Despite 2020 being so utterly bleak, one bright spot was that I was lucky enough to work again with some of my best mates in Nova Mora. It had been over 2 years since we were last in the studio together to record their debut EP so it was cool to hear how their sound had progressed during this time.
We started things off by the band sending me their demos and doing some online pre-production to refine the songs ready for recording. This gives me the chance to give the band some feedback on the songs and they have an opportunity to make changes prior to heading in the studio which is a huge time saver and a great chance to make the songs even better than they already are. As always, we tracked at the awesome Orchard Recording Studios here in Somerset.
Lewis brought his Natal Originals Birch kit into record which has a 22x20 kick, 12” rack and 16” floor. The toms had Evans Black chrome batter heads which I hadn’t used before but the kit sounded so good giving a really powerful and rounded sound which was perfect for what we were going for. We had a few snares to choose from but settled on Mapex Black Panther snare and snareweight to dampen the overtones.
For the drum nerds out there the cymbal setup was also pretty tasty!
13” K Mastersound hi hats
16” K Sweet crash
19” K Custom Hybrid crash
17” K Custom Hybrid crash
20” A Custom Projection ride
8” Oriental trash splash
16” Oriental China
I’m a big fan of Ziljian cymbals so this kit was an absolute joy to record.
Kick Sub - Subkick
Kick In - Shure Beta 52A
Kick Out - Rode NT1A
Snare Top - Shure SM57 > Neve 1073
Snare Bottom - Aston Stealth > Neve 1073
Toms - Sennheiser MD421
OHS - AKG C414 Pair > API 512C
Hats - Shure SM7B
Ride - AKG C1000
Mono Room - Neumann U87
Stereo Rooms - AKG C51
The vibe we were going for on this recording was a kind of gritty, British rock type guitar tone. The band have a really nice collection of guitars and along with the kemper it gave us plenty of tonal options. The guitars we predominantly used were the Gibson Les Paul and Fender Tele with a thinline Tele that worked really well for the cleaner parts. Anyone who has played or recorded a Les Paul knows they can be an absolute nightmare to keep in tune properly! We spent a lot of time getting it to stay in tune but it was worth it for the results it gave.
I used all kemper profiles for the guitars on this. Before entering a recording session I'll get a list of references from the band so I can start to hone in on what amps I think will work best on the recording. We went for mainly Marshall and Orange tones and a really beautiful profile of a 1956 Fender Pro for the cleans.
One stand out feature of Nova Mora's songs are the incredible bass lines and melodies that Jonny puts into the songs and makes the songs even more interesting to listen to.
The actual bass guitar Jonny used was a Stingray Sterling by Musician going into Jonnys board through a Tech 21 Sansamp Bass driver into his Line 6 HX stomp. This is a pretty cool little unit and going through some various compression and EQ into a Ampeg SVT simulation it sounded great. We tweaked some things to make sure the tone sat well with the guitars.
Make sure you check out Jonnys channel over on YouTube!
When it came to vocals I already pretty much knew what mic and chain I was going to use on Josh's voice but we tried out a couple of mics anyway before settling on the classic Shure SM7B into a Neve 1073 preamp and a blue stripe 1176 compressor. When I'm tracking vocals through the 1176 I pretty much always stick with the same settings which is slowest attack, fastest release, 4:1 ratio and take off as much as 10db at the loudest points. It makes the vocals feel a lot fuller without being too over-compressed so there's some flexibility still at the mixing stage.
Josh is one of my best friends and so it's always so much fun when we get to work together. He's a really great vocalist and is open to experimenting with changing up vocal lines, melodies and harmonies on the spot without it throwing him off. Vocals are the most important part of any song for me and being able to try out different ideas and build the song this way meant we came out with something really special.
One cool part we saved towards the end of the session was one particular vocal line leading the last chorus in that we wanted to sound like it was being shouted in desperation from quite far away. To do this I had Josh in the vocal booth with the door wide open and the mic far away in the next room. I had him shout/almost scream the line and drop the pre-amp and compressor pretty hard which picked up all the room reflections and added distance which sounded so cool when dropped in with the rest of the track. You could fake this on the computer but it's much more fun to capture it exactly how you want it to sound!
The guys had already pretty intensively demoed the songs prior to coming to record which also included some cool synth patches to supplement the songs with. These were all settings from the stock logic synths which are absolutely fantastic.
Make sure you head over to Nova Mora's social media profiles and give them a follow to keep updated on when these songs will be released!
Facebook - www.facebook.com/novamoraband
Instagram - www.instagram.com/novamoraband