In the Studio – week 2

After a good sleep after my Friday gig, I rehearsed all Saturday, Sunday and Monday then was back in the studio on Tuesday for another 3 days. I had my ups (e.g. the added vocals on “Scots Wha Hae”, the harmony whistle solo on “fields of Athenry”) and downs (I was rustier on the bass than I thought) – there were times where I thought I would never get a track right, then as if by magic (usually a break and a cup of coffee did the trick) I’d nail the part which was stumping me and we’d be off and running again.

As the songs built I really appreciated how Kevin listened to music. A lot of folk songs have people all jangling along playing the same thing on different (or sometimes the same) instruments. Kevin was pushing me to “keep mixing it up” so that each instrument was clear and each part complimented the one before. He was also placing the sound in the stereo mix so that if you closed your eyes you could hear where the bass player, 12 string guitarist, singer etc were standing in a semi-circle facing you. There were some things he said would crack me up – my favorite was on the banjo – “I love it when that stops”. I laughed as Dorothy (my wife) always loved it when the banjo stopped – or didn’t even start 🙂 (my daughter Valerie’s (cruel) comment was the best sound ever is the sound the bagpipe makes when a banjo hits it when it lands in a dumpster).
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Kevin actually quite liked the banjo – what he meant was the sound contrast it gave when instruments would come in, then go out, then come in again… adding color to the sound.

By the end of the 2nd week I had pretty much done every track, but I needed an extra day to finish loose ends and tidy up things which we said we would come back to.

One of those things we came back to was trying to create a feeling of being more in a live setting – but without the background noise, chinking of glasses and uproarious laughter. So I invited people to come along to the audio one Saturday morning. They were my wife Dorothy, my son Kyle (who just arrived back from Japan that morning), daughter Valerie, Valerie’s husband Shady, Shady’s mum, Christine, our good friends (and Irish music lovers) Fergus and Sarah with their daughters Niamh and Siobhain, with me that made 10 “clappers and joiner-inners”. It was a lot of fun, everyone was very impressed by the studio, everyone got headphones (except Sarah – but she was good enough to manage without). I thought it was hilarious when the joking stopped and everyone realized (as we all do in that moment before recording) the “ooops, this is serious, it’s being recorded, immortalized!” I have never seen such concentration on people who would normally be laughing and clapping along casually at a gig. Shady and Kyle became extra animated as they stamped their feet and clapped intent on making maximum noise and being right on the beat. This wee clip that Fergus magically recorded (edited and produced) on his iPhone does a nice job of capturing the mood.

 The “Clappy Clappers”

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