Recording "Salt" - Part 3: Vocals

07.12.2009 – Vocals!!!

Here follows the third part of our little studio diary thing. This time it´s about insane vocals, acoustic guitars from hell and…ehm...pigs!


Friday, 13.11.09
I picked up Patrik at Copenhagen´s central station. At that point he had already been travelling for hours and hours – Sweden is quite a big country after all. We had a few hours to kill before our train left for Horsens, so we got hold of some beers and listened to the rough-mix I had brought from Teddy´s studio – the mix that Patrik is going to sing to. Even though this was in no way a proper mix it already sounded great and so we boarded our train in great spirit. A few hours later we were at Jailhouse Studios ready to rock in the morning.

Saturday, 14.11.09
This first day we started off by loading up all the files into Tommy´s studio-system. We also went shopping for food and beer and were generally taking it easy.

Patrik then started by doing the short intro-piece “Away!” and then “The Desperate Poet”. The verses of this song is in quite an odd meter, so it could cause some trouble, but Patrik had it all worked out, so it went smoothly. The song also has a very Jim Steinman-influenced middle part with lots of words, just rising both in pitch and in intensity. I had feared this part a bit, because apart from being plain tough to sing, it also has to be extremely good in order to work. You either do this type of thing or you don´t – no trying (as Master Yoda would say…). Patrik of course delivered amazingly, putting my worries to rest.

We then had some lunch before diving into “The Mad Sailor”, which is a really uplifting sing-along type of tune. Probably the closest I´ve come to writing a “hit” song, so far. It went great of course, with Patrik wailing away in registers where mortal singers rarely dare to go! Then we went to buy more beer!

... Before continuing with “Water Of Life”, which around here is known simply as “Whisky”. Pretty quickly done, so we had time to record Tommy playing the old accordion on this song. Cool shit, even though he of course complained about our odd tunings.

This was in deed a good day´s work, so we retired, watched “Scarface” – which describes a world sicker than the rock´n´roll one – and heading to bed relatively early.

Sunday, 15.11.09
This day we did “The Last Tribe” and “Tears”, which both went great. We also did both bonustracks. First, Mike Oldfield´s “Discovery”, which as I had predicted really suits Patrik´s voice. We´re turning this one into a really cool heavy metal song – don´t know what the composer would think about that, but it rocks! Then we did the old Uriah Heep song “Sympathy” which was also a walk in the park for Patrik, who of course is well schooled in the classics. Great tune. And here we dared Tommy to jump in on the Hammond organ, which I think he enjoyed quite a bit. We had him playing on a more ballad-type track on the last album, but this time he got to play a real rocker – after all, he IS the Danish Ken Hensley, so getting to record this stuff was both a real honour for me, and amazing to experience – talk about rocking out! Unbelievably cool stuff.

Monday, 16.11.09
We did “Weather The Storm”, which is very vocal-driven. Patrik had deviced some cool voicings and it turned out great – of course – actually, at this point it wasn´t even funny anymore when he was singing “high-C´s” and beyond in full register – this guy is almost too good. “The Field” also went great – a real massive song, and definitely one of my favourites on the album.

And then: it was time for the amazing pig-trick! The day before, while Patrik was away shopping or something, Tommy and I had been browsing through his sound-library to find some sea-sounds. But we also came across a lot of animal-noises, especially the ultimate pig-sample – which we placed ramdomly into one of the songs we were gonna do later ...

Then, as we started recording the epic “Lost At Sea” and Patrik was about to give his most emotional intro-vocals, his earphones suddenly burst with an insane pig honking and squealing – and Tommy and I went rolling on the floor laughing in the controlbooth! The magnificence of the recording, complete with Patrik´s “What the F**K???!!!!” was truly priceless. We of course (?) deleted the pig from the final recording, but the joke will never be deleted from our sick minds… HAHA!

Anyway, we actually managed to complete the entire “Lost At Sea”, which really took some work, but damn, what a track. Highlights are Patrik´s Led Zep-influenced delivery of the breakdown part and his long end-note, which defies description as well as breathing. Cool shit!

The only reasonable thing to do after a day like this was to watch “Braveheart”, which we then did. I think we also got pretty drunk, but it´s a bit blurry by now ... 

Tuesday, 17.11.09
With all the main vocal tracks done in amazingly short time we had two whole days to do voicings, harmonies and stuff. This is always fun to do, because it really lifts the songs to a new level, and you get to experiment with both serious music theory and silly ideas. And Tommy is amazing at this. He truly has “golden ears”. Somehow the backing vocals on “Tears” went into Braveheart-mode, turning this one into a really heavy stomper – cool. In the evening Tommy and his wife invited us to town for a treat of traditional Danish food – lots of pig! Patrik claimed he had never felt this full in his life. Well, that´s Danish cooking for you.

We spent the rest of the evening drinking wine and listening to metal, including the WH demo, trying to figure out the recordings to be done the next day.

Wednesday, 18.11.09
This was Patrik´s last day on this session. We did the remaining backing voices, including a big Iron Maiden-type choir on “The Last Tribe”. The last vocal recording was actually me shouting on the “whisky” song. And we finished in good time, so I started doing some of my acoustic guitars. Tommy got a great sound on the acoustic as usual and we did a few takes before Patrik had to leave. At this point a heavy storm was coming up, and I guess he had a terrible trip home. But regardless, he can feel truly proud of his performance. This man rocks!

Thursday, 19.11.09
This was the last day at Jailhouse, which is always a bit sad. But anyway, I had a tough job to do. The acoustic parts on “Lost At Sea” are quite difficult, at least for me. But even worse – when we had finally done the acoustic centerpiece, the click-track had carried over from my headphones, into the microphones and was clearly audible on the recording. So, I had to do it all again!

In the end it was all done though, and I also played some mandolin parts and a little percussion. Because we weren´t in a hurry, we actually spent a good deal of time working on “Water Of Life”, trying out different sounds and ideas – the song is entirely acoustic, so you have to come up with different stuff than the usual WH-sound.

But eventually, this session also ended, and I went back to Copenhagen for a short stop before returning to Teddy´s studio in Sweden. More on that soon – so stay tuned!