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Cauldron Stewdio Diary – Part 1: The Early Days
Due to the overwhelming demand for a new album after the incredible success of ‘Burning Fortune’ (Feb. 2011, Earache Records), we’ve decided to enter the studio again to record a follow-up to fulfil the hungry appetite of us, the fans.
First of all, I think I should address the latest drummer situation. Former drummer Chris ‘Steve’ Steve truly found it difficult to cope with the fame thrust upon him after the release of ‘Burning Fortune’. It was an all too familiar story of a small town (Ottawa) boy thrown into in a whirlwind of excessive touring, drugs, value menu burgers, women and absolutely no money. We wish him well in his future endeavours (Second Cup/weekends at McDaniel’s Independent Grocer).
Fortunately we were able to recruit former 2009 touring drummer Chris Rites, a valued member of the Cauldron drummer alumni. We got wind that Chris was gonna have a bit of time off from touring with his band Crystal Castles, so we mailed some TDK-60 demos to his house in Pembroke, Ontario. While Jason and I were on tour in Europe doing the final dates in support of ‘Burning Fortune’, Chris was learning away in his garage back home, and cultivating a pretty sweet beard too.
In this photo, Chris Rites can be seen fresh from Pembroke wearing his new ‘MacGregor’ hooded sweatshirt. He has a bit of a Thom Yorke droopy eyes thing going on, but he doesn’t actually look like that, I don’t think.
Between returning from tour and entering the studio we had booked, we had 5 days of intense rehearsals to get the new songs ready with Chris. It was more a matter of fine tuning since he didn’t fuck around and already knew the songs inside and out. Plus Pembroke is really boring and there’s nothing to do there, so he had minimal distractions.
We’re recording with Jameson ‘Fast Taker’ Elliott, who also recorded our last album, plus the first two Goat Horn albums. We wanted to work with someone who we’re familiar with and who knows what we want to achieve. Unfortunately we had to settle for Jameson again (haha, joke). All the bed tracks were done at the same studio we mixed the last album at, the Lincoln County Social Club. The name is a bit too heavy for my liking, but more importantly it’s down the street from me so I can roll out of bed 10 minutes before I’m supposed to be there. Oh yeah and it has a pretty nice board too, plus lots of sweet gear and old guitars that we got to make use of, like this thing:
So the first part of the recording process is making it very clear to the producer/engineer what kind of a sound you’re going for. In our case we just provided a couple simple guidelines.
“Okay dude, we want the snare off ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll’, and everything else off ‘Power And The Glory’, but also make it sound like Scorpions’ ‘Blackout’, but more like they had the guitar sound from Grave Digger’s ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’, and make it sound better, cool?”
Once that was settled, we spent about 35 days tuning the snare drum. Finally, when the snare was ready to go, the rest of the kit had mics carelessly thrown in random spots to ensure that we got that German ‘Scratch Records’ sound. And now we were on the road to rock!
Right before we entered the studio Chris had to make us look all amateur and got a fuckin’ Zildjian endorsement. He managed to trash all his cymbals during the recording and mailed them back for some new ones. I guess this is a pretty boring picture if you don’t play drums or care about recording. But what makes this so much cooler is that all the toms were painstakingly tuned to different pitches to match the key of each song. In this particular case, when played descending they produce tones strikingly similar to the chorus of Baltimora’s ‘Tarzan Boy’ .
So far the guitars on this album sound way heavier than any other Cauldron recording… just look at that picture! Against his will, Jameson channeled his inner Axel Thubeauville and dialed in that 1984 chainsaw Steeler guitar sound through some rusty old preamps. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll get more in depth with the new songs and also talk about some important vocal techniques involving Pringles.
- Ian Chains