Gentlemen Songsters Studio Diary: Session 1

Feb 14: It’s the evening of Valentine’s Day. We’re working on Tyrone and Lesley’s third album. The risk with performing live in the studio is that an error on the part of one musician can potentially scrap a good take by the others, but there are gains: if you know the material well enough, there’s a vivacity or ‘feel’ that can be hard to reproduce when all instruments are recorded separately, or at different times.

Tonight we recorded drums, double bass and ukulele simultaneously, with Will Eager and his kit in one room and us in the control room.

We’d rehearsed only once with Will, who already knew some of the songs, others had been played live solo (New Zealand Ukulele Festival) or duo (Brisbane Festival). Testing the songs in performance isn’t a scientific process, but it can offer a dynamism and familiarity with tunes in action that can only be learned in collaboration with an audience.

We start with the ‘up’ tunes and leave the more languid ones till later in the evening. Judging by the sweat, effort, deep concentration and bassist/drummer sledging tonight, we’re still performing: there’s just no audience there. Tom’s at the desk listening. We’d head upstairs out of the heat for a drink and a chat and a laugh and head back down to nail each of the 7 songs in less than three takes. There was little listening back: when Tom Green says we’ve got it, we’ve got it.

We’re done by midnight and the moon seems very full and still.

Songs: All Dressed up, Old Fashioned, Ukulele In your Pocket, Last Song, No Harm in Trying, Unaccompanied and True Collars.

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