Recording the album – Mix days

Pat had given me more rough mixes of the songs.  He wanted me to listen to the recordings at home and then feedback to him.  The family and me listened to the songs, I made notes of their comments and suggestions.  I had extensive notes on all the songs.  

Finally the recording process was finished and mixing could begin.  Pat and I first went through each track listening carefully to everything.  We adjusted sound levels, picked the best vocal parts, discussed which instruments would play and where.  

Pat mixed and tweaked and mixed and tweaked.  We agreed that the lead vocals for ‘At The Foot Of The Cross’ needed to be re-recorded so we did that.  We worked through all my notes until we had final mixes.  Again Pat sent me home with the mixes so that I could listen to them outside of the studio environment.  

I listened to the tracks over and over just to be sure that everything was good.  I made more notes and then we worked on them.  Once we had got all the songs sounding the way that we wanted we sat down and listened to the tracks again, we made more notes, then we tweaked.  We continued this process for two days.  My ears were like sonar by this point I could hear a pin drop!  Pat was amazing.

At the end of the three mix days I left the studio with the final mixes.  I felt that I needed fresh ears on the project so I asked a couple of people if they would feedback to me.  

I listened to the tracks on headphones, on surround sound and in the car.  I knew what needed to happen in order to improve the project.  So I made more notes, I re-wrote the tag line for ‘I Love You Lord’, worked out the backing vocal parts and went back into the studio.  I spent another day in the studio with Pat re-recording, tweaking and working on the songs.  

I was really happy with how the album was sounding.   I think up to this point my inner compass was telling me to keep on working at it.   Again I listened and listened and listened to the recording.  I did go back to the studio for another hour or so and then was happy for the project to go to the next stage.  Mastering!

Recording the album 4 – Studio

I thought it would be really good for us to rehearse in the space that we would be recording the album in.  It meant we were familiar with our surroundings, that all the gear was set up and that we could just get on with recording when we returned on Monday.

I’d booked the studio for and afternoon to evening slot, on the Saturday before our recording week.  We all arrived around lunch time and had lunch and a chat before setting up.  Rachel had discovered a cafe around the corner that did hot chicken, bacon and cheese sandwiches which were a hit with the band as was Rach, when she wasn’t around everyone was asking where she was!  

Once we were set up we ran the songs.  I’d made some lyrical changes to some of the songs as a result of meetings that I had had with Mike Burn (Family Worship) and Chris and Jennie Orange (ICF).  I didn’t realise how important the lyrical changes were to the the rest of the band but the changes did affect the way the band were playing, so that was a lesson learnt.

It was great to hear everyone’s musical ideas coming together.  Robs bass line for “I Will Not Fear” gave us the groove for that song.  Hen’s drumming on ‘Wait for the Lord” made it edgy, Ben came up with the rhythm guitar part for “Wait for the Lord” at the studio rehearsal, when he started to play it we all looked at him and said ‘make a note!’

I was right into muso language by this point which was kind of cool,  I felt like I’d found my sea legs.

We had a lot of fun at this rehearsal.  I could see everyone’s appreciation for eachothers ideas, creativity and skills.   We had gelled together as a team which was so important to me.

Recording the album 1 – prep

Jo Puleston had given me some advice about the album a couple of years ago, Jo is a recorded artist and worship leader.  One of the things she suggested to me was to send the songs I wanted to put on the album to Christian leaders whom I trusted.  This was to see if I actually had an album to put together.  It was good advice as it meant the songs were tested and submitted to my peers and leaders before I embarked on an expensive recording project.

Once I had the final songs for the album everything seemed to happen really quickly.  I met up with a few potential producers; I didn’t really know how to put the album together.  I also met up with Chris and Jen Orange who gave me lots of pointers.  Chris suggested that I get Henry involved in the project. (Henry has recorded with Graham Kendrick, Godfrey Birtell and the Oranges) and so was more experienced in the studio than me for one!

I’d already met up with Rob Medley who is an experienced and gifted musician and a good friend.  Rob has worked with Graham Kendrick, Chris and Jen Orange and is currently playing for Judy Bailey.  He gave me lots of advice and agreed to co-produce the album with me.

Rob suggested that I get the songs out to band members so that they ‘lived with them for a while before we came together’.  He also said that we shouldn’t use valuable studio time to put the songs together but instead schedule some rehearsals, in this way the band would get to know each other and begin to own the project.   

After meeting with Rob I went home and started doing my homework.  I began by looking up Tim Hughes blog and Al Gordon’s blog.  I was aware that they wrote daily blogs when they where recording their albums.  I’m so glad they both blogged their recordings as I learnt so much from them.   In particular I took Al’s advice to relax and have fun.  It was useful to know that the core musicians were all jamming together and how each instrument was isolated in separate rooms or behind screens.  It was clear from Al’s blog that they were working really hard and that they were working long hours.  I got a sense from Al that he just went for it vocally which I found useful, singers can clam up when it’s time to be recorded!

From Tim’s blog I took much the same advice.  I liked what he said about being keen to capture a sense of worship, excitement and passion in all the songs in his recording.  I knew that I too wanted that, and was now deciding that I wanted the core band to record at the same time so that we would capture that sense of worship as we recorded.  Tim also said that when he records vocals he ‘tried to capture an image in his mind, a thought or scripture’ so that he could ‘keep a worshipful perspective’ which ‘helps to dig deep capturing more passion and emotion’.  This was invaluable when I came to record vocals.

As a result of reading their blogs I began to look for riffs, climaxes, places of quietness and celebration in the songs I would be recording.  Thanks guys.

Album is released

Well it’s finally happened!  The Album is complete and ready for sale.  It’s been quite a journey, a very steep learning curve and it’s all good.  The Lord has called out gifts I didn’t realise I had or had been denying that I had.  He has shown me what fantastic family and friends I have and has provided for the project in every way. At the moment it’s available from this site.  I’ll update you when it is available in other places.  I’m working on all that now!  I hope you like it. 

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