making of the Tasman Bridge album (Folk Rock)
Here’s another post in the ‘ Making of… ‘ series -this time it’s about the album Tasman Bridge. I’ve had a few people asking how we managed to get it happening, given Paul and I live in different countries…..
(Ad break 😉 ….Tasman Bridge is available @: http://petepascoe.bandcamp.com/album/tasman-bridge )
Here’s how it came about…
Paul Dredge and I wrote most of the Tasman bridge songs in this manner : I wrote all the lyrics (except ‘Today Is A Gift’ -lyrics by Paul ) , and wrote music to either a verse or a chorus for half of them. I sent the whole lot over to Paul in NZ. He wrote (the music to) a verse or chorus in answer to the ones I started and wrote (the music to ) a verse or chorus to the other lyrics.(Got that? -we bounced ’em back and forth across the Tasman Ocean -hence the album name )
‘Blue Sky Day’ video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4bc0L0IY0o * You get a sense of the ‘relaxed vibe’ of how it feels when we perform together.. I think this comes through on Tasman Bridge.
Via skype, I recorded Paul singing (and playing guitar) his bits and pieces (plugged the headphone jack of the computer into my recording gear : protools digital studio) . Once he’d gone, I played along with his parts (while recording) and then just played and sang my bits. The digital age certainly has it’s moments. Really great fun -we were both so pushed for time that whatever came through at the time was what we went with. So the songs were written very quickly- this process fitted our usual songwriting style and added to the immediacy of the album, I think. The next best thing to being in the same room writing.
Paul wrote the music for the chorus and bridge in answer to my verses on ‘Nowhere/Now here – video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lymwx0WYXCk *
Next, I did a mix of the roughly ‘stitched together’ recordings, sent them off to Paul for him to have a listen, get to know the songs a bit.
Paul came over with his family for a week. Once the kids were all in bed, we went into the studio and recorded 2 or 3 songs each evening.
When it came to recording, we decided to sing the parts we’d written (because we knew our own parts so well) , so it became a sort of ‘call and answer’ album. If you listen , now knowing how we wrote the songs , you can hear quite clearly who wrote what bit. I suppose the process was more obvious on some of the tracks- eg, See the video for ‘Lone Tree’ : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fCrwBrC3ZE * I wrote the slightly quicker sections where we sing together, in answer to Paul’s ‘If you left me….’ bits. Actually, I’m not 100% sure which part is a verse or which is the chorus on this song. (With this video I had in mind to echo the album cover : sepia and close up half cropped heads).
Generally, both vocals + piano and acoustic guitar were recorded all at once,without any separation (due to the limitations of my recording studio). So the heat was on to catch a performance (if one of us mucked it up that’d be no good because you’d hear it on one of the mics).
So the result is quite a warm, honest, intimate recording , with us in singer/songwriter mode. We’ve performed 1000s of gigs this way in the past, in NZ, so the process actually felt quite natural.
We only played to a ‘click’ track (on the headphones) on the songs which we wanted to add drums (4 tracks).Paul added bass guitar, electric guitar, (harp) harmonica and the drums which he played all in one quick session back to back.
Once Paul had gone back to NZ, I added a few (hopefully subtle) string pads and organs. Keeping with the spirit of the recording I hit record & played whatever came instinctively to me in the moment.
Then I mixed the album. No pitch correction. What you hear is how it went down.
I love the immediacy of recording like this. Sure, as always, it’d be great to have a ‘real’ album budget and really take our time in a ‘big’ studio…one day we’ll pick out all our favourites and do exactly that.
This is my first effort at recording, producing and mixing an album ‘properly’ ( In the past weve recorded 5 albums on an old 4 track machine… but thats a story for another day. (‘4 tracking’ is a great way to learn a whole lot about recording). It was a big call to get this album down in a few evenings but I’m so pleased we did it.
* I made these videos recently. Paul was in town again so we filmed ourselves singing along with the album, which I edited and then added the images.