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Blog: Rocking All Over The World (Surrey branch)

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I had a lovely day yesterday, as I was in distant SURREY, doing some recording with Mr A Brook at The Brook Recording Studio. Andy used to have a studio on Denmark Street where, many years ago, I used to pop in at lunchtimes to record DEMOES, and since then I have taken every opportunity to visit his new place, notably recently with The Plinths. On this occasion however I was there to record my vocal and guitar bits for the HITS that The Validators recorded in Derby last month, and I was RIGHT looking forward to it!

I'd taken the day off work for the SESSION and spent a large part of my morning on TRANES. It took nearly two HOURS to get down to Wallington where Andy has his studio, including DELAYS, but when I got there I found he had already loaded up the STEMS what I had sent him the night before and he was SO READY TO ROCK that I barely had time to put my bag and guitar down before I was shepherded into the Vocal Booth. This is one of the SEVERAL reasons I like recording with Andy - he is SUPER KEEN to GET ON WITH IT, so we always get LOADS done!

Once in the vocal booth (i.e. cupboard) I was surprised to see a TELLY on the wall which acted as a VIDEO RELAY so I could see Andy at his desk and he, terrifyingly, could see ME! This is obviously useful when you're doing this sort of thing, but I must admit I have become used to the comforting SECRECY of doing vocals inside a cupboard where nobody can see you. When I'm doing The Vocals I have a tendency to wrap my arms and hands up in knots, pull faces, and DANCE AROUND, but I quickly realised that I am surely not the only person to do this, and that if you're a studio engineer you probably see a lot worse, so relaxed into my usual Ian Curtis/Strictly Come Dancing/Drunken Octupus CAVORTING.

Doing the LOT took about 90 minutes, with me generally doing one complete take straight through and then doing a second take with stops whenever I went wrong followed by PATCHING UP to get it sounding decent. It's another great thing about going and doing this in a studio with someone who is Very Patient - if I'd been on my own I would have done one take of each song and then RAN AWAY!

With that all done we moved onto THE GUITAR, which was HORRIBLE. I am not the world's greatest singer but at least I can BELLOW and call it some kind of STYLISTIC CHOICE, but my guitar playing is entirely irredeemable, and it sounds even WORSE when it is EXPOSED as the sole FOCUS of an activity. We did get everything done in the end but it was PAINFUL, especially when my inability to play the chord B minor reared its ugly head (as it so often does) and we ended up recording those bits as their own special overdubs. The only bright spots in the whole terrifying experience were when Andy assured me that the reason my guitar kept going out of time with the rest of the band was that THEY - not me, THEY - were going wonky. I must remember to get this down in writing next time I'm there.

The SCARIEST bit though came when I attempted to begin two entirely NEW recordings, of Cheer Up Love and It's Hard To Be Hopeful. My initial idea was just to DO them, with a click track to HELP THE OTHERS LATER, but instead I ended up trying to JUST do the guitar parts, which didn't work at all as I kept getting lost. Instead I recorded a GUIDE vocal and guitar first, which went ALL OVER THE PLACE on both occasions as I was thinking about approx 17 different things at the same time. We then did GUITAR for each, by which time my fingertips were in AGONY from all the playing, so by the time I FINALLY went back into the vocal both I was in A Bit Of A State, with heart RACING. Happily the singing was a nice way to CALM DOWN and feel better, and it sounded PRETTY DARN GOOD in the end.

With that done there was time to sit and have a bit of a natter while Andy sorted out the STEMS what we'd recorded ready for export. It turns out that he has been recording STATUS QUO, and that Francis Rossi, unsurprisingly, has a LOT of stories to tell!

With that done we shook hands and I set off for my train, full of JOY at how it had all gone, and it was only when I got to Norwood Junction that I realised I had left my flipping guitar behind in the studio! Even this hassle, which will probably involved EITHER meeting Andy in town sometime or heading back down to Wallington, did nothing to take the shine of things, as it had been a BRILLIANT day adding extra HIT-MATERIAL to a whole set of HITS!

posted 2/8/2019 by MJ Hibbett

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