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Blog: Overdubs In Derby

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I was back in leafy DERBY on Thursday, recording my second batch of guitar and vocals for the new Validators album.

I arrived at Snug just after noon to find Mr R Collins ready and waiting to ROCK. We kicked off with the guitar overdubs, breezing through Can We Be Friends? (which is rapidly becoming my new favourite) before reaching a Very Precedented Difficulty on History's Re-Written i.e. the fact that our guitar player can't play barre chords. Who is this fool oh yes it is me. The start of the song has STRUMS but, due to my low level competence, I was having to LEAP from one to the next rather than gently sliding along the fretboard, so we had to record it in two sections - firstly doing the first and third chords in the sequence, then the second and fourth as a seperate track. Thank heavens for TECHNOLOGY!

We had another competency issue with In The North Stand, although this time it wasn't just down to me! The song starts with Just Guitar, which I'd played (correctly!) along to a click track. However, when the band all come in after the first verse we do so at a SLIGHTLY different speed, due to the fact that We Fear Click Tracks. "It does Ebb and Flow" said Rich, tactfully. He CUNNINGLY re-timed the click to match the ACTUAL speed we did it at, so that when I then re-did the guitar it all sounded CORRECT. Hoorah!

Even MORE issues arose with The Future Is Amazing, tho again not wholly down to me. The guitar was BUZZING slightly when I played a D, and after checking for User Error Rich suggested we put a capo on the guitar and play the chords higher up to avoid this happening. Nothing could be simpler for someone who's spent a small portion of his 20 years in bands actually learning to play properly, but for ME this involved 15 minutes of MY BRANE DISSSOLVING as I tried to transpose a song I don't actually know very well to start with!

We had one song left to do after all that, and this was the one I'd been saving until last because I thought it might be difficult!! The ever polite Mr Collins described Get Over It as "a bit chaotic", others might more accurately label it "a right old racket", but astonishingly, once we got going, I found it PEASY. It has vast weird gaps and sounds like a pack of wolves drunkenly attacking the bin outside a music shop, but as I played along I realised that, possibly for the first time ever, we had recorded a band song in EXACTLY the style I usually play my solo stuff! In the verses I merrily BASHED AWAY at the guitar as if it had wronged me, while the chorus had this weird KIND OF off beat, KIND OF wrong beat, KIND OF stupid way of playing that I use when I get bored of my usual LOUD playing.

I found it a joy to play, and so when we moved to vocals I did that one first. Again: PEASY. It has HUGE entirely differently lengthed GAPS throughout, but once Rich put the guide vocals in I found I could sing along with my own timings easily. It's almost as if there is some method in my idiocy! In fact, all the vocals were fun to do, due in no small part to the TACTFUL working methods of Mr Collins. He has a GRATE system where I sing along to a bit of the track to get the levels/remember how it goes, then do one complete take of the whole song. Then I do ANOTHER complete take, straight away, and wander back into the control room where he goes through it line by line, picking the best version of each. Finally, where there's no "best" ("listenable") version of certain bits I go back in and re-do them until they're OK. It's a lovely way to do it because I know I can always have another go, but also get to enjoy singing the whole song a couple of times and get properly into it.

The only song I didn't have time to do in this way was In The North Stand, although I did do another GUIDE to go with the new intro. That's all right though - as well as Emma doing her backing vocals we've easily got a day's worth of bits and bobs to do (e.g. a couple more violin tracks, a bit more guitar, hopefully TRUMPET) so we can do my last bit of singing then.

I left the building EXTREMELY happy with my work, and trooped across town to meet Mr FA Machine in The Alexandra Hotel for a Cheeky Pint. "Ooh, I've always dreamed of popping in here on my way home from work, but it seemed a bit sad to come in on your own," he said. I was glad that - YET AGAIN - i was making his dreams come true, but did suggest he keep his voice down as the room was FULL of people who had very much come in on their own!

It was a delightful end to a marvellous day, and hopefully the start of a Summer Of Occasional Validation. We've got this (pretty GRATE) sounding album to finish off, and in three weeks we're together again in Congelton for Going Up The Country! I can't wait!

posted 22/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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