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Recording Maybeshewill – Interview with Jamie Ward

Maybeshewill is one of my favorite post-rock bands and they’ve started working on their third LP. They’ve posted a few updates on their site (read part 1, and part 2) but there hasn’t been much info for a while and nothing specific about the gear and techniques. I decided to give Jamie Ward (Bass, Engineer, Producer) a little poke to find out what’s going on behind the scenes on the new record.
Hi Jamie
I was wondering if you could share some info from the production side of things on the new record. What’s the progress?

We’re still at a writing stage in the record but we’re not too far off now. We’ve had two recording sessions so far. One for drums for a few tracks at a studio called Seamus Wong where I do some engineering and one for guitars for the single we’re putting out (To the skies from a hillside) at my home studio. On previous albums before I joined the band Maybeshewill have recorded everything themselves with whatever gear they could get their hands on and wherever they could. These sessions have been a bit of an explorative venture. I can record drums fine at my home studio but it’s pretty dry so tracking in a larger room was a bit of a no-brainer.
We’re doing more recording sessions in September. I think I’ll try a few more room mics on the drums this time see if I can bring out even more ambience.

What’s the guitar tracking signal chain?
For the single we used mostly used John’s Gibson 335 into my friends Marshall JVM, into our toured-to-death Marshall AX cab. I miked it up with 2 (Shure) Beta 57′s one into my TLA C1 and one into my SSL X Logic Alpha Channel. One of these has much crisper high end and one has much fatter low end, no prizes for guessing which one’s which.
In the past the band have used distortion pedals into a Plexi and also Guitar Rig so the sound is a bit of a departure form the previous album’s guitar sounds. At the time I just thought “Lets get the best gear we have together and make it sound as rad as possible”, the tone is slicker but perhaps not as punk, a less gritty aesthetic than the pedal distortion on albums previous. We only had one day to get it done so there was no time for indecision. I don’t take D.I’s either, I like to make commitments.
How about Bass?
I don’t really have any decent bass gear so it was just Squire P-Bass into my SSL, then the SansAmp plugin. That thing sounds great but has a slightly boomy low mid so I find myself having to multiband it.
Any cool electronic stuff going into this record?
Yes I think this will be the most electronic sounding Maybeshewill record, some tracks are perhaps a little dreamier sounding. The single is probably the least electronic track on the album but that’s just how it fell.

Any tips for recording post-rock in general?
Record your drums in a big or at least fairly reverberant room. I think having that air around the kit is essential in sparse atmospheric music and reverb just won’t really do it my opinion. Triggering room mics is nice but I can never find a decent kick room sample. The Slate snare room samples are sweet but there’s something odd about the kicks, I find them a bit plasticy and boomy. Adding these over an already nice room ambient sounding kit can make things sound really lush.
I think with a lot of post rock band it’s important to capture the band live as interaction and moments are very important, with Maybeshewill however there are a lot of electronic elements so we have to be fairly strict to the grid and record each part separately.
Do you have any studio upgrades planned? Any gear your lusting for?
I’d like to get a 1073 clone, maybe one of the Vintech ones, just to have one channel of super awesomeness. Spending all that money on something as plain as a preamp kind of bums me out a little though, for that money I could buy 2 synths or a different amp or something. Things like that are much more satisfying things to spend money on really. I think the quality of instruments/amps makes more difference to the sonics than things like preamps but It certainly doesn’t hurt your recordings to have a few nice pre’s.
What’s the post rock scene like? How are the fans?
I don’t really know how to answer this. Like with any scene there are a handful of great bands and a heap of imitators. Hopefully the Maybeshewill sound is identifiable enough for us not to be classed as imitators.
I think people who might be into post rock are looking for something challenging and unusual so I would say fans of the genre are open minded people. Meeting anyone who is into your band and has made an effort to come see you is always a humbling experience.
What bands are you guys into?
Between the band we listen to quite a wide range of music. I think we generally agree between bands we like and don’t which is quite important really when it comes to trying to write together. Band’s I’m really digging at the moment are Caribou, Arcade Fire, Four Tet and Codex Leicester.
Any bands you’d love to be on tour with?
I’d like to go on tour with And So I Watch You From Afar again. They’re good friends of ours so touring with them is pretty lively and they are totally amazing every night.
Excellent. Thank you good sir.
Find Maybeshewill online
Their site
Here’s Jamie’s studio myspace (with gear list)

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