ALL SHALL BE WELL (and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well)

Transmissions from a World War II bunker (day 1)

July 8, 2019

“And now we wait”

There it was, the moment was finally here. After recording guitar guide tracks and tweaking the final song to be on the album the week before, recording would begin. Accompanied by the morning sun we gathered in front of our rehearsal space on Wednesday, June 25. The day before we already packed all the gear we own, which is a lot. Now we only had to put it all in a van and two more cars (did I say we own a lot of stuff?) and drive a short 30 minutes to the studio, which is located in an old torpedo bunker the Germans built during World War II (yes, really). Not a bad choice of location for scorching hot summer days. Our studio was nice and cool the whole time.

The bunker is now the home to 18 rehearsal spaces, more than 30 bands and a recording studio. The latter, of course, the reason why we were here. Filled with anticipation we waited outside for Henk (who will make another appearance later in the story), who runs the studio. Excited to start our five days of recording! After a slight communication mishap (are we so not rock and roll that we actually arrived an hour early????) we shifted our focus quickly and unloaded all of our stuff and put everything in the right place, as decided ahead of time with our producer/engineer Mart. As good a time as any to introduce Mart:

Mart, our employee of the week, working the controls

Sometimes the recording process is hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through it themselves. The fact that we didn’t record a single note on Day 1 understandably raises questions like “what did you do all day?” and “isn’t that really boring?”.

So what did we do that day? This is how we had everything scheduled beforehand:

  • Day 1: Set-up drums and bass guitar. Mic the hell out of those drums (16 mics) and bass amp (3 mics). Patch all those mics to the sound board. Sound check drums and bass guitar and record the first song.
  • Day 2: Record bass guitar and drums
  • Day 3: Finish recording bass guitar and drums. Set up guitar amps and mic the shit out of those too. Sound check guitars
  • Day 4: Record guitars
  • Day 5: Finish recording guitars, break everything down and bring all our gear back to our rehearsal space.

Unfortunately anyone who has ever set foot in a recording studio knows: you can plan all you want, it will never pan out as you want it to.

We setup the drums and bass guitar quite quickly after making sure the drum kit was in the exact right location in the studio, to achieve the best sound and prevent flutter (add that to you musical vocabulary to impress all your music loving friend boys and girls).

Where we lost valuable time though is making sure all the mics (23 in total for drums and bass guitar) that were used were patched to the sound board in the right way so when we actually started recording, our technician Mart would have everything in the right order to make it sound as great as possible. This is very precise work and therefore takes up some time. Especially when hardware is acting like hardware and software like software and will inexplicably not work sometimes. But in the end, nothing a good old hard reboot couldn’t fix.

During all of this Niels (who in another life used to be the guitar tech for Life of Agony during their European tours) made sure all of our guitars were cleaned, given a fresh set of strings and adjusted to perfection.

Bas and Joene were kind enough to provide a steady stream of sandwiches, coffee and snacks to keep us energised. Meanwhile Vincent, Joene en Mart were comparing snare drum sounds, because, why have one snare drum in the studio, when you can have three. Terpstra Muziek Drumland was kind enough to lend Vincent some additional snares to make sure he would have the sound he liked. Funny enough, we ended up using Vincent’s own snare drum.

At the end of the day 1 we managed to finish sound checking Vincent’s drum kit, and we have to admit, it sounded awesome: so much energy! But the end of the day was already there, and there was no time to do any actual recording. We still had to sound check the bass guitar, which was now scheduled for the morning of day 2. This of course meant we were already behind on our already ambitious recording schedule.

Cliffhanger alert

Did we still make up for lost time and finish recording everything? Make sure you tune in for our next blog post to get a step closer to the answer.