This song was named after Swedish pop group Army Of Lovers. Massive Luxury Overdose was the title of their most successful album. However, they did not have a SONG with that title, so maybe they should do a cover version of ours. I would totally love to hear that.
So why name this song after an outlandish Eurodance collective? No special reason really, other than that the title fit the lyrics perfectly and ‘Crucified’ is just an awesome song. Guilty pleasures,… got to love them.

However silly the backstory behind the title may be, the content of this song is quite serious. The lyrics are about the effects that technology, perticularly the internet, have on our modern day life. We’ve got this whole wide world at our fingertips, an infinite data stream of information, with limitless potential. Still we just seem to graze the surface and then rush on to the next thing. We seem to no longer be able to see the forest for the trees. Perhaps having less options makes us appreciate what we have a little more. 3 verses deal with 3 sides of this concept: Data/media, social interactions and music consumption. So don’t browse this blog,… take your time to READ it.

Massive Luxury Overdose.

Information will find its way
I can see almost everything everyday
Feels like I’m flooding my senses –So passions drown
Whatever happened to that thirst to explore?
What ever happened to the need to see, knowing more?
These means have dulled the advances –So tear it down

A nostalgia for the fire
Presence is taken away
By modern day technology –We’re led astray

Take a breath to be taken away
Too much love, it will kill you, they say
Don’t forget to process information –Does not compute
There’s no need to decide on first look
Try to see past the cover of books
Take some time to explore our relations –Misunderstood

A nostalgia for the fire
Presence is taken away
By modern day sociology –Move past the cliché
A nostalgia for the fire
Overdose won’t stimulate
But fade away in apathy –We’re led astray

Through all the days
I’m trying so hard
To pace this craving
For infinity

Every album needs time to grow
What little songs that I, way back then, got to know
They are still my favorite existing –Integral parts
Why down another album each day
How much music can you take to heart, anyway?
Is there anybody out there still listening? –It’s killing the art

A nostalgia for the fire
Presence is taken away
By modern day technology –We’re led astray
A nostalgia for the fire
Overdose won’t stimulate
But fade away in apathy –Left in disarray

 
The first verse I think is self explanatory (but I will explain it anyway). Since the rise of the internet we really don’t need any other medium to acquire our information. But as full of valuable information as it may be, it’s even fuller of distractions. And we can’t know everything, so our minds just get lost in this massive sea of data. Sometimes we even forget what we were looking for in the first place. Our attention spans grow shorter and shorter. We feel we don’t need to remember everything since we can always look stuff up again, and so nobody really develops a specialized skill set anymore. We know a little about a lot, but not a lot about anything. Personally, if I were to have emergency surgery, I would prefer it if the doctor didn’t have to Google the procedure. Yes I am exaggerating, but I’m sure you know what I mean. Specialism equals quality.

The second verse is about relationships with other people. We are creatures that originally lived in social circles that consisted of something between a 100 and a 150 people. These days, we all have hundreds, sometimes even thousands of Facebook ‘friends’, and even more ‘friends’ of ‘friends’ that make up our tribe. And the more people we know, the shallower our contacts become. We couldn’t possibly maintain as many contacts in real life, but still we don’t feel like we’re losing touch, because we can still read each other’s updates, right?
Only a few decades ago, you would go on several dates with a girl to get to know her. Then, after winning her over, you might get a kiss. These days, if you don’t shove your tongue down a girl’s throat the same night that you meet,… you’re probably not that into each other. Relationships have become expendable. We throw them out like old pieces of clothing, constantly chasing the elusive Mr. or Mss. Right. People used to talk about ‘Catching the biggest fish in their pond’. Nowadays, ‘There’s always more fish in the sea’.

Finally, music. Now I’m not going to bitch about illegal downloading and how it ruined the music business. That is a lie. The internet gave people the ability to discover loads of new music they otherwise would never have known. Try before you buy. But the record companies responded to this by releasing a shitstorm of one-dimensional cliché crap music. I’m not just talking about popular music,… it’s everywhere in every genre. Bands/artists that sound like something you already know so that you don’t have to exert yourself to form an opinion. How do you think songs like ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ ‘November Rain’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (and yes, ‘Crucified‘!) would fare if they would have been released in today’s music industry? When the music becomes more shallow, so does the way we listen to it. There are a million bands out there, releasing a bazillion songs. We listen to them once, then move on to the next discovery. An invention like Spotify only encourages this. We don’t even have so much as a file on our computer anymore. We can constantly listen to every piece of music ever written,… as long as we can remember what it was again.

