Musical Rooms

July 14, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 79: CODES

Filed under: Interviews,Irish Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 4:13 pm

codes

“Our rehearsal studio is locked away on the top floor of a creaky old Victorian house on a hillside in north Dublin. The room itself is quite large (it needs to be to accommodate our mountains of gear!) and is soundproofed, which is important as we usually rehearse for long periods of time and often into the night. We’ve adorned the room with black curtains and some neon lights and strobes. When we rehearse the live show we try to make the space feel as much like a live situation as possible so we often rehearse in near darkness with the lights flashing intensely. There aren’t many other houses directly around so it’s a great place to make a lot of noise. The house that the room is in has a lot of character; it’s a really big premises with a lot of history attached to it, sometimes it has quite a dark mood especially during the winter months and there are a couple of mysterious locked up rooms at the end of our corridor that seem as though they’ve not been explored in years. We love the mystery that lies behind those locked doors.

We like to experiment a lot in Codes and we like to have a lot of gear on hand in the studio to explore loads of different possibilities when we’re writing or throwing around new ideas. You’ll find some old modded synths, which we’re particularly fond of, some newer gadgets ,our laptops and Kaoss pad along with a Korg Ms2000r unit and some Roland keyboards. Each member of the band uses both an electronic instrument along with their more traditional instrument. Paul (our drummer) has his kit, a glockenspiel and a Roland SPD-s drum pad and we like combining those elements of acoustic drumming with live-sampling and electronic drum triggering.

I use a trio of 70’s Telecaster Custom, deluxe and standard models into a black Orange RV50 Combo and sometimes bi-amp into a Marshall TSL150 Stack with a mode4 cabinet. I’m having lots of fun at the minute with the Orange combo though as it’s my newest addition, my mic stand holds a Kaoss3 Pad which I use for sampling and vocal effects in real time and a small glockenspiel which I use on a few songs. Raymond uses a Roland FP-5 Piano and a Macbook Pro running reason with a MIDI keyboard for synth sounds and a Gretsch guitar into a Fender Deville 410. Eoin’s bass rig features Deluxe Jazz bass into a Marshall Silver Jubilee 350w head, a Hartke head and an Ashdown 4×12 Cabinet along with the aforementioned Ms2000r running from another MIDI keyboard. Eoin, Raymond and I have a lot of pedals on our pedalboards, which is really great for experimenting coming up with new sounds when we do switch back to our stringed instruments. The four of us sing too, and harmonies are an integral part of our sound so we obviously each have our mics in place in our respective shadowy corners of the room for that.

We’re particularly focussed when we get into the room and we like to work from lists so the obligatory whiteboard is really important for structuring songs and making sure we’re not retreading old ground. A clock is always important too as it’s easy to get lost in the moment as there are no windows in the room. Sometimes we could rehearse for five or six hours on end and not notice that it’s gotten dark outside! We sometimes like to record on the fly as well when we’re demo-ing a new song so our Mac is on hand to help out whenever we get the need.

We usually rehearse three nights a week though it fluctuates depending on what we have coming up in our schedule or if we’re making particular headway on something new. It’s great that we have no time restrictions as it’s our own space so if we get in the zone with a song we’ll usually try to keep working on it while the creativity is flowing. I usually write the bones of the material on my own with a piano or acoustic guitar to get started and then after some arranging on Reason will bring the piece to the guys, this helps get a broader perspective on the song and where it’s going. Of course then it can completely change when someone else adds a new part or we decide to re-mould it in a different manner, so usually most of the actual rehearsal time is spent doing that. I’m good at starting things off but useless at making a final decision on a track so this seems to work well for everyone.

For us, the most important part of songwriting is restraint. We always try to set ourselves creative boundaries to carry through an overall standard. I think that the boundaries that you set yourself when writing a song define the sound more than anything else. It helps characterise the sound, keeps the music focussed and concise (when it needs to be) and makes the bigger picture come into view more quickly. For example at the minute we’re experimenting with writing a song that combines odd time signatures (11/4 & 17/4) to create polyrhythm. Traditionally writing a song in these metres seems unnatural and sounds strange to the ear. I’d find it impossible to naturally write in such a way, but by imposing myself the restriction of having to make the song work within that paradigm, I find it easier to make a concept become an end product.

