'The day when I went to the studio and I played drums and had some cookies' - By Dan Graham.
Dan: When you’re a Bluejay, you wake up early a lot. Usually to go to an airport or in this instance, to the studio. Today (Monday 13th February) we are heading to Arundel in Sussex to record our new album aided by our excellent engineer and ginger man, Jeremy Cooper. We have a list of 13 of the biggest hits of the 50s to record in the space of three days, easy.
Ford Lane Studios is situated just outside of Arundel, West Sussex in the middle of the countryside and is a very pleasant place to spend your time. Calm and quiet, except for the music etc. Setup takes a while (especially when three of the band members are talking about guitars, taking pictures of guitars and talking about guitars).
For sound reasons the drums are setup upstairs in a room designed for them so I spend most of the days up in that room alone with only several cups of coffee, my phone and a video link to the rest of the guys who are all downstairs in the main control room. The latter helps for when I have to cut off ends of songs and it’s just nice to see their faces (or a bottle of Pepsi when they forget where the camera is). After spending a while getting drum sounds and guitar sounds, the ginger man is ready to press record. We aim to be as authentic and as true to the original songs as possible which means things like guitar tone and tom tuning takes a while and we tend to be quite meticulous about it. The same goes for the songs themselves.
Three or four songs down we get to The Everly Brothers' Wake Up Little Susie. I won’t say how many of us played guitar on that song (I know the chord of A)...
...but we took as long as we could layering the guitar parts and making sure it sounded as close to the original as possible. We get four tracks done during the day and at about 4pm Ollie goes into the booth to record the vocals for those songs.
The rest of us sit in the main control room and look supportive by staring at him, doing fun dances, eating cookies and I had a lovely sleep.
The next day follows much the same formula but we manage to get even more songs recorded as we have more time available due to not having to tweak sounds all morning. Today sees us playing our own instruments, tambourine, hand-claps and all crowding around a microphone shouting ‘See You Later, Alligator!’. We are absolute professionals and are available for any event.
As we have more time available, Ollie gets to record more vocals and it sets us up nicely for the final day.
The last day is usually saved for overdubs, re-records and vocals which is exactly what happens. We’ve done so much in the previous two days that we confidently believe “we’ll be home by two today”. At 4pm we have ordered pizza to be delivered to the studio and at 6pm we are nearly ready to leave. As previously mentioned, we are as meticulous as possible so we spend the afternoon listening to every track and going over, redoing anything we thought was not good enough.
The tracks are going off to be mastered to tape tomorrow which we're hoping will really make it sit together well. Chris has the artwork all ready to go so once the tracks are back we'll be able to send everything off to be manufactured.
There's also the fun job of applying and paying for the rights to the songs. But I'm guessing, all being well, we should have the CDs within the next 3 or 4 weeks.
I’m really proud of this upcoming album, it was so easy to record and the sound that comes out between the four of us is really something special. Buy it.
P.S. Buy it.