When we sat down to work out how we were going to approach our next release, we had a few big decisions to make. Having recorded at Pony Studios with the almighty Troy McCosker for our EP, we decided that the scope of this project required a different approach this time around. Having moved more and more into recording and mixing myself over the last few years, we decided to produce the album at Apollo Studios, my personal recording studio.
Why did we choose my smaller studio over one of the big ones? Probably the most important two factors were cost and flexibility. We wanted our release to have the time, effort and production spent on it that we simply couldn't afford or manage in larger studio. Furthermore, we wanted to grow and develop our sound (along with our music) together as a band, spending time recording a song, tweaking it, re-writing sections, adding textures and fitting it together with the rest of the release.
Jon had already written a lot of songs and riff ideas since before the EP was even released at the end of 2011. I had a few vague ideas, and Gummas and Batty had some stuff too. We didn't want to leave anything behind this time around - we wanted to lay it all on the table and put together the best release we could. We'll talk about songwriting and the thematic ideas sometime in the future - for now, I just want to look at my recording approach.
We wanted an organic, interesting sound for this release. I consciously made the choice to avoid any sort of quanitisation (apart from maybe manually shifting the odd note here and there when cosmic flux interrupted our concentration during tracking...), favouring good playing, production and solid tracking techniques over sample replacement and heavy use of effects. We all knew we were going to have to work our arses off to be able the songs right rather, than try and 'fix it in the mix'. We'd record to click tracks, but we'd give it as much feeling as possible. What this meant was that I had flexibility in my mixing techniques to bring out the character of Hybrid Nightmares, rather than spending all of my time fixing mistakes.
We decided to track a HEAP of guitar lines, for a big texture and to reflect the scope of our songs. The plan was to get lots of tones, lots of amps, and mix it into a great tapestry of light and shade.
Vocally, Loki, Jon and Gummas were all set to work on lyrics. Loki and I were going to work on more and more challenging vocal rhythms in the studio, and would experiment with new types of vocal harmonies.
In short, our recording plan was to spend a lot of time in the studio tracking and producing the music, letting the songs evolve a little more after each mix. That's why it's taken us so goddamn long - we wanted to get it right!
So what can you expect to hear in the next release? You're not going to hear sterile, note-perfect performances. You're not even going to hear heavy guitars, big drums and thunderous bass in every song.
What you'll hear is a release full of energy and feeling, from dark mournful interludes through to epic metal ballads and even the odd progressive monstrosity. It has been a challenging recording process so far, definitely the biggest and most ambitious I've worked on, but hey, why do things the easy way when you can do it the Hybrid Nightmares way?
I'll post some studio diaries at some point in the future - our setup at Apollo, how Batty tracked drums, how distracting Loki's jokes can be when trying to smash out a vocal take and heaps more in the coming weeks and months. I'm sure some of the other boys will share some of their experiences too.
If you'd like to hear about anything in particular, ask in the comments!