Rumour Cubes Studio Diary – Days 1-4
Friday 1st – Monday 4th November 2013
In May 2011, we walked into the amazing Café Music Studios in London for the first time. Over the next six months we noisily put together our debut album The Narrow State with producer Mark Sutherland and engineer Cherif Hashizume. It was an unforgettable experience for us all, and a period of huge development for us musically.
So, it is with great excitement – and high hopes – that we are back at Café Music in 2013, starting work on our second album. We’ve been buried away for the best part of a year putting together the songs, writing and re-writing, and we finished up our final pre-production rehearsal on Thursday 30th October happy that we had got what we needed to take into the studio.
An Amazing Summer
These recording sessions come on the back on an incredible summer for the band. We teamed up with a whole array of amazing musicians (including Sam Duckworth, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Riz MC and Annie Rew-Shaw) for some big collaborative shows at Glastonbury, Truck and Village Green festivals.
In addition, we ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund part of the recording process and we were overwhelmed with how generous people were in putting some faith in us and pre-ordering a record we haven’t made yet. If you backed us and are reading this, thank you thank you thank you! We won’t let you down.
Recently we also caught up with Olga Lagun who filmed one of our shows and asked us some questions. You can see the video she made here.
Rumour Cubes on stage with Sam Duckworth at Truck Festival
3pm Day 1: Setting Up
Our first port of call on Day 1 was to set up the drums. The drum sound is where much of the album’s energy will come from so it’s a really important thing to get right. It helps that we’re in the studio for a long chunk of time, because we only need to do this once!
The next stage is to record each song as a live take, keeping only the bass and drums. In most cases, we don’t use a click track – one of the things we really want to capture is the band playing live, with all of the back and forth and push and pull of a rock ‘n’ roll band. There are a couple of songs that require a click, but that is because of heavy electronic elements or programming.
(see below for the tech studio geek stuff)
The Lounge at Café Music Studios
7pm Day 1: First Takes
We started doing takes around 7pm – beginning with a song which has a working title of “A Song” (all our songs have terrible working titles, by design, so we never use them!). It is a tricky one with a few tempo and time signature changes and so we started with a few takes, the third of which was really good. We then overanalysed it for another two hours, finally settling on take 3 as the one to use.
After some Thai food, we went back down to the studio to tackle “Nep Nep” (again, deliberately bad working title!). We nailed this one first time – with one small mistake. By midnight weren’t able to recreate the excitement and energy of the first take so we decided we were going to fix it the next day.
Day 2: First Takes continued
We started Day 2 by listening over to the takes from Day 1, to check we were still happy with them. There were a couple of things to fix but on the whole they were sounding really good.
The rest of the day was taken up with scratch takes for Cadence Song parts 1 & 2, Piano Song and Yet Another Song.
The imaginatively named Piano Song unsurprisingly includes a piano. This song is in three parts so required a slightly different approach to the recording. Part 1 is piano-led and very free form, so there was no point in recording the drums first. Cafe Music has a room upstairs which has been built to record piano (for Jon Hopkins, no less!) so Adam recorded the first part of the song by himself.
He got a really fantastic take with a great feel, and we then recorded the middle section in the main room with a midi keyboard; Adam will then re-record that section on the acoustic piano. Here’s a video of him playing the final part of the piece.
Days 3 and 4: Finishing Scratch Takes
We spent the Sunday and the Monday pummelling through the remaining songs. The only real difficulty was Joe’s Not Here Song, where we struggled to get the feel we were looking. After trying a few different snares and moving some drum parts around we got the right take, though it took a solid 5 hours!
Adam also recorded piano for Yet Another Song and we overdubbed Joe’s bass on a few tracks – including Nep Nep, because the first take was so good for the drums that we wanted to keep it, but Joe’s part is particularly technical and he wanted to have a few more goes at it.
By Monday evening we had drums and bass recorded for all 9 tracks, and piano recorded for 2 tracks. Not a bad start!
This Bit is for Studio Geeks
The album is being recorded through a number of analog rack units and then fed into the computer via a Universal Audio Apollo 16 audio interface. The signals are then routed through some analog emulation plug-ins before heading into the sequencer (for this album it is Logic Pro).
The drum kit is a Tama Hyperdrive
- Snare – Drum Workshop Bronze
- Snare – Ludwig 402 Chrome Over Brass 14 x 6.5
- Hi Hat – Zildjian Session Pro 14″
- Ride – Zildjian Avedis Sweet Ride 22″
- Crash – Zildjian 16″ Dark Crash
- Crash – Zildjian 18″ Avedis Crash
- Crash – Sabian 12″ AAX
- China – Diamond 16″
- Kick Pedal – DW 5000
Omar is using a number of different snare drums for different tracks on the album;
“I used the Drum Workshop snare for A Song as it is quite a biting snare. It is made of bronze and the heaviest snare I have ever held even though it is only 5.5″ deep. We used the same snare on Nep Nep for the same reason.
For Cadence Song 1 I wanted a much more open sound, more of a resonant sound than an attack sound so I used my Ludwig 402 with a Remo coated ambassador head. I hit the snare much closer to the rim than I normally would to access the resonant overtones of the shell. I also had the snares off.
For Cadence Song 2 I used the same set up but with snares on and hit the snare nearer the centre as usual. I tuned the 402 down in pitch a bit for piano song and used a very small amount of dampening.
For Yet Another Song Song I used a Coated Powerdot head. The drum part for this song is not particularly intricate but does require me to play a slow heavy groove. The 402 with Powerdot head gives me focused sound I wanted for those rock snare hits.”
The kit is mic’ed as follows:
- Kick Drum – Beyer something or other
- Kick Drum Sub – custom built speaker
- Snare – Audio Technica 650
- HiHat – AKG C460
- Rack Toms – Sennheiser 421
- Floor Tom – AKG D112
- Floor Tom – AKG C414
- Overheads – AKG C451E and Calrec Condenser
- Room Mic – Neuman U87Ai
- Room Mic – Sontronics Sigma
The bass is DI’d, running in paralell – one clean channel and one processed through a multitude of fuzz pedals. The clean channel is running through a Summit Audio MPC-100A.
Theres also a local cat who has come to vist us, she doesn’t have a tail. Jay’s named her Chairman Meow, because she headed straight for the only chair in the lounge and has occupied it ever since.