorted guitars. There is the weird harmonized chord part in the setup to verse two in one of the guitar tracks that I messed with to make it even weirder, giving it a synth-like sound like something from the Who’s Odds and Sods album. I’m liking it so far, we’ll see what James thinks tomorrow after I finish automating the mix and send him a copy.