With a new album come new streams! On August 23 we will release our new album “Perspectives & Objectives”. Until that date we will stream new songs from the album every Monday.
Last week we posted a song about immigration. This week we have another hot topic: homophobia, gay marriage and LGBT rights. It’s good to see gay marriage has been implemented in France and in more US states lately. The resistance against it and the 2-steps-forward-1-step-back progress show that it’s a slow, hard process. And yes, another borrowed song title. Guest introduction by our studio engineer Nico van Montfort from XPZ Sound about the process and ins and outs of the recordings of the album, below the video, just like the lyrics and liner notes.
I won’t bore you with my views on the subject of this song, instead I’ll bore you with nerdy stuff about the recording and mixing of the record and this song in particular.
The recordings for Objectives & Perspectives were the fifth recording session I did with Antillectual. Antillectual is one of those bands that thinks a lot about the direction they want to take with a record and choose a different approach for almost every record.
The biggest difference in sound when you compare Objectives & Perspectives to previous Antillectual releases would probably be that there is more contrast between the instruments and more dynamics within the songs themselves.
The most obvious difference is that the bass is heavier than before and the guitars more open than before, therefore leaving more room for the bass to actually be heavy.
Guitar wise the songs are less layered than before, using no more than 2, sometimes 3 tracks per song. This left more space to create some interesting layers with other instruments and creating a dynamic album.
Similar to the previous recordings I’ve done with Antillectual we lined up quite an arsenal of guitar amps and cabs for the guitar sound. Most of the times we ended up using a lot of different amps in various combinations for a lot of different songs. This time we actually ended up just using 1 cab (Marshall cab with greenback speakers) and 3 heads, all which were Marshalls too. To be more specific: Toms’(yes, the ex bass player) JCM800 2210, my JMP 2203 and Erik’s JCM800 2203.
Willem and Glenn tracked the guitars at Willems’ place so they could take all the time they needed to get the right takes and we booked 3 days at the studio to reamp all the DI tracks.
We ended up doing double reamping on most tracks. For guitars usually one “juicy” sound of each track and one “open / ringy” sound of the same track.
For the bass we had quite a similar approach. We had one main bass tone that is used throughout most of the record, which is an Ampeg SVT2 driven by a Tech21 SansAmp into an Aguilar DB810. We miced both the speaker and the bass port on the rear of the cab so we could make a blend between articulation an pressure in the mix. Some songs had just one reamp but some called for a more “being ran over by a tank” kind of tone. For the more overdriven sounds we used a modified Boss SD1, which I use quite a lot, in front of the same stack and set it quite extreme so we could blend in some more aggression into the bass tone whenever we felt it needed that.
Gaga is one of those songs that has quite a lot of the more aggressive bass sound. Listen to when the bass kicks in at 1:13 and you can’t miss it:)
For drums we used 4 busses in the mix: 1 would be a Glyn Johns method (3 mics set up around the drum kit in an equal triangle from the snare drum), 2 would be a pair of room mics, 3 would be all the close mics, 4 would be a parallel bus of the close mics, smashed with compression.
For different sounds we automated the balance between these busses. Take a listen to the first verse and you will hear the room mics up and the close mics down for instance.
Also for the drums we made a DIY subkick (Thanks Erik!) which added quite a lot of nice punchy low end to the kick drum. The chorus of Gaga seemed like a perfect place to raise that in the mix to give it some more pulse in the bottom end.
The trained listener would probably also have heard that this album has a lot more percussion and acoustic guitars going on than previous Antillectual recordings. We tried to create some more dynamics in the songs and the album as a whole by using beatring, shakers and strumming acoustics mainly in choruses. A lot of times we chose to accent the 16th notes in the percussion, as you can hear in the chorus of Gaga.
Also, notice the organ in the second verse? Yes, an organ. It blends in with the feedback of the guitar so you might not even notice it at first but when it kicks in in the second chorus you can’t miss it.
Vocal wise this was an interesting session. During the tracking of the drums we made a live setup in the studio to get the right feel for the songs before laying down the drum takes. For this setup I put up an AKG D5 because I know it has very good bleed rejection when placed side facing to the drums. Willems voice sounded surprisingly good in those scratch tracks so before tracking the vocals we decided to set up 5 different mics and doing a take with each one of them, then blindly pick put the one we liked most.
We ended up liking the D5 the most despite the fact it was the cheapest mic we set up.
For all backing vocals and harmonies we used an SM7B. Since this mic is voiced quite warm it automatically sets a good contrast with the lead vocals being more present and the backing vocals being less present from the start of the tracking.
We recorded all vocals at my place, which is my mixing room + vocal booth in my house in Nijmegen. Since Willem lives in Nijmegen too we could plan the sessions very freely. On days Willem’s voice didn’t feel great we could work on other stuff, like percussion, acoustic guitars or mixing. That way we could be efficient and critical at the same time.
The intro is something that Willem and Riekus had been playing around with for quite some time. During mixing and mastering I occasionally solo the subs, to check if they’re clean enough and there’s not too much rubbish going on in the bottom end. Willem and Riekus would always get siked when I did this and immediately came up with the name “party at the neighbors” for this effect. Every record we did they where contemplating to use it as an effect somewhere. Well, here it finally is! (Unfortunately you’ll have to check the album version for this intro, as it is not included in this video.)
With Gaga on our side
I can’t get used to that you can’t get used to this
That they walk hand in hand or publicly kiss
Retarded reactionaries won’t let them get married
Ironic mustaches unite, Gaga is on our side
I just can’t get used to it, in the safety of our own house
I thought we got this over with, closets closed, please come out
But they won’t toss the bouquet nor the salad or their fiance
You let them toss and turn all night with Gaga by their side
Why are you so fucking scared of those you call so fucking weak?
Why are you so fucking scared? Ask, tell and raise some hell
Always defending family values, you speak of moral poverty
If you defined it less obtuse I maybe would agree
Be welcome at the NFL, no more “don’t ask, don’t tell”
It’s the players’ and the soldiers’ right to have Gaga on their side
We adopt you as our own, we see you as one of us
But don’t think you’re not alone, you’re an outlaw nonetheless
We enjoy your idiosyncrasy, we love our mascot to be a drag
But don’t touch or approach me personally, don’t come to close, step back
The Netherlands have always been considered a very gay-positive place; Amsterdam was the gay capital of the world for a long time. But a study of The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) showed that “even” in the Netherlands gay emancipation still isn’t what it should be. Members of the Dutch lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community still don’t feel 100% accepted, especially in the public space. The process hasn’t been completed yet. Even though the French and US government seem to embrace same-sex marriages more and more recently, the harsh protests against it shows LGBT rights are far from obvious and natural, which they should be. Hopefully the LGBT community will find more and more support throughout all layers of the worlds’ societies. Lady Gaga can’t change the world on her own after all.