I would like to see people be more mindful of these things and be critical in their choices. Call up a friend now and again, or even better: Meet up in real life. Seek out more in-depth knowledge on the things that interest you. Take time to appreciate different art forms. Oh, and feel free to download our album when it is released. Copy it, share it, play it everywhere! The more people know about it, the better. But please listen to it more than once. Allow the music grow on you. Who knows, you might like it,… and then we’ll gladly take all your money.

Next up: Things get all dark and depressing with “Void”!

Recording this album has been a rollercoaster ride! So much going on, It’s easy to forget what you were doing and what you had planned to do. Case in point: I almost forgot to post this particular blog. It was just sitting there, doing nothing, on my hard-drive. Fortunately, I get nostalgic from time to time and browse through some old folders,… So sit back and enjoy another great tale of studio bloggey goodness!

20-03-2013
So today we returned to the studio for recording of all the doubles, backings, triples, quadruples ect. I hope this will go faster than the initial recordings, because frankly I’m just dying to get this record out there. Today we started with two songs “Breathe to Aspire” and “Smother the Sun”. The plan is to move work ahead with these two tracks and finish them up completely so our booker/manager/pimp Wietze can go ahead and use these tracks for booking and promotion.
I must say it was surprisingly fun and relaxed revisiting the songs and I think I might have done a better job than the first time over. That’s fine. In that case the lead will become the double and the double will become the lead,… if that makes any kind of sense. Anyway, we didn’t have a lot of time today, but still I managed to complete everything we intended to record. So now we only have to record Mark, Mike and John’s vocals and then these two songs are completely finished,…. Awesome!

26-3-2013
Today is my father’s birthday (congrats, dad!) but that won’t stop me from starting the day of with some vocal recordings. I have not mentioned this before, but do you know how a lot of cool studios are built inside converted farm houses and barns? Well,… Stef lives in an actual barn. Together with a bunch of horses, goats and chickens. So if some of our songs remind you of the famous ‘Goats yelling like humans’ Youtube video, then that is why. Stef also receives special affection from one particular chicken. Stef said he only fed her once, but now she comes running every time Stef opens the door of his house. The guy is a chick magnet. Anyway, we didn’t do any screams or growls today, but just stuck to the clean parts and wrapped up two songs. It wasn’t long before I was back on the train. I had a birthday to attend, after all…

01-04-2013
I met up with Stef in my hometown of Amstelveen earlier in the day so we could pick up a bunch of cabs at my studio for re-amping. Over the years a whole bunch of my friends and former bandmates kept their stuff in my art studio, because I have a lot of space there. I never charged them any rent or anything, and in return they allowed me to use their stuff for the Selfmachine album. This meant that we had a lot of awesome gear to choose from.
Before I forget: today was the birthday of our very own drummer Ben! While he was indulging in presents, cake and lemonade, the rest of the band got together at Stef’s place to record backing vocals. All the guys needed some time getting used to the recording process and I was happy to provide them with some vocal coaching. Actually, I was kind of surprised that my suggestions were of any help at all. I’ve been a vocalist for a couple of years now, but being able to do something and being able to explain it to someone else are two different thing entirely. So a big win there! In the end, Mark decided to take a mic home with him so he could record in his own time, while Mike and John just nailed it right there and then. After all their obligatory parts were recorded, I decided to experiment a bit and try to add some vocal harmonies for the last chorus of ‘Smother The Sun’. I laid down the basics and then John and Mark just improvised some extra lines over it add some thickness. It turned out pretty sweet!
This means that (apart from Mark’s parts), ‘Breathe to Aspire’ and ‘Smother The Sun’ are now ready to be mixed so that our guy at Armada Agency can get to work on scouting labels. Yes, yes,… exciting stuff indeed.

