Recording "TSC" - Part 4: Mixing

Diary of the third part of the recordings for the upcoming album.

18.06.06: The album is finished!!!

Hello friends! The final part of the recordings, as well as mixing and mastering, is now done. And as I predicted in the last studioreport, we have indeed created a monster of an album. It´s so unbelievably heavy, epic, bombastic and generally in your face - and still unmistakably Wuthering Heights. We´re all extremely pleased both with our individual performances and the record as a whole. And of course we hope that you will be as thrilled as we are when the album comes out. But for now, here´s another overlook of the working process.


Sunday, 28.05.06
We arrived at Jailhouse Studios in the evening, so we would be ready to start working first thing next morning. Andreas had decided to join us, mostly for the fun of it, but also to oversee that there would be no problems using his keyboard parts, which he had just finished recording in his own studio in Växjö, Sweden. Luckily he´s the smallest guy in the world, ´cause there wasn´t too much room in the car, with my gear and all. But we managed to get to Horsens through storm and rain. Thanks once again to my dad, who has tirelessly driven me through the length and breadth of the land ever since I started playing. We were a bit tired from last night, where Nils Patrik had played with his band Astral Doors in Copenhagen. A great gig, if a little short because of bad planning at the venue. So we just chilled out and crashed relatively early.

Monday, 29.05.06
Our producer-wizard Tommy arrived around ten, and we started setting up my studio gear, which I´ve mainly brought for backup and in case we need to listen to one particular track on the demo, or so. We then started uploading all the files. Tommy of course had the drumrecordings from our last session here, I had brought the guitar, bass and choir tracks from Teddy´s studio in Sweden, we had Martin´s guitars and Andreas´ keys. So this understandably took some hours. But in fact it all went relatively quick and easy. So in the afternoon we got around to recording the golden voice of Nils Patrik. We started with "Demon Desire" and then did "Shadow Of A Gipsy". Patrik likes to shift between harder and easier (or not so hard...) songs, in order to keep his voice in shape. I know my songs are difficult, there are a lot of words, weird lines in archaic English and a lot of changes in expression. But this just shows how incredibly talented the good Mr. Johansson is. Line by line he just nails it. And it´s really never a question of "can he do it?" - it´s just the sometimes hard choice between different, perfect, takes. Now it was time for beer! This session has generally been more relaxed than I´m used to. I usually don´t drink or party at all during a recording, but the Swedes were in majority, and it was hard not to get caught up in their enthusiasm at the Danish beerprices. So we went to buy beer and sausages - what more do you need, really? Anyway, amidst the eating and drinking we managed to watch "A Beautiful Mind". Andreas and I had seen it before, but it´s still a thoroughly good movie.

Tuesday, 30.05.06
Today we started with "Beautifool", which didn´t present any problems. Next up was "Sleep", which is a bit different. It has an all-vocal intro, which Patrik did beautifully, and the chorus goes extremely high. I had had some worries that this could be problematic, but it seems nothing is impossible for the golden vocalchords of Mr. Johansson. Each recording session has one moment, where the controlbooth goes silent, and everybody just stands gaping - jaws to the floor - thinking: did I just witness this? This was Patrik´s moment. Without much hesitation he just nailed the chorus, singing every note in full register and with such power that some sort of magic must be involved. I think "Sleep" is probably the song that shows most improvement over the demo version, mainly because it´s very vocal-driven. It´s kinda short, but it just keeps rising in power from start to finish. It has turned out a really cool piece, I think. We then continued to do "The Raven", which is probably my favorite tune on the album. It´s so mean and heavy and yet one of the more folkoriented songs, if maybe in a different way than usual WH songs - it has a distinct Nordic flavour to it. Tommy came up with some cool notes for the ending, which was done a bit different than the demo version. Very brooding and evil - great!
We ate some very bad pizza, but fortunately we had lots of beer to cover up the taste. We watched "Top Secret", which surprises me everytime I see it (and I´ve seen it many times...) - it´s just so stupid! For some more serious art we put on some Monty Python and had a few more beers, generally enjoying ourselves.

Wednesday, 31.05.06
Today Patrik added his vocal magic to "Faith", "Seize The Night" and "Snow". Not much to say, you need to hear it! We had more sausages and even more beer. We watched the movie "Meet the Fockers", which was quite funny after a hard day´s work. We had a great time this evening while a giant rainstorm raged outside. The theme for this recording session has been Eddie Meduza. Many of you may not know him - neither did I - but apparently he is the biggest thing ever in Sweden. He´s dead now, but produced something like 70 albums in his time. His songs are mainly about sex, being obnoxious and as politically incorrect as possible. Anyway, Andreas had brought some selected works with him on his iPod, and so the evening evolved into something of an Eddie Meduza-jam. This is some of the most fun I´ve ever had during an album production. What can I say? - "Det kliar på kuken!"

Thursday, 01.06.06
Patrik did "Envy", "I Shall Not Yield" and "Midnight Song" today. It all turned out perfect, and took a little less work than I had expected. So with all the leadvocals in the can, we started on Patrik´s backing vocals. Since he had to leave Friday, we started with the parts were it was essential that it was Patrik´s voice. A few other parts we could save, and Tommy or I could do them later. We managed to do backing vocals for "Demon Desire" and some parts of "Beautifool".

