Everything You Never Wanted to Know About a Harvey Girls Recording, Pt. 3: Recording the Album, Take Two

These are some random notes that never were published. The album’s almost out, so we’re probably not going to write much more about it for awhile. We’re excited about it–really excited. We feel it’s a really good album, both in sound and execution, so we hope you like it. Hiram’ll be playing shows in June and July in the NW, so see him if you can.

Recording Techniques and other stuff:
1. Recording Guitars–
Many of the early-recorded tracks that will be on the album like “Puss” and “Monster” were recorded with an acoustic guitar with a pick up run through at least a distortion pedal and sometimes the Memory Man (to give it a little or a lot of reverb or, in the case of “Puss,” to add a backwards delay) straight into the Mackie.  This is also something most people will tell you not to do.  They’re also right on this, but with EQ and effects, I can get a sound that I want.  Plus, I don’t have to drag the amp into the dining room and drive the cats and Melissa insane or wake them up if I’m up early working and they’re still asleep on a weekend morning.  In the recordings done AMa, it was easier to use the amplifier because I was in a room cut off from the house, but I’ll get into that in a bit.
2. Effects–
To illustrate my points above about effects, here’s a couple of versions of the first recording of “Monster”.  This version is available as part of the download in the first part of the series and as a completely mastered track on the Pop Tomorrow 2 compilation, which you can pick up over here.

There are two versions of the song below, a clean version without effects that is exactly what was recorded and the finished version with effects.  The song was recorded with Adobe Audition in the spring of ’09.  The windy electric part (the first thing you hear) was recorded with the H2 using the Kansas Guitar.  Because of some timing problems between the H2 and Adobe, I cut up the part in the middle, creating loops that were mostly on time for the song.  The drums are from the Boss 660 drum machine.  The organs are from the Korg as well as the bass part.  There’s 4 acoustic guitar tracks, one recorded using the H2 as a direct mic into the Mackie.  Vocals were recorded using the AT mic.  It’s definitely a bit rough, but this’ll give you an idea of the initial version.

“Monster” no effects

And here’s the snippet with the effects.  For this song, most of the effects were added to the guitars.  There’s some delay and reverb, but most definitely distortion on the acoustic guitars.  I really wanted that messed-up sound and found that this was the easiest way to get it.

“Monster” with effects

This is an overly simplified illustration of the use of effects, but using effects either during recording with foot pedals or after recording using plug ins is a major part of how we got a lot of really weird sounds.  If there’s something that you’ve heard on a record of ours, just comment or write and I’ll try to remember how we did it.

2. Samplers as instruments–
Using the sampler to sample your own instruments is something I think I actually first tried after reading about the technique in the 33 1/3 book on Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.  I’ve been using loops of our own recorded material, drum machines, and other digital instruments since I first started doing digital recording with The Harvey Girls, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I mean actually using a sampler with sounds you’ve recorded as an instrument.

“I’ll Be Your Words” drums