Surrender To The Flow

I just had the most wonderful experience recording a band. They’re called Diamond Doves. We did a few tracks together for their myspace/demo….

You might know Diamond Doves as Elvis Perkins band “in Dearland.” These guys have been around the bend, touring the country with everyone from My Morning Jacket, as well as playing famed festivals such as Bonnaroo and New Orleans Jazz Fest. These guys are seriously pro but they’re creating this new side project sans Elvis (although Elvis Perkins in Dearland is still around), so they’re starting from scratch… I got to know these fine folks after they brought one of my bands, The Woes, on the road…

From an engineering perspective, I had a blast. We did basics to 1" tape and I would freewheel dump into ProTools LE, where we would proceed to go nuts with overdubs… Tracking the drums to tape definitely got us going on the right track. I actually set it up so that we were able to compare the drum sounds on PT vs. Tape. Tape won all three times. I would say these were the defining features of tracking to tape: less brittle, warmer on cymbals, snare prononced much more, and the kick just booming. Sorry PT (my gut tells me tape would have still won if we were using a better converter than a 003)… I also got turned on to the Beyer-Dynamic M160 for just about eveyrthing. This is a hyper-cardioid ribbon mic, so very different from Royer or Coles. Found out it was a favorite of Hendrix’s and also was the lone drum mic infamously used at the top of the stairwell for Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.” I used it as a single drum OH, vocal mic, and right on the grill of our guitar amps… You can get them for $300-$700.. Seriously, bang for your buck…

But from a production standing, what a wonderful experience. This band (Brigham Brough, Wyndham Garrett, Nick Kinsey, Mike Irwin, and the lovely Odetta) are such wonderful souls. Rightly intense about their creative ideas and egos checked at the door… Brigham, Wyndham, and Nick each had a song to track… and everyone was super supportive of each other’s track. I wish recording was always like this…

The best part was there was zero passive-aggresiveness in the studio. This is extrememly rare. A lot of people come into the creative process with agendas and the like, but the only agenda this bunch had was to make music and have fun doing so.

I tell you all this because this is something we should all strive toward. I was very lucky to have this experience but you can too. If you let your guard down, surrender to the flow of music and creativity, then all sorts of thrilling possibilites can come about in the recording process..


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3 Responses to Surrender To The Flow

  1. Peter Wisely says:

    Hey Jesse, I’ve used tape before but currently I only have protools running through a mac computer. I really want to get that tape sound again but i don’t have the resources. What are a few suggestions you might have to get that sound through protools? if any or should I just buckle down and purchase the tape. Perhaps if I change my mic selection it might make a difference. Thanks again for this post.

  2. Akara Etteh says:

    Just an idea Pete…

    dig out an old tape deck (ordinary).
    Bounce a track down and output it to the tape recorder.
    Experiment with different levels.

    Record it back in PT…and see what it sounds like! Will be dirty and grainy, but should be a fun little experiment you can do for free. Wanna do this but haven’t got round to it yet! :D

  3. Anand S. says:

    @ Pete:

    Or you could try PSP Vintage Warmer for a quick fix through Pro Tools, its never gonna replace analogue fully but it sure sounds good when your looking for that “Tape” sound on a budget in the DAW domain.

    @Jesse:

    I dig the articles and find it really useful as i own a 002 but damn i wish i had a dangerous-d summing amp too, thats gotta be making all your tracks much crisper n phatter i bet.

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