Joel’s already written about some of the things he’s found challenging since we started the process of writing and recording our new album (to be fair we could probably all write a book about that, starting with a long list of why I’m quite such a bitch in rehearsals…) but I thought I’d counter that with some of the things I enjoy about it.
It’s all about the music, maaaan. The past year has been intense. Not only has it been the most creative period we’ve ever had as a band, it’s also been the most hard work. At the same time as coming out with what are some of the best songs we’ve ever written, there have also been moments when I’ve been ready to kill the other guys in the band – and I’m sure they could say exactly the same thing about me.
But when I listen to the new tracks we’ve written and see how well they go down at gigs with our fans, I forget the long hours in the studio, the carping about timekeeping (and timing), the frustration and the farting. Well, maybe not the farting…
When the plan comes together. I love the moment when we sit down and listen to a rough mix of a track and it works. Everyone’s parts fit together, the vocal sounds great (and I suddenly figure out what Chandy’s actually singing about), it’s got a groove, and we sounds like a proper band.
In the same way that you can never hear exactly what your own voice sounds like, it’s really hard to actually tell what your own band sounds like until you hear it recorded (and no, crappy gig footage doesn’t count). At practices or gigs, there’s always something to distract me from actually listening properly, whether it’s concentrating on playing my parts, a dodgy monitor mix, or being stuck right next to Scott’s crash cymbal.
So it’s fun to suddenly be able to hear all the little embellishments – a cheeky little guitar riff from Chemise, a slick tabla fill from Amit, a snare roll from Scott, the intricacies of Mel’s basslines, a neat sitar twiddle from Joel or a clever turn of phrase in Chandy’s lyrics – that normally pass me by.
The rogue snippets. The way we record in the studio, we tend to lay down guide tracks with most of the band, then record our individual parts again over the top. This leads to some interesting rogue snippets of speech sneaking their way into the recordings.
While I was trying to record a clarinet part last week I could hear Joel shouting “F***ing stupid c***!” over the intro to the track. Turns out he was shouting “F***ing stupid count!”, complaining about the way Scott was counting us in. Luckily – or perhaps unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint- this kind of thing usually gets cut out in the final mix. In one of our very early recordings you can distinctly hear Chandy counting during an instrumental break – I leave it as an exercise for our more dedicated fans to track down which track.
The biscuits. Sunday Driver are probably the most rock and roll band ever, existing on a diet of tea, biscuits, Pot Noodles (dirty!) and reheated curry. Everybody knows that biscuits in recording studios have had all the calories blasted out of them by the ear-searing blasts of accidental feedback.
Quality knitting time. Being in a recording studio involves an awful lot of sitting around doing nothing. Sure I have to go and record a track every so often, but mostly it’s just hanging about. I managed to knit the best part of a pair of socks in just a couple of days of recording last week. I’m hoping to achieve a whole sweater when we finally get in the studio for a whole fortnight in April.