01-04-13 Re-amp-machine

03-04-2013
Two days after the group vocals I was back again to continue my doubles and backings. As always, upon arriving at the barn I was greeted by the Love Chicken. We did two songs in clean vocals and then got back to doing some low pitched growls for backing vocals. So far every round of singing doubles for the clean parts have been a considerable improvement upon the initial leads. It feels great that the stuff that I was already quite happy with, is only getting better. I’m singing with more ease and confidence than ever. I even recorded some high pitched backing vocals that were way out of my reach the first time around. I don’t know why or how, but I guess I’ve made some kind of breakthrough, vocal wise. Awesome!

09-04-2013/16-04-2013
I’m running behind on this blog. It’s been a while since I wrote stuff for it and I can’t really remember the particulars. Vocals were done. Album proceeding as planned. Move along,…

Johnfukoff

11-05-2013
It’s been a while since we recorded vocals. We had the whole Oddland Tour (check out the other blog to know what happened there!) and just after that, Stef had to get surgery done on his shoulder. As soon as was possible (and perhaps a bit sooner) Mike, John and me went over to his place again to continue the backing vocals. It’s cool to be there with the three of us (not counting Stef), because this way, while one of us is screaming his nuts off, the other two can just joke around and have fun. Afterwards we all went out to dinner to a nearby snackbar called “De Bunker”. There I made the unfortunate decision to order the local specialty the “Bunkerburger”. This bizarre contraption made for one memorable meal.

Bunkerburger

28-05-2013
Today we recorded one of the hardest vocal parts of the album: Our ballad. Last time recording this song I did alright, in spite of having some problems with the highest parts. This time I really wanted to nail it down perfectly. I have recently started taking singing lessons and the little bits of vocal technique I got out of this really came in handy recording those tricky parts. Now a part of me just wants to go back to the first song and just record everything all over again. But if we wound do that, I will have learned even more stuff and have to record everything over and over and over again. I guess that’s just the way it works. This album is going to be killer. But the next one,… will be unbelievable!!

11-06-2013
When Stef picked me up from the train station he had the latest mix for ‘Miles Away’ blasting from his car stereo. The mix sounded great, although Stef said that he still had a lot of stuff to work on. We recently decided on a mastering studio, Split Second Sound, and this selection process shed some new light on what we want this album to sound like en how to achieve this. What really caught my ear was that there were some new vocal harmonies by Mark that I never heard before. They sounded awesome!! He really did a great job and his parts totally augment the song. Mark records his vocals at home and we really don’t have the time to go over every little detail together. But that’s fine really. This way I get to be surprised from time to time.
We recorded the doubles and backings for ‘iSybian’. I then went ahead and did some handclaps to be put over the second verse of the song. This is an idea I took from Quincy Jones’ work on Michael Jackson records. It might not be your typical sound for a metal album, but boy, that song sure sounds groovy now! After that we did a couple of verses for ‘Closing Statement’, the last song of the album. This means that next week could very well be my last day of recording…

20130511_173208

18-06-2013
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand,…. We’re DONE! First up I redid some of the bridge parts in Smother the Sun. After hearing some of the early mixes for this song I was a little annoyed by the nasal bass sound in my vocals, so this time I tried to make it sound a bit lighter and smaller. We also used a different mic to accentuate this. After that was done we did an extra ad lid in Void, that Mark came up with. Then we went back to work on Closing Statement. Man, this song is INTENSE! We are really pulling out all the stops to end this album with a bang. I tend to change my mind around quite a bit, but this song might very well be my favorite. I know for a fact that it is Stef’s favorite, since he had trouble applying his usual dose of sarcasm to the song. Now all this baby needs are some huge sounding gang vocals and we’re good for the final mixing stage!

-Steven

A while ago our booking agent Wietze informed us that we would be supporting the Finnish Prog metal band Oddland on their first mini tour outside of their own country. I had heard of the band before through my buddy Onno, who is one of the driving forces behind the Headway Festival in Amstelveen, The Netherlands. This, as it turned out, was also the main reason that Oddland was doing this mini tour: To play some more gigs around the date of their show at Headway. Oddland’s tour would consist of 4 dates, three of which would have Selfmachine as support. Unfortunately, the Headway Festival didn’t have any more room in their line-up for us, so the only tour date that we didn’t get to play was the one in my home town, at the venue I’ve been a volunteer at for close to five years. Go figure.
Anyway, this tour would mark our first time playing outside of our national borders as well. As some guy once said: “This is a new adventure,…”

