How to Record Ass-Kicking ’70s Guitar Rock with a Side of Grunge: In the Studio with The Easy Reasons

“The cool part was turning the challenges into awesome bits – we worked a lot faster than any of us had in the past.”

PRE-PRODUCTION

What was your pre-production like on this project?

Leesa: We wanted to bring the raw energy of the project into the studio, so once we had the basic structure down we were ready to roll.  Not a ton of Pre-Pro with this one; plus we are a new band so there was a sense of urgency to get music out to the masses.

9134028987_c31704521b_bHow did you choose the studio?

Leesa:  Will, our drummer, had a great experience with Pete Weiss in the past…

Will:  I met Pete Weiss because Kingsley Flood recorded their first record with him. [editor’s note – Will is a former member of Kinglsey Flood]. I’ve since had him on several bills at Sally’s with The Weisstronauts. I dug his vibe and thought of him when we were looking for someone to record with. Pete suggested Armory Sound, since he’d just started working out of there.

Pete Z:  When Will presented the opportunity to work with Pete at Armory Sound, the history of the studio and the reputation of Hi-n-Dry were very appealing.  The live room environment and history of the place just put it over the top.

PRODUCTION

What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it? 

Leesa:  We were looking for something raw with good energy. Our song “Piece” is almost ’70s guitar rock inspired, like Sabbath-ish, but the rest of the stuff is very pop orientated; so we needed to marry the two sounds. Pete Weiss did a great job of having everything work together from track to track, in fact so well that we had time to start tracking an extra song.

Pete Z:  From a guitar standpoint, we had this very simple but hard-hitting riff that keeps the song moving forward – I wanted to accent that with some bluesy guitar work, and went for a muted tone to keep it dark.

Even though you’re a relatively new band, do you have previous recording sessions to compare this one to?

Pete Z: It differs from previous sessions in so far as us doing all of the main tracking live.  A very refreshing change of pace, really.

Leesa:  This was my first time tracking live. I was intimidated at first but it ended up going really well (not horrifying) so I was happy with [the end result]. Tracking live gives off a rawer vibe and you get to play off the energy in the room. Plus it saves time which equals saving money – and everyone loves to save money.

9134029961_497342087c_bWhat was your philosophy on live, full-band takes versus individual tracking?

Pete Z:  When I was younger playing in hardcore bands in the Albany area, tracking core tracks live was pretty much the way we did things – mainly for money reasons.  There is an energy there that you just cannot get when everyone is isolated and recording separately.

Leesa: I still think some of the more quite and/or intricate songs might lend themselves to more of the individual tracking method. You get some bleed from mic to mic so it is harder to tweak in post, but overall if you want to bring out the energy and the rock, live recording fits that vibe better

Any special guests on these sessions?

Leesa: YES!! Pete Weiss himself on COWBELL!!

What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?

Leesa:  Get the sound we want. Since we are still rocking smaller clubs you can very rarely get great live sound. Recording most of our tracks live allowed us to keep the energy and ditch the bad house mix. Plus we did a bunch of overdubs on vocals; I am a mastermind at singing the same thing over myself so that was fun, plus Will and Lisa threw down a ton of backing vocals to fill it out.

Pete Z:  I approached the guitar overdubs with a sense of, “How am I going to do this live?” As a result, there are very few layered tracks and primarily just the lead line on top of the riffs, which were all done live.  I did put another guitar layer on the choruses, but compared to other projects, this really is nearly live instrumentally.

What were the toughest challenges you faced?

Leesa:  Time and budget are the biggest challenges. In a perfect world I would love to have a string arrangement and pedal steel on half the stuff I do, but more times than not you are crunched to fit everything into a few days and have to keep it simple.

Pete Z:  The cool part was turning the challenges into awesome bits – we worked a lot faster than any of us had in the past, but the playing was dead on and the live environment came together to give this song the feel that it has.  Win!

9134030583_1de2d181c0_bAny funny stories from the session that you’ll be telling for a while?

Leesa: Lots of candy. Lots of wolf-candy. [editor’s note #2 – dare I ask what wolf-candy is?] Also lots of drinking beer near a trailer out back…oh and we almost crashed a wedding.

POST PRODUCTION

How did you handle final mixing and mastering? 

Leesa: Pete Weiss did the final mix up at his place in Vermont.  Mastering is still underway; we’re working with Patch Hill Mastering for the first time on a recommendation from Pete Weiss.

What are your release plans?

Leesa: We are new so we want to get some tunes in folks hands ASAP. All of this is working its way into being included on a full-length release on vinyl. It would be great if it could be on colored vinyl, because that’s what all the kids want right now. 

Pete Z:  In fact, this whole band is only here to put out a record on vinyl.  That was why we did this in the first place [laughs].

Any special packaging?

Leesa: The most amazing limited edition colored vinyl ever, with maybe a booklet [included] like the new Queens of the Stone Age record, but not until we have enough tracks recorded with Pete Weiss to make a full-length, because that shit ain’t cheap! So yeah you should start donating to us now, because we are going to need a ton of everyone’s money to make out limited edition vinylYou can per-order it; we are accepting cash, credit and checks. You can also send in a suggestion for what color our vinyl should be with your donation.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

  • Recorded at Armory Sound, Somerville, MA (formerly Hi-N-Dry Studio)
  • Engineered by Pete Weiss
  • Assisted by Jeff Gallagher
  • Mixed by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studio, Athens, VT
  • Mastered by Peter Linnane at Patch Hill Mastering

ADDITIONAL RECORDING NOTES

  • -Recorded to Pro Tools through outboard mic preamps including Summit, Sytek, Symmetrix, ART, and True
  • -Microphones included Shure SM7B on guitar, Sennheiser 421 on bass cabinet, AKG C12-VR on vocals.  Drums were mic’d with Shure KSM-32s using a modified “Glyn Johns” technique over the drum kit, and a Shure SM57 and Beta 52 on snare and kick drum, respectively.  A dbx RTA-M omni-directional measurement mic was used in front of the drum kit for overall “glue.”
  • -Mixing was done via Pro Tools HD with Aurora Lynx converters through a 1970s-era Neve 53-series console.  Outboard gear used included an Ecoplate plate reverb (mostly on vocals), Multivox tape echo, Urei and Neve compressors, and a Spectra Sonics 610 “complimiter.”  Mixed directly back into Pro Tools.

KEY GEAR

Pete:

  • -Fender American Standard Telecaster with DiMarzio Fast Track and Cruiser pickups
  • -1985 ProCo Rat Re-Issue Distortion Pedal
  • -Heavy Electronics Ascend Boost Pedal
  • -Fender Deville Amp

Leesa:

  • -Epiphone Les Paul Deluxe
  • -MXR Silicon Fuzz Pedal
  • -Fender Blues Jr. Amp

Lisa:

  • -1980s Fender Stu Hamm Urge Bass
  • -1970s Fender Bassman Amp

For more visit theeasyreasons.com.

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