As you have by now presumably downloaded your first free EP (and if not, then why not?!), we wanted to give you a little bit more information into what this ‘Home Recordings’ series is about.
I think musicians in general are quite divided about the whole recording/studio process; some love it, others see it as more of a necessary evil and just want to be up on stage performing. I’ve always had a fascination with the process of recording music. I remember, at some stage in my teens, my brother bought a karaoke machine which had two tape decks on it and an input for a microphone. This allowed you to play one tape, sing along and record the results onto a second tape. It was on this that I first started to experiment, recording versions of some of my favourite songs by plugging my guitar into the microphone socket and recording it onto tape. Then I’d play it back on one deck and record another track over that onto the second deck, going back and forth until I wore the tape out!
While this was grand for messing about, when I started to get seriously into writing songs I needed something better. My Dad is a great man for finding bargains in car boot sales, and one day he met a guy who was looking to sell his Fostex 4-track recorder. This was massive! Sure didn’t Bruce Springsteen record ‘Nebraska’ on a 4 track recorder! And so I was in business. I spent most evenings with my best mate John, in my bedroom recording song after song. With this amazing machine I was able to record 4 separate tracks, and these then had to be mixed down to a final master version which was your finished song. It was a great way to learn about multi tracking and the whole mixing process. I will always love that machine, and eventually one day we might return to that way of doing things for a while. Isn’t tape on the way back?
My first experience of a real life recording studio came with the first proper band I was in, which was called Shimmer. We recorded two EPs in Sun Studios in Dublin with the wonderful Denis Lovett. We had booked the night session because we were poor students, and so we worked straight through, mostly recording live, and then mixing the songs, until we fell out of there at about 8am with a finished EP on our hands.
After that, as a student of Ballyfermot’s Rock School, we had plenty of chances to go into the college in-house studio to work with the sound engineering students. Free recording! Even better, I thought! At the time I was in a number of bands (including the first band myself and Beat were in together, called The Four Fishermen from the County of Kildare) so I got quite a few opportunities to get some studio time. Also, as part of the course we had a class in Music Technology, where we were introduced to using a program called Cubase which we could use to record entire songs ourselves.
And then everything changed. When David Gray released ‘White Ladder’ (which along with Chart Hits ’81 is the one album every household seems to have at least 1 copy of – I have 2!), which was mostly recorded in his flat in London, it proved (to me anyway) that you could make top quality music in the confines of your bedroom. So I invested in a Macbook, a small 8 channel desk and a few microphones. That was back in 2008, and I’m still using the same laptop and equipment today. And it is on this that we recorded the first ‘Homemade Songs’ EP (along with a very fancy microphone we borrowed from our good friend Mark Fitzgerald – thanks Mark!).
When we were putting together the Need-a-1000 project, we realised we had a lot of old songs which were lying about, as well as some brand new songs which we haven’t even played live, ones which were great but which have not made the final cut for the album we plan to record. And so the ‘Home Recordings’ Eps were born! We enjoyed recording the first EP so much, especially as it forced us to really look at some song arrangements again, and as a result the songs have turned out even better than we ever thought they would!
So we hope you’ve enjoyed the first EP, and we can’t wait to let you hear what’s coming in the next one!