138: Reviving The “Australian Rock Songwriter Sound” From A Home Studio – With Collidastate (Interview/Case Study)


On this Episode I'm talking to Graham and James from the Australian Rock Duo Collidastate.


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

Yes, they are duo, but also yes, they sound like a full band! They started with only drums and acoustic guitar (of all things), and soon they were creating full arrangements around these two instruments that really sound unique and exciting. All from their home studio.

Their music has been described as "Australian rock storytelling", which I think is a perfect description for what they do.

We're talking about their Ep "Resilience" that came out in 2022, and specifically about one song that's called "Out of Time" because that one is featured in our "Mixes Unpacked - Vol. 2" course that we did here at the Self Recording Band.

Mixes Unpacked is a series of mixing courses where we walk you through exactly how we've mixed real songs, that have been released, and transformed them from basically raw DIY recordings to finished, radio-ready, professional sounding productions.

I'm not gonna claim, though, that it was whatever I did in the mix that made this particular record sound cool. Because it all starts with a great song that Graham and James definitely wrote.

It all starts with their friendship, their influences, everything that goes into the music they're making and the way they captured it. That is what makes the song and the record great and what made the whole thing work.

Based on that foundation we were able to refine it all and bring out the essence of the band and their vision.

On this episode we're talking about that and we're also talking about the future, things that are coming up in the Collidastate camp, how they are preparing for future recordings and what has changed over the course of last year.

We've been working together for a while now, I've been their coach and I've helped them prepare for the next record and set them up for success so that their future releases will sound even better and better each time.

If you enjoyed this episode, please check out Collidastate and their music!

Also, check out our Mixes Unpacked courses and if you're interested in leveling up your recording skills, so you can make your own dream record, book a free first call with me and let's talk about how we can help you do this!


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 138 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy

Benedikt: your friendship and your experiences and all that goes into your songs, as long as that comes through, this will always connect with your audience.

Even if you change directions when it comes to sonics or like songwriting or even genres, I think that will always come through no matter what you do basically in these songs. Hello and welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast. I am your host, Benedictine, and I'm here today with Graham and James from the Australian Rock Duo, Kalei State. Yes, they are duo, but also yes, they sound like a full band. They started with drums and acoustic guitar of all things like, um, that's what they started with. And they've created these arrangements around these two instruments that really sound unique and exciting. They've been described as Australian rock storytelling, which I think is a perfect description for what they do. We're gonna talk about their w p Resilience that came out in 2022, and specifically about one song that's called Out of Time because that one is featured in a Mixes Unpacked Volume two course that we did here at the Self Recording Band. So Mixes, unpacked is a series of mixing courses where we walk you through exactly how we've mixed songs that, and transformed them from basically raw recordings, DIY recordings to finish radio ready, professional sounding production. I'm not gonna claim though that it was my, thing, whatever I did that made this sound cool. Because it all starts with a great song that those two definitely wrote. It all starts with their friendship, their influences, everything that goes into the music they're making, the way they captured it, all of that. That is what makes the song great and what made it work. it's been through the, through that and the collaboration with, with me and like working, refining these things and sort of bringing out the essence of the band. That's, I think what led to the final outcome. But it's definitely the band and it starts with what they did. So we're gonna talk about that and we're also gonna talk about in the future, things that's coming up in the Colada State camp, how they are preparing for future recordings. What has changed over the course of last year? we've been working together as like I've been their coach and I've helped them through. Preparing for the next record and setting them up for success so that the next EP or album or whatever they're gonna do next will sound even better and better each time. We're gonna talk about that too. So without further ado, here is the Australian Rock Storytelling Duo, Colada State. Hello James. Hello Graham. Thank you for taking the time to come on the show today and, uh, record this episode with me. I'm super stoked, you hear, and, uh, yeah, welcome. How are you?

Graham: Pretty good. Thanks. How are you?

All the way over here. Down under Fairway Way,

Benedikt: yeah, you're down under right from Oh, like, depends on what you describe as, as is like up and down. But, you're on the exact opposite of this planet, that's for 



Graham: you just sound like your next door,

Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Like the beauty of the internet and technology enables us to do this so I'm super stoked to do this episode today, uh, with you because your band is kind of the perfect example of a DIY band. I'd say your band, COI State is, you know, it, it has everything I love about recording diy, style. Because you are two friends. You've known each other for a long time. You are making music together that you love. You are doing it yourselves. You write the songs yourselves, you record at home. I, I don't know how to say it, but like you have this. Excitement about your music and about making music together that is just super cool to witness. I don't know, I dunno how else to say it. yeah, it just, it's just exciting to see what you're doing there. And I, I, I think it gets across in your music. It comes across in your music too. So maybe you wanna share a little bit of how the band came together and what it is that, that made you make music together, Right. Because you were friends before you started this project, I guess. So, uh, maybe give us the backstory a little bit and, and tell us how your friendship in your personal relationship, if also like impacts the music that you're making and all of that. Because I think in your case, this is really one, it's not just the band for the sake of being a band is much more than.

Graham: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. Um, James and I have, uh, known each other for, I guess, since high school, really. Um, so about 25 years. and we did actually music together at school and got to know each other then, but never really played music together, like in this sort of format at all for a long time. whilst we grew up in the same, at the end of the high school, got to know each other, then we kind of went our separate ways in life and, uh, led us to different parts of the country. And then a few shared, uh, challenges in that life's journey brought us back together and, And that was only last year that we actually, um, got together and started playing music. And for the first time, really in, in 15 years, for me, I hadn't played the drums in 15 years. James had been doing a bit, but yeah, it was that, we had a lot to say then. So initially, probably after 25 years, there was a lot of things that we could put down and, and it helped us a lot to get those out into music. And James, particularly in the songwriting and, uh, from his side, 

James: Yeah. Um, so Graham and I, you we met in high school music class. and it really grew from there. So I went to high school in England and when I came back I sort of, uh, ended up coming to a new school. Obviously you were 11, so, you know, 16 year old with an English accent and trying to fit in. And really the people I fit in with the most were, were people in music. so I played piano, I majored in composition, which was a thing. And I was never really comfortable as a performer, actually. I was always a bit nervous and, um, it was anxiety provoking me getting up on stage doing any of the concerts. But yeah, that's where I met Graham. And then we really became really great friends from there. And then after school, we went on a bunch of road trips together, which were like a highlight of that after school period. we went on a, a road trip right up north to far North Queensland, uh, and then another one in the outback, um, all the way out to Broken Hill and down to Adelaide and around the coast. So, That sort of cemented our friendship, you know, always hanging out. And even then we were playing music together, you know, in the middle of nowhere, with a guitar and singing and, and Graham bashing away on, on, on whatever you could find. yeah. But I definitely think that music together now, um, we've come back to it after such a long break, uh, has been incredible. But really going through this process together, I don't think we could have done without being such good friends. 

Benedikt: Yeah. I, I, I think so, and it, it makes, it music's different to me, like it just knowing that's, I don't know how it, how it is for a stranger who listens to music and doesn't know that backstory, but to me, knowing bits and pieces of it, it feels different. It just makes the music even better and it just makes much more sense. And it just, you know, the, I don't know. It's, that's what I'm saying to me, this, this is more than just the band and the, there's a reason for why your music sounds the way it sounds, I, I guess in a, in a way. And when was that road trip or when were these road trips?

James: You're giving away our age. Benedict 

Graham: already given it away, James, so it's all good. 

James: Have you? 

Graham: I was, it was, back around, um, early twenties, uh, Benedict, just after school really. and after uni around that sort of early twenties Mark. but then as, as I saying before, we, we kind of went in different directions. We moved to different states. We lived different lives for a while. had our own challenges. And then when we came back together last year and started jamming together, we, We found all those experiences and all those things that we went through came out in the music. And it was just an amazing form of therapy, because I used to listen to music. It got me through a lot of those times, just putting on a band that I really love or, you know, whether it's Radiohead or Pearl Jam or whatever it is. Just something to get me through those moments. And then now it feels like we are making that music for someone else, which is pretty special. So I'm hoping that getting those things out for us and, and getting all those thoughts out and, and that's, very much a, uh, a therapeutic process making that EP.

Benedikt: Oh, to totally. I can see 


James: That's totally awesome. Um, I was just thinking music has that, power of memory as well. Like I vividly remember driving down this country road with Graham Blasting Radiohead new album, you know, and just that memory of that time is so powerful. you know, I think music has that, that ability to, to cross, you know, time, time zones and times and, and that shared experience. And that's what really has like, inspired us to try and, you know, keep doing this. 

Benedikt: Oh yeah, yeah, totally. Music can absolutely do that. Uh, I was mainly asking for the time when it was, because I was wondering if you've documented that that's, that's sort of unrelated to, to, to music, but is there any, did you take pictures or film with those road trips, or is there any footage of that? Because I, I think that would be pretty awesome to, to watch like decades later or like, you know, I was just thinking about, you know, when you're doing these types of things, have you documented that in any way?

