Over the weekend I switched hats to indulge in some serious vintage analog style recording at the Hangar Studios in Sacramento. I’ve been to this facility many times, but this was the first time I’ve had the pleasure of working in the space.
For over a year now, I’ve been helping my friend, Goh Nakamura try to find a recording style that suited his music. Obviously with a strong Beatles influence, the Revolution REDD and RS have been instrumental in achieving the tone Goh wanted for his next album, and after months of experimenting we were ready to finally get this project recorded (to pro tools - but we seriously contemplated the use of tape!)
After months of writing and home recording the base tracks of his new material, Goh and I planned to get his tracks recorded. Goh’s first album Daylight Savings is basically a home recording session of voice and acoustic guitar. The arrangements are very well done, and the unpolished feel adds to the charm of the album. This new project is much different as Goh has been working with other musicians including drummer, Tim Bulkley, Bassist Justin Miller, and pianist Adam Shulman.
Bryce Gonzales engineered our session using a variety mics including some great RCA and Coles ribbon mics. On vocals we used the Wunder Audio CM-7, a U-47 clone, running through the REDD.47 into a RS-124 into a UA 2192 converter. This was the magic signal path! Tim Bulkley had a procured a vintage 1950s Gretch kit with a killer tone, and with the acoustics of the Hanger space, we nailed a great drum sound using a vintage AKG D12 (into a V72) and an AKG D19 running through another Revolution REDD.47 mic pre. We even had to apply some tea towels to balance the levels.
Bryce set up Justin with an old Ampeg flip-top, and employed a prototype of his custom guitar head for Goh’s electric guitar parts. Adam was set up with several keyboards including a Rhodes Eighty-Eight, an old Wurlitzer, and even an Arp Odyssey. The Odyssey was a bit worn down and had some broken sliders (like most arps) but i managed to program a few cool patches on it. I also used some moogerfoogers on the electric pianos which were fed into a fender twin. Adam even worked in a pump organ part on one of the tracks.
On the second day of recording, some of Goh and Tim’s bandmates, Sadie and Han from The Invisible Cities, dropped in an added backing vocals to the tracks. Again we used that CM7 and had Goh and Sadie position themselves at different distances to balance the levels while we tracked them on the same microphone. On a different song we set up a little chorus of five on the mic.
The Hangar is simply a great sounding room, and with the great mics at our disposal we were able to get a sound worthy of the musicial skill of the guys performing. In two days we recorded 9 tracks; however one track was just an impromptu jam session - i punched record while the guys were fooling around and it sounded great. Bryce did a great job with the tracking. We may have spent a little too much time getting mic placements, but mixing this album is going to be easy because of our initial efforts.
Coincidentally, this session happened just as Goh’s Video for “Embarcadero Blues” was featured on YouTube. In a matter of days, his music has been heard by hundreds of thousands of people, and so this new album seems to be coming at a most opportune time. Goh’s PR man, Gary Chou, was busy taking photos and video of the session, and I taped a bit of the behind the scenes action and posted it up: