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Day one in the studio and the band are arriving for the recording of the new Skunk Anansie album and the air is thick with excitement and expectation.
It’s been a while since we’ve all been together from the last time in pre-production a few weeks back. Myself, Mark, Skin and Cass have been making albums together for 20 years now and the process always changes for each one. Yes it’s all about studios and gear as usual, but I am always amazed at the creativity and evolution of Skunk Anansie and how we always approach the new LP with fresh ideas and open minds.
One of the great things about being in a great band is that it allows you to pick the best people to work with, and this Lp is no exception. The producer of the awesome Royal Blood LP, Tom Dalgety, is at the helm and a trusted pair of hands to help deliver the new baby.
The LP has been written over the last year in sporadic sessions between London, Wales and Cobham in various rooms with probably getting around 25-30 song ideas down and refining around 12-14 for the LP. We had a brief pre-production session with Tom Dalgety for a couple of days recently but have decided to do a lot of development in the studio because of busy band members schedules this year. There’s a lot of new direction with these new songs and we’ve decided that a new approach and cutting edge sounds will really come together when we are all together in the studio surrounded by good gear and working with a great producer.
Skunk Anansie has always been a very focused band when it comes to recording LPs and writing concise, commercially viable songs. We always pick great producers to work with to bring the best out of the music and our own personal performances. In the past we’d had the likes of world class and well sought after producers Andy Wallace, Sylvia Massey, GGGarth Richardson, Chris Sheldon and Jeremy Wheatly which have definitely helped us clock up over 6 million worldwide sales!
The first task of the day was to load up early and get all the gear to the studios in St Johns Wood in London. I unearthed my vintage amps and pedals as well as custom made cabs for the studio and almost pulled my arms out of their sockets lugging them out of the lock up and into the live room. My recording gear is a mixture of my actual live equipment and a few fragile vintage pieces that would not survive, or have been retired from, the road.
A while back I created a purpose made pedal board for the studio too, so that I didn’t need to keep unpacking and wiring up pedal combinations at every session I went to. It’s a monster and barely pick-up-able, but really has all the sounds that you could wish for in recording and cuts out a lot of set up time… and saves the knees too!
There’s always a certain amount of sitting around in the studio as things are initially set up, especially drum sounds and session files, so I try to use the time constructively by first creating a guitar zone with the amps and FX all wired up for quick changes for new songs as well as a set of pedals for quick tracking and guides. After that, a comfy seat, laptop/ipad/phone table and a fast internet connection and I’m happy…Oh apart from one thing, a juicy guitar collection.
Today I only have 6 of my favourites, but I know more of my 25 strong collection will creep in on the session as it unfolds over the next month…Of course I don’t need them all, but it does create a bit of fun in the studio and also a bit of inspiration when getting sounds and performances.
Certain guitars make you play in a certain way, and certain songs command certain sounds as they develop; you never know until you get to tracking them. Well, there’s my excuse for owning a huge collection and taking up half the control room space with them anyway…!! This session I found the choice core guitars I’m using are: PRS Tremonti Singlecut, Gibson Les Paul Custom, Fender Telecaster, PRS Mira P90, Framus AK1974 and an Alusonic T-special.
At which point the studio phone rings and it’s a delivery for me.. my new signature guitar from Paul Reed Smith. Looks like it’s time to plug in and start laying down some backing tracks. I’ll get back to you soon….