26-04-‘13
The first gig we played was at Walhalla, Deventer (NL). This one was close to where Wietze lives, so he was there to welcome the Oddland guys and see us all play. But not before he called me at work to ask me to bring the guys in Oddland some good ol’ Amsterdam weed. I really don’t use the stuff myself, but fortunately my buddy Melvin worked at a coffeeshop near to where I work, so he hooked me up. From support act to drugs dealer,… this tour was off to a great start. At least this gave me a good way to break the ice.
The guys in Oddland were a cool bunch of guys. Their drummer Ville was kind enough to let all the bands use his drumkit, which made the changeover a lot easier. Local support for this evening was Cult Ellifex. A young band that turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. They played a cool mix of metalcore, prog and something atmospheric. A good match and I reckon this won’t be the last time we’ll share a stage with these guys.
We were up next and we had a great time on stage. The turn up was alright and the crowd seemed to respond well to what we were playing. Especially one guy in front trying out his breakdance moves and dancing his ass off. Hey, it’s a metal show, so everything goes! Next, we got to see Oddland play for the first time. The guys put on a really tight and great sounding show. Although our music is a bit heavier than theirs, we all felt that our combination of bands worked quite well together.
On our way back to Drunen, Stef and I got tailed by a police squad car. They followed us back all the way to Mark’s house. When Stef got out of the van and asked them if something was the matter, they responded with a question: “We see your license plate is registered to Noord-Scharwoude (the other side of the country),… what are you guys doing over here?”. Stef then went on to tell them about the tour and transporting music equipment and a whole bunch of other stuff that in no way explained what we were actually doing in Drunen (Answer: We were crashing at Mark’s place) but it seemed to satisfy the officers’ curiosity nonetheless. Lesson here: Never trust a guy from Noord-Scharwoude. The next day I was off to the Headway Festival while the other guys enjoyed this year’s first barbeque. Oddland’s singer Sakari put me on the guestlist so although I had to leave Deventer not long after their gig the previous day, we still had plenty of time to get drunk together at Headway. Good times were had all around.

Deventer Live

28-04-‘13
I was up nice and early because I had to travel all across country again before meeting up with my bandmates in Drunen. Oddland stayed over in a hotel near the Amsterdam airport which is only a few kilometers from where I live. If only they would’ve had a bigger tourbus…. We arrived at the venue ‘Jan Hertog’ in Eisden, Maasmechelen perfectly on time according to our provided schedule. Oddland was scheduled to arrive a couple of hours later, but they showed up right after we did. The only band that wasn’t there yet was the band that would provide the drumkit for the support acts and do a soundcheck. So we all just decided to put up Ville’s kit instead and let them do their soundcheck. After all, one drumkit would barely fit the stage, let alone two! Jan Hertog is without a doubt the smallest venue we’ve ever played. And we’ve had some damn small gigs. However, we were welcomed by the very friendly staff that made us feel right at home. Size matters not, the only difference is in your mind (And wallet, since we were playing for a door deal!). Even more surprisingly, they do not serve Hertog Jan beers at the Jan Hertog bar.
While we were chilling in the sun outside, Oddland’s guitarist Jussi came over to ask us if they could borrow our amps and cabs. The venue had kind of an unusual PA setup which made it impossible for them to use for their usual direct-out system. Of course this was no problem at all and Mark got to listen to his brand new Gallien Kruger amp for the first time in the audience. In the meanwhile our opening act had shown up (some miscommunication no doubt, according to our schedule they we 2,5 hours late) and did their soundcheck while the rest of us were off to the local snackbar for dinner.
After the opening act did their thing we took the stage and although I was forced to spend more time offstage than on due to the size, we gave it our all en rocked out. The crowd was a bit mellow at first but eventually they warmed up to us. Especially festival organizer Koen Rommelrock seemed to enjoy the show. All in all we had a great time. We hope to be back in that region soon!

