Saturday, 26 March 2011

How to make an album pt 1 - The Music

Now then.... how are you? you look great - did you do something different today? your hair right? you look amazing - you should have it like that all the time!!

Anyways... I thought I'd give you a little bit of an extra something to give you some insight into what we've done to make this album. In a couple of blogs (which I'm going to try to get into the hang of doing more often) I wanted to just document the trials and tribulations of putting our album "The Album" together.

We started the band around 6 years ago and recording was not something we really thought too much about. Our first EP "A Bit of a Shambles" ( was put together in 3 or 4 weekends up in Yorkshire, holed up & working Saturdays & Sundays with the awesomely talented and gracious Piers Williamson. Then, the recording that followed that was a Live album "All at the same time" which was recorded by Piers at the Hope & Anchor in Coventry & pressed up ourselves.

After both of these, we needed to look at alternative recording arrangements and stumbled into The Chairworks - again in Yorkshire - which was an expensive studio on a cheap rate. We recorded a rough version of a Pilot for a radio show....which never got put together properly!...
Just after we'd worked there, the studio was taken over by other people who wanted more money from us and in the end, we never got most of our script back...

That section in Yorkshire took away a lot of our energy, but we found a studio via some friends of ours called OneNation & began working with James - who we'd gigged for in the past.

First thing to do was to get all the files from our previous recording spots. One of the advantages of One Nation was that it used Protools, Cubase AND Logic, so we could work with all the platforms we'd used in the past.

Once we cobbled together the initial bits, the plan was explained to James about us wanting to record an album where the tracks stood up on their own, but the main focus was our sound we get live and slightly augmenting that rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel. We also had some writing still to do, as We Are The AFC, Drop That Beat, Can you See The Stars were all written and partly recorded, but Dave, Alan, Ginger Pride were not even properly written, let alone recorded!

I will however say, that my regular pilgrammages down to Leamington to hook up with James for evenings throughout the last 18 months have been great, fruitful and also a great learning experience. He really does know all elements of the studio and learning things like vocal mic position and use of reverb to create a dry sounding vocal has been excellent.
I'm also pleased that even after listening to tracks 30 or 40 times whilst recording & mixing it all, he still giggles and snickers at some of the jokes in the vocals - that means I gotta be doing something right yeah?!

The biggest headache with all the tracks & skits has been attempting to get the levels of everything consistent from the first track all the way through to the last. You will also be able to listen out for - the chime bells on Jobcentre which are actually from an electric drum kit and the use of a Rhodes piano in one of the skits (good job it wasnt in the studio all of the time else it'd be heard on every single track throughout the album!!)

We deliberately wanted an album though that was dominated by the three of us. it was always intended to be a reflection of both the live and studio sides of The AFC. There will be a couple of tracks on there which we probably won't play live - Black Day & Hope this is a rehearsal to name a couple - because they'd be too out of place at a live show in comparison with Ginger Pride which will slot in quite nicely. Also look out for the sub bass on most tracks - it's actually Hobbit! as is the shaker you hear throughout the tracks. I can also tell you, that if you hear organ or keyboards anywhere - that was me!...

Does sound good though.

NEXT TIME: Pt 2 - The Artwork