Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson
GOTH-ROCKERS BRING IN ELECTRONIC STYLINGS FOR SELF-TITLED OUTING
TAKE UPON TAKE UPON TAKE
Still, even with all the layering of parts (we’ll get to that momentarily), it was important for Raskulinecz and Fig that the base of the album be completely performance-oriented. “It wasn’t, ‘Play it once or twice and go have a snack; I’ll sit here and edit it for the next five hours,’” Raskulinecz says with a chuckle. “It was more like, ‘That was all right. Let’s do it again—take 25.’ It was lots of takes and comping from there, and then going back and punching in.
“The way we did it is we made stripes for everything. We would get scratch guitar, scratch bass and scratch vocals just with a click, and then we would track the drums to that.”
Adds engineer Fig, “Nick likes to concentrate on the performance, so it’s usually beginning to end. If there are tough sections, maybe we’ll come in halfway. Generally we’ll have six or seven playlists of drums we like and we’ll comp something together from those performances. But he really doesn’t want it to sound like somebody chopped it up and then slapped it together.” Hunt plays a 26-inch kick drum, which Fig miked with a Sennheiser e 602 on one side and a FET 47 on the other. Toms were captured with AKG 451s set in hypercardioid.
Lee would sing her scratch vocals in the control room of Blackbird Studio D, without headphones, through a Shure SM7. “When we did the vocals for real, obviously we did it differently,” Raskulinecz notes. “She’s an amazing singer—she can sing all day long.” Fig: “There were a couple of days when Nick had to be somewhere else and I was working with her on vocals and I was worried maybe I was pushing her too hard. But she’s like an athlete. She stepped to the plate and hit it out of the park.”
Raskulinecz and Fig did a shootout to choose the right vocal mic for Lee—the winner was a long-body Neumann U47 that is, coincidentally, Blackbird owner John McBride’s favorite U47. (Fig: “That mic was mind-blowing—it could handle anything she could belt at it.”) That was used for all of Lee’s leads; her backing vocals—and there are many of them—went through a Telefunken 251. “Amy is really singing at the highest level possible,” Raskulinecz offers. “Some of those songs have 30 to 40 tracks of vocals, easily: Lead vocal, doubled in spots, tripled in spots, then the choruses are all tripled and the harmonies are all tripled and then there are overlapping vocals, ones that weave in and out of each other.” And the rest of the vocal chain? Sorry, Fig says, “That’s Nick’s personal chain.” Trade secret, apparently.
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