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April 30, 2008

I'm Going Home

Managed to find an hour this evening to play, so I recorded a quick first verse from Hootie & the Blowfish's "I'm Going Home". A work in progress... need to listen to the record again to get the lead right. Starting to be more confident carrying a tune. At least recording myself helps me hear what I'm doing wrong.


Further on up the road said...

Don't know the original tune but that sounds pretty good to me.

Kenski said...

Just listened back to it this morning. It sounds better than it did last night (!)

I have *got* to remember to turn the 'power dimension' switch off on the amp as it tries to keep constant volume on everything. For the fills under the vocals I just had to halve the volume.

This is one of the songs I plan on trying to do 'properly' as a demo.

I was surprisingly happy with the vocal, all things considered. I can feel myself gaining confidence. By recording myself I can hear what sounds bad and hence do something about it. I do notice that a) I don't sing out b) I need to 'invest' in what I'm singing rather than being monotone and c) my accent when speaking is sometimes mangled (long story but people often don't believe I'm British). The vocal here is actually the second take (I didn't have time for a third!). On the first take I sounded like I was from the deep south, singing stuff like 'lay-est day' instead of 'last day'. Very Penelope Pitstop.

Axe Victim said...

Nothng wrong with that mate, Mick Jagger has made a tidy living out of pretending to be an American for 40 odd years. I'd like to hear a song writen and performed by you, not a blinkin' cover. Your 'emotion' will then shine through. Keep it up fella.

Kenski said...

Hey, it could be worse. People used to think I was South African...

Actually, I have a question for you, Mr Axe. I noticed in your phlegm bedecked recent demo that your vocals weren't as 'strong' as on the final product Magic Ship songs, not in terms of hitting the notes, but on the 'real' recordings you have a more raw, energetic growly thing going on.

Do you find that recording in the studio brings out that performance. What do you think the difference is? Was it just being sick at the time (a fair excuse!), the microphone, the recording environment? What?

How did you go from not singing to singing in the first place? I know you said you just had to fill a gap, but was it just the case that you started singing and that was that, or did you have a process?

As far as songwriting goes, I'm still working on my 'original' stuff. For pride reasons I feel less inclined to post works in progress here until they have more meat on the bone... I will soon enough :-)

Dave Jacoby said...

I'm thinking of putting up some stuff, too. How do you get the music slidy thing?

And I thought it was a very solid demo.

Kenski said...

I think all the instructions are here:

It's a pretty basic one, but hey, it works!

Axe Victim said...

Questions questions questions....

OK to start off with my, ahem, style. The recent home demo was recorded with me full of cold and not feeling too good. But, because it's simply a means of explaining (demonstrating) the melody and basic structure of the song to the lads in the band, I really couldn't (at the time) care less about the finished product because it was just a means to an end. The vocals were also recorded on a basic Shure SM57 all purpuse recording microphone which only costs £70-100 approx. It's great for vocal demos and guitar micing and so forth. It's a really good all purpose bit of inexpensive kit.

The other thing you have to consider is that this particular vocal was squeezed in around my kids having their evening teatime and not getting under my feet in my living room where my 8-track kit is set up (Zoom MR802 with in built CD burner). The vocal take was knocked off quickly at about 5.30pm just to get the song out of my head so that I could move onto something new. That song Goodbye Amelia was starting to drive me nuts and I just wanted it done with. I love it but I was obsessing over it.

Now you also have to keep in mind that there are two kinds of 'voices;. A 'morning' voice when the throat is constricted from sleep, and an 'evening' or 'night' voice when the throat and vocal chords are nice and relaxed. My morning voice is a bit like Paul Weller - listen to the vocal on my demo of my song Remembrence Day which was recorded mid morning. It's chilled and it's not a song that requires a full vocal belt so mid morning was nice. I was experimenting at the time and that was a nice suprise. Therfore 5.30pm is probably the worst time to sing anything!