Graham: Well, well back then we didn't exactly have iPhones. so it was

a little bit harder to record. So we don't really have any audio, but we, I mean, I kept a diary back then. I, I've written that where there's lyrics scribbled down on pages, which is pretty cool. And, uh, plenty of photos from a digital camera, just stills and stuff. But there's, there's definitely lots of memories there tucked away. But, uh, not quite as well recorded as we'd be able to do these days. That's for sure.

Benedikt: O of, of course. I just thought it would be great inspiring sort of footage or something you wanna go back to at some point and, and like, really if this, this, uh, these moments and, and let them influence your music probably. 

Graham: I think we've got all 

those imagery in our, 


Benedikt: Yeah. . Yeah, that's right. 

James: well our band, our band, um, profile on Spotify is actually a picture from that time So, Graham, it's a very, a red dirt road, which is typical of Australian Outback. And Graham is there, shirtless looking into the distance with a body board, like, a surfboard under his arm, wondering where the surf's gone to So, um, yeah, it's definitely, it's definitely stuck with us 

Benedikt: Awesome. then so you had this break, um, of like 15 years not playing drums. Graham, you said that, and James, you were doing a little bit, um, but also probably not, not as much as you do now. Now what was it last year? I mean, you kind of touched on it already, but why out of nowhere basically, or all of a sudden you decided to, to start music again and pick up the drums and you go, go, go all in with it. Most importantly, like, it wasn't that you slowly found your way back into it, but it was rather quickly, right? From like 15 years of not playing drums to writing, recording a bunch of songs, putting out an ep, working on the next songs, like a lot has happened since then. So what was it that got you back into it at, and then at this pace?

Graham: Good question. I think, um, it's about, a little bit about those life experiences, what we touched on before. But, uh, James, you've probably got some good memories from our camping trip at the beginning of last year. That's really where it got a bit more cemented and inspired and it was a bit more, well, we could do this because we'd been through some various things in our personal life that weren't fun and they got, kind of came to an end about the same time. and I think that's what brought us together a bit and wanted to get those things out. And then all of a sudden we realized the music was sounding great when we did it. So that was, uh, probably that camping trip last, the beginning of last year or whatever it was. James, would that be right?

James: Yeah. Oh, for me it was a couple of things. I think these things happen for a reason. I think, I think a lot of things, you know, don't make sense at first in life. And like Graham mentioned, like from my point of view, I went through, um, you know, a relationship breakdown and with, with kids involved and, you know, it was tremendously, it was a huge upheaval in my life. And so that took a hu my life went in a very different direction to what I was. thinking and these things happen in life and it's the way of processing it. And, and part of that was, um, you. know, I, I connected with Graham again and we, and a friend went on a couple of trips and one of them was a camping trip to South Australia, you know, going in the middle of nowhere with looking up at night with billions of stars up above us. And then we got chatting about music and, and then something happened. And then I came and visited Graham and, and I, the first thing that happened is we played together and that spark, and I think we, we wrote about the spark when we were, we were doing some, when we're talking about our release, But the spark that ignited was just like, Wow, this sounds good and it feels good. That was huge. but yeah, you're right. We sort of did go all in. and it didn't always make sense all the time because I think a lot of the times you are, you're doing all this stuff and we were writing and like spending money on, on recording and gear and, you know, trips to catch up with each other. Cause we're in different states. Along the way, sort of like, what, what are we doing this for? And, but something felt right and we just needed to do it And personally, the songwriting that I was doing, I needed to be able to get that out. And having Graham as a, a partner to do that with like, has, has been amazing.

Benedikt: Oh yeah. Yeah, But how did you answer that question of what are we making this for? Why are we doing this? Who are we making this for? What was your answer to that? And, and what was yours, Graham? Because the, as far as I understand and what you just said, the, these were mainly your songs, James, so why were you in it, graham?

Graham: For me, um, James's songwriting is, is amazing. Obviously if you've listened to the EP you would know that, but it's is a pretty bit of a musical genius. But I think they connected really, really strongly with me cuz they were inspired by things that had happened in his life that were pretty similar to what had happened to me and my personal life as well. And I think I really connected with those, you know, me, uh, feelings and, and, points of the song. And I think it, as I mentioned before, listening to certain songs really got me through those times. And I felt like these songs were just spoke to what we'd been through. And I think that's why it gelled so well when we played them together. And yeah, it's just really enjoyable and just a great creative outlet that had been missing for 15 odd years for me. And, and I think we, I joked about it on a phone call with James that, ah, you know, I should go buy a drum kit. And he's like, Oh, why don't you, and I'm like, That's a good idea. So I got off the phone, jumped on Facebook marketplace, and two hours later I bought a drum kit and I was a secondhand drum kit from, you know, some kid who finished school and didn't need it anymore. Drove down, picked it up, brought it back here, changed the skin, stuff like that. Made it work and started playing. And I'm just like, Oh wow, I've forgotten how good this feels. And then playing songs that actually meant something to me and meant something to James, is uh, was really inspiring. And yeah, I guess that comes through I hope.

James: if you've been friends with Graham for a while, you'll know that doesn't do anything by halves. So one minute he was buying a, a spare drum, a secondhand drum kit. The, the next minute, you know, it was Okay, how do we record this music? How do we do this? And he was, you know, that's been great because I haven't got a very good technical bone in my body, I have to say. so I think we've, yeah, we've complimented each other pretty well. 

Benedikt: before I ask this question, I have to ask. Did you ever think about like, Okay, we're gonna jam and play this and then at some point we're gonna go to a studio and record it all there and basically not, don't even bother about the recording side of things? Or was it clear from the beginning that you're not gonna just write these songs and practice, but you're also gonna record them yourselves, make a record yourself, and all of that? Like was that always the plan or what did it look like?

James: I think, I don't think there was a doubt that we were doing this diy. I, I can't quite remember. I know I'd been looking around for stuff online and I, that's how when I first found your, um, the self recording band podcast, which has been, was an inspiration from barely very early. I don't think there was a doubt in our mind that we were gonna do this on our own, as much as we could. Graham, do you remember? 

Graham: I, I remember. When we first jammed up here at my place, we, we put the songs on an iPhone recording, just, you know, crappy little, mic off the iPhone. And, and we played them. Then we went out for a beer and we played, I think it was a cover of my hero, by the food fighters. And we played it to the Uber driver on Bluetooth in the car, from the dodgy recording. And he's like, Oh, that's actually pretty good, guys. Like, Wow, that's actually a lot better than unexpected. And we're like, Oh, okay, well, you know, maybe there is something here. And then we played in one of our songs that we'd just come up with that day, uh, which never made it to the ep, but that's, that's another story. But yeah, just knowing that it was possible and then were like, Oh, now we need to record these, make 'em sound better, you know, if we're gonna have a demo for someone, we should get some microphones and things. And then as soon as we got into that process and started listening to the podcast, we're like, Oh, maybe we could actually do the whole recording ourselves. So it was never, it was definitely. To a point straight away, Yeah, we've gotta do this ourselves. But we didn't quite realize how much we could do. I think we, we thought at some point we'd have to get the professionals in, which we did on their first ep. Thank you Benedict. but, uh,

Benedikt: Yeah. 

Graham: But yeah, no, it's, it's definitely wasn't long before we were like, No, let's just do this diy. I reckon we can. 

Benedikt: Totally. And you did it completely the right way. I think this is what I always, what I always preach. So first of all, the the thing that I talk about the most, probably with, with people that I'm coaching or with artists that I'm working with in the studio, is the why and the, the vision and like, why are you making this record? What is your identity as an artist? Like, what is it supposed to sound like? What do you want to sound like and why? Why are these songs important to you? What do you have to try and get out of this and all of this? Because this doesn't matter so much if you want your songs to connect with, with people, and you want 'em to, to be the best they can be. So you, you got that part right because of all the things that you just explained, your, friendship and all the things you've experienced together and how the band came back together and all of that. So you had that why and that story and that identity and all of that, um, in place and then. You started focusing on, on the songs more than anything, the songs themselves and you, then you focused on the Yeah, the writing, the arrangement, the, the recording. And yeah, you, of course, it was the first time after a while. And of course it's not gonna be perfect from the beginning, but you, you focused on being artists more than anything, and then you captured what you've played and then you got the stuff out and had a professional mix it, which is in the beginning, especially always the right thing to do if you want the best possible outcome in the end. So I think you did really, you checked all the boxes there and now from there you can move on in the future and do other things and you can start to, uh, start looking into mixing it yourself or, you know, doing, making. Arrangement decisions, optimizing the recordings and all of that, which we're definitely gonna talk about, but you, you just did it exactly the right way. And that's, I think, what enabled you to put out an EP within a fairly short amount of time and write a bunch of songs and do all of that. Because I know for a fact that a lot of people are working on one or two songs for forever, sometimes years, and never really get them out there. And you got back together, um, bought a drum kit, started from scratch basically, and within a year you released an EP and did this is just because you did it the right way. And, and, uh, I think that's super exciting. And I think, it's just the beginning, but it's, it was still something you can, you can absolutely be proud of. And I think that EP that I'm talking about, uh, by the way, what's the name of the ep? Just tell people where to get it and what's 

it called? 

