Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Break: Day One

According to JetBlue’s LiveMap channel (channel 013), I am currently flying at a speed of 439 miles per hour, and at an altitude of 33,673 feet. And according to prior research, I should be landing at LAX airport in about four hours.
I’m hoping this Spring Break gives me the opportunity to catch up on some blog posts. I’ve really been yearning to write. Let’s start with The Dandy Lions.

This is the second time I’ve written about The Dandy Lions in my blog. The first was documenting what would end up being The Dandy Lions’ 3rd failed attempt at recording an album (which you can find here.) I really can’t imagine why; brother/sister frontmen Dante and Lena Deleo are two of the most genuine people I know, a quality which often seems like a rarity in the music world. 

It’s difficult to write a blog post about music without music, but I suppose this one, (like most of them) will have to suffice with writing and photographs. I’ll give them a talking to, and see if they’ll let me post a sound clip…

***WARNING*** You are now entering “The Gearhead Portion” of this blog post.***

Since the first time I saw The Dandy Lions perform Freshman year, (this was before I had a beard,) there has always been a live, spontaneous quality to their music that I love. I knew from the start that I wanted to be involved; I wanted to capture it in the studio.

The first step in doing so was ensuring we all played live. And so before we set foot in the studio, we rehearsed. A lot. Once we felt the performances were ready, we had to make sure the sound of the actual recording was going to be fitting.

In order to keep this blog post from being a novel (it’s already absurdly long) I’d like to stick to the recording of the drums, as everything else was approached more or less the same as usual. In keeping with the live, spontaneous quality of The Dandy Lions that caught my attention to begin with, I used a variation of the Glyn Johns technique, using only four microphones, and relying on the sound of the drumset as a whole.

The first microphone used was a 1950s RCA 77DX ribbon microphone, placed about six feet in front of the drumset, at roughly the height of the snare drum. Ribbon microphones, by nature, have a dark, gritty sound to them that can be quite fantastic.

However, this microphone alone sounded too unfocused, and so a second room microphone was used for clarity's sake. This microphone was a GrooveTube 66 tube microphone, and was placed behind/to the right of the drummer, equidistant from the snare drum as the ribbon microphone in front of the drumset.

Contrary to the ribbon microphone, this microphone is bright and crystal clear; mixed with the ribbon microphone, the drums sounded glorious. As an insurance policy (in case the balance or tone of the drums needed tweaking) I placed a microphone (Shure SM57) on the snare drum, and another microphone (Sennheiser MD421) about a foot and a half away from the bass drum, facing it.