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Blog: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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"Huzzah!" say the little tykes and jolly Aunts and Uncles of Earth. "Tis nearly Christmas, which means a new song will be added to The Christmas Selection Box by MJ Hibbett & The Validators!"

I am happy to say that I hope to make the festive dreams of all those scamps and relations come TRUE again this year, even though the process of making it happen has been a RUDDY NIGHTMARE so far.

It didn't START like that, in fact the whole process got off to a thoroughly pleasant start way back in June, when The Validators played at Going Up The Country in Congelton. We discussed ideas for the Christmas song and Mr FA Machine told the story of Roy Wood sitting in The Blue Note in Derby having to put up with people saying "Roy! Do you wish it was Christmas?" This seemed like a FINE idea for a song and, within a week, I had written one.

Time marched on and soon it was November, so a couple of weekends ago I sat myself down and recorded my guitar and vocal parts, using a click track so that everyone else would be able to add their bits on top. I sent this to The Validators and the aforesaid Frankie suggested that I try singing it in a different key. As general MUSICAL DIRECTOR this is the sort of thing he is wont to say, and so I was powerless to disagree. "That'll be fine though," I thought. "In fact it might even be better!" for LO! Mr T Pattison was scheduled to do some DRUMS first, so if I then re-recorded MY bits to HIS drums rather than a click track it would all, if anything, be EVEN GROOVIER.

This is where the problems began. Somehow (possibly something to do with one of us recording at 48hz instead of 44, or vica versa, or not) the drum track Tim sent back was at an entirely different tempo. He'd recorded it along with the mp3 I'd sent him, but the SPEED was different. You can do all sorts of clever things these days to change the tempo or BEATMAP drums, but this was VERY DIFFICULT (or in my case IMPOSSIBLE) to do as the drums neither START nor END at the same time as anything else.

"Oh well," I thought, "It's just a bit quicker and I need to re-record my parts ANYWAY, why not just do it at that speed?"

I then spent an hour or so doing just that, only to find that the MIDDLE of the song had ISSUES, possibly due to either me, Tim, or BOTH of us getting a bit wonky in our playing which made it VERY difficult to play along to. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just play it like this and sort it our later."

Unfortunately, when I tried to sort it out I discovered that I had made things WORSE by playing a THIRD kind of wonky over the original two, so now NOTHING matched anymore. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just divide the drums up into smaller sections, turn THOSE into loops, recreate the entire track from scratch like that THEN re-record my parts."

DEFEATED I emailed Tim back and asked him to have another go, providing a new version of the ORIGINAL recording which I had double triple checked to make sure it was at the right speed. Hopefully THIS time around he and I can get ourselves together, then it's up to the REST of the band to find new and even more exciting ways to make it go AWRY!

What I'm basically saying is, if our Christmas single doesn't come out until FEBRUARY you will at least have been forewarned!

posted 24/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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