Eisden Live
29-04-‘13
Today was an off-day in the tour. The Oddland guys went back to Amsterdam to do whatever young lads do when in Amsterdam and I stayed over in Drunen. Mark and Mike had to work, so I spent the day with John. First we want to see Iron Man 3 in Tilburg. After that I joined John for his hapkido training. This, of course, was a really silly idea. I am so not made for these kinds of exercises. I’m big, clunky and clumsy and I don’t bend well. I ended up hurting myself as soon as the warming up started. They asked me to do a sort of dive roll and I landed hard on my shoulder, which really hurt. I still finished the entire training though but it took about two weeks of healing before I could lie on my left side again. PS: John is a fr@ckin’ NINJA!

Oddmachine1blogpic

30-04-‘13
We drove over to Germany for our final show in Uelsen. It was a really nice looking venue with friendly people. Since we arrived a lot earlier than would have been necessary we got to enjoy some quality time in the sun, chilling and drinking beers. Aaaah, the good life. Unfortunately this was interrupted when the opening act arrived and some troubles/miscommunication surrounding the backline arose. After hashing that all out we were treated to a nice dinner backstage. We hung out with the Oddland guys talking about our influences, Mayones endorsements and unusual choices for covers. Oddland’s bassplayer Joni and me ended up doing an unplugged version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Speed Demon’. Crazy-ass bass lines. It was then that we came up with the idea for me to do some guest vocals on Oddland’s song ‘Sewers’. Joni always admitted to having trouble doing the growls in that song, since it was originally Ville who recorded them on the album. I spent the remaining time until showtime rehearsing their lyrics with my iPod.
The show had a decent crowd, although it was very clear that most of them were friends of the local opening act. Al the more reason to try to convince them. In the end it turned out a couple of people who saw us at our second show ever came over especially to see us play. It feels good to have returning customers!
After our show Oddland took the stage. A few songs into the set ‘Sewers’ came on and I growled my guts out with them. It was a really cool experience and I believe everybody rocked out to the vibe of the collaboration. It was the perfect way to wrap up our mini-tour! After the show we said our goodbyes and headed home. I would not be surprised if this wasn’t the last time we shared a stage with Oddland though,… To be continued!

-Steven.

OddlandSelfmachine

This is the second song I wrote for my audition for Selfmachine. It’s also one of the two songs that we recorded as promotracks, right after I joined the band. It’s kind of an unusual lyrical theme for me, because usually I write about more personal issues. This one however is quite socially aware and deals with a lot of things that really bother me in society. It’s also full of little references to other stuff. Alright, here we go….

Incorporated
It’s about time we lose this concept
Going through motions without thinking twice
Accepting authority without question
Following orders as we close our eyes

Degrade the human being to numbers, a product.

They don’t want you to do no critical thinking
See rules should serve us, we should not serve rules
Pay no attention to these men behind the curtain
Leading the blind through this world of fools

Reach out your senses
And find a way
To break this isolation

Parliament’s keeping the public afraid where we differ is all that we hear
Keeps us from opening dialogues to find out we have nothing -to fear

This world is lacking sympathy
restrained by synthetic injunctions

Now stand your ground
Broadcast your identity
Make up your own mind and speak

The media broadcasts opinions as fact and they reap from the chaos they sow
Keeping their audience pacified as they regulate all there is -to know

This world is lacking sympathy
Restrained by the structures that feed the machine
This life is not what it should be
Deprived of all human connection

The corporate owners are smiling
As they’re tightening all of the strings
Boldly oppressing the worker bees
And yet always stay clear of the stings
It stinks

Mind your own business – Stand in line

Obedient drones racked and numbered
You’ll be herded (to) where you need to go
When you fall outside parameters
I am sorry, computer says no

Every moment is a separate occasion
Every person has an individual mind
Difference is the only common denominator
No ‘one size fits all’ for these unique designs

So here we are
A million miles apart
Why don’t you come and talk to me

This world is lacking sympathy
Restrained by the structures that feed the machine
This life is not what it should be
Make way for a human connection

 
This song is about how governments and major corporations seem to take over the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis. We are slaves to the machine so to say. Little systems that are put into place to provide us with comfort, convenience and security, but are really used to monitor our every move, limit our options en ever so gently steer our decision making. Most of these things might not seem important, and you may not care about who knows what brand of peanutbutter you use. But once you start paying attention to the way every bit of personal information is being recorded and sold off,… it’s scary as hell. And the worst part is: If you talk to other people about this,… chances are they’ll think you’re a loon.