James: resilience. 

Graham: Yeah. You can find it on, uh, spotify. iTunes. Many others. James knows the list.

Benedikt: Awesome. Yeah. Yeah. If you go to that to, to your favorite streaming service, basically, or I don't know if you guys have a website where people can go to,

James: Yeah, we do, we do. We've got, uh, kale state.com, which has all the links. and yeah, again, that's a whole nother part of the story that, you know, how do you release music in this day and age? That was another, you know, could, we could fill a, fill a time slot with that. But, um, yeah, it's all out. 

Benedikt: yeah, the most important thing is that you got it out. Honestly, you can always improve and optimize from here and you can have better release strategies and all of that. But to me, the most important thing is that you kept the momentum up. You wrote these songs, you captured them, you got them done, and you put 'em out, and now they're out. You can be proud of them and now you can move on to other things and improve and take it from there. and I'm super stoked about that. I'm, I'm so glad to Yeah. How, how the EP turned out. And it, it just feels, as I said, it just feels special to me. It's, I, I'm close to it, so I'm not objective in a way, but still, I think, I hope people can hear what I'm, what I'm talking about here. I hope they can hear what's what went into this songs and where they came from. And the other thing that I wanted to say, and what I wanted to ask you is, People might not be aware, but it's a kind of a special kind of band that you have there when it comes to the instrumentation, like the arrangement and all of that. I mean, you, you two people right now talking to me, and that's the whole band, right? So you have drums and you have a guitar and vocals and that's it. So if there's any extra stuff, it's not much. But if there's any extra stuff, you'll have to record that. In addition to that, for just for the recording. And if you play live, you're kind of limited to what you can do as two people. So I'm kind of curious to hear more about that. Like how did you make that decision to say, and it's, it's, it's mostly acoustic guitar too. Like why did you make that decision to say We're gonna be a band of, with drums and an acoustic guitar and vocals, there's no bass, there's no big wide electric guitar, there's no keyboard, nothing. Very limited thing, but we wanna do it that.

Graham: just cuz we don't have any other 


James: No, but it's a really good, I think this speaks to our journey because. I had no idea. I thought, you know, we write a song and I, I've always just played guitar and sung, well, not, not really even sung. I didn't really think I had much of a voice till recently. but I thought it was, it was naivety. It was like, Okay, we've got guitar, vocals, drums, let's go, let's plug it in and go. And I, I didn't know there was so much more to it, uh, in a way and, and so much amazing, capacity for making soundscapes. And that's what's really exciting cause our next phase and hope, and we'll talk about the next sort of ep, but you know, what we're putting into that is so much more. but a simple example is bass guitar was an afterthought in my mind for the first ep, but it, it's so crucial and I learned that along the. . but yeah, in, in essence what we did, and I might ask Graham to talk about that because we basically tracked everything live together, drums, guitar, and vocal, because we had that feeling and we had that tightness around the, around the, the sound. And that was our tracks. And then we over dubbed, uh, other guitars, and we over dubbed, um, some other vocals and as well, and bass obviously. But that was our sort of process, which we're sort of going back to the beginning now for the next, for the next phase.

Benedikt: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Cool. Um, Graham, you wanna add anything to That 

Graham: Yeah. Yeah. I think, um, it was more so that we, we didn. Where we were going with it. so I think we, we put the drums, vocals, and guitar down, as James said, and I think it was hard to, in the beginning stages, we're getting a little bit better at it now, but, but much harder for us to try and get the same feel where if we put down completely separate tracks, and maybe that was just the little bit of inexperience and bit rusty, playing together, brought it out, and then we'd just sit there and listen to it and go, Hey, you know what? That would sound better with a lead. Or, you know, we really need something else in here. What can we do? And then I think, um, our eyes opened up with bass, which as James said, we didn't really touch on in the beginning. And that came a lot later and then changed the songs. And I think one of James's brothers actually suggested that, um, might be a good addition as well. And, and that was cool. So a little, a bit of thoughts and feedback from some other people, but I grew from there and, and I think we just wanted to fill the sound out and do justice to the songs. And I got to play with

some cor percussion stuff too, and piano and middy and bits and pieces.

Benedikt: yeah, I mean, you added a bunch of stuff in the like post production, if you will. So on that EP, it's not too much, but you added a bunch of stuff here and there. it was still a very, like minimal arrangement in a way. And I think that that's cool. So in my opinion, you're totally right about the base and, and that there's like these soundscapes that you can build. And I find that fascinating too, obviously. But I also think that in your case, you have something special there by default. And I think that a lot of artists, would be better off trying to find their unique sound and, and voice and like they, their thing basically. And for some artists, it's very hard to do because they have a very typical. Yeah, because of the nature of some genres, and you have oftentimes very typical arrangements in the typical way of writing songs. And so it's hard to find something that stands out and is unique. And you had a special, you were in a special position there where you were by default, unique in a way and special just because of the, the minimal arrangement. And no matter what you add to that, I think that will always come through. And it will always be the, the core will always be, you two playing together with the drums and the, the acoustic guitar. And then everything is sort of built around that. and that's, that's what I found fascinating. And that's what I, what I think still comes through in these songs, even though you added 

Graham: Mm-hmm. . 

James: That's so, so cool to hear Benedict. 

Graham: Yeah. That we didn't want it over produced. And we, we did say that a few times. We still wanted it to be us and we still wanted it to sound like us and pretty raw and, and honest, uh, songs. So yeah. I'm really glad that that's come through. I think James just said the same thing, but Yeah. 

Benedikt: Yeah. 

James: Yeah, 

Benedikt: I think it does. And if people, if you go to again, like the website, CoLab site.com or you go to Spotify or your favorite streaming service and you listen to that ep, if you're interested in hearing what that, like, what, what the individual elements of that were and like how, what the raw sounds also sounded like and, and what has been added after, after the guitars and, and drums and how it turned into the final thing. We have, a course out at the surf recording band that is called Mixes Unpacked and the second edition of that course, the first one got, came out earlier this year. And the second one, Volume Too, is featuring a song by Colle state from that ep and it's called Out of Time. And what you, what you get when you get that course is you see a full walkthrough of myself mixing, like showing how I, how exactly I mixed this song and also showing how it was tracked and arranged. And it's super fascinating for me to see. Because first of all, it, it shows that the song itself and the, the content of the music is always the most important thing. And that just that you have to preserve that in the mix as well. And then the other thing that's interesting to me is to see that transformation because with that song, you can see how, basically you could see how a demo with a guitar and a vocal maybe could evolve into a thing that you can play together and then evolve into a thing that is like a full production and then evolve into the mix that you're hearing on the record. So being able to go through that and, and show those, those phases and, and the transformation along the way is, to me, is still fascinating, although I do it every single day. So if you wanna see that too and see what happened in the mix and how they, that the tracks were recorded and all of that, then you can go get that course. Ca the link to that will be in the show notes as of the recording of the, of this, uh, podcast. It's not out yet, but the link to it will be in the show notes of this episode. And, uh, you can go there and get it if you want, and then I think you'll hear the song differently and appreciate it even more. At least to me, that's always when I see the details and what went into it and all of that, I hear it completely differently and I'm stoked for people to be able to experience that with that course. And I'm super glad that you guys were open to doing that because that is something that is also brave in a way because you're showing not only the finished thing, you're showing the raw stuff, like Right, the recordings. So, and they weren't bad by all means, but it's still cool of you to be able to, to enable us to do this and to help other people, understand the whole process better.

Graham: Yeah. That's cool. I, I just had a really good memory from that recording, that song that I wanted to share, that particular song. So we being, you know, fairly new to the recording when we were doing this, we, we had a bit of trouble trying to. To record things to metronomes and stuff like that. We weren't that great at it. getting a little bit better now, but that song, I remember James and I, he was up here. my kids were here floating around and we'd been trying all day to get this thing right and we just weren't getting the feel. So we played it perfectly without the recording stuff on. And then as soon as we tried to record it, we'd just been running up against a wall, just not getting it the way we wanted. It was really frustrating. picked the kids up from school, came home, had some dinner, and we played it to them and we did probably the best take we'd done ever of that song to the kids in the room. And they really got into it and they lifted our spirits and really got the field, the song just perfect. And so we kind of looked at each other and were like, We gotta record this tonight. We gotta do that again. And so, uh, yeah, put the kids to bed, went straight back in there, hit the record button, and I think it was one take. And we just nailed it and it, we've got the feeling that we wanted and it, and it goes back to us recording the, the guitar and drums together cuz we're looking at each other and we're playing together just like a live performance and we're really getting the feel. And I just have such good memories of doing that for that song. So yeah, it was pretty cool.

