For Smiling Buddha Cabaret, we’d demoed a bunch of songs, then the band went into the studio with Don Smith. After the recording, the consensus with the band and the management was that the demos had…magic, the attitude that wasn’t on the studio stuff. They decided to go with the original recordings, against all odds. Thank God they did!
It was very live-off-the-floor, a lot of first take stuff. Some of the lyrics were just done on the spot! The actual recording’s done through a Mackie 32 8-bus console into three ADATs with a BRC. The real trick is the monitor setup, which is a mirror of the equipment on 54-40’s live stage. All the band’s mics go into a Peavey 16×16 monitor board (model MD Monitor), and from there we take individual feeds into the recording board.
We baffle the drums sometimes, and the guitar amps, but you have to keep eye contact among the band. Basically, it’s all in the same room – no isolation – and the monitor is loud as hell. Still, I can play people the tapes and solo the overhead mics, and they’re amazed at how minimal the leakage is. Neil has a great sound with an Audio Technica AT4031 – a three hundred dollar mic; sounds great! We put that through an Alesis compressor for deessing, with a Boss EQ in the side chain. We put on a regular pop filter, and that setup seems to enhance the intelligibility of the vocals.
You do sacrifice the room sound, obviously, so sometimes I’ll take a track, feed it out through a monitor into a live room., then record the amience and add it in later.
Glen Reely, recording/live engineer for 54-40. Credit include their recent album, Smiling Buddha Cabaret.