Why don't I sound like I do on my records? Simple really. At home I don't 'go for it' because I have people all around me and I don't want to upset my neighbours. I live in the burbs so I like to be a nice person to live next to. Also, because it's only for demos, I don't need to ever feel that I am giving a 'vocal performance' unlike when I am recording in the studio with some very expensive vocal microphones. For example, the mic I use in the studio costs as much as your guitar. It can pick up the sound of me rummaging in my pockets for a guitar pick, it is that sensitive. So when I am recording I am going for it hammer and tong. Let's face it - the whole point of recording is to give 100%of yourself to your 'performance'. You wouldn't do it otherwise. I sing quite tight, which means that if I was to have vocal training I could sing much better, more in tune and be more relaxed. But I am not a singer. I'm a rock n' roll hollerer. That's my current style.

Finally, how did I end up singing? Simple. Nobody else would and seeing as I was the guy that put the band together I was therfore the one that was going to have to step up to the plate and just do it. I had never sung before and I was not keen to do it. We then got a singer in, but man, singers are such prats. I've never met one I actually liked. But we had a singer. I started writing around his voice. Then he left and I had to take over the mantle again, this time singing my own material but it wasn't quite suited to my voice. We started writing more and more songs and these were written with me in mind so that I could sing them.

My confidence grew and I found that I was really starting to enjoy singing because it was a new departure for me. My problem was that I found singing and playing guitar quite difficult to do at the same time. It's like rubbing your stomach while patting your head. It takes a lot of practice. I am also more of a guitarist than a singer, so when the former singer rang me up and grovelled to come back, I stood his corner and persuaded the lads to have him back. Trouble was, I now had a small repetoire of songs that I enjoyed singing and didn't want to let go of such as Fly and Love and Glory. I gave back Fly but kept Love and Glory for myself. Then, last May we started the process of recording our first album (LoveTel Motel - out June)with Fly, Lucky Lost and Love and Glory recorded in the first session with me singing the latter. I then posted them up on The only track that didn't get panned and actually made it through to public download was Love and Glory - because of my strong vocal on it.

This told me something. People also began to compliment my voice. I wasn't used to that. I know how limited my range is, but I play to my strengths and can sometimes get away with it.

During the course of last summer, when the band wasn't playing, I had time to reflect on the three songs we had recorded but had not properly mixed. I made up my mind to ask the singer to re do his vocals because they were pretty lame. I never got the chance because on the day before we were due back from summer recess he called me up and let me down for a second time. Now we were a four piece band and we had to start looking for a singer all over again. Once again I stepped up to the mic and after a while I decided that I liked singing. I was getting more comfortable with my insecurity about it.

To put it bluntly, most guitarists who are starting out are scared of playing with others for fear of being 'exposed'. Quite what it is that they think they will be exposed for is another matter and one I have never bothered to figured out. It's the same with singing. It's like standing with your flies undone and knowing that everybody can see your willy. You either don't give a shit or you cringe and run away and hide. My mission in life is to record an album and to play some gigs on the back of it. I'll do whatever it takes to get me there. By hook or by crook I shall fulfil my ambition. Therfore I don't give a shit if it's me that has to sing because nobody else will or if we fail as a band to find a suitible singer.

The upshot of all of this is that today I find that I love singing and want to take lessons to enable me to broaden my range. I wrote my song Goodbye Amilia to help me to broaden my range and I also wanted a more mellow ballad to sing rather than to keep on belting 'em out a la Chappo from Family who some have likend me to.
The other amazing thing that we in the band have only recently discovered is just how well my voice fits in and around with that of Abraham Love who is a really great singer. So it has been a total voyage of discovery for me and for the teriffic group of lads that I make music with.

I hope that this answers your question Ken?

Kenski said...


(Short answer!)

I was actually thinking about getting another mic and have heard good things about the SM57. The mic I have is okay, but y'know, the weakest link and all that. Thanks for the great info!

Axe Victim said...

Verbosity is my weakness...

IG said...

Just got to this post. Can I say, uh, way to go! Nice. There comes a time when you just gotta press record and do it, ya know. Very cool. Keep it up.