Unless someone actually presses ‘record’ on a tape player, a band play a bunch of songs from start to finish, and hey presto: an album exists, it’s possibly time to concede that our studio knowledge is hovering, slightly embarrassed, around the zero mark. Thankfully, in a classic case of those-who-can’t-clumsily-intro-those-who-can, we’re here to do some learns from people who absolutely know their studio onions.
Tucked down an alley off Homerton High Street resides Sound Savers, a studio run by three guys (Mark Jasper, Henry Withers and Alex Clegg) with taste in music which we totally get – we’ve even see the likes of Grubs play a wonderfully-crammed tiny show there – and technical knowledge we totally don’t. Celebrating the launch of their slick-as-hell new website soundsavers.net (actually designed by Oliver Fisher from Cold Pumas’ Frontwards Design), we caught up with the three to discuss five of the favourite songs they’ve recorded at the studio, and the stories behind them. Have a listen and a read, visit the site and tell everyone you know that needs to know these things all about Sound Savers.
Gloss Rejection – Unwilling
Gloss Rejection were a band that I worked with from the very beginning when they started and I’d worked with Katy before, recording her old band Weird Menace.
This was quite an emotional session as it was right at the end of the band, I think there were tears during this vocal take. Katy put every ounce in to her performance, I think the tears might have been mine!
I remember fiddling with the drums quite a lot and trying to make sure I got a really clear sound from each instrument. I wanted each part to stand on it’s own, like a machine where you can see the inner workings. It is one of my favourite things I ever worked on. The tears still flow! Mark Jasper
Puppy – Forever
Puppy are one of Sound Savers most regular customers. I had worked with Jock on their earlier stuff and some previous incarnations of the band but ‘Forever’ felt like the point that it really clicked for them. It is a great song and the mixture of big riffs and harmonies and some deceptively sophisticated songwriting seems to have become a kind of blueprint for what they do.
I really like the sound of the guitars on this one in particular because they sound huge but still quite raw and not too polished. The effect was achieved with some pretty extensive multi-tracking using multiple amps and guitars to get that thickness. I think there are never less than four tracks of guitar on each side during the heavy bits.
I’m also really into the ending of this song; the melody comes full circle and rounds off in such a nice way. I always think to do something interesting with the end of a song rather than finishing with just a fade out or a big chord shows real craft and that is definitely on display here.
Also, this song ended up in Guitar Hero, which is pretty cool! Alex Clegg
Cold Pumas – A Change Of Course
This is off their second LP, which was recorded in one weekend straight on to tape. We spent a lot of time working on the record after that initial weekend, recording vocals, percussion and mixing each song.
At one point, Patrick, Ollie and I would meet up every week and tweak a mix, then take it home and listen to it. Then meet the next week. We did this for a long time, and even after that I kept coming back to the mixes. I have to say it was totally worth every bit of it. The record has a really magical feel to it.
Every second has been handled with care and diligence and even now listening to it, I feel like I am part of it. I love this album. Mark Jasper
Claw Marks – Coat
Although these chaps are friends of mine, this is a bit different from the stuff I usually work on, largely because it is more heavy and horrible. Some of these particular musicians stay out all night while I have been in bed at 10:30 with a decaffeinated tea watching ‘Cardigan Bay Coastal Lives’ on iPlayer.
The lion growling-sounding sample is from some ridiculous Yamaha keyboard drum machine, which we doctored digitally to make it quite evil. Then we manually painted in the delay timings for the surprising intro moment. Thom and I have a good way of working together quickly with guitars and sounds to reach the effect we want. The touchstone was early Marilyn Manson, pleasingly outside my comfort zone. I will leave people to decipher the metaphor forming the song’s lyrical content. I think the drums and vocal have a nice blend between a natural sound and a satisfying slightly digital heaviness. Not particularly ‘warm and inviting’ at all. Henry Withers
Two White Cranes – Adler
I worked with Roxy on Grubs’ first 7” and on their first album, It Must Be Grubs. We worked on this two weeks after that, last January. It was a very exciting time.
Roxy is an amazing performer, and a brilliant person to record with. She is always positive and full of ideas. We tracked this really quickly, in two parts with her recording this set of songs with Dan from Trust Fund on drums and Owen from Joanna Gruesome on bass. There was very little rehearsal and I think that gives the songs a really nice loose but lively feel. There was an excitement because they were playing the songs together for the first time. ‘Adler’ is a great pop song, revealing a new layer with each listen. I still listen to it all the time. Mark Jasper
And a final word from Mark, Alex and Henry –
Since opening Sound Savers in 2013 our plan has been to create the most accessible recording studio in London. We want to be a place where people can afford to take time to fully realize their ideas and try out new things without compromising on sound quality, to be the obvious point of call for new bands doing their first recording and a place that people come back to again and again. We aim to be a professional quality recording studio available to any and all musicians and to this end we will always keep our rates as low as we possibly can.
Due to a recent slight drop in our overheads we are introducing a new flat rate FROM NOW of £100 per day or £50 per evening for recordings. We will keep this going as long as we can. If you have a recording booked in and we quoted you more, it will now cost £100 per day. If you want to record with us and can’t afford £100 per day, please get in touch anyway. If you’re a new band and have never done a recording before and are a bit daunted by the whole process we especially want to hear from you. If you’ve recorded with us before, now is the time to get your new songs tight and give us a call!