This weekend we started recording our debut album. Finding the right studio and suitable producer isn't always an easy thing; I personally have drummed in a couple projects over the years where the wrong decision has been made and there's a general sense that not everybody (the band, the songwriter, the producer) are on the same page. If you get it wrong, the chances are you're stuck with a recording you're unhappy with (but still having to promote), having blown the budget and not in a position to re-record elsewhere.
However, for this album, Aidy made the decision to go with producer Neil James 'Bugs' Rogers at Half Ton Studios in Cambridge and neither Dave or I disagreed given the studio's impeccable track record. As a producer, Bugs is widely regarded as one of the top guys to work with, and one of his most recent projects was the Travis Waltons debut release which we're all a big fan of.
I've recorded at Half Ton about half a dozen times now, if not more, and have always found it to be a comfortable place to record with a top-notch drum sound. Yet, coming into this weekend I was a little apprehensive - because these songs are so new. Having rehearsed them intensively last week there was no doubting their potential, but when something is so raw, so fresh, it's difficult not to get carried away, not to overplay, not to get over-excited. But I have to say it's all worked out rather well; 'Cannibal' and our title track, 'The British IBM' really, really came to life; but there's moments in all of them, and once all of the bass, guitars, percussion, guest instruments are added to these foundations they could grow into something rather brilliant.
Drum parts for 13 songs were recorded in all, 10 of which will probably end up on the album, leaving the odd b-side or forgotten track. We ended up well ahead of schedule; we'd set aside these two days to get the drums recorded but ended up with half a day spare so Dave laid down about 6 quality bass takes this afternoon. Not that it was all plain sailing, of course - but then again if it was, the chances are we're not pushing ourselves hard enough.
My snare sound was an initial issue (fixed simply by changing from my trusty birch custom snare to a lovely steel Ludwig drum, which I later found out actually belongs to the mighty Ed Higgs - my boss in my day job and an awesome drummer), and there were points were tiredness kicked in; 8 and a half hours of drumming yesterday seemed to take it's toll and I couldn't nail the simplest of beats for 'God's Front Porch' - however my accidental funky groove is now being used anyway. And throughout the whole weekend Bugs has been the perfect producer - full of ideas, aware of what is a 'best take' and when I can push on and really take the beat to another level, honest and understanding of our somewhat unique banter.
These songs, many of which are so very new, have come to life this weekend in the first of what will be quite a few studio sessions for the The British IBM debut release. I would say 'fingers crossed the rest of it works out', but we all know it's pretty much in our own hands anyway - I'm pretty sure we're onto a goodun' though.