Studio talk: the power of restriction

Music lovers, we hope you’re having a good day! We certainly do, since we move towards the release of ‘That’s Amore’ in a fast pace. While we’re working behind the scenes to get the production, promotion and distribution rolling, let’s take a moment and tell you something about the recording process of our 5th studio album to date: our most honest and direct album, achieved by the power of restriction.

Allthough we repeatedly tried to record our studio albums ‘live’ as a band, we’ve always cheated a bit here and there. Most of the times we taped the rhythm section of drums, bass and rhythm guitar together, adding layered guitars plus vocals and guest musician parts later. Well, for ‘That’s Amore’ we decided to restrict ourselves in more than one way. That’s where we want to get into in this post.

First off, we recorded everything as a live band together. Just four guys jamming away, hearts aligned in the moment and studio space, embracing happy accidents along the way. Most songs were pretty much composed and arranged beforehand, while leaving enough room for spontaneity in jams and soli. If you listen carefully to this album from A to Z you’ll notice not more than 3 short parts where we layered an extra guitar part. Since we didn’t want to fix any flaws in tone or timing we had to be in the moment. We’ve been that kind of band from day one, but the studio environment is always tempting for ‘perfecting’ anything you do. Usually it doesn’t get really better this way. This time we disciplined ourselves and kept our eyes at the ball. Let’s see if you can point out the 3 overdubbed parts when the album is released.

Those who know us, know that we like to surround ourselves with mountains of amps and guitars. So it was a revolutionary move for ourselves when we said to each other: let’s commit to one guitar per person. Oh wow. On the first four albums you heard mostly all types of Fender guitars with various Gibsons and Gretsches plus a strayed Rickenbacker or acoustic Martin here and there. The room would be filled with walls of amps, mostly Marshall, Fender and Matchless, while we cherrypicked fitting sounds for each song. Yes, that was fun. Now we wanted something different: to create a credible, open live sound that’s present on the full album. After we got the right sound for the four of us, we left the amps in order and didn’t touch a dial or anything. We couldn’t put down the guitar we had in our hands for the rest of the week. From then on we solely focused on our studio performance, which was fun, liberating and confronting at the same time. It felt like being more honest and direct than ever before. Music from soul to soul!

OK, for the freaks we’ll round this post off with some gear specs of what we used in the studio (also see pic below):
– Simon solely used his Fender sixties 3-tone sunburst CS Stratocaster with rosewood fretboard through a Matchless HC30 amp and a Fender Deluxe Reverb combo, panned to the speaker on your right ear;
– Mike solely used his Gibson CS ’56 goldtop Les Paul with P90’s through an Alessandro Bluetick amp and a Marshall HW 1974X with amp tremolo, panned to the left;
– Jaap solely used his true vintage ’53 Fender Precision bass through a Monique amp by Jule Amps with an Ampeg cab;
– Mark solely used his Tama Starclassic kit with Zidjian K cymbals.

Three stringed work horses for ‘That’s Amore’.

We’ll share more info and stories in the near future. Speak to you all soon!

Cheers friends,
Simon, Mike, Jaap & Mark

(Pics by Mike Nicolaassen)

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