Recording an EP: rehearsals

Having recorded the demos and shared them with drummer Niall, the next stage was to book some rehearsals to further shape the songs and work out drum parts ahead of the studio recording sessions. We had three rehearsal sessions at the excellent Tazma Studios in Exeter, with the final session taking place in early September 2018. I took my R16 digital recorder with me so that we could easily jot down new ideas and listen back afterwards. You can hear a clip of Politic Blues from the second rehearsal below (and see how this compares to the original demo).

I was nervous about these sessions for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was just me and Niall going into a rehearsal studio to work up the demos into more complete songs. How good would they sound with just two of us playing? Would we get bored over a three hour session? Would we feel enthused (or nervous?) about the subsequent recording sessions for the EP? As someone who grew up playing and writing music in bands of four or five people, the whole thing felt pretty daunting. Secondly, I felt that this was a crucial step in the whole process, sort of “make or break” for these ideas that I’d developed over a number of years.

So what did you do at the sessions? We established the rough tempo (speed) and drum beats for the different tracks. We also worked on the song formats – deciding how long some of the instrumental sections should be and making other changes. Niall suggested that we go with a “teaser” short first chorus for In The Night and to keep the chorus groove going to the end of the song, rather than returning to the verse. We also decided that Chasing Butterflies needed a new section – a sort of “musical interlude” – before the final chorus. I tried to write something to evoke images of Butterfly wings for that part, so look out for that in later posts and let me know if you think I succeeded (or not!).

The rehearsals actually turned out to be a really fun part of the whole process. It was great working with Niall on the tracks and it was during these sessions that I think we made the transition from having a bunch of basic ideas to a collection of completed songs. Drums have always been an important part of the music I grew up with and many of my favourite records are built on great drum sounds (e.g. Vs by Pearl Jam and Blood Sugar Sex Magick by the Red Hot Chili Peppers). At the end of the three rehearsal sessions we were both pretty excited to get into the recording studio..

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