Another month is coming to an end, another Amoral Times in the inbox... The recording of album number 7 is still going strong, and naturally that's what's been keeping us busy this past month. I decided to write a column for this issue about recording at home (which is what we're doing) versus recording in a regular, professional studio. There's also updates on how the album is coming along in that column, so read on...
Some of you have been asking about studio videos: yes, we are filming the process, but these videos will be edited and releleased later. Right now, the best way to keep up with our doings is to follow our Instagram account. It's a fast and easy way for us to let you know what we're up to, in real time.
Enjoy the spring people!
Making albums: it's not what it used to be! And that's not just a bad thing either. Whereas in the days of old, to get a good-sounding recording of yourself, you had to book yourself into a highly expensive professional recording studio. You know, one of those that has the huge mixing console, large, acoustically treated rooms and tons of cable running all over the place. But with the technology we have at our diposal these days, you can get amazing results with a laptop and some microphones right in your bedroom. Of course it's not that simple: first of all, you need to know what you're doing. Then again, trial and error is much cheaper at home, compared to a 650-euros-a-day studio...
With Amoral, we did our first five albums at a recording studio, from start to finish. We'd simply show up, (hopefully) well-rehearsed, set up our own instruments, and let the engineer take care of everything else besides playing: the miking of the instruments, making sure the signal is clean, and operating the recording itself. Now, this is awesome. It's a great thing to be able to focus entirely on playing, and nothing else. But it's also expensive, as you're paying for every minute, both for the studio as well as the engineer. So When we begun planning our 6th album ”Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows”, we started toying with the idea of doing a big part of the work ourselves, at home. Since it's guitars that take the most time in recording an Amoral album (there's just a lot of them recorded on each song, with multiple rhythm tracks, solos and little additional parts to beef up the sound), that's the most obvious part to save money by recording them yourself. Especially as you don't really need a studio for recording guitars: you can pretty much just plug in into the computer and record your guitar signal, and ”re-amp” (run that signal through a real guitar amp) the guitars later. Same thing with bass. So we ended up doing just that, recording the stringed instruments at home. The drums we still went to Sound Supreme to record, as drums truly benefit from a good-sounding, large studio room. And besides, it takes Juffi two and a half days to record the drum parts for an album, so it's not that big of an investment!
It did take some trial and error recording that album, as it was our first done this way. For example, the guitar signal was not being recorded as clean as we thought, which we found out only once reamping the tracks through amps at full volume. But luckily Janne Saksa (who mixed it) managed to eliminate most of the annoying hiss. But still, it went well enough for us to decide early on that the next album would be done largely at home also. Only this time, we'd record all the vocals on our own as well. Having Marco Hietala produce Ari's vocals last time was a great experience, but I was confident that after working with Ari for many albums, we'd do a good job on our own. You'll be the judge of that once the album is out!
Since the recording of ”Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows” I've moved from an apartment to a house, where I have a small studio set up in the basement, so recording at home has become even more convenient. For example, we can have Ari sing at full volume at 1:30am without bothering anyone, or record acoustic guitars without having the sound of the neighbor having sex coming through the walls (I had a ”loud” neighbor at the old apartment).
Once we got back from Hämeenlinna with Juffi, drum tracks in the can, I opened the drum files on my Pro Tools recording system and begun tracking rhythm guitars. Masi took a week off from work, during which we recorded his guitar parts and keyboards, and also conducted all kinds of weird sound experiments together, many of which led to cool end results. Masi, the co-producer of this album, has been showing up at the basement studio alot all along the process, to help out, record my acoustic parts, add things to the songs and listen to what I've done on my own. Niko also came over a few times to record his guitar parts, which went smooth as silk.
Once most of the guitars and keyboards were done, it was time for Pexi to begin doing his bass parts. With his trusty white Charvel custom shop bass, he showed up during the evenings for low-frequency fun, and now the bass tracks are done as well.
We begun recording Ari's vocals last week, and, if all goes well, he should also be done by thursday. Niko will unleash his sounds of doom in early May. I'm working on the solos on ”days off”, and we still have this crazy three-way guitar battle to record with Masi and Niko. But the ”to-do-list” on the wall keeps getting filled with X's, and the songs are beginning to sound like actual songs!
Masi took it upon himself to try and realize my orchestral arrangements on two of the tracks with with actual players and performances, instead of using programmed orchestras as we've done before. Masi can play some of the instruments needed himself, and has friends in that field who might be able to provide the rest. I can't wait to hear the results, as of course it would be great to have the real thing instead of programmed instruments!
We revealed earlier that this album is gonna have a bunch of special guests on it. Whereas on the last few Amoral albums we've done all the playing pretty much amongst ourselves, this time around we wanted to try something new and collaborate more with different artists. We also wanted to incorporate more percussive elements to the songs. We had the pleasure of getting famous Finnish percussionist Teho Majamäki to play on two of the songs, and I'm about to fly to Paris in two weeks to record Acyl singer Amine for another tune. We became great friends with the Acyl guys on the Dark Tranquillity tour last year, so it's gonna be great having Amine on the album, not only on percussion but also with a small vocal part.
We have some other vocal guest appearences lined up amonst other things, but more on that later. All in all I'm really excited about this album, and about having these talented people participate on it. With Niko back in the band with us, and these speacial guests giving the songs their own little twists, you can yet again expect something different from us with this album!
Okay, I've wandered way off from my original ”recording at home VS a real studio” topic... I still love going to a ”real” studio. I love to be able to focus on my guitar only, and let others handle all the technicalities. But at the same time, recording these last two albums has been a very enjoyable experience, even if it's been a lot of work too. It's been great getting to mess around with sounds with Masi, without having to stress about the ”meter running” as in an expensive studio. It's been cool learning as we go along, realizing that a lot of what I've thought only ”professionals” can do, we can do ourselves, and do well! And it's been great having more time overall for the whole project. Having time to listen to what we've done, maybe change something, or add a part. You don't really have that luxury when you're doing it all in three weeks in a studio. I hope this ”anti-stress” way of working will be audible on the album itself.
TICKETS FOR THE TUSKA AFTERPARTY ON SALE NOW
The tickets for our first-ever six-piece show are on sale now! Join us at Virgin Oil Co, Helsinki on saturday the 27th of June for one of Tuska Festival's official after parties! Also performing are Essence from Denmark and Euge Valovirta led All-Star lineup playing all sorts of metal goodies, and featuring Ben on guitar!
Get your tickets from Tiketti.