Our space is one of the most defining and important aspects of our band, without the freedom we have within the walls of the room, we’d never have the opportunity to be as focussed and work creatively in our own time.”

Musical Rooms was talking to Daragh Anderson of CODES
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Codes are an alternative/electronic quartet from Dublin. Comprised of Daragh Anderson (Vocals, Guitars, Samples), Eoin Stephens (Bass, Vocals, Synth), Paul Reilly (Drums, Vocals, Samples) and Raymond Hogge (Guitars, Vocals, Piano, Synth), they have just released a single, They released ‘This Is Goodbye’. Their debut album, Trees Dream In Algebra was recorded in the UK and New Zealand with acclaimed producer Greg Haver (Manics, SFA) and mastered in New York by Greg Calbi (U2, Interpol, Kings of Leon) and will be released in September. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/codesofficial or www.codes.ie

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July 8, 2009

Competition: Win tickets to see One for the Team

Filed under: competitions,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 2:24 pm
Tags: ,

oftteamUS outfit One for the Team play Whelan’s on Friday week, July 17th. To win one of two double passes to the gig, just answer the following question and leave your answer in the comments by lunchtime next Tuesday.

What state in the US do the band hail from?

Update: Congrats Louise and Gillian – enjoy the gig.

Link: Musical Rooms Part 78: One for the Team

July 6, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 78: One for the Team

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:21 am
Tags: , ,

OFTT

“I love to write music in my apartment. Well, more specifically, in my bedroom. It’s quiet, I’m near the Mississippi River and I can see the Minneapolis skyline from my window. I have hardwood floors and a lot windows, so it’s always sunny and radiates warmth. I also have two orchids on the window ledge next to my desk. I have three guitars, one acoustic guitar, four amplifiers (two big, two small), two synthesizers, a bass guitar, my recording equipment (a laptop with ProTools, a Digi002, a SansAmp, and a Sound Delux U195 vocal microphone), two sets of oversized headphones, and a brilliant hi-fi stereo set-up.

I’d have the most important things for me to have here in this space are the orchids, a model X-Wing and an old broken wind-up clock that I’ve grown rather fond of. My apartment is also my office, so I spend quite a bit of the day within its walls. I tend to drop everything when inspiration strikes, I feel as thought that provides for the most energy and thought when writing. Isolation is very important for the beginning of the process. I often feel like a mad scientist hiding in my evil lair all alone. However, after I get the initial skeletal structure of the song, I bring to the rest of the band and then the song becomes their problem too.

What I like most about here is that it feels like no other place in the world. It feels like home.”

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One for the Team is an American indie-rock band based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Founded by American songwriter Ian Anderson in 2006, the band has released two full-length albums – Good Boys Don’t Make Noise and Build It Up – on Afternoon Records and an ep, ‘Build Garden’ this year. The band is completed by co-lead vocalist and keyboard player Grace Fiddler and drummer Elliot Manthey. They play Whelan’s on Friday July 17th. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/onefortheteam.

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July 3, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 77: Patrick Kelleher

pkelleher

“My favourite place to make music is usually either my bedroom or the living room of whatever house I’m living in, as I like to be more or less at my leisure when music-making. The only time I was ever in a recording studio was in Edinburgh with a friend of mine who studied music at Napier University, and all the sessions were for three hours at 8 or 9am in the morning at the weekends, and it was quite difficult for me to ‘get into the groove’, as they say. Sometimes I get out of bed in the night and record a bit, so it’s nice to have the computer or 4-track in the room. With the band, Children Under Hoof, it’s a bit different, we create most of the music together while jamming out in my shed and that works well too.

The place where I recorded most of the album was the living room of a house I was living in in Blackrock, which was quite large and bright, with revolting beige patterned curtains. I used the conservatory in that house too which was great, extremely bright during the day, and varying from uncomfortably hot to uncomfortably cold. Yet I would spend days and nights in there. The acoustics were good due to the glass windows and tiled floor. Plus it smelled of fresh basil, which we were growing in pots. Which is nice. I think the main thing is to just feel comfortable in the space.

