All of our thoughts and practice were to finally be put to the test. At 2pm the crowds started turning up and filling the halls. First up was the art projections and installations, all of which were unique and fantastic. The next set was comprised of acoustic acts and bands. After that came an electronic set which included some great visuals and performances. Lastly came the band set.
Although running a little behind schedule, everyone got to perform as they had rehearsed. We were on one but last so it had been a long day of waiting around. We quickly set up our gear and got right into it. With Dog in Space projected behind us on screen, we jumped right into our first (and still untitled) song. This went down well and got us loosened up. This song came from one of our first jams and it is amazing to see how far it has come. I think it was a suitable opener as it represented the band’s beginning. Next was Footsteps in the Dark. This song brings a more laid back groove with plenty of catchy hooks and vocal melodies, ending in a double speed chaotic bang. This song came from a jam Rhys and I had and Billy built his guitar parts around it. As the project has developed, we have found that this is often a good way for us to write, which brings me to the next song where the same thing happened. Finally we played Space is Alive, which we consider our strongest song. Beginning with a Pink Floyd style verse, the song moves along smoothly into the big chorus that is built around a very distinctive drum pattern. The song then continues through to a melodic end.
All in all, I think the performance went very well. The levels seemed great so everything could be heard clearly and with the lights down and the Dog in Space display behind us, things looked professional. I think we played to the best of our abilities, with no major mistakes happening from anyone. I was personally a little bit nervous before going on because of the high standard of performances that had taken place throughout the day but as soon as I got on stage and started playing I really enjoyed it and it was a perfect way to end the course. It felt as though after three years of being on the course, everyone came together and made this happen, showing their determination and skills. It was a pleasure to share the stage with so many other amazingly talented musicians and I think we did ourselves proud.
Now that it is all done and dusted, Billy, Rhys and I have talked about the future of this band. We were all a bit unsure to start with but after the incredible response we had from our performance at the show as well as the response we have had online, it seems a waste not to continue with it. I don’t know what is going to happen exactly but I think it is safe to say we will be doing some more jamming, recording and live gigs in the future.
In the week leading up to the live show on Saturday the 23rd May, all systems were go! From Tuesday to Friday, we were in everyday practising our sets and making sure all of our requirements were met so the stage crew, light crew, sound crew and visuals team could know exactly what we needed on the day. We had a few practices in the live room and then we moved all of the equipment into the theatre where the show took place and ran through our sets in there. We all had to work together to make sure the time between acts was a short as possible and that everyone was happy with their set up. There were certain minor hiccups as there is with any live show rehearsals but on a whole, things went well. Below is the image we would have projected behind us as we played on the day.
We came in Saturday morning then to triple check everything was prepared so all that was left to do was the show itself.
So, everything has been really hectic preparing for the live show so there has been a lack of updates here. Now would be a good time to talk about some of the equipment that helps make our sound what it is.
On drums, Rhys uses a piccolo snare, which gives off that snappy, firm sound. Sometimes he uses another deep snare on the side for some differentiation but for the live show, it was just the piccolo.
I play the EB3 Epiphone SG bass which is put straight through a Behringer bass flanger pedal and for the show, plugged into an Ampeg stack. This gives a huge spacey bass sound and it was the addition of the flanger that made it so big.
Billy makes use of a loop pedal, heavy delay and distortion on the big sections and usually runs through a Fender amp. For vocals, Billy runs his voice through his laptop where has set up a function that gives the vocals plenty of delay and reverb, giving off an atmospheric vibe.
We added our friend Alex in on korg synth to fill out the sound and give it more texture in the same way we got it sounding on the recording. With this addition, it now sounded like this…
We then also had another friend Joe join us as a session musician as his project fell apart last minute. We asked him because we felt that the sound could still be bigger and another guitar would do just that.
The sound is now huge! It is much closer to the sound I think we all had in our head as this project developed. A few practices with these new additions and next up was the live show…
As mentioned at the end of the last post, we were going to try getting a gig before the live show for some practice in a real live setting in front of people we don’t know. On the 26th March we played a half hour set in Le Pub, Newport to a fairly large audience. I have played many gigs in there over the years and this night was probably the fullest it has ever been when I have been on stage, so this was good practice for us as a band. The set went well and allowed us to get an idea of how the songs sounded somewhere other than the university. We had positive feedback from members of the audience so on a whole it was a success for us.
After getting back in the studio to practice yesterday, we have decided on a three song set that should fill the 12 minutes. 2 of these are on the EP we recorded…
…and the third is one we have been playing since we began this project so with some more practice these songs should sound tight by the show.
We are also going to add some synth to the mix for textual layers and to get it sounding more like the recordings. We tried this before and it worked well so we are going to reintroduce that for the show.
Also, we are going to have some sort of visual display happening behind us as we play. I feel that for our style of music, this would make the performance much more dynamic and complete.
Here are the physical copies that have been made for the album release. I have made 10 to start and if there is any demand for more I will make them. I will be giving these away for free.
I decided not to make any actual music videos for any of my songs because I felt that they would be rushed and not of good standard. I spent a lot of time crafting the music and even more time messing around with lots of different mixing techniques and finding the right sounds. I felt that if I were to have a music video, it would need to reflect this level of quality and time.
So, as an alternative and as another promotional tool to catch people’s eyes, I have made a short teaser video. About a minute in length, the video illustrates the sort of visuals associated with this music and gives the public a taster of the music itself. With under a week until the release, this last minute promotional tool may help turn a few more heads.
Today the album was fully mixed and mastered. There is still time for a second master if necessary so now is the time for me to listen.
The mixing came to an end today with some stereo space work. Although only subtle differences came from this process, that slight boost in quality made all the difference before sending it through to be mastered.
With some final EQing and a quick check on all of the compression, de-essers and side chaining, the mixes were ready to master!
Firstly, I added additional EQ to boost the top end where the bass felt too heavy. Although it is primarily a bass heavy album, there were points where it became too much.
Next, a series of gradual compressors were added on to boost clarity once again, whilst being careful not to over compress it so I was able to keep the rawness I originally had.
The next step was adding a multipressor to control the low mids and trebles.
The penultimate step was to look at the stereo spread and get that sounding nice.
Finally, I added a brick wall limiter with the ceiling set at -0.1db. This was done to avoid any clipping.
After that, it was just a case of checking the volumes against professional recordings and adjusting gain if necessary.
Twitter account is now up and running!
Here it is! The front cover of the upcoming album ‘Perpetual Valley’ which now has a release date of May 1st.