Benedikt: That's, that's super interesting. You're sharing that and, and super cool to hear. And it also leads to a challenge that I wanted to, to touch on anyways where I can totally see, and it worked for you, that you, the playing together, being able to look at each other, being in one room, performing the songs, that this is a different feel and it works, much better than doing it individually for you. But on the other hand, it presents the challenge of like, how do you actually capture that in a good way? Because what, what happened and what the challenge we ran into on this, when I say we, because I, I mixed it, but, um, the challenge that we had on the first EP was that there was only a direct recording of the guitar that you plucked in and. That works, of course, because then the guitar is rather quiet in the room and you have the direct recording without the drums bleeding into the mics. But on the other hand, from like sonically, it would be a lot better if you like set up microphones in front of the guitar and you do it over, up, separate from each other. So there's always this trade off between how it feels when you perform and what you can do sonically. And I prefer, I always prioritize the feeling more than anything, like over everything else. And I just try to find ways to make it work with those limitations. But I wonder how you think about that now and how you're gonna approach that in, in the future. And if, because it's really interesting, there's no right or wrong, right? But it's, it's a challenge and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on.

Graham: Yeah, I mean, I'll like James say it too, but from my point of view, I think one of the, with the first ep, um, it was, again, being rusty, I didn't actually know the songs that well. when we got to actually start to record it, we did everything in the wrong order really. And so while we were in the room, we recorded the, the, as you say, that recording of that song, which long before we learned that you should do a drum track and then edit the drum track before you do everything else, which we've learnt now. Uh, we did everything in reverse really, and I was still, I think we would only figured out the song that day I was writing, working out what I was gonna play. And so that was why when with the first ep it worked better when we played together. And I think a lot of it was to do with me not knowing the songs very well. Um, and I think the second one, which we're working on now, which we talk about a bit later maybe, but we've done it very differently and we've learned a lot from that first EP of, of what not to do. And we think we'll still be able to get the feeling of the songs. We know the songs a lot better on the new, new one, and we've learnt them better. We've got better. And I think that feeling will come through now and it won't require that, you know, live performance to capture that. Because I think a lot of it was to do with just still being, learning these these tracks and trying to figure them out and do, trying to do too much at once. really going from figuring a song out in the morning to recording the final recording of it that night. It's just, it was crazy. It was mental. Um, but, uh, we, we learned a lot

Benedikt: totally.

James: I mean, there's a lot to be said for naivety because it's sort of like we didn't overthink it too much. And there is a bit to that and I think that's why I, I look back on and I listen, when I listen to it now, I actually really enjoy hearing, you know, that it may, it's not perfect in parts and I, I don't mind that. so there's a lot to be said for that. But yeah, we've totally changed how we're doing it for this next phase. Um, and the, the sonic challenge was clearly with guitars cause we just had one direct input. Whereas, and you know, I think Benedict, I was gonna say before you did an amazing job with the ep, but particularly out of time because it was so special to. and you captured that warmth and that togetherness that we, that we wanted. Um, so 

Benedikt: you 

James: for that. 

Graham: It was like a goosebumps moment hearing your mix for the first

time. I still remember walking through the streets of Hobart in Tasmania, just, ah, hit Ari in the fields. It was amazing.

James: And particularly cuz it's kind of a folk rock song and I know that's not your natural um, space, but you know, you just did so it was amazing. but the other thing was that sonically the challenge was a direct input in the guitar is limited. And I dunno how you face that as a mixing engineer, but you know, this time around, you know, we're gonna be using mics for when we're doing acoustic, which will need to have an isolated, you know, track. so yeah, definitely I think it was part naivety and part just wanting to capture that feel. Also, we, we only had, you know, a week together and that was it. So we did the whole peer in in a.

Benedikt: Yeah, Yeah. And I, I totally agree that there's something to be said about that too. Like there's the naivety, but also just being, it's just moving fast, not overthinking it and the thing that you say, Graham, of like writing a song in the morning, recording it in the evening, great things can come from that. And I I just say, maybe, and feel free to like, of course, correct me if I'm wrong here, but you can still do that. But then the recording in the evening would sort of be the demo and the pre-pro, and then you can always go like sit down and record it properly so that you also get the sonics right. And the challenge then only becomes to capture the same vibe and feel in the actual recording. That's the challenge then. But what you do now, and I think that it was also so cool to see and to talk about when we met last time on a, on a zoom call that we had where you were explaining how good this new process works for you, where you, you focus on the songs first. You write them, you arrange them, you think about what the song's gonna be before you start worrying about the recording. And then you're doing demos and pre-pro and you prepare yourself for the recording and then you track the actual thing and then you don't have to worry about the songs anymore. So you're separating these steps and I still think you can, um, and you should keep some of that spontaneous vibe feeling thing and, but then just know that it's probably just like only a demo for now. You ended the proper recording. You try to capture then the same energy and vibe, but just do it properly when it comes to the sonics. And so that, that is the different challenge, but I think this is the way to go. yeah, it just goes to show that there is always, for artists, I think it's always this balance between how like spontaneous and fast and intuitive can we be and how much planning and, and engineering and all of that has to be part of it in order for it to sound great at the end. This, there's this balance. You can, uh, you can go too far either direction basically. So yeah. How, how do you feel about that now? Does that, that new process with all these extra steps involved and doing it quote unquote properly, that's, do you feel like that limits you in a way and you wish you would be able to just jam together and hit record again?

James: I'm interested to hear what Graham thinks. I think I'm so excited about this next one. I mean, for us and for me, you know, this is all done in our spare time. You know, we're, we're busy. You know, I'm busy dad and busy with work and I still love this process and I think that's the most important thing to enjoy it. And it was enjoyable last time, but this is even more enjoyable because it feels more relaxed. It feels like last time it felt a bit like, if we don't do it now, we're not gonna do it for me. not capture that little, It's like capturing. You know, lightning in a bottle sort of thing. That's what it felt like. But this time I feel like, you know, where we know the songs, I, I've really enjoyed the feeling that Graham knows the songs we've got, We've actually got notes for all the songs, which is crazy. Um, you know, with . sections and 

Graham: I actually know what the

verse is and what the chorus. is. It's a novelty

Benedikt: Yeah. 

James: the other thing is. we are collaborating. So the, the latest demo we've just laid down was a real true collaboration in lyrically and also, um, the structure and arrangement. And that is such, so much more enjoyable for me. but yeah, I think we're still, we've got that lightning and a bottle with the demos, and I think now we've got this challenge like, okay, how do we, how do we make that, you know, capture that same feeling, uh, through the, through the live recordings. 

Benedikt: Mm-hmm. 

Graham: Yeah. I, I agree with you there. I think the main difference between the first time ran and this one was the amount of new things we were trying to learn the first time we got together and recorded that first ep. learning how the equipment works, getting the mic placements out, what leads were faulty, all those sort of things that you normally don't do on the same day as you're actually doing the recording. You should have figured all that out. learning how the software works, there was a lot of learning going on and learning what the songs even were whilst also trying to make great recordings. it was. Too much. And it was really stressful, but it was really enjoyable. So it was lots of ups and downs like, oh that was amazing. And then a day of frustration, Why can't we get this? Throw it out, start again. And then a song that was completely tracked when we went to put the vocal down, realizing the KPO was not on. That was quite annoying. So we had our moments, yeah, and we got frustrated. But um, then the second time when we caught up recently to do the second ap, it was just a completely different experience. Uh, we knew the equipment already, which is goods, and we weren't focusing on having the perfect recording cause we knew that was gonna come later. And that took a huge amount of pressure off. We just focused on making great songs. And so we were able to capture that vibe and get those feelings going in the song and focus on that being in our demo, which we'd still use as a reference when we're doing the final recording. So that's not lost, it's there. but the pressure was off, so we actually, it enabled us to focus on the songs more so, so I definitely think it's better and it's made the songs a lot better and more complete and yeah, I'm really enjoying it and a lot more enjoyable for that, that process. So then the next phase is just think about putting a great recording down. Knowing exactly what we're going to record is, is just a completely different approach.

Benedikt: Yeah, for sure. I'm so glad you say that. I'm so glad to hear that, that it's, that you find it more enjoyable because I know that a lot of people are having a hard time accepting that, that, um, whole planning or like separating the processes thing, a lot of people have a hard time with that and they just mix it all up like you did in the beginning. And I did too, where you, you have an idea for a song and you immediately jump into recording it and then you have to go back and refine things and all that, that chaos that you just described. And sometimes that's the right thing to do, but more often than not, it doesn't work as well. And a lot of people are, have a hard time accepting that that records are typically made that way and for a reason. And it's so cool to hear that you are actually find it more enjoyable because you can focus on one thing and it takes the pressure off. so, so very, very cool to hear that. Now, is there. are, are there certain roles that you've assigned to, to each other or to yourself? Like you said, it's a collaboration and both have contributed to the songs and the lyrics and all, but is there someone who, who's wearing the producer hat and one who's like the main songwriter and the, you know, the engineer and all of that, did you sort of, talk about that? Is there a clear separation or how do you handle that? Because that's another huge challenge that you have to wear so many hats and you have to switch between these different jobs and perspectives compared to a professional right recording in the studio, especially back in the day when there were actually budgets, but when like, when there was a producer and an engineer and an assistant and the songwriter and the artist and you know, all these people and everybody had their job and you are all of those people in one or two p person. Like, you know, So how, how do, how do you do deal with.

