December 18th 2008

The long awaited recording diary entry finally appears. Here’s a composite shot of the studio area, those who are familiar with my peurile attempts at photography will know I hate to use a flash and since the studio lighting is not exactly bright, It’s incredible any of these shots came out at all.

Chuck at the helm in studio one at British Grove. For the audiophiles amongst us, we’re using Steinberg Nuendo 4 on a PC (euch!) So far it’s been as stable as can be with no problems at all. We’re still utilizing analog tape and most of the recordings pass through the wonderful Studer A800’s. We’ve been testing out a new system known as CLASP. A method of quickly utilizing the tape medium without the need for sync. It hasn’t successfully worked as yet. It seems there are teething issues with recognizing various elements of our setup.

DC is back behind the kit. Two drum kits were set up in the main studio area.
This just in from Danny…..
Both kits are Rogers Holiday 1960’s sets. One is from MK’s friend Bobby Colomby. Bobby was the drummer with Blood Sweat & Tears and the kit is said to be the very one from all their most famous recordings including “Spinning Wheel”…. The sizes of Booby’s kit were 2×12″ rack toms mounted on the bass drum and 16″ floor tom with Mark’s sliver Rogers 14″ floor tom slotted in to make nice smooth tuning range of 4 toms. Snare was a Powertone 14″ x 5”
My set was also Rogers Holiday 1960’s one rack either 12″x 8 or 13″ x 9 interchangeable and two floors 14″x14″ & 16″x16″. Snares used as I remember were my, Rogers Dynasonic , Rogers Powertone, both 14″x5″,
MK’s round badge Gretsche circa late 50’s this had wood chopper hoops on it which has no flange on the top to save sticks from breaking but also makes a different sound when playing rim shots. Then I used two new Snares by “Ronn Dunnett of Vancouver” one made of “Milk wood” (a new one on me) with thick wooden rims and one made of titanium both 14″x 6.5″.

And on ‘song 1′(not on album) I used a 60’s Ludwig Jazz festival snare 14″ x 5.5. I also used MK’s amazing “Ludwig Black Beauty” which was an anniversary model signed and decked out with brass fittings and engraved to the 9’s.
Sticks were mostly Vic Firth Extreme 5B brushes were Vic Firth Renaisance Regal Tip white nylon brushes and Regal Tip Blasticks.
Cymbals were a mixture of Zildjian K’s, Constantinople and Armand series all dark in sound to get that lovely breathy sound that I like.
Hi hats are new they’re “15” K Light Hi Hats” so great to play. Except on one song “The Car Was The One” where MK insisted that I use the same as on tour which were “15” New Beats” too heavy for the job in my opinion but he seemed happy enough so….

That’s all I can remember for the mo hope that is of interest to somebody out there.

John McCusker was with us for the latter recording period. Seen here with his Cittern, capo’d up there pretty high!

Mark tries some ideas out with a bottleneck on the National. We’re probably gonna end up using one of the Martin acoustics for this track (can’t mention the title as it didn’t make the album) which is in the key of F and played with open tuning. I’ll fill in the song titles on release.

The sessions benefitted greatly from the wonderful playing of Matt Rollings. Matt used the Bosendorfer and Hammond (as well as me) but Matt was blown away by the 1927 Bechstein upright which I found on e-bay during the KTGC sessions. Dave at the studio has had it set up by a man who knows his shit and it’s in tip top shape. There’s a photo of it in the KTGC diaries I seem to recall.

We were all in awe of the amazing talent of Mike McGoldrick and Phil Cunningham who came in for a couple of days and played whistle, accordion along with John on the fiddle. There were some truly profound and wonderful musical moments. Here playing on ‘So Far From The Clyde’.

Phil Cunningham, with not simply the fastest fingers in the West but some of the most sensitive ones!

Richard Bennett blessed us with his matchless tone, deft touch and supreme knowledge. Here he plays Mark’s ’54 Telecaster on (same song as Mark’s photo, which doesn’t make the album)

More Cittern John

The session photo. Thursday 11th Dec 2008 L-R Rich Cooper, Richard Bennett, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Danny Cummings, Mark Knopfler, Matt Rollings, Phil Cunningham, Glenn Worf, Chuck Ainlay and Guy Fletcher.

One of the AKG C12 microphones makes it’s presence known to John.

Chuck and Matt marvel at Glenn’s recent additioon to the bass family. A most beautiful double bass which was made around the turn of the century. (1900 not 2000) It records magnificently.

The speed at which Chuck gets his sounds together means it’s an almost impossible job to catch it on film….

…so here’s something that doesn’t move.

The full band will be returning to London for a final period of sessions (late February 2009) before we mix. Stay tuned for more on this.