Saturday, 22 December 2007

What instruments do the bugs have?

Mark Mikel. I have a stratocastor and it was built by a man named Pete Robinson. So the guitar is technically a "Pete." That's the electric guitar that I've been playing on practically everything since 1985. I think the bright cutting Revolver guitar sound is probably what I usually go for without thinking about it- because it has so much musical presence. I have to play with the mics a lot to get the sound in your face. But I have no formula. I just plugged my guitar straight into my Fender Twin but I may have used some ADA tube overdrive- but I doubt it. I can't remember offhand. I did everything so fast. "Pete" is a very original and distinct sounding guitar. I could never replace it. So many different tones. I'm not a very technical guy so I can't really talk about what makes it that way. Pete told me the guitar neck was owned by Curtis Mayfield. I know that my pick-ups are double coils and my bridge pick-up is a "Lace Sensor." My normal setting is the LS pick-up "full on." I've been playing my Washburn (Gibson 335 copy) much more on the new album. I used it somewhat on 3D too. The Washburn is on the cover of 3D.

For keyboards in the studio I use my Baldwin electric harpsichord quite a bit. I have a couple of Farfisas, a hammond BX3 (i think), a Rhodes electric piano, a tack piano and grand piano (I forget the names on those).a Yamaha synthesizer from 1979, a moog rogue (broken) and an old Hohner electric piano (semi-broken).
For bass I have my Gibson (what's the name of the bass when it looks like a Gibson SG guitar? Anyway that's what I have been playing since 1978).
The drums in the studio are Dan's but they are the studio drums and have been since Sorghum. I think they are slingerlands but I'm not sure. The snare was bought seperately too so who know what THAT is (DAN?)I have a sitar, tamboura, trumpet and french horn, a banjo that I only used once I think on a song called "Nervous," lots of percussion stuff, a glockenspiel, a viola (broken), a fender twin amp, a fender guitar leslie speaker, a Yamaha leslie cabinet. I don't think I've ever owned a really nice guitar so there are a bunch that I always drool over. A Rickenbacker 12-string, Les Paul, any of the classics really.I would love a hammond b3 organ. A clavinet would be nice. A new sitar. A Vox AC30 amp would be really very nice. more microphones (any kind). A harp would be awesome. I'd like a nice trumpet (are you getting all this, Santa?)
Actually If I had a million dollars I could easily spend it all on instruments and studio gear.We basically record like paupers compared to what the biggies were blessed with. A professional 2'" reel to reel tape deck has never been used. We use the more semi-pro 1" 16 track format. The sound difference is huge. I've only once got to indulge in the sonics of the 2" 16track format during the recording of Scott Hunt's Montana in Chicago 1997. Complete aural bliss.I've never had the luxury of professional EQs and mic-pre amps. I've recently obtained my first professional tube compressor (post Buzz for Aldrin ) and that makes a big difference- but you've never really heard it yet. I did abuse the use of it on the last two Christmas songs. (Though not quite as badly as McCartney did on Memory Almost Full.) I've owned the same mixing board (most studios have a console) since 1984. It's not even really for recording. It actually used to be for miking live situations. They don't make it anymore. It's a Soundcraft Series 200B 16 channel board. Now think about this -16 tracks of tape and only 16 channels on my board. That means I have no extra channels for microphones or effects. Without getting too technical here, this just means that I can't always hear all the instruments recorded while I'm overdubbing extra parts. It also forces me to print to tape most of the effects- instead of saving those decisions for the mixdown stage. Professional mixing consoles can run anywhere from $30,000 to $500,000. If I sold this board on ebay I'd probably get about $600 for it.Also- mixing 16 channels of different instruments and sounds by hand is basically unheard of in this day and age. Even most analog studios have some sort of automation. Automation is where you can set all the ways you want a particular track to behave during the mix (volume, eq, panning left to right) ...and have the board automatically (during playback) make these changes itself after you've set them.Mixdown is my own private hell. With 16 different tracks all needing at least some attention barreling past me two little hands. Not many people have witnessed me in action because I normally can't concentrate with others around...or if others are around I'll usually request their helping hands. Scott Hunt helped me immensely mixing Buzz for Aldrin.

Mark Kelley in the studio

But even with the 2 of us, even after we know everything we want to do, it can sometimes take up to 30 attempts to actually get it right. If we had automation our mixes would be through the roof. Mixing is where a lot of the magic happens and SH and I are never short on ideas.But every mix that I've ever done (without exception) has things in it that I wish were different. There's always a sound that's too loud or a bit here that could have used more bass or whatever. I have to let these things go because I'm only one human with semi-pro gear. Brian Wilson had 4 or five people with a hand on every fader during the mixdown of Pet Sounds. And that was 8track (half of what I have to deal with) and monophonic (also half of what I have to deal with).Don't even get me started on microphones. If I had the money I'd be a complete mic junkie. From the crappiest crapball mic to the stellar $10k and beyond. They all have their uses.I don't enjoy engineering (hooking up mics and cables and such). I wish I could just once work with a professional engineer who really knew about sound and how to achieve it. I'm a "throw it up and go" sort of guy and I usually let the chips fall where they may- unless it's particularly bad or there's a specific sound I have in mind. But I hate cords and cables. They're all over the place like an evil spaghetti. And they're always going bad because I don't have the patience to treat them properly.

