Recording "TSC" - Part 1: Drums


The drums are recorded!!

Morten and I have spent the last four days at Jailhouse Studios in Horsens, Denmark, recording the drums for the upcoming Wuthering Heights album. Everything went basically according to plan, we used all the time we had booked, but we didn´t have to cut any corners - four days was the time needed. Here´s a little overlook at the proceedings for you all.


Wednesday, 09.03.06
We arrived late Wednesday night - in freezing cold - so that we could start first thing Thursday. We spend the night at the nice house that Jailhouse uses for the bands to camp in. Morten had cleverly brought a bottle of Caol Ila single malt, which was put to good use. On the other hand he had forgotten his new twenty pairs of drumsticks, so maybe he should work a bit on his priorities (nah!). There is not much to do in Horsens at night, so we just watched some TV - which was as ridiculous here as anywhere - and basically chilled out, preparing for the demanding days ahead.

Thursday, 10.03.06
Producer Tommy Hansen and Morten started setting up the kit. This time we´ve used a Ludwig drumkit, which is somewhat oldschool, but has so much depth and power that it´s just perfect for the really heavy stuff we´re doing this time. The tom sound is like thunderclashes - really cool! We´ve recorded the real drum sound all the way. We might end up mixing some triggered samples into the real sound, like we´ve sometimes done before, but I´m not sure - it sounds really majestic already.
So, time for a soundcheck, which didn´t take Tommy very long. He knows his studio, he knew this drumkit and he generally just knows what he´s doing. So after a quick lunch of semi-rotten herrings (a tradition when I record at Tommy´s place), we went into recording.
Morten wanted to start out tough with the song "Demon Desire", which is quite demanding. It took a few hours, but of course he had to get used to the situation of the recording process again. The Ludwig kit already proved its worth here, it stood up to Morten´s beatings and just provided even, heavy, organic sound - the way we like it.
We continued to record "Beautifool" which is a little less challenging for Morten. We didn´t quite finish it this day, though.
We ate some discusting cheap lasagne and watched "The Return of the King" before crashing relatively early.

Friday, 11.03.06
Tommy arrived a little later, so we were quite starving for coffee. Fortunately the studio has a coffemachine that must be build for speed metal musicians, it´s that fast. Tommy suggested that we skipped finishing "Beautifool" right now, and instead tried to get as many of the basic drumparts recorded. A good idea, ´cause it always eases the preasure to get some stuff on tape (or disc these days), instead of niggling with some silly breaks or something.
So, hyped up on coffein and nicotine, Morten went on to do "The Raven", which didn´t take very long. We had talked about using a piccolo snaredrum for the main riff, but I think we will keep the regular one, since there´s so much life and power in it as it is.
Next up was "Faith", a long track that took some work. A cowbell was set up (with tape) for one particular part. The song ends with an acoustic folkpiece, which we saved for later.
After more herrings we continued with the song "Envy". It has some relatively straight main parts, but breaks down into some more progressive stuff along the way.
This day Morten again struggled on in good spirit, nailing even the fastest and trickiest parts perfectly. Some of these songs are just so METAL, that it´s quite fun to be in the studio, even if you sometimes listen to the same stuff over and over.
We continued a little over time this day, since we started a bit late. Our dear manager Claus came by to check on the proceedings but continued on with other business to attend to.
We had pasta and sausages and watched "American Pie - The Wedding", which is totally pointless but quite fitting after a day of hard metal workout. The TV showed an old documentary on my favorite band Gasolin´ - I´ve seen it a million times of course, but it´s always nice to see the boys rock - even if it´s in black´n´white.
Morten managed to fall a sleep in his chair - understandably.

Saturday, 12.03.06
Another terribly cold day, but more warm coffee, and we´re ready to rock. First up is the song "Snow", which is relatively straight heavy metal, at least for our standards. Morten nailed it without much trouble. Next up was the semi-ballad "Sleep", which however ends in all-out speed metal. Again, no problem for the drummerboy.
However, things couldn´t go on this smoothly, of course. On the next song, "I Shall Not Yield", Morten´s usual photographic memory of songstructures seemed to not work that well. A few runthroughs of the song and we decided to skip this one for now and continue with something else to clear the air.
We started on another long track "Seize The Night" (according to Tommy it´s not as long as it seems when you listen to it - HAHAHA!), which proved only slightly less complicated, not only because it´s the fastest song on the album. However after a lot of takes, we had it, except for one minor detail.
Claus had joined us again, this time bringing a lot of beer, which of course is a manager´s finest task. It was time for a viking meal, so we went to buy some meat. The dear Claus, however, is no trained touristguide, so we had a nice drive through what should be his hometurf, before we finally found the takeaway-place - which by then of course had sold out. After some more driving we found another place, and returned homeward armed with two big cases of ribs and fries. As cow and beer went in, the spirit rose again. The pile of bones on the table afterwards was just stupid and we all sat like beached whales on each couch. Anyway, we listened through the remaining songs several times, so Morten could get a grasp of the structure. The rest of the night was spent listening to music, mainly Jethro Tull.

Sunday, 13.03.06
The last day, and with quite a lot of work to do.
First thing up was to do that final detail on "Seize The Night". That didn´t take long.
Then we started again on "I Shall Not Yield", and this time it worked. No stress or confussion on Morten´s part, just sheer metal power. A real fun song in fact, quite the heavy metal cliché, but very effective.
Next we finished off "Beautifool" which we had started on the first day. No problems there, Morten was really rolling now.
So with all the tough songs done, we had two easier ones to go. First up was "Midnight Song", which was done in under an hour, I think. And finally the coversong, "Shadow Of A Gipsy" (originally recorded by Ache in 1971). Here Morten and Tommy experimented with a few different cymbals to get a more Seventies-sound. The song went great, and was a fitting end, since it ends in total blastbeats.
The final few hours was spend mixing down the drumtracks, so that we can bring them to BlueFlame Studio, where we are gonna record guitars and bass.
We still had a few minutes left, and we did a few takes of the acoustic ending to "Faith". A real primitive drumkit was set up and recorded with just an overhead-microphone, in order to get an authentic sound, like someone playing in a pub. It´s always funny to do stuff like this, especially with Tommy who has a life´s worth of gear - it´s like a musician´s toystore. A bit of different instrumentation always brings life to a recording.

So, that was the end of another great session at Jailhouse. Morten drove home to Southern Jutland, and Claus and I took the train back to Copenhagen with the CD´s, which will be the basis of the next recordings for the album. And what a basis! Once more Morten has graced our music with his amazing talent and set the bar even higher for others to follow. And all in four short days in a cottage in Jutland. ´EAVY F´KIN´ METAL!!