Graham: some of it was obvious. I mean James is the main songwriter that's, you know, that's his, his baby. And, um, I'd be useless at it. Uh, I'm way too literal when I write my lyrics, so definitely he should be doing that. I think some of the natural things, I've got a telecommunications engineering background, so microphones, frequency, spectrum, cables, cool electronics desks, that's just, you know, I'm in heaven. So I think it was just naturally my role to do that and get the software out. And I think it's like if, if anyone's in business, they would know that it works the same way in a business partnership where one person has certain skills and they generally would input into both areas all the time, but at the end of the day, the one who kind of knows the most about that makes the final call if you don't agree. and I think that's just a natural thing that happens with us. James being definitely the main songwriter. I look after the rhythms and the electronics and all that sort of stuff, and that's good fun. So I think some of it's natural. James, anything to add there, mate?

James: No, I think, um, like a, I think, yeah, the roles are so many, um, when you're, when you're doing this and I, I had no idea to be honest, but, um, yeah, there's definitely natural, uh, landscapes that you feel more comfortable. So yeah, for me it's mainly, um, songwriting and obviously the, Um, guitars. , uh, Graham. percussion producer. I guess I've naturally sort of made the social media sort of thing a bit of mine because I think that's part and parcel. If, once we decided to do this, it was like, okay, well we don't want to fly off into the ether. We'd like it to have an impact, even if it's on one person. How do we do that? So, you know, I've really enjoyed the creativity of putting videos together and all that side of things. So that's been fun. It's been really fun to be honest. And uh, yeah, so I, I, I can't play drums, So that's, definitely not my my

Graham: And I can't 


So that's that's written that one off. 

James: but I, I, to be honest, I didn't think my, I, I wasn't confident about my voice. And I think if anyone's listening out there, you know, I think, everyone's got a voice. It's just about tapping into what works for you. And I still don't, you know, I, I'm still taking some more vocal coaching lessons, but that's what spurred me on was I got a few handful of lessons, um, as a birthday gift and. you know, going along and just sort of getting some feedback is actually a great thing cuz it, it sort of, you know, someone might say actually, you know, you sound okay and a, lot of the time we don't have a lot of self-esteem about that sort of stuff. But, uh, yeah, if anyone's listening and yeah, give it a crack

Benedikt: Yeah. Awesome. So,

Graham: And if you're not a vocalist, don't be afraid to tell your vocalist to what you think. Uh, and I think that's, it speaks a lot to our recording as we, we have a very honest friendship and we're, it's pretty easy for us to say something, uh, with each other. So you know, James thinks it's a terrible rhythm, he'll go. Yeah. Not. That just doesn't work. Um, if, if I listen and I go, Oh, you know, maybe you could retake that vocal a little bit like this. I'm not a singer and I'm not the expert. And James said, So go, Oh yeah, I could try that. Oh yeah, that works. And sometimes again, no, that's just not gonna work. I go, Cool. No worries. being able to communicate those ideas and things and, and be able to listen to the other person, even if it's your baby, is, It's been really, really useful. So I think you need to be able to do that. And you need to have the type of friendship that can handle it, that, and be honest. with each other. and, I think that's, that's helped us both make better, performances, better sounds, better choices with our instruments, just from having that feedback from the, the other person, even if they're not the expert in that area, it's meant really good. 

Benedikt: Totally. and And I think not only between the two of you, but in general, you didn't let your ego, anything like that get in the way. I, I experienced the whole communication also between, uh, you and I. And myself, it was always super open, straightforward, and like nobody would be offended if, if someone said like, I don't think this is a good idea or something. And the the other way around, hopefully, too, like when you told me, you know, on this song, for us this is too much low end or whatever, then I'm, I'm not gonna argue that it's not that way, you know, And I'm gonna just gonna do it of course and not be offended by it. And I think that is so important and it's not as, as weird as that sounds to me, but this is not, the case in all with all projects. Like a lot of people, you have to be super careful about what you say and whether or not you actually present an idea to them and review. This was never an issue. You were open to ideas, you said when you thought that yours was right, but you also, what were open for, for other input and feedback and all of that. And I think that's a crucial, major part of, of why the EP sounds. Like, like it sounds because you've listened to each other, you've listened to my input. You, we've just had an open conversation that's so cool because that's not the case with everybody, unfortunately.

Graham: We didn't get it right all the time. for a few, you know, moments where we just had to walk in different directions for a while, have a beer and then come back. So that definitely happens. Definitely 

not perfect or have to let something go eventually realize I can't mix yet. Let it go. Let Benedict do it. It was much better , so, Yeah. Well, not perfect, that's for sure. But yeah, getting there,

James: Yep. 

Benedikt: I mean, no, nobody is. Yeah. the other thing I wanted to, to touch on real quick about back to the ep, um, real quick, can you give the listeners a quick overview of like what, what you've used to record the record, just because I think it's so inspiring and encouraging for people to hear what you can pull off with a pretty minimal setup too, because I mean, you have. Of course your instruments and they're good and you know how to play the instruments and all of that. But like how you captured it, when it comes to the technology you used more than anything at the room you used and all of that. Like, how did you do it? What did you use, what did the setup look like? I think people will find that interesting if you're listening to the IDP now and then you hear how it's been tracked.

Graham: Yeah. Cool. Well, I can talk a little bit about the recording setup if you like. where you can see me sitting here. I'm actually in the room that we're recorded it in. So you can see it's not a proper recording studio. We've got a flat screen TV there. We've got the, you know, kids stuff lying around everywhere. so this is my house. That's important to know. James and I live in completely different parts of Australia. By the way, We're in different states. we don't have the luxury of ducking down to each other's house and practicing getting it right and then recording later, and that's kind of why we get pushed together, but to throw it together. But this room has no treatment. Um, something Benedict I've discussed definitely for the next one. So big improvement. So if you're, you, obviously treatment's really important in a room, but it's, you can make a decent recording. Uh, it's not the end of the world, but I know our next recording will be a lot better and it make, uh, Benedict's life a lot easier with treatment. But this room, I've got, uh, drum mics. Uh, so it's pretty standard. drum mics set. James brought his own vocal monitor to let him talk about that. Um, most of the guitars were di as we said, uh, we didn't, uh, record any amps, for the guitars on, on that ep. That's, that's gonna happen on the next one. and yeah, the, the recording here, a bit of middy from a piano next to me, uh, using cubase software a little, uh, Zoom L 12. Desk to, to bring everything in. So it wasn't overly complex and wasn't an overly impressive room. We used lots of couches and mattresses and cushions around the place to deaden it a little bit. Um, certainly wasn't, you know, perfect. So, uh, pretty cool what we came up with. But I, I must say, , the drums that, that came out of the mix after Benedict played with them sounded, uh, pretty damn good compared to my little kit behind me. But it's pretty basic setup behind me, but it's, you can do some pretty cool stuff. I'll let James talk about the vocals and guitars though.

Benedikt: Yeah. 

James: Yeah, just, just briefly, um, reflecting on it, it's super minimalist. So the guitar was a, was a pretty nice, so I bought a nice guitar when I knew we were gonna do something properly and I'm, um, so it's a tailor. Acoustic, but everything was done acoustically except for some stuff on judge one of the tracks. so even some of the sort of lead lines were on acoustic and there's little amp sims there and some distortion, things like that, which were added post. Um, the vocals were all recorded on this puppy, which is a se condenser mic. And I've actually tried another condenser since, and I really love the sound of this. It's only a, I think it was only a couple of hundred bucks. but it's a really great sound for, for my voice anyway, I think. and yeah, that was, that was pretty much it. There were a couple of things, uh, like bass were recorded. Di we didn't use an amp for bass either. There were amp sims. and, uh, a couple of tracks are recorded here in Adelaide, using some pedals with a lead, uh, fender. And they, they're all di though with amp sims. So really minimalist. 