Pay no attention to these men behind the curtain” -Is derived from a scene from The Wizard Of Oz. It is a allegory for the puppet government that is seen in America especially. But the same could be said for the Netherlands and most countries around the world, really. There is much more going on behind the curtain than we’ll ever know.

Broadcast your identity” –Hey, isn’t that our album title? Well, yes it is! When Mark first looked over my printed lyric sheet (during my audition), his eyes stopped at that sentence and he said to me “Hey, that would make a good album title!”. After I joined the band he came back to it and it stuck. Telling the world who we are. I guess that’s what a debut album is all about.

I am sorry, computer says no” –Is a famous punchline from  comedy series ‘Little Britain’. It essentially happens all the time: A problem could be solved in seconds, but some system or regulation is in the way. We need to remember that these systems are there to help people, not control their lives. Another great example of this is made in this Dutch commercial.

I really could go on and on about these things. Once I start ranting, it’s hard to stop. So what can you do? Well,… I try to protect my privacy as best I can and rebel in small ways, like by not putting up my real name on Facebook and by regularly trading personalized Albert Heijn bonus cards with random strangers to screw up their databases. Do you think I’m a loon yet?

-Steven

Next up: More modern-day confusion and social alienation in “Massive Luxury Overdose”!

So instead of writing one big blog on the entire process of recording, I decided to make a journal and keep you posted as things are progressing.

November 6th 2012
Today was the day we started the vocal recordings for “Broadcast your identity”. I was really excited about it. Not just because I was eager to get started, but also because this was the first glimpse that I got of the fully recorded (though unmixed) versions of the Selfmachine songs. All the other guys recorded at home, sharing Reaper projects and thus being constantly up to date on the progress. I on the other hand, were left completely in the dark. So these unmixed tracks,… They already sound killer! The finished product must really be huge!

First Stef (Hartog, our producer) and I discussed some stuff on how we wanted to go about this. Stef wanted to record all the lead tracks of the album first, then edit those, and then after that come back to do all the backing vocals, overdubs, choirs, gang vocals and so on. This kind of forces me to put a lid on my creative brain, dreaming up all these cool extra vocal lines on the spot. But he is right and the end result will sound better and tighter because of it.
I explained to him that I really wanted to record al my growls and screams using a hand held microphone. This way I can emulate the same movements I make with my head when I sing live. Having a mic in a fixed position has always felt uncomfortable to me and I have always felt that on previous recordings a lot of my screams sounded rather forced. Stef wanted to use his Shure SM-7 for all the screaming parts. This is not a hand held mic, so he came up with this cool construction using the top part of a mic stand for me to hold on to. This worked out great and I’ve never felt more comfortable while screaming my guts out.
We ended up recording the clean parts for 3 of the 11 tracks and doing the growls and screams for 2. After that we decided to call it a day. I suppose I could have continued a while longer, and in the past I have always pushed beyond that point due to deadlines. But this is the Selfmachine album, and anything less than my best is just not good enough. So,… stoked about going at it again next week!

SelfmachineVocalsDay1Blogpic

November 13th, November 14th 2012
Stef took an extra day off from work so we could get some serious work done in these two days. My voice was in better shape than the week before, already getting some routine in the recording process. We did some of the more intense clean parts, including our ballad song “Becoming the lie”. That song took a lot out of my voice, making the session a bit shorter than planned. But that’s okay. I think the results were worth it.
Stef also took the opportunity to shoot some pictures for this blog, Facebook ect. I was jokingly singing the words to “We are the world” and when we posted the picture on Facebook later on, Michael posted a reply asking what song I was singing,… He must have thought Stef was joking when he told him.
So,… 3 days into recording I tracked the leads for 6,5 songs. We’re halfway through the first phase. Not bad right?

November 28th 2012
We had some technical difficulties today. Stef’s mouse kept acting up due to static electricity. It made the signal of a single click get misinterpreted as a double click. A small inconvenience maybe, but a very annoying one nonetheless.
Fortunately, Stef and I found a great way of ventilating our frustrations: We blame Mark. Mark is the one who started this band, so technically everything, both good and bad, is his fault. Also, Mark continuously forgot to deactivate the record modus on his bass tracks. So there were many times where I was ready to do a take and I had to be interrupted because we weren’t recording.
At the end of the day we recorded 1,5 songs and made up a wonderful new fictional character: Mark The F@#&ing Mouse.

