It was great to welcome The Membranes back to the newly transformed Studio to begin work on the follow up to 2015's critically acclaimed LP 'Dark Energy / Dark Matter'. The last record was recorded and mixed in the last incarnation of Distant City Studios and proved to be a career high for the band so it was exciting to have them back and get them setup in the much improved new facility.
As with the last record the key factor was to get the guys happy with their setup and foldback so that they could get into the flow of creating a vibe and getting the tracks down whilst the magic was happening.
Drummer Rob Haynes setup in the Drum Room. After the usual multi miking setup and experimenting with bits of compression on the room microphones fixed to the retractable ceiling we then took advantage of being able adjust the ceiling height to find a sweet spot for the overall drum sound. We eventually settled on a mid to high position for the ceiling which gave the drums plenty of size but still enough definition.
Vocalist & Bassist John Robb has a signature driving bass sound which is the foundation for The Membranes sound and therefore very important to capture accurately. Using John's trusty 'Brother John' Marshall Super Bass 100 Head through a Marshall 4 x 12 Bass Cab set up in 'The Club" we eventually settled on a 3 pronged mic attack consisting of a Sennheiser MD 441, Electovoice PL20 and an AEA R84 to cover the top middle and bottom respectively. These then went straight into the desk via the SSL Pre Amps & EQ with a little bit of added 1176 compression to add more bite.
After experimenting with a few amp & microphone options for guitarist Peter Byrchmore, we eventually settled on a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe close miked with a Royer 122 and with a Royer 121 further away picking up more of the room ambience of the wood panelled Live Room. The Royers proved to be the perfect choice for coping with the snarl and presence of Peter's guitar sound. We also used the same room and close mic combination to track 2nd guitarist Nick Brown's Vox Amp.
The bulk of the weekend was about laying the foundations for the eagerly anticipated new record and as ever the band had a very open minded and experimental outlook in finding new sounds for the record. This included recording percussive parts on a milk churn and even some 'brass' parts played via the extension hose of a Dyson hoover! Plenty more work to be done on the record yet (including recording the BIMM choir on a few tracks) but a great start so far and I'm really looking forward to working more on the rest of the album.