Back in Cong – Making Steady
Regular updates from the recording studio
We’re back in Pat’s studio over in Cong, Co Mayo today, with The Bishop (Chris) of course.
What’s the plan? To record my new single – a brand new song called Steady. It’s going to be released very soon alongside news about other exciting plans for 2013.
There will be some pictures, maybe even some videos, some stories and news from our time in the studio today and tomorrow.
Don’t forget, my new album (The Moon’s High Tide) is out now [available to buy from iTunes as a digital download and as a limited edition CD direct from this site] AND my new book A Little Nostalgia For Freedom was just released a few days ago [available from online retailers, as an eBook and signed copies direct from this site].
So, keep checking in and see how we’re getting on. Over to you, Bish!
Tuesday 5th February 2013, 12:25
Steady. Ready. Go.
We’ve done the first mix and we’re ready to take it away. With all the stuff we do, we never just leave it as the mix that comes from the hours and hours in the studio as the best one. You have to let it breathe for a bit and hear it some other places, in the car, in the living room, on headphones from an MP3 player. There are always little tweaks to be made after the initial mix.
I can hear you all clamouring to know when you’ll be able to get your hands on this single – keep your eyes on the website, Twitter and Facebook to hear the news when we know. It will be soon!
Keep your eyes out for news about upcoming gigs and events. It’s going to be a great 2013.
Don’t forget that you can get a hold of the album from last summer, The Moon’s High Tide, from this site and iTunes too.
Tuesday 5th February 2013, 11:15
A busy morning so far! Pat and me have been chipping away at the guitar fills.
Bass part is pulsing along working nicely with all that percussion we laid down yesterday morning. (Was it only yesterday morning?!)
What’s left to do? Final little touches and then mix the thing.
We should be able to leave today with a version very close to the final thing. It will need a little time to settle in our heads, a listen on a stereo system and in the car to see if everything sounds good out of the comfort of the control booth.
Tuesday 5th February 2013, 09:05
We’ve hit the floor running today. Pearse got here at 9 and is already on it, putting a bass part down.
All our brains were a bit frazzled by 8pm last night, hence no last post of the day.
We’ve got the morning to put the finishing touches – the rest of the bass part, some guitar fills – before the final mix before lunch.
Steady has come along way from the rough and ready MP3 that Steve sent around a few days ago. We’re thrilled with the transformation it’s been through – we can’t wait to share it with you very soon!
Monday 4th February 2013, 19:15
Female harmonies are all wrapped up, we think. The Bishop took the mic next to record some male backing vocals for the chorus.
A quote from the man himself: “I’m just glad it was the chorus and not the verse. The chorus at least follows some of the basic rules of music. The verse does not.”
As this intrepid reporter writes, it seems that we’ve convinced Pat to put down a vocal track or two, which is great. He’s always singing along in his control room and we’re thrilled that he’s getting involved, vocally.
Sam’s main concern, now she’s (probably) finished all the singing components, seems to be when dinner is. And whether that dinner is definitely a steak or not.
Monday 4th February 2013, 18:25
As the day goes on, we’re ticking off the jobs on the “to do” list. We’re also starting to gradually lose a grip on reality. Studio ears are kicking in and we’re hearing things that aren’t there.
More coffee is in order for those that partake in such things.
Harmonies for the chorus are done. Sam’s calls of “What’s my note, Bish?” as she’s facing into the corner (at the mic) and the Bish is behind the screens tickling at the keys to find the notes.
A few more female harmonies to think about, then some male harmonies (seeing if we can cajole Pat into joining in), some fills from Pat (again if he’s amenable).
Steadily getting there!
Monday 4th February 2013, 16:25
Main vocals from Steve are progressing well. You get to sing in a little booth facing away from everybody, in your own little world.
Luckily for Steve, on this song, most of the words are pretty normal and relatively straightforward to sing. A syllable a note, kind of thing. If you have a listen to The Moon’s High Tide (the album we recorded here in Cong last summer) you’ll hear some of Steve’s more complicated lyrics! He’s the poor sod that has to sing them, so he only has himself to blame.
Sammy has just arrived from the airport, having journeyed on the same sort of plane that Steve and I travelled on yesterday. Two propellers, 20 passengers and everyone takes a turn sitting up front as co-pilot next to the pilot’s packed lunch.
Still plenty of work to get done today. Take it nice and steady, though!
Monday 4th February 2013, 15:20
Squeeze box (etc) and whistles. Done.
Ham and cheese sandwiches. Done.
Pick up Sammy from the airport. Done.
Piano parts from the Bishop. Done.
Onwards to do the main vocals from Steve!
Monday 4th February 2013, 13:25
Disregarding whatever pangs of hunger may be making themselves known, we push on getting Steven Doherty into the booth with his brace of whistles (what is the collective noun for multiple whistles?) and a squeeze box (or box of buttons or melodeon or whatever we seem to be calling it).
Yesterday morning, when we added in the solo chorus and invented the intro, we didn’t know exactly what was going to fill them – but Steve and I both thought that perhaps whistles would be our saviour – and it sounds like we were right. A cracking couple of whistle melodies in there now and they are sounding superb.
And I stand back in admiration at those remarkable people that can wrap their heads around the melodeon. A bellows going in and out, a few buttons on the left hand (some major chords, some minor chords, they change depending on in or out direction of the bellows) and a whole heap of buttons on the right hand (a selection of notes from whatever key the instrument is in, again changing on whether you’re going in or out with the bellows) which normally plays the melodies.
[The picture shows the backs of Pat, whose studios we’re in, and the back of Stephen in the booth]
Monday 4th February 2013, 12:10
Layers and layers of percussion have been recorded. Shakers, tambourine, snare, various hand drums (Turkish, Moroccan….!). We’re just getting onto the final stages of percussion. Just doing some hi hats and a stomp.
What’s a stomp, I hear you ask? It’s a box. That you tap or “stomp” with your foot . Simple as that. It has a pickup inside, plug it in like a guitar and away you go. Gives a great kick sound without the hassle of having a whole kit to mic up or dragging a massive drum around.
We used it a lot on The Moon’s High Tide to keep things tickling along – combined with the shakers and hand drums, it gives a great bed of percussion for us to work on.
Up next: Stephen Doherty is going to put some squeeze box (melodeon) [Wikipedia calls it a “diatonic button accordion”, so there] down and maybe some whistle too.
Sammy is arriving later today to put some vocals down too. It’s all starting to take shape. Keep it steady, though, Pat!
Monday 4th February 2013, 10:55
Up and at them first thing this morning. Steve was stalking around the hotel breakfast room hunting down coffee, and plenty of it.
First up in the studio, listening to what we did last night, making sure the guide tracks are all spot on for the others coming in today.
Steve put down his guitar track, picking like nobody’s business. The age old battle of “Can we turn down the Bishop? His piano is rather overpowering my brain…” ensued.
Just enough time to do the guitars before Jimmy Higgins arrived ready to put down some percussion. Shakers, snare and some other stuff…!
It’s always great working with guys like Jimmy – comes and just does it. No fuss.
It’s starting to take shape. Keepin’ steady.
Sunday 3rd February 2013, 21:45
The Bishop here with an update from last night. Despite a delayed flight over to Knock, we arrived in good spirits. Dropping off out bags at our lodgings in the centre of Cong (County Mayo, Ireland), Pat arrived in his trusty red van and we hot footed it to his Mountain View studios. A couple of good hours – putting down a guide guitar and vocal part (having first nailed the tempo – “exactly how fast is too fast for this song?!”) – and the piano parts.
Heading back to get some food in the pub attached to our lodgings, and of course an obligatory pint of Guiness, it was dead quiet. Before too long, a couple of old geezers with a guitar, a drum machine and a squeeze box arrived, not long followed by every inhabitant of Cong aged over 60…! Within minutes, Irish music filled the room and the ladies and gents of Cong were up and dancing. Steve was getting flashbacks to his time with Firkin the Fox in years gone by.
These ladies and gents were having a grand time – and (mostly) were taking it nice and steady!