Friday, 02.06.06
We actually managed to do the rest of the backing vocals today, except a few things that I can do later. For "I Shall Not Yield" Tommy came up with some insane vocal harmonies reminiscent of old Helloween stuff, very weird and jazzy. But we know Tommy well enough to just go along with his vision, eventhough he´s the only one who understands the structure, until it´s completed. As the majority of Tommy´s input it turned out very cool, of course. Anyway, Patrik had a train to catch - he actually did his last scream about fifteen minutes before his train went. Talk about timing! Tommy´s wife, Kirsten, drove Patrik to the station, while Tommy and I started selecting sounds for the horn part that starts "I Shall Not Yield".

Saturday, 03.06.06
This was sort of a clean-up day. We generally spent the day tying various loose ends. Tommy had finished the horn part in the morning. I then recorded my acoustic guitars, which went pretty quickly. I use both a six-string and a twelve-string this time. I think the acoustics ended up sounding better this time, than it has ever done on our previous albums. Then our glorious drummer Morten paid us a visit. Of course, we quickly enrolled him as backing vocalist. So, Morten, Andreas, Tommy and I added some more voices to some of the really big choirs. This is something that´s always fun to do. We then worked a bit on some of the piano parts, finding the right sound and so on. Next up I did a few assorted speaking parts and the falsetto-choir in "Beatifool". Finally we checked out my demoversion of the interlude-bit called "Reason...?". We quickly decided that the demo was near perfect, and that it wouldn´t make much sense spending a lot of time trying to do the same all over. So with a few sonic improvements by Tommy it will actually be the demoversion that ends up on the album.

Sunday, 04.06.06
Andreas leaves us today as we start with the mixing. We decide to start with "Beautifool" because it has a bit of everything in it. So Tommy starts doing the basic mixes, which means that there´s not much for me to do. I usually take the mixes of the day with me so I can listen to them in the evening, and we compile a list of the small corrections that have to be made. But all in all it sounds great already. Tommy is happy and believes we´re heading in the right direction - and I can only agree. The sound is almost overwhelming yet still clear - it really jumps out of the speakers. The guitars are definitely the heaviest we´ve ever done, which I´m very happy about - ´cause the whole idea about this album is to make a genuine heavy metal record. And we´re definitely reaching our goal there. This is also partly because of Andreas style being somewhat different from our previous keyboarder Rune´s. Andreas (like me) has great affection for 80´s popmusic and uses a lot of retro-sounding keyboard pads. These very wide sounds have made it possible for us to turn up the guitars an extra notch without losing their balance with the rhythm section.
The nice Tommy, knowing my affection for beer, presented me with the new pilsener from Danish cult-brewery Refsvindinge. It must be the beer version of a promo-CD, since it has neither name nor label yet, but it was definitely great for a pilsener - if not as unique as Refsvindinge´s usual ales.

Monday, 05.06.06
We mixed "Beautifool" and "Demon Desire" today. Not much else to say. Tommy and Kirsten took me for a nice dinner in town. It may be rock´n´roll to live on sausages and prefab pizza, but it was nice with some real food.

Tuesday, 06.06.06
So this is the notorious day: 666!!! It was not black magic, however, but the complexity of mixing "Envy" that almost drove Tommy nuts. Everyone always goes through some rough moments during a WH production, this was Tommy´s moment. In addition, his CD-ROM drive died and we also had some trouble with the balance of the studio monitors. Maybe there´s something about that date after all? Anyway, we finished "Envy" and started on "Faith", but the clock was ticking a little faster than we had thought.

Wednesday, 07.06.06
We mixed "Faith" and did the final recordings, which is the folk-outro on this song. I played my new mandolin, which is just plain dificult and Tommy decided to join in on the accordion as well as some percussion, to make this finale as authentic as possible. If you liked the folkpart in "Longing For The Woods", just wait until you hear this - it´s very cool. We spent the rest of the day trying to get some of the midi-files to work as we wanted. Computers have made record productions much easier - but in some situations you find yourself thinking about all the positive aspects of analogue equipment.

Thursday, 08.06.06
We mixed "The Raven" pretty quickly and continued with "Seize The Night", which we almost finished as well.

Friday, 09.06.06
This was supposed to be the last day, but we still have a lot to do. Luckily the studio is free for the coming weekend, so we should be able to make it with those two extra days. We finished off "Seize The Night", then "Snow" before almost finishing "I Shall Not Yield". Now the summer had finally arrived, so we were thankful for the somewhat airconditioned environment of the studio.

Saturday, 10.06.06
We finished "I Shall Not Yield" in a couple of hours. This must be the most majestic WH song to date. It may be one big heavy metal cliché, but you know what - only good things become cliché. It´s definitely one epic motherfucker! We then continued with "Sleep", which also turned out really cool, despite - or because of - the weird structure, and then "Midnight Song".

Sunday, 11.06.06
One song to go: "Shadow Of A Gipsy". I´ve talked about doing this song for a long time, but it became even more of a dream come true, when Tommy suggested that he played the Hammond organ on this one. I´m very into the Danish progressive rockbands of the seventies. And for those of you who don´t know, Tommy was considered the leading Hammond virtuoso back then, when he was in the Danish cult-band The Old Man and The Sea. They produced only one album, which today sells for large amounts. So this was a very big moment for me. The annoying part, of course, is that what I had spent a few weeks deciphering, Tommy learned in twenty minutes and recorded in one take! Too bad this will likely end up as a bonustrakc, ´cause I think it´s really awesome. Also, Martin does what I think is his best solo on this one. Anyway, we started going through our list of corrections song by song. None of this provided any real dificulties. So we had the master finished around seven, and I then headed back to Copenhagen with this new monster of metal in the bag.
Once again, it´s been a real cool experience to work in Jailhouse Studios with the mighty Tommy Hansen. We´re all really excited about the album and can´t wait to present it to you all. Please check back on the website for further information about the release.