Benedikt: Okay. Okay, cool. Yeah, and that, that, that's exactly what I wanted to hear. Uh, because a lot of people don't even start because they think they, they can't do it anyways with a limited, you know, DIY setup or something. And, you know, and what that is is different for everybody. But I'd I'd say, There is a difference between what's in a big, like commercial recording studio and what most people have at home. And a lot of people think they need all the things they see on these pictures of studios before they can even start. Or they, you know, there's this this fear of, just starting with whatever you have or just getting the minimal, sort of thing that, that does the job. And in your case, you have a bunch of things. It's not that you, you did it with nothing, but it's like stuff that people, you know, that's affordable, that's accessible and that most bands can probably get and, and use at home. It's like an interface of some sort, a couple of mics and your instruments and there you go. And I think the, if you listen to the EP and what it sounds like in the end, it's definitely not like, I don't think that the gear is sort of should be holding you back. It's, yeah, this is not the, the main, the main thing. It's, so I'm very glad to hear that and to, I hope that's encouraging for people too, that. , this is not what, what should be holding you back and you can make great records at home. And that all the other stuff is much more important. And what's also interesting is that the next one you're gonna make is probably, when it comes to gear, is probably pretty much the same, right? I, I don't know if you've upgraded a lot, but it's like, with the exception of the room treatment, it's gonna be still a home recording setup. And I'm sure it's gonna be a drastic improvement, but not because you bought a bunch of new gear, but because some stuff will be upgraded probably. But, but it's mainly because you've upgraded your process and how you approach the whole thing, how you arrange the songs, how you go about the recording, the techniques you use, all of that will make so much of a difference compared to like just buying you gear, which would have, if at all, like, would have made a, a very minimal difference. I, I'm curious to hear what that, how that turns out. And I'm sure it's gonna be very different, although it's basically still a home recording set set up.

James: totally, totally. I think knowledge is power sort. 

Graham: Mm. 

James: Knowing what we can do with what we've got. And then Yeah, sort of going through, the learning process of, of, self recording band and, and other things that, with other resources. 

Benedikt: Yeah, 

James: I, I'm so excited. 

Benedikt: Cool. So glad to hear that. Yeah. Will there be major upgrades, Graham, uh, to the new setup? With the. 

Graham: So I, yeah, the key differences are room treatment definitely, is one that will be different. a few little tweaks to the kit. Uh, the symbols and things are pretty tired. I've got one nice symbol in the rest are very, very cheap, dodgy ones and I've been desperate to get a nicer sounding. And are those one extra mic on the high hat? Cuz I did notice in the mixing of the last one it was kind of difficult to, to separate that out sometimes. Um, so I think getting an extra mic on the high hat will, will be really useful for the mix. I was gonna do that. And then obviously the use of an amp, So James has got a, a vox amp, that he's, he's going to use for the guitars and we're going to do those miced. that'll be a big difference from the di of the first one. So I think that's probably the key ones. and a better base, I think was the other one, James. But yeah, on the kit, I think, um, the main thing that, that I made this old thing sound semi-decent was just putting new heads on it. And that made a huge difference and tuning the tom's the way I wanted them. And I spent a fair bit of time doing that. And I'm actually using a different, you know, tweaked that a fair bit and I've come up with some different tunings that I think will really work on the, the new, uh, ep. So other than that, most of the instruments the same. So the, the basic setup is the same. Just tweaks to the room and recording method 

James: like one of the, one of the examples is five of the songs, well, four of the songs have a. Line played on a hundred dollars secondhand cheap as space. And one of the songs, which is outta time has the base played on offender precision, which are hired. And it's just interesting that what you can do with, something if you can't afford, you know, a lot, then, then you can, you can do a lot. and it's also just having the confidence to go for it, like this time around where I've got a lot more confidence in recording electrics with an amp and, and how to do that. And that's gonna be a great process. 

Graham: Mm. And that's another point, like for other people, is hiring the right instrument for the recording. Like not worrying about going and buying it, doing your demos and everything and just hire something for the recording that's better. Maybe, you know, even a kit if you wanna hire a decent kit just for the recording, it's probably worth considering then you're not paying thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars for something you're just using at that moment

worth, I 

Benedikt: Oh yeah, totally. I totally agree. Yeah. And, and that's, that's another thing where people think it's so. Not accessible and impossible to use good stuff, but you don't have to buy all these things. There's like, I used to do that all the time when, uh, there, there are like back line rentals for example, who, who, um, rent their stuff out to touring bands all the time and they have all the amps in the world, all the caps, drum kit, snare, drum symbols, like everything. And you just, you can just, go to those companies and like give them a list of stuff you wanna have and you can rent that for a week. And it's not gonna be super crazy expensive and it's totally accessible. And, or even if you wanna just shoot something out and you get yourself like five amps for a day or two, try them and then you know what you wanna buy or what you wanna rent for longer. And there's ways to, to pull it off, you know, and, and people just think it's, it's completely impossible. And then they end up buying some, some. Piece of crap, uh, is essentially, that is sort of a compromise. And they never really liked, but that's all they could afford. And then they record everything with that instead of just renting a good, good thing for that one production. And I'm not saying that again, gear is the most important thing, but when it comes to instruments and amps and that stuff, stuff that happens in front of the mic, that's the only thing where I'd say, if you can invest there, like that's, that's top off the priority list. Everything else, like the interface and that stuff is not, not as important, but the, the gear, the, the instruments itself, that's where you shouldn't save, I'd say. Or do what you can And new strings. Yeah. God, this wouldn't be a pot, like this wouldn't be a surf recording band podcast episode if we wouldn't mention that. Yes. New strings and Drum. skins. 

Yes, it's 

Graham: skins. Yeah. 

Benedikt: 100%, 


Graham: my friend.

I love these things. Here we go. Holding one up to the video. These things are amazing to get the tones right on, on these shelves. Just awesome. I find

Benedikt: Yes. Totally. totally. And especially with your vibe, like what you do, people gotta know it's not a super open, loud sort of drum tone most of the time. It's a rather controlled, dampened, tone that you have and you wanna be able to do that without killing the drum entirely. And that's where those, those moon gels or these, these, um, are, they're different, um, manufacturers and models, but basically some sort of small gel dampening thing, does a great job. Sna weights is another option, but just something that allows you to control the ring but not kill the drum entirely. And for your aesthetic. This is exactly what you want. There. There's other things where you want a bright open ringy snare, but in your case it's rather controlled. And so Absolutely. Yeah,

Graham: Yeah. Playing around with those things until it sounds good to you and, and not necessarily like getting it to sound like what it says in the book. Just make it sound like how you want it to sound and fiddle around with it and go, Oh yeah, that's what I hear in my head. That's the one. Go with it. You know, Doesn't have to be technically correct. I'm sure none of my drum rhythms are technically correct or from a book. I just make 'em up, . But Yeah. if, if it feels good and it, and it makes sense to you, just do that. 

Benedikt: for sure. For sure. Of course, if you're chasing a certain sound and you just can't get it, then it helps to look at a book or a course or something and do like the recommended stuff as a starting point. But if you know what you want and you have a way of getting there, it doesn't matter if it's the correct way or there is no correct way, just do whatever sounds good to you. Totally. I, I totally agree. Now, what challenge, I remember that you also had, Graham, was with the symbols of the drum kit. Um, so what was, what was the problem there or what is the problem there? Because that is something very common, uh, for a lot of people who record drums, especially in untreated room. And can you can you give us. a little bit of context there and, and how you, how you solved it or how you're going to solve it.

Graham: Yeah, so, um, I think part of the issue, I mean the gear isn't fantastic. The symbols are literally from, you know, a beginner kid, school drum kit, like the high hats and the ride the crash is good. Uh, I bought a new crash and I was really happy with its tone, but I think the way I recorded the kit, I've got seven mics, to overheads. You can see them here behind me. just basic condenser overheads, but I didn't actually have a room mic, so when we sat down to try and kind of separate some of these sounds out, it was really, really difficult. Whereas I was using my overheads as a bit of a room bike, so they were a fairway back. and it was just a wall. So when I do this one, I'm fiddle. I've been feeling around with the mic positions and also getting a, a mic on the high hat because I had a lot of trouble separating snare and high hat sounds. So I liked to be able to tweak them and I couldn't quite do it. Uh, somehow Benedict worked his magic and it sounded awesome anyway, but I would like this time to put a bit of a room mark further back and then bring those overheads in a bit closer to get a little bit more detail, and be able to separate the symbols a little bit. And then having one little dynamic mic on the high hat. Cuz I do find the high hat is quite important in a lot of our songs. and I wanna be able to play with that quite specifically. And I found, I struggled with that and I think it was because of my mics, but I'm interested to hear Benedicts thought on this because he worked his magic and made it sound amazing. So what do you think, Benedict, from what we did? And do you think it's a good idea to add an actual little dynamic mic on the high hat 

