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.

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