Recording Apocryphonic: Very Loud Band, Tiny Little Room

I love recording ‘live’ bands. Now, I don’t just mean bands playing live, but bands who produce their music around what that can actually play live. Theoretically, they should be able to play all of their material on a stage more or less how it would be on an album. Especially if there is a dynamic ebb and flow about their music. Apocryphonic pretty much needs to be recorded as live performances.

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Active DI box before the Fender BassMan 100

So here’s the problem: limited space. I wanted to track live performances but all that we had available for space was their rehearsal room which is approximately ten by fifteen feet and containing two complete drum sets and enough amps for about four bands. Tight. They also play real loud with big tube amps, but I really wanted to get a big and controlled mix out of the main session, ie minimal bleed. All hail the inline DI box!

So to start, we had to play the angles. The drums were in one corner facing parallel to the shorter wall with the bass amp in the diagonal opposite corner of the room firing off axis of the drum mics. For the guitar, Chris just went through a Fender Twin across from the bass amp, raised up onto another cab to get it more into earshot for him. Having the amps aimed at each other across the room also put their mics back to each other for very reduced bleeding. I mic’d both rigs and put an inline DI just before each signal hit the actual amps. Then we got the amp’s volumes to where they were playable for the band but not interfering very much with the drum mics. This way they could play live, then we could push their dry DI’d signals back through more massive setups.

We had to track a quieter section near the beginning with the snares off because of the bass causing some rattling, but the rest went pretty easy. In one day we got about ninety five percent of the tracking done, including the vocals.

Notice the blanket hanging from the ceiling...

Notice the blanket hanging from the ceiling…

After session one, takes got selected and everything got pieced together. Since the drums were done, I mostly worked on that mix until session two. All that session two involved was recording some drone feedback and redoing a guitar part or two, again with both miced amps and inline DIs. Was actually had to troubleshoot the drop ceiling for the drone parts because the feddback was resonating the metal framing up their. Lifting up the light fixture and wedging in a blanket helped to cut it back a lot. The next step was very long and very loud.

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Stand in the thrall…

The reamping was done in two passes: guitar first then bass. The original unamped guitar signal was sent to a Sunn Concert, an old Fender Bassman 100, and a Sunn Coliseum amp and their respective cabinets: an old Fender 6×10 and 4×12 and a Sunn 1×15. The Fender cabs were miced with AT4040s while the Sunn 1×15 we mic’d with an AKG D112. I had an old Shure omni dynamic mic across the room for a room mic as well. Everything was teched and cranked. We then shut the door, hit record, and let the guitar for the whole EP play through and record new amped tracks. Even Chris’s high notes had balls now. The door shook. It was loud.

We did the same for the bass, except with the addition of a dirty Fender Twin mic’d with a Rode NT2000 added for some mid-range grind.

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I like my area mics on drums to be tight.

When it was all said and done, we had four guitar tracks and seven bass tracks all tracked with the same performance. Add that to the seven drum mics we walked away with 18 tracks from simultaneous live performances. And since the reamping was done in the same room as the drums, the space and tone from all of the tracks is consistent. By reusing the same space over and over again, we were able to record at the volume that they play at in that tiny room without all of the bleed. And we got it all done in two sessions!

Here’s a little clip of what we got out of that little room…

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~ by poundtownsound on December 28, 2012.

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