Some notes on the making of "Welcome To Earth"
Recording of the
album took place over mainly August & September 2000,
although some of the backing tracks go back quite a bit further
The recordings were engineered by Pod and the eventual production was a joint effort; Rob put in a great many vocal ideas both at the backing and lead vocal stages, which you can hear in the finished production, remarkable when you consider he can't actually sing to save his life.
Drum tracks were recorded first on to the Tascam 238s, which is a last-generation cassette based 8-track, using Dolby S noise reduction; results are superb, and you can't tell the (by today's standards) "lowly" origin of the sound. The age of the machine was telling a little though, and during the backing vocal stage, a couple of channels went down with extreme crackling, causing us to abandon two night's recording. The wonderful Nick Robertson at Electro Music traced the culprit to leaky capacitors on the Dolby boards, and soon put us back in business. Ever may his name be praised.
The drums you hear are a bit of a mixture of Rob's own kit and whatever was lying around the rehearsal room, so there's several tracks (don't ask us which) with an unknown brand borrowed bass drum, but it all worked nicely in the end. On the 8-track we only had separate tracks for bass drum, snare/hi-hat, and one for overhead. Luckily, as the overhead was an AKG C414 large diaphragm condenser (v. good), what you hear is mostly from that, with a little eq or reverbing taken off the snare/hi-hat track. The toms were mic'ed individually at the recording stage but simply mixed into the overhead track at the same time. So three tracks on the tape, and you hear the drums in glorious mono. One track, "Looking-Glass War" is an exeption to this scheme, as the drum parts were recorded on two tracks of an old Tascam 244 about a year prior to the main recording! A click was recorded onto tape during the drum-part era, which allowed Rob to re-do his parts and drop-in in places where musical breaks allowed; in a couple of cases, he completely re-did his drums at the last stage before lead vocals went down. Lead vocal was the last to be done, as that had to go on the track previously used for the click, thus wiping it; so everything else had to be good enough before that final stage.
The backing vocals were all recorded in the same way over several nights with the assistance of Mark Lawrence, who to be fair can actually sing properly not like Andy and Pod, hence his nickname of Mr Nicevoice. We would choose parts and generally all sing the same part on the first take, giving a nice blend of timbres, then all sing again a second part as we bounced to another track, sometimes Pod singing an octave above Mark; the end result being a single track with six voices on it. At the mixing stage, Pod used a delay to split this track into hard left/right stereo, meaning essentially you hear twelve voices on most of the bv parts; and at the expense of only one track on tape.
The electric guitar parts were all recorded direct from Pod's Line6 Flextone combo, either from the headphone output, or from the loop send via an Award Matchbox cabinet-simulated DI box. The bass guitar parts were all recorded direct from an Award JD10 Jerry Donahugh direct recording guitar preamp. Both these sources were compressed and enhanced slightly onto tape using Behringer Autocom and Ultrafex units. A Behringer Multiband Denoiser single-ended noise reduction was also used at this stage.