Boys And Their Toys!
This weekend I’m at Leopard Studio with PROVAN. As our previous guitar tracking sessions have been less than fruitful for a variety of reasons, from failing guitar amps to poor monitoring conditions, we finally decided to come back to Leopard where we have gotten proven results before. In search of the ultimate guitar tones we have pulled out all the toys and borrowed even more. For amps, Joe and Bill brought their usual fare, the Roland Bolt and Fender Prosonic. They also borrowed a vintage Vox AC-15 and a Little Lanilei. In addition, I borrowed 2 amps; a small Supro, and a Marshall JCM-800 with 4x12 Peavy cab.
They brought 8 different guitars, and I brought along my own Fender Strat just for good measure (six amps, nine guitars). As if that won’t provide enough variables, they also borrowed several very eclectic pedal effects, from hand made fuzz boxes to a Korg multi-effect pedal. In all we counted 29 pedals.
We brought several of our own mics too; The famous Oktava ML-52 ribbon, a pair of Oktava MK-012 condensers, the Blue Dragonfly, and my dad’s Altec 639-B “Birdcage”.
While they were setting all this up I was freaking out over a problem with their hard disc drive, which stubbornly would not mount to the computer’s desk top. I called my favorite computer tech (woke him up) and explained the problem. Eventually, after much plugging, unplugging and disc utilities, the drive mounted, though the cause of the problem, and the solution still remains a mystery. Needless to say we backed everything up to another drive immediately.
By sometime after noon we were ready to start getting sounds and do some tracking. At least we thought so. We got a good tone with the Bolt for the first track but after a couple of takes it became clear that the bass we recorded weeks ago was somewhat suspect for tuning issues. Undaunted, we went online and downloaded a demo version of the Antares Autotune plug-in and bounced the bass tracks through it.
Finally we got the bass track’s pitch issues under control (thank God for the internet). We began tracking guitars (that is, after all, what we came to do!) and as is the case with most guitar tracking sessions it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration (or something like that…Joe said “the inspiration happened so long ago I don’t know what the ratio is”). Thankfully Bill and Joe both had the intonation set ups done on all their guitars. Still it’s a constant battle to keep an axe in tune, even good solid Fenders like the ones they play.
Whoever said “good enough for Rock N Roll” never actually recorded a Rock N Roll record. Granted, Provan’s music isn’t your garden variety Big Dumb Rock sound. In fact the music they write is deceptively complicated and the guitars interweave in unusual ways making it quite challenging (both to play and to record). Observing the process an outsider or non-musician might wonder how we ever get anything done at all. But to be sure the end result is always something we’re all very proud of, so we persevere.