When I got the call to engineer the JAWS album I jumped at it. JAWS are, in my opinion, “B-Towns” brightest star. Great song writing, arrangements, melodies and really nice fellows.
JAWS wanted to use JUMP studios, where I am resident producer, to record their album and asked if I could engineer the session and produce/mix the B-sides. The best thing by far about Jump is the live room. Drums just sound like drums in that room in fact I haven’t found a room that sounds better.
Day 1: B-sides
After speaking with JAWS manager Paul I thought I would suggest recording one of the B-sides live. Jump is a great studio for recording live tracks. I put it to the band and they were quick to agree and decided to record their newest song “Think Too Much”.
I had the drums set up in the live room. To mic the kit I used my all time favourite kick drum mic the Sontronics DM1B. I positioned it just over half way inside the kick drum and off to the left. The great thing about this mic is if you position it right you don’t have to do much if any EQ-ing in the mix. I have tried a few mics on the snare but keep coming back to my SM57, Ed has his hi hat quite low so I fed the mic thru the middle of the kit and positioned it a little closer to the point of contact than I would usually so I would pick up a louder snare signal in comparison to any hi hat spill etc, and it worked out great. On the rack and floor toms I used my sennheiser MD421, a great all round large diaphragm dynamic mic; positioned about three finger widths above the skin pointing at the contact point of the skin. I always throw up a hi hat mic, I like the flexibility and control in the mix. I tend to put the hi hat mic directly above the rim of the hi hat at around 17cm, this gives a really smooth Sound to the hi hat and less stick attack, this is just my personal preference. When it comes to overheads I really like my Rode K2s set to figure of 8 to pick up more of the room sound, perfect for this kind of music and used in conjunction with my stereo pair of Se VR1 room mics gives a really great stereo image of the drum kit and a really smooth cymbal sound and a tight bottom end.
When recording live at the studio; room restricts mic-ing any bass cabs so I use the awesome Avalon bass DI and it never fails to impress.
The guitar amps are positioned side by side in the chill out area and separated by acoustic baffles. Alex’s amp was mic’ed with an MD421 placed toward the edge of the cone, this gave me a less punchy sound and perfect for the track. Connor had 2 amps, one was a more bottom end sound and mic’d with an MD421 and the second amp was a more trebly sound and I used the Sontronics Halo which is great to get that indie jingle jangle sound. Both cabs were then mic’d with my Peluso 47 with a figure of 8 setting in a mid side position. The good thing about the chill out area is that it is very resonant and is great for mid side.
READY TO RECORD
I got Jake, Connor and Alex to stand together in front of the sliding doors of the live room, so all of the band members could see each other and get the feeling of playing together. The track was recorded without a click and how the band would play the track live.
JAWS played through the track three times and on the third run through got the take.
The guide vocal was recorded live with a 57. Although the guide takes were great and well executed we decided to replace the lead vocals with an over dub and then doubled. I used the Peluso, it’s a great smooth sounding microphone and matched Connors voice perfectly.
I said to the guys are you sure this is a B-side? sounds like a single to me, I’m glad the band decided to use this track as the first single. The single version was re recorded in the album sessions. You may find this slower version as a B-side at some point.
TRACKING THE ALBUM
Recording for the album began on the Monday with the arrival of producer Oli Dreamtrak. The only alterations I made to the mic-ing of the drum kit was to add an AKG D112 just inside the kick drum to the bottom right. This mic would capture more of the bottom end characteristic of the kick drum, mixed in with the DM1B would reinforce the whole sound of the drum. I then added an SM57 to the bottom of the snare to grab a little snap and finally added a closer room mic for variation, the Peluso.
Two Take Ed had all of the drums recorded for the album completed by 4:30 on the same day. A testament to the week of rehearsals the band put in and testament to the quality of Ed’s playing.
On day 2 it was Jakes turn. The bass was recorded through a DI from his Trace Elliot head. This sounded so good we didn’t need to mic the amp, and again; true to form Jake had all of the bass for the album down by 1pm.
For the next few days we recorded guitars. We moved the amps into the live room and set about mic-ing them up. On Connors amps we used a combination of the SE VR1, Halo and the MD421 along with the peluso again set up as a mid side figure of 8. Alex’s amp was mic’d with the same mics as before, the Sennheiser and the peluso. All of the main guitar tracks were tracked this way. When it came to the guitar embellishments; Ollie moved the close mics to the middle of the cone and set up the Rode mics as a stereo pair set to omni and placed in the opposite corners of the room.
We started recording the vocals with the Peluso but we had a problem with noise from the mic. I have had this problem a few times before with this mic and have returned it to be repaired but DV247, where I bought the mic, can never find a problem with it. So we ended up using Ollie’s SM57b, this is a large diaphragm dynamic mic that is becoming very popular for vocals in many studios and sounds really smooth. Oli ran the mic through a DAV BG1 pre and a FMR RNLA compressor.
Connor only needed 2 or 3 takes to get all of the vocals down, again, all of the rehearsals paying dividends.
All in all the sessions went better than any of us anticipated. I put this Down to JAWS being very very rehearsed and focused.
MD421 x 4
SE VR1 x 2
Rode K2 x 2
Kit List Album As list 1 with these exceptions