Mark M and Scott Hunt

Lately if I have a situation in the studio where I need more than 3 guitar cords and 4 mic cables, I'm in a lot of trouble.I don't want many of the things that people use today. (Sequencers that play the music for you or pitch correction so you don't even have to sing on key anymore.) I'm glad we still have to play and sing.Good musical instruments are expensive. If I had the dough I'd have a Hammond B3 organ, Steinway grand piano, harpsichords, mellotron, clavinet, Martin acoustic guitar, a whole array of electric guitars, and probably every exotic instrument I could find. Right now I'm working toward getting enough money to buy some more cords/cables, mic stands and recording tape.Technology is not always a good thing when it comes to music. I just want the basics- good tape machine, mics, cables, mixing board and good instruments, echo, reverb, compression. But that can cost a LOT of money. If I were to try to make an album of slick modern day pop, I would fall flat on my face. The quirkiness of the bug's music is conducive to my set-up. We combat the lack of hi-fi technology by trying to do something different with the music and keep it interesting in another way.

Mark K and Dan
Mark Kelley: My favourite bass is my Fender Mustang Bass. It is short scale with flat wound strings, The thing plays as smooth as "butter." 2nd Fav is my Gibson SG Bass similar to what MM has, which is also a short scale bass. As a matter of fact, Mark turned me on to short scale basses and how easy they are to play. These basses allow you to play very aggressively and yet still sound smooth. I have used a Trace Elliot bass amp for about 10 years. 1970 Fender Stratocaster, Martin HD28 Acoustic, 1974 Ludwig Vistalite Drum Kit (see-thru tinted blue), 70's Kramer 4 string bass w/ aluminum neck , Blackfaced Fender Vibrolux Guitar Amp.......

Mark M and Dan
Dan Chalmers: Well, I have a Fender acoustic, a Fender Strat, a Crate amp,a bass I aquired from Mark Kelley, a Mandolin (from Kentucky), an upright piano (from a church), and 3 drum-kits. One kit is at Mark Kelleys house(Ludwid Rock) 4 piece. One kit is at "the main studio" (a recovered Gretch kit that sounds great as you all know) 4 piece. My favorite is my live kit, custom made by "Daves Drum Depot". 4 piece, 6 ply shells (hickery). Bass Drum, 24x18, Rack Tom 13x11, Floor Tom 16x14, and the snare 14x61/2. Paiste 20" ride, two 18" Zildjian crashes and one 16" Zildjian crash. 15" heavy high-hat cymbals to take the beating!!!! I'm tired and babbling.......................Chow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Davey with his washboard
Davey Murnen list not as extensive as me mates!!Fender strat 1994 editionfender telecaster..made in Indonesia..but still sounds greatLudwig 4pc Gold Sparkle 1963..just listen to those old thingy Dale(surfing records)..same exact kit. Zildjian/Paiste cymbols2nd kit is a canabalized Reuther( German copy of a CB700)..combined with Adamics old Ludwig 5 piece..3 rack toms..1 floorI also have two snares..Ludwig which came with my 63 kit..and my favorite a 1970's era Slingerland..which is photo'd in the Harrison picsalso have 3 1930's era washboards..purchased on e-bay..I use these with the Kazoos and a cosmic precussion set of congas ("BABALOU")An Irish drum..called a Boughran(check my galic spelling )..featured on all those Chieftan records that I love. Numerous maracas and shakers..and about 12 tambourines.. Oh and Cowbell...and last but not least..I am always armed with a dozen or so Hohner plastic Kazoo's..Oh and I stole Dans bass..Gibson SG copy..used to be Mark Kelleys..Dan bought it..I borrowed it..and DANS NEVA GETTIN IT BACK..sure hope he's not reading this one. My dream instrument would be a Richenbacher 6 string..Like Lennons..and or a right handed Hofner 4 string bass..and what the heck another old drum kit(Slingerland)

Mark Mikel. "Yeah, Chalmers can play anything he wants to. I wouldn't call him a keyboardist or guitarist but if you need him to play a part on them he can. And he writes songs on guitar and piano. So if he picks up a guitar- he noodles around or plays one of his own songs. Those are the only songs he really knows. He's always amazing.All the other bugs play other things when required. Davey's a great surf drummer. That's why his drumming was perfect for songs like "If You Can't Remain" and "Liquid Bob." He plays guitar a bit and played some bass when we played NYC without Mark Kelley.Tabner's the most "schooled" musician. He still studies with a local jazz great Gene Parker. Scott's always been ALL about the guitar. But he has been playing some keyboards for the past few years too.Mark Kelley was always a drummer when I knew him in high school and somewhat beyond. Later he started playing bass for different groups. Like Chalmers, he can play any instrument he wants to it seems. Mark was the drummer for a bar band that included Tabner and me (Riff Raff). It was for the summer of 83 and I was the backing vocalist/percussionist until Artie King left and then I became the bass player. Nothing serious, just a bunch of friends/musicians having a great time. That was also with John Rideout (lead vocals), George Pressor (keyboards) and Mike Phillips (shared lead guitar with Tabner in a sort of Keith Richards/Ronnie Wood sort of way).Our dear friend Mike Phillips was tragically killed in Feb 2004 when the bridge he was working on (I-280) had a crane collapse on top of him and 3 of his co-workers. We miss him very badly."

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