Benedikt: Yeah, for sure. Like to bring out the details, what the, what you do with the sticks. Like the, quarter nodes, like tiny little, you know, um, not quarter nodes, eighth node fast stuff like the, the. You know, these figures, these things that, details that you do on the high hats. So for, for that to bring that out really well, especially with closed high hat stuff that's not so loud, it's a great idea to add an additional mic. I'm not so much worried about the quality of the mic when it comes to high hat mic. I, I just use it a tiny bit most of the time to bring out a bit of the stick details and maybe either the top end or the body of it a little bit. But either way I can get that with pretty much any mic. so some close mic on the high head for you would definitely be a good idea. And then what I'm always, I think that the symbols, and I ask this questions because of that, like the symbols of a drum kit are one of the most. Important and also problematic things to record. Because if you have the wrong ones, they really, they can really mess everything up. You have the bleed of the symbols in all the mics. If they are too thick and too bright or too harsh, that is not just in the overheads, that's in every single mic. And you have to get rid of that and control that. If you have, symbols that are too, yeah, if they're too, if they're too thick, they can be too bright and too brittle, but they can also be too slow in the way they react. So you're not gonna get these explosive crash hits that you want and then they will. But when they appear, like they're, they ring out forever, and that's hard to control. So the wrong type of symbol is really hard to deal with in a, in a. And so I think that a lot of people could get away with a cheaper kit, and just putting on like new good drum skins, but like have cheaper shells, but then, but still get decent symbols. Not, don't have to be the, the best ones, but symbols is one of the rare things where most expensive, more expensive is really better most of the time. Like almost always. And so that's the thing. And the simple choice is, is super important. And then when it comes to micing, yes, you can have a combination of room mics and overheads. If you go further away, you can. May be, make it as close or or open as you want, as as narrow or wide as you want. That's all. personal preference and, and part of the aesthetic. But if the symbol itself is just crappy, then it's not gonna just affect the overheads. It's gonna affect all the mics around the kit. And that's, that's something that I, I always tell people, and I, I remember you telling me that these were like these cheap, sort of beginner symbols and they didn't sound super bad in the recording. And that was part of, partly because you play them in a very controlled way, which obviously helps. Uh, but still I think a little bit of more high quality symbols would be good for any recording, 

you know? And the louder you play them more of a problem, it becomes,

Graham: yeah, the ride and my high hat. I'm happy with the crash. I only use one crash two, which obviously for the style that we do, it's probably all right, Although in the new epm considering I'd want a slightly different tone and may invest in a second one different size. But, um, 

the, Yeah. James knows what I'm talking about. I love my crash symbol as the old adage with more car with me, it's more crash. I just can't help it. I just love the sound of it. It's, I don't use it over overly 

James: It's awesome. 

Graham: I, I do love it.

It's my, my little baby over here. But anyway, sounds better in real life.

Benedikt: yeah.

totally. yeah, 

it it totally sounds good. 

Graham: uh, high hat and uh, definitely the ride that rides doll as anything. So it's really, really hard to get a nice, crisp detail on it. So I think that's important for our songs as well. And the style that we have is to get that, That's just a bit dull. So I'm 

Benedikt: Mm-hmm. .Yeah. Now, do you remember any particular, challenges from recording that he, the resiliency p that, that were like Yeah, the challenges that were, things that were difficult for you that we haven't talked about yet, and things that you're definitely gonna do differently other than the process? We've talked about that, but like technical challenges or things that you wish you would've done differently that you will, will do differently this time? Like what were the biggest learnings, sort of, aside from the whole process and approach, but 

detailed things?

Graham: Like practice

James: Yeah, apart from the process, so sort of going back to I think like Graham was right at the beginning. We did a bit backward, but I think philosophically having a reason why we're doing it, I think is so important. And for the next EP it's a different theme I think. And we're both on a similar page about sort of some of the themes that are coming up. I think that's just so important starting out. But technically, like for me, I think number one, introducing you know, electric guitars and amps and marking amps and marking the acoustic guitar. I think that'll add so much depth and warmth to what was, um, I dunno if it was challenging, but I can imagine. Yeah, just having a direct input on the guitar, probably limited that sound a lot. And on the other side of things, thinking about the stereo image, so what's going where? I think that is a revelation as well, because a lot of the time we're thinking, Okay, we've got a guitar that's, that's great, but actually, um, appreciating the stereo image and what, how that can add to the experience and, and sort of what we're trying to get across. Um, so they're probably the big things for me, technically, but I, as I said, yeah, I take my hat, Octa Grahams is definitely leading, leading the way with sort of thinking about the recording side of things, 

Graham: Doubling the guitar too, which, um, we, uh, very naively thought was literally copping the track and putting one left and one right. And maybe adding a little delay or 

something to make it different. but yeah, learning that has blown our mind a bit and actually doing that and seeing what a difference it makes to the stereo image is pretty cool. So yeah, having a bit more awareness of that and planning that in the recording process is, is really important. Uh, the other other thing was for, it was just a really minor point, but a radio edit. so we had a couple of songs with swear words in it, but we wished we had recorded, another take, which was radio, edit, radio safe, so that Benedict didn't have to like ride the mixer to kill the vocal. Um, there was various ways it just, we had to compromise a little bit. Benedict did an awesome job, but next time, for the sake of another two seconds, just do another take of that section of the vocal. Cuz yeah,

James: Actually, I dunno if I've got any swear 


Graham: one. 

James: need to 

Graham: there's one 

James: Oh, okay. Cool.

Graham: There's only one though.

Benedikt: Yeah, I mean, I, this was something that you told me about where I mean, you're not the first person to tell me this, but we, I usually don't, don't care as much about that, or it's not often the case that I have to do worry about like radio edits because mainly a lot of the bands that I work with, like just from their genres and stuff, they are not, they, yeah, Some of them are being played on the radio, but a lot of the punk and hardcore bands and stuff, they don't care about radio. The rock bands do that I work with, but with the rock bands, if they are from the US they almost always think about that if they wanna be on radio. So they don't even include any swear words in there. Or they record the, the radio edit as you said, And the, if they are from Europe, most people just don't care, or we don't ever talk about that. So I'm not even used to doing that so much just because that is such a non-issue over here. And I mean, some stations play like the radio version, but other stations will just play the full thing no matter what is in there. So it's not, not as regulated, I think. And so that was not really top of mind for me, but it made total sense. Of course. And if that's relevant for you, you, it's better to think about it in the recording and not after the fact. I agree. 

James: like we've had a lot of support from community radio here. So we've, the song particularly out of time's, been played a bit on radio, um, by volunteer run stations. So it's a little bit, and Australia's a funny place. So besides the big cities, everyone else lives in a bit of a country town, so there is a bit of a, you know, all ages type feel to some of the music. So I guess that's why, why it wasn't our mind. 

Graham: Oh, there was one other thing with the process though, I remembered. Uh, just rewinding a touch. Putting the drum tracks down first and getting them edited before doing the rest. We didn't do that. as you well know, Benedict and I think, um, that was a, a big one that we're making sure we do right this time, cuz yeah, that's as I'm pretty rusty on the drums. Uh, I'm a lot better now than I was a year ago when we first did this, but it still needs some editing and I'm not ashamed to say it. So, And making and doing that properly made a huge difference. But we, we gave, Thomas a bit of a, a challenge there because, uh, we didn't have separate tracks on the drums done before we did the rest of the overdo. So definitely be doing it the right way this 


James: definitely. 

Benedikt: Yeah, that's a big one. But like, but everybody does that. I mean, editing is perfectly normal. And so even the best drummers in the world have their drums edited. And not just drums, but like every musician in the world basically have their performances edited. Not because they can't perform, but because they wanna make sure that every note is exactly where it's supposed to be. And not in a mathematical, like absolutely on the grid type of way, but like where it's supposed to be so that it feels right. And sometimes there's things you can do to enhance the performance beyond what was actually captured. And if that feels better, then there's no reason not to do it. And so, so this is perfectly normal and it has always been done, It has been done on tape as well. Back in the day, it was just the pain in the ass to do it. but they did it. So, uh, this is one thing. And then the other thing is, Most people don't think about that in the beginning, like you said with like you know, you don't think about what has to be done later in the process and what problems you can run into. When you st start recording, you think you record and then someone's gonna mix it, which means, so most people, you turn offs until it sounds good and you don't really know which challenges you can run to and, and that there is an additional step in wealth before that and, and what the challenges are there. And you kinda learn, you have to learn that process as you do it. That's completely normal. And it took me years to, to relearn all of that because I didn't get like advice or coaching or anything like that. I just, and I didn't go to studio and work there as an intern or something. I just figured it out myself and it took forever. and I'm still discovering bits and pieces here and there. This will never end, I think. But, so I'm just saying it's completely normal that you haven't thought about this and I mean, next time round you do it differently and your progress and the, the. The speed at that at which you, you learn is pretty impressive anyway, so you've just into this for, for a year or two now and, and now you are working on the second record and it's gonna be way better. And you've learned so much already. And this is part of why we also make these courses. So again, the Mixes Unpacked thing is exactly there to show you that, so that you see what the mixing process actually, what goes into that, what we do in the mix, the challenges that we face, the problems that we have to solve with, especially with DIY recordings. And it's encouraging because there's almost always a solution, but it's also helpful because it helps you not only mix better, but improve your recording so that you don't run into these problems later in the process. And um, so I think this is really, really interesting for people to see. And I'm not doing these to, to show people like all the mistakes that Colada State made when they recorded therapy 

Graham: Hm. 

