Recording Scratcher Part Deux

We decided to scrap the January Scratcher recording session and go old school. On Sunday, Feb 4 we booked a rehearsal studio in NYC and my studio went mobile, and we recorded the basic tracks for the 7 songs live – just like the old days.

It was a pretty fun, and challenging experiment. The first thing I had to overcome was how was I going to set this up so we don’t waste time. We only had 6 hours to setup the recording equipment, get sounds, record the songs and break everything down.

I got the idea to record live after I watched the bonus DVD that came with the Cure’s album, the Cure. They recorded all the basic tracks live in the same room. Very little isolation. So I thought I could pull this off. I had originally planned on bringing everything I had and figuring out what I needed when I got to the studio, and not feel like I left everything behind. But that was stupid so I started drawing different configurations until I got what I thought I liked.

I was going to mic the drums, guitars and bass all individually, then have the bass in the DI and put up 2 room mics. Pretty standard, nothing too crazy. Then I read an article about how the Chili Peppers are recording their current tour. The engineer mics the bass, guitar and drums separately, not only does the bass go through the DI, but the guitars too. I normally do this, but didn’t think my laptop could handle the number of tracks. Then he has the 2 room mics to capture ambiance and crowd, and records a board mix. I though this would work for us, but I needed more mics.

Now that I knew what I wanted to do to record I had to figure out how I was going to do this. I normally don’t record full band – this is the age of digital overdubbing. So, I got to shopping and bought 2 new DI boxes for the guitars, a matched pair of Rode NT5 condensers for overheads and a 500GB firewire 800 hard drive. I pulled my D112, SM57s, Octava condensers, a dozen mic cables, patch cables and Aphex Bass DI. I needed phantom for the Rode mic so I also pulled my Focusrite Twintrack pre-amp from my rack.

The recording interface was my Mackie 1620 firewire mixer going into my MacBookPro running Logic 7.2.3. All-in we had 16 tracks recording at all times. I also used a second MacBookPro connected to the main MacBookPro – over 1GB ethernet- running Logic Node, a distributed processing program, just in case we needed more power.

The guys in the band were very concerned about all the instruments recording in the same room bleeding all over the place. We ran through some songs to get a great room balance. This was probably the best room mix we ever had. After we were happy we got recording sounds and levels and went for it. We did all 7 songs by 5:30.

I have been doing rough mixes for a few days now and really happy with the way things came out. I might even consider hiring myself out for remote recording. Now we have to get additional guitars and vocals. Dylan will be recording lead guitar and some additional rhythm parts at his studio and I’ll be recording additional rhythm parts and vocals at my studio. It’ll probably be a month or two until we are done with this record.