RENE LABRE

9AM Abbey Road South Studios-Successful Drum Tracks Recorded

The absence of Dear Old Davy Boy being out on the road led me to lay the rhythm tracks with just the bass and guitar,actually starting with acoustic guitar and rented a piano to go on the patio of my penthouse.My neighbors shouting requests out their windows at 3 AM.I rehearsed long and hard with a metronome but did not use a click track when I recorded.This is all well and good if you are going for a "feel" type of track,It is really close in and not wavering all over the place yet it still is not as nailed down as when you use a click.(If you want to test this play a little riff along with a metronome for twenty minutes.)If you are going "sans click" you want to have the live drums on the original rhythm section pass.Ideal to have drums,bass,and rhythm guitar going.I have a pretty large list of good pals that are great drummers but I was holding out for Davy Boy cause I really enjoy working with him and he always plays huge rooms at state fairs with Dennis Lee so he plays real loud stadium style in the studio which is what I dig,I want powerful Drummers.Another thing here is that if you are going for a "Feel" track you are not going to be able to go to electronic drums or a drum machine as it will never line up to the SMPTE info.This leads you to overdubbing live drums to a prerecorded track.I had decided after doing the rhythm tracks that I was not going to have drums on the record opting just for percussion with Nemil Chababe.My producer,Ken Veenstra,differed with me on that."We have to have live drums on here...for the single to work and the soundtrack to the film (which he is also producing)the tune is not going to be it's best without live drums." Calling for a session that was going to be a real bugger no matter how you look at it and no matter who you were going to call in to do it.Even for a top studio pro this is a rough go.They are not going to just walk in and nail it.A friend of mine John Virouete,had been bugging me for a long time about doing a session for me.They call him "Rambo"A very popular very heavy metal drummer from a local group called "Vain Rachael."One of my good friend Donald Tardy's (obituary) pals"Every time I saw him he would raise his hands up and say "What the fuck man,are we gonna do something or not,come on man,let's do it!"To myself I smiled the next day when I saw him and said,"I have you booked for a session this friday,can you do it?"Umm.he is a very emotional Puerto Rican guy,a man of honor..."If we can rehearse the night before I will do it."This was so well and good as the tune is a completely different style than he is accustomed to playing so the night before we stood in a huge rehearsal studio with me playing bass and him doing the drums.I wanted just a straight rock beat but he put this latino feel into it.What a surprise I had waiting for him the next day,he was going to be pulled through a knothole!It was truly a very hard session for him,very demanding and very precise.There was no middle ground,he had to be technically on and at the same time responding to the "Feel" of the rest of the orchestra which had done the tracks months before.My producer sequestered himself into the control room saying "do whatever Rene says and I took my position as conducter in studio A in front of the drum booth.My boy,I am so proud of him,came through big and bad.A three hour session expanded into six.It was very,very hard,we took a break for a smoke and some coffee and Rambo said,"I have lost my sense of time,man I am sorry that I suck so bad today!"I had to encourage him again and explained that I neglected to tell him how hard a thing that this is to do and that we were going to just have to keep nicking away away at it until we hit the feel.The thing you have to get right on this type of session is the headphone mix,pulling in and out of the headphone mix different parts of the orchestra and then balancing it out to what he is playing and how he hears it.The headphone mix of course is the key anyway to the recording performer yet here is is "situation critical."I should be charging you to tell you this.And I did not mean to make light of my producer,his primary duties on this day were as the recording engineer.Trust me, he had a full plate to deal with behind the console,constantly re-mixing the orchestra to make it fit for Rambo.All of us knowing I would keep us in session for 12 hours if that is what it took.Ken's secretary,karen,came in with food menu's to the response of "Just more coffee please."We had grown after three hours very weary as an air (spirit) of failure entered the room.The intensity of the work and concentration,to be rolling time after time a perfect take to have it fall down in a part.It had to be a front to back full performance,no punching in.Once you got ahead or behind of the SMPTE track the whole recording just turned into gibberish.It had to make sense to the computer you see when it was recording or the computer would break down and start to release all kinds of nonsense trying it's best to line it all up.The SMPTE track is the signal that lines everything up.True of analog recording science also.It is totally a mathmatical thing,physics,mathematical relationships and equasions,after a time if you are feeding it a things that is not related it,too,begins to flip out and go crazy and your engineer cannot control it much less explain it."Machine go crazy" is the best they can say.But we are all pro's here you see working together,nobody got upset to bad,nobody started blaming eachother out of frustration and the track began to "weave in" the SMPTE stopped flipping out because it was picking up on it's input and realized mathematically it made sense to it.Rambo started digging into it.We started laughing and joking again a little bit,Ken does not tolerate to much levity whilst recording,I waved my conductors wand upon the most high and we got the track.We got that freaky little striped beast corralled into a cage to do our bidding.That same old little dirty rat bastard.We have now got the track.The SMPTE fully agrees.It is going to blow you away my friends.We are professionals,we never take the easy way out.we go through the hottest fire standing up to deliver.So that is why I hook up with good people to work with.That is how I came through.If you are planning to fly you have to have wind beneath your wings to give you lift and drag.You cannot rehabilitate an asshole.

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