Back in early October of 2015, some of the boys from the Curtis Mayflower teamed up with the duo known as Cowboy and Lady to cut a record. Jeremy Curtis was kind enough to ask me to engineer the record.
We all met up at Armory Sound, formerly known as Hi and Dry. For those of you who don’t know the studio, it is basically a one room setup, not really much in the way of isolation. This is not a detriment however, but an asset!
Drummer Duncan Arsenault was up on a riser. To his left was Jeremy Curtis’ bass amp. To the left of that was Brooks Milgate’s keyboard station (which included an incredibly out of tune piano, which somehow he managed to make sound like a well maintained instrument!). In the center of the room was Tyler-James Kelly, who played acoustic guitar and shared lead vocal duties with his musical partner Jess Powers (to his right).
The setup was incredibly simple:
bass drum-Beyer m88
snare drum-Shure sm58
floor tom-can’t remember the mic, possibly a 57 or atm25
keys-some large diaphragm condenser that was at the studio, possibly a Rode? We moved it around between piano and wurlitzer. was sort of a room mic
acoustic guitar-Shure Sm81
Tyler vocal-Neumann m149
Jess vocal- Neumann u87
room mic-probably Shure KSM32
10 tracks. That’s it.
Once we sorted out that whenever I turned down the control room volume, it cut the headphone volume as well (and when I turned off the overhead light switch in the control room, it shut off the headphone mixer), we got a decent headphone mix going and those guys were off to the races. They cut just about everything live on the floor of the studio, all in one room in a minimal amount of takes.
It was about a day and a half of basics, then it was overdub time, which took about another half day and consisted of some background vocals, an electric guitar, possibly a harmonica track and a few other odds and ends. It was a wrap in no time at all. I seem to recall there was another guitar track or two that was done later at Jeremy’s place that was eventually emailed to me.
When it was time for mixing, it was really a no fuss, no muss kind of session. I did it at my studio, and was asked to do it very quickly. I’m not exactly sure how long it took, but it was pretty darned quick by today’s standards of taking forever to do anything studio related. Because it was a bit of a rush job, the whole thing was mixed in the computer except for 4 pieces of analog gear.
Master Room Spring reverb (which I use on everything I mix that has reverb on it)
Roland Space Echo RE-201, which is the only echo heard on the record
a pair of D.W. Fearn VT1s that I run my mixes thru
and the Ampex ATR102 1/2″ tape machine at Woolly using BASF 911 tape stock (very analog sounding tape), which all of the mixes were printed to after the fact.
I don’t think anything suffered from using mostly digital gear to make this very analog sounding record.
Check it out when you get a chance. Up until now, I haven’t spent a word speaking of the music of this record. It’s sort of an old school, outlaw country record, like what your uncle may have listened to back in the early 70s. Brilliant songs, with incredible lyrics, virtuoso playing, not a musical moment wasted in this album in my opinion.