December 5th 2012
While everybody was preparing for the national festivities, I once again locked myself in Stef’s closet. As it turned out, Mark The Mouse was not so fictional after all! A real live mouse was running around in my vocal booth, trying to find the courage to run past me and into the hole in the wall that leads to freedom. Personally I enjoyed the company.
So close to finishing up the first phase of our recording I feel a growing need to overachieve. Also, the song we recorded today “Smother The Sun” is one that is very personal to Mark (the Bass Player, not the mouse), which also puts the pressure on me to produce my best stuff. In the end, I think I did. Now we only have one final song to go,… No wait! We forgot to record an entire bridge and a single long stretched growl… Whoops. Oh well, we’ll finish it up next time.

December 12, 2012
Today we tracked the last of the lead vocal parts. Also, tonight Stef will receive a feline house guest to once and for all get rid of Mark the Mouse. We have mixed feeling about this. We have gotten attached to the little fella’ rather quickly. But let’s get back to the vocals. First we finished up the final parts for Smother The Sun, then we got to work on the final task: Closing Statement. This is a really long and epic song that will be the last song on the album. Because of this, I also wanted to record it last. Just to get that feeling of closure, even though we still have tons of doubles and backings to record later on. Closing Statement is also the only song the band has never played in the rehearsal room. So I had never sang the lyrics  out loud before this day. They turned out be  pretty intense on the vocal chords, with a lot of high pitched rock singing and a bunch of really long sentences! When we finished recording all the parts Stef played the whole thing back to me and apart from two little things, I liked the track a lot! So we redid those last parts and I was back on the train to Amsterdam before I knew it! Stef is now going to edit all the tracks and select the best takes. After that I’ll be back there to double the entire thing up. Pffffff,… patience, patience…

To be continued next blog!

Cheerio!

Steven.

Hey there. John here to talk a bit about laying down some of the guitar tracks for our first album.

Before the actual recording, Michael and I divided the songs between us to get a more coherent sound in each of the individual tracks. We both have a somewhat different approach to some parts of the songs in terms of picking, which works perfectly live but could cause some inconsistencies in the guitar parts on the album. So after a talk with our sound-engineer Stef, we chose this approach.

Like Mark and Michael, I plug directly into my computer with a Lexicon Lambda. I usually warm up first with some exercises and after that I play through the segments that I want to record, before laying down the guitar parts. Mark had already recorded  his tracks, so I just had to play along with both Ben and Mark’s recordings. In the songs there are a few places where I only had to play the melodies live, so having the bass to follow groove wise when recording the rhythm parts was a big help. Like Mark already said in his blog: There is al lot going on in those riffs.

After recording most of the rhythm parts, there was still a lot of work ahead. In most of the songs there are a lot of lead parts and there were quite a few solos.

I also had to come up with solos for ‘Becoming the Lie’ and ‘Closing Statement’. There was never a real necessity to come up with solos for these songs before. This was because we planned on never playing them live, which was our first priority when the band came together.

While writing solos I like a hands-on approach, with a guitar in my lap. But instead of instantly just jamming, I like to take some time and get a melody in my head, sing it and then start playing it. Usually when I come up with a melody I really like, I start playing around with it. Do some quicker passages between important notes, sometimes a really long lick to accentuate the tonal center and sometimes superimpose some chords as well as the occasional outside playing. But I always keep the melody in mind.

For the rhythm, leads and solos I used my Bo-El MC-7. I’ve been playing this guitar for almost 5 years now and haven’t come across a better guitar for the things I want to do!
For the odd clean parts I used a Michael Kelly Archtop guitar. Even though I really wanted to use my Bo-El for everything, you really can’t beat the big clean sound of an Archtop.

Recording the album was really enjoyable. It took quite a bit longer than I expected it to, but it was time well spent. All the rhythm parts are quad tracked and all the solos and leads triple. Especially nailing the solos 3 times took quite a bit of effort, but it was a really fun challenge.

That’s about it. Cya at one of our gigs!

-John

John Recording

What’s up everybody? Ben here, drummer for Selfmachine. It’s time to back up and break down the drumbeat with a brand new big and bulky blog broadcast. (CCC-combo breaker!)

