Studio Diary: Hail The Titans

Using Household Objects to Record an Experimental Debut

Hail the Titans just released a great new album, and we recently had a chance to chat with guitarist Josh Carples about…well, some unusual instruments the band used in the studio to capture their signature sound.

What was your pre-production like on this project?

We had recorded a few demo versions of some songs with our friend Joe Collins, but we went into this recording process with very little pre-production. We wanted to let the songs flow and experiment with various sounds and noises.

How does it compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process?

This is actually our first full-length release. We are somewhat of a new band. Our first show was on Halloween 2010.

How did you choose the studio?

After many conversations and questions, [engineer] Chris Lantrip seemed excited to try something different. For us, we got to play around and test out a lot of weird sounds. For him, he got to branch out as an engineer to try different recording techniques. The lack of restrictions allowed everyone to be creative in their respective roles in the recording process.

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

We wanted the recording to sound “big.” We actually recorded drums live without a click track. This allowed us to play with the same energy we would use live, and let the songs flow as we thought they should. Drums were recorded in an office building that allowed us to mic them properly and get a good room sound. Everything else was recorded in various rooms of a house.

Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one?

We used a metal shopping cart for extra percussion in the song “Wave Goodbye to the Shoreline; Hello Giant Squid.” During a noise part of that song, we recorded a lot of odd things – a toaster, live birds, a Jeep ignition, etc.

[see full list for more]

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

We started off with live, full-band takes to capture the energy. Once we had the drums, though, we layered just about everything else, individually. It took a while, but we didn’t want to rush it, and we’re all very happy with the result.

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

I think the only thing we did in the studio that we can’t perform live has to do with layering all the different noises. There is a lot going on in some areas, but it is recorded in such a way that the differences between the recording and the live show will most likely seem minor to most people.

What were the toughest challenges you faced?

The toughest challenge was probably in the mixing stage. We all had input and ideas on what specific parts needed to be louder or quieter. It took a while, and there were a lot of minor changes, but I think that extra time and attention to detail helped us end up with a better product.

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

We have a video of Wes playing drums and singing a song about a king with no underwear. It starts off innocent enough with Trey dancing behind the drum kit, but then he gets a little scared as the song gets more intense. The video is on our YouTube channel, along with other funny videos for each day in the studio. That may have been the same day that Trey ordered his usual chicken fingers and fries from the Mexican restaurant.

Band: Hail the Titans

Album: Hymns of Mare Nostrum

Produced By: Hail the Titans

Recording Studios: Headless Dinosaur Recording (Montgomery, AL)

Mastered By: Jamie Uertz at Sarcophagus Studios (Opelika, AL)

Recording Engineer: Chris Lantrip

Mastering Engineer: Jamie Uertz

Outside Art: Winfred Hawkins

Inside Art: Kevin Sanders

Record Label: Self-released

Release Date: Aug. 26, 2011

Unusual Instruments Used:

Theremin

Dumbbull* (a drum with a braided string attached)

Didgeridoo

Chalice/stainless steel spoon

Chalice, used as a bell, dipped in pan of water

Drumstick on a glass ceiling fan light fixture cover

Bird sounds

Metal shopping cart/night stick

Cell phones

Slide whistle

Glass jar with metal screws

Wine glasses with water

Whamola

2-slice toaster

Ring of keys

Guitar pick on Velcro

Hand saw used on bathroom sink

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