My bedroom is full of stuff; instruments, recording devices, amps etc. I have to pull everything out on a daily basis in order to use it, and then tidy it all up at night, so that nothing gets lost or damaged and so that I can move around in my room. I’ve got my computer, mixer, digital four-track, tape four-track, mics, two Yamaha keyboards, a Yamaha Digital Synthesiser, two cheap guitars, a Takamine acoustic guitar, Casio Digital Guitar, Accordion, Concertina, Banjo, Mandolin, recorder, tin whistle, jingly bells and countless other items. I usually find myself beginning with one of the keyboards and working from there, though the guitar used to be my starting point.

Once I have some kind of recording device I can use almost anything to make the music, so either my computer or one of the four-tracks is essential for me. After that, any instrument and a microphone. I know now that it’s important to have some professional headphones for monitoring and mixing the tracks, as the sound of your music can vary a lot depending on what you play it on, particularly when it comes to bass. Having said that, I sometimes just use cheap ones for the recording itself. Another important thing for me now is my mixer. It’s just a cheap behringer one, but it’s great for EQ and effects.

I spend too much time there. I don’t get enough sunlight. I just try to play/write/record whenever I can. I prefer to work by myself if it’s my own music. I don’t really know why. But that’s been the way so far. I have ideas for things that sometimes sound a bit ridiculous at first, eg. doing a Gary Numan-esque song or whatever, and if I share that with someone before recording, their surprise or cynicism might put doubt in my mind or affect the initial, somewhat innocent glee I had at the prospect. Better just to record anything, as outrageous as you like and show people what you mean rather than tell them. I am hoping to do some collaborative things with a couple of people though.

I don’t have a specific method for getting started, but more often than not I have a couple of lines/lyrics floating around in my head. Then when I start messing around on instruments I try and squeeze the lines in somehow. When I was working full-time, I used to have pages and pages of lyrics that I came up with while working, usually jotted down in the bathroom or whatever, and a small amount of time to play music and use them. Now it’s different. I spend most of my time with the instruments, recording and developing every good melody I think of. I’m not spending time doing mundane work, so naturally I don’t have the pages of lyrics. I end up writing lyrics on the spot, random streams of words from my head that feel like they go with the music. And that works quite well.

At the moment my Zoom H4/External sound card isn’t working too well with my laptop so I’m putting my instruments and mics into the mixer and then from there straight into the line in on the laptop. I use Steinberg Cubase SX for everything. I still sometimes use my tape 4-track and my tape recorder because they sound so nice. Generally, though, digital recording is great. I put guitars, drum machines, keyboards and vocals through effects pedals, particularly delay (Boss DD) and reverb (Electro Harmonix Holy Grail). My (relatively) new Yamaha CS1X digital synthesizer (second hand) is great for sounds, synth drums and effect’s. It’s an all-round dream for a newcomer to the world of synthesizers. But I don’t want to get too caught up with Fancy sounds and devices either. I like earthy sounds and background noises. Also a pitfall of handy digital equipment that I regularly fall into is recording multi-layer songs all on the same instrument, and then finding myself in a sticky spot when trying to figure out how to play the stuff live.

I think the thing I like best is the fact that it’s my house, my bed is right beside me, kitchen is downstairs, I live with my friends and they are around, we have a laugh and drink a lot of tea, play records/watch videos and such.”

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Dublin-based Patrick Kelleher is a 24-year-old musician hailing from Glendalough in Co. Wicklow. He spent much of his childhood in the English town of Rugby, hometown of Spacemen 3. His music varies from brooding, tense electronica to jaunty acoustica with a twist of something ethereal or idiosyncratic. The songs are often a mixture of live instrumentation, drum machines, voice-sampling yamaha keyboards and heavily-distorted vocal. His debut album You Look Cold (Irish Times review here) was recently released in Ireland on Osaka Records and gets a UK release on July 19th. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/patrickkelleher

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