The drum tracks for our debut album have been making all kinds of gains and are now finished! It’s the first time I’ve written drums for a full album. Before Selfmachine came along, I’d written drums for various internet music forum projects and the band Alison Stereo, but I’ve left them for a band in which there’s much more room to broadcast my own identity! I like to write inspiring and experimental beats and fills, while still laying down a solid foundation for the track. Three years back I would not have been able to write the drums for Selfmachine’s debut album. It would’ve been too chaotic and unstructured. After ten years of maturing as a drummer, last year was the perfect time for me to join a new band and finally write my first album. The writing proces and freedom I get in Selfmachine exactly suits my needs and I’m very satisfied with the results.

Our debut album has very much been home-written. This is how I’ve written al my previous drumtracks as well. Mark writes most of the songs in GuitarPro with general guidelines for my drums. The parts are sent to all members and the first task is for me: laying down the beat. Instead of improvising behind my drumkit with the song in my earphones, I sit behind my PC and program the drums in Reaper and Addictive Drums. That way, I can instantly make changes and evaluate, which makes the writing fast and easy.

Behind the desk, I write in a phased manner. The first phase is ‘song support mode’, where I don’t let myself do MY thing. In my mind, I let master Mark enslave me as his puppet that only follows his steps. Ninety percent of this drumtrack will consist of quarter notes on the hihat/crash with bassdrum and snare hits on the accents of the bass guitar. This is the quick fix, no-risk way of writing what actually works fine most of the time, yet I often find it to sound rather boring and generic. Now that the foundation for the drums are laid down, it’s time for phase two: the visionary phase. I decide what kind of drumtheme fits the song best, in other words: What kind of defining beat and/or fills will set the tone and repeat itself in slight variations throughout the song.

After this ‘mature part’, I’m hungry for the dirty bulking phase. Here I write whatever I want, steal whatever’s available, create my own alternative and program drums I could not have thought of behind my drumkit. I don’t even care if I’m able to play what I write for the drums. The only limits I take into account while programming are the tempo and the fact I only have four limbs. For half the songs on this album, I’ve written drumparts that took me at least a couple sessions to master, mostly coördination wise. The drumintro for Caught in a Loop is a good example. By this way, I push myself to learn and grow as a drummer and to keep it interesting for myself and hopefully, others. At last, when the song is all ripped, shredded, mauled and torn apart with usually just too many drums, the fourth and final phase starts. This is where I get all serious and stuff. I let the song rest for an hour up to a couple of days, then listen back to it and evaluate. I decide if the drums unwantedly steal the attention, if the drumtheme is represented strong enough, if the groove parts actually groove and if the buildup of tension in the drums fits the song structure. I change the drums ’till I think the song is jacked, pumped and buffed up to maximum potential.

When my own evaluation is applied, I send the song with my drumtracks to the rest of the band for evaluation. These drumtracks sound quite realistic with Addictive Drums, making it much easier to evaluate. The critique I get, usually only consists of details, hardly ever about whole parts that need to be rewritten. I think it’s a combination of the freedom we all get to broadcast our identity and my writing style that flows with the rest of the band.

Finally, after all parts are set in stone, we record the final album. Since we’re called Selfmachine it would be logical to keep the programmed drums as they sound perfectly tight like a machine. However, in Selfmachine, a big factor is the groove. The only way to really get the groove going, to make it spicy and crispy like Dorito’s Sensational Salsa and to get it oily, sexy, lazy and laid back like melting dark chocolate, is to play the drums myself. With my semi-selfmade electonic kit made out of a Pearl Rhythm Traveler with mesh heads, DDrum triggers, Yamaha cymbal pads and an Alesis Trigger iO, I record the drums in the form of midi files. These are sent to our mixer Stef Hartog who creates the best sounding drums we can think of. When you compare the effort all musicians have to put in to record their work, I clearly have the easiest job. I only have to deliver a bunch of midi files, but that saves me time to write big bulky blogs like these!

I wanna thank Mark for giving me the freedom to go loose on eleven awesome tracks, Steven for lending me his cymbal pads and the sexy lyrics, Mike for instrumentally writing the most juicy song on the album: iSybian, John for the tight solo’s and Stef for the fat, yet clear sound. Can’t wait to let you guys hear the end result!

- Ben

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