Phase 5: Vocals
The tracks from all the core band members had been recorded, and it was now my turn to lay down the vocals. Four days had been allocated for vocal tracking and I was raring to go. The lyrics for the songs had already been written throughout the months of songwriting and pre-production, so I was focused and well-prepared. As a band, we typically write songs through a collaborative effort by most members, with some songs perhaps having varying degrees of input. Joe deserves a special mention here as his was the biggest input when it came to songwriting... #grazzijoseph!
While my band mates had to go through the arduous task of carrying all their instruments and equipment to the studio for their recording session, I came to the studio almost empty-handed, except for my trusty thermos. This is, of course, one of the perks of being the singer, alongside being the centre of attention most of the time (:p). However, being a singer also means that my performance is more prone to fatigue, as it is largely dependent on the general state of my vocal chords. Over the years, I have developed my own routine to keep my voice performing optimally for extended periods. Before any performance, be it a gig or studio session, I enjoy a hot cup of my famed water / honey / ginger / lemon cocktail (#grazzima), which really helps soothe the throat and jump-starts my vocal chords. A quick warm-up then follows, in which I sing a few scales and stretch my face muscles. For recording sessions, a small bottle of port also accompanies me, specifically for some random sips throughout the session. This helps to keep my vocal chords warm, although admittedly I just think it's a great excuse to drink port, which is one of my absolute favourite drinks. Plenty of water bottles were also readily available at the studio to keep my mouth and throat hydrated throughout the long hours.
Jubox Recording House has a variety of microphones available, which are used for different applications. However, Luke's favoured microphone for vocals is his AKG C414 EB, equipped with a pop filter for eliminating noise pops. Kenny chose to drive the microphone through Luke's Neve 1073LB. Having already recorded draft vocal tracks for guide tracking purposes prior to the whole recording process, Kenny and I started going through the songs one by one. After listening to the guide track, we would go through it step by step, one verse at a time, to get the right feel and also establish the exact timing of each syllable. We frequently discussed alternative phrasings and explored some different melodies too. Following this, I would go into the vocal booth and sing each part (be it verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) three or four times until we got the best performance possible. The benefit was two-fold; as I got more familiar with my parts, I could focus on the tiny details, incrementally improving the takes, whilst also providing Kenny with an assortment of takes to choose from during the editing stages. The whole process was of course tiring, but the constant urge to get better tracks was enough to keep me going.
On the morning of the fourth day, all the main vocals were done and dusted, and this gave us practically a whole day to work on backings. Contrarily to the main vocals, the backing vocals were mostly still not established, so this required a very creative and intense process. We recorded most of the parts there and then, but these would have to be doubled by various other voices, namely some other band members and also our backing vocalists. Though exhausting, coming up with different harmonies was thoroughly enjoyable and hearing them all in sync instantly gave the tracks a funkier, and at times even anthemic, dimension. I just can't wait to hear the choral parts in the final mixes!