Benedikt: But I'm doing it to show that it's an awesome song. No, I'm doing it because it's an, to show that it's an awesome song and that this is the most important thing, that nothing is more important than the song at the performance and how the vocal, um, like connects and the emotion that comes from that and all of that. So that's part of it, to show how important that is and then to help you avoid some of the things just so you have an easier life in the mix or whoever is gonna mix it. so yeah, that, that's, that's why I'm, why I'm doing this. And you did a great job and you recorded a great song and it was absolutely possible to turn that into or to elevate that and make a good mix of, of that. But next time, I'm so excited to hear what's, what's coming then, because that's gonna be so much better even. And, uh, I, I look forward to that because you started it off well. And, and the next one will be really, really cool, I guess.

Graham: Another little nugget of gold that I learned from the first one was one that you drop in, which is just working out which, what the voice is for each section of the song. Is it the leg guitar? Is it the vocal? Is it the drums? What's the actual voice that we're focusing on right now? And when we did the first ep, it was more like, Oh, we'll figure it out when we mix it. You know, all that stuff. I can't think about it now. We'll work all that stuff out later. Whereas this time round, I see the importance of working that out long before you record, like, and working out how that song's gonna work. So when you're doing the song planning and work out what's the voice and what's the feature here, and how are you gonna record that to make sure it is, how are you gonna do that? That all comes into it. And I think we put a lot. just through naivety really. A lot of things we thought would be done in the mix, and now we've learnt that it's not, that's not really what the mix is for. Um, and you should be thinking about some of these things, but the first time you do it, there's just no way you can think about everything. just not possible. So, um, yeah, it was good to, to do it, stuff it up a few times. Uh, and I think some of those lessons, there's only one way to learn that , and that's just to do it wrong and then figure it out. So I'm looking forward to, um, what that brings for the next one.

Benedikt: totally awesome. So what can we look forward to in terms of the, the songs and the, the genre, the style, the aesthetic? Like, is this gonna be drastically different? Is this like, uh, can you, can you tell us something about that? Like what's, what's in it for us when we listen to the new EP then, and, and how is that gonna be different to the first one?

James: Yeah. Um, we found ourselves being, described as Australian rock songwriting, which is really, really great. So we had, um, some support from a local Sunshine coast, um, outlet called The Point Music News, who's a, a guy who just does all these music reviews and he, and he was really supportive of us, um, as a DII band, but he, I think that really gels with us because a lot of our influences have been singer songwriters, people like Paul Kelly Crowded House, who are sort of a famous Australian and New Zealand, um, bands who may know. Um, but then again, you know, our era was that really strong nineties rock, early two thousands, rock powder finger, you know, Fu fighters, killers radio. So I think, I think it's a bit of a combination of those influences this time. So you can expect still that sort of folk influence. But definitely, we've definitely put the, put the tempo up. Uh, we've definitely added some distortion and, um, Yeah. there's a couple of surprises in there as well. So, but all but all in all, all the songs are really, you know, they've really, um, got a positivity about them. Um, whereas there was a lot of reflection in the last ep, but this one's about looking forward 

Graham: And making the most mm. Hmm. Yeah. Was, what was the, the phrase it was Australian rock storytelling or something like that, that just using that storytelling approach that I think's coming through, it was good fun. More, More, 

smiles, and less angst, 

James: Uh, 

Benedikt: yeah, I'm totally looking forward to that. It's gonna be, I think it's gonna be a natural evolution, the next step sort of, and I think the people who, who like the resiliency p, will also gonna enjoy the new. Pretty, pretty confident it. yeah. And I love the fact that you also keep experimenting and changing things. So who knows? You might change directions entirely at some point and you don't really care because you make the music that you both love and, you know, and I think it will. The beauty is that I always tell people to think about an audience and not just, uh, ignore that part completely. But I think as long as you, as long as the thing that makes you, make this music, and as long as the, your friendship and your experiences and all that goes into your songs, as long as that comes through, this will always connect with your audience. Even if you change directions when it comes to sonics or like songwriting or even genres, I think because there will be the kale state sort of element and, and, sound and unique thing that you have going on that will always come through no matter what you do basically in these songs. And that, that's so cool about it. And that's why I said in the beginning that it's much more than just being a band for the sake of being a band. There's more to that and I think. That is what what will connect with your audience and that gives you more freedom to explore other things because the, that what goes into the music stays the same basically, or it comes from the same place. Yeah. 

James: Yeah. Yeah, to totally agree. And, um, you know, it's been, it's been awesome, the journey. And again, um, you know, as, uh, we sort of come, come back to why we're doing this and I think it just feels really good and it's a great thing to be able to have for creative outlet, and it's so important for your mental health, I think. And, and so that's a, a valuable part of doing this is that, you know, it's a way to express emotions that you can't always put down in words or, you know, as blokes, we're not always good at talking about how we feel. And, and the music's a way to do that. And, and hopefully, like Graham said at the beginning, if, if we can connect with someone in the same way that. Music did for us, then, you know, that's even better. But, um, yeah, it's, it's, we're doing it for ourselves as, as much as everyone else. 

Benedikt: Awesome. Perfect. 

Graham: and enjoying it too. And I think when you're, when you're playing songs or you're jamming, or the more you enjoy them, the more your listeners will enjoy them. And so keep playing the music that really connects with you. Yourself and it'll connect with the listeners as well. I think, uh, a couple of songs that we played, it just didn't quite sit right, it didn't have that same feel and we, you know, bashed away at it for ages, trying to turn it into something that, sounded amazing. And at the end of the day, those ones that didn't have the feel that we just cut them and moved on and then we've replaced and lives with ones that, you know, sound amazing and we really enjoy playing. And I think that that's a key too. If you're not enjoying it, you gotta gotta write songs that you enjoy playing. Cause that'll come through. It's good fun.

Benedikt: definitely. Also, what's the point? I mean, I mean, if it's your job and you're, I don't know, you're writing for other people and you're a songwriter, you, there's something to be said about that. But even, I think even those people, if they don't like what they're writing, it will not connect as well. I'm convinced that you have to enjoy it, um, for it to be really, really good and connect. Um, so yeah, Totally agree. Okay. Anything you wanna add to all of this that we skip something that we missed something? we didn't get into much of the actual, like specific details of where you put the mics and stuff like that, but I think that's way better to show in an actual, or to explain and, and show people what that sounds like in an actual course format, like the mix unpacked, thing and that I'm, I'm sure there was, I don't know if there's any nugget or anything really special that you did there. Feel free to share that with people, but I think the most important thing was like the overall approach that you had and how you, how it came together, how you did it, and how. Important. This is all is to you and all of those things. I mean, we've, we've covered that all, I think. But if there's anything we skipped or missed, feel free to add that now.

James: No, it's been amazing to, um, to go on the journey again, Benedict cuz uh, it's nice to talk about it from the, from the start. Yeah, really grateful, like we've had so much fun over the last year and just can't wait for the next 12 months as well. But thanks, thanks for having us on 

Benedikt: Yeah, you're welcome. Thank you for making the music that you make and, uh, for inspiring other people, and I hope this episode is encouraging and inspiring I hope people will check out European. I I highly recommend it because it's great. Uh, I can't really, You said it like, what was the genre name that you used before, like Folk Rock or something? I am always having a hard time describing the genre even because 

Graham: Which is a good thing cuz it means we're being 

original. Right? 

Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. So what would you say, like, for, I would recommend everybody like could just go there and, and check out that ep, but is it for fans of a certain type of music or like, how would you describe it so that people know what they're, uh, what to expect?

James: think yeah, the gr the best thing I love. You know, Australian rock storytelling, and I 

think that combines the folk elements and it, and it add it, you know, it references our, you know, love for being a rock band, I think, and that's what we, we think of ourselves as. But I think we always, you know, steer towards that storytelling, as well. But yeah, I think that's, you know, for fans of Crowded House, Paul Kelly, uh, those sort of guys, and then you'd, yeah, expect a bit, a bit heavier stuff maybe 

Graham: Maybe a little bit of motor 

James: Um, 

Graham: in there too. That's one of our 

favorites. So that comes through as well. 


Benedikt: Awesome.

Graham: hopefully. Enjoy it. 

Turn it up,

Benedikt: Yeah, go, go to kale state.com. Uh, check them out. Go to spotify, Apple music, wherever you consume new music. stay tuned for the next one too. So, I don't know if people can sign up to be like, get updates on when the new one . Comes out or whatever. If there's anything like that on the website, do that. Follow these guys in social media if you like their songs. Uh, I, I'm pretty sure they're gonna keep working hard on their music and gonna be pushing it and, and releasing new, new music. So, and it's also worth following their stories too, Like, as I said, this makes the band more special to me, just, knowing what goes into making these songs and also, follow these guys. I'm excited for what's to come. Thank you for taking the time to do this today and to coming on the podcast. This is for the blast. And yeah. thank you guys for listening. As always, talk 

Graham: And thank you so much for all your support, Benedict, because I know that, uh, You've certainly made us realize it's possible by, by starting working with you and learning things off you and, and you've shown us that it you can actually do this from your living room, which, um, I'm sure we wouldn't have got here if it wasn't for connecting with you. So mate. Been awesome.

Benedikt: Know. cool to hear that

to hear that. All right. 

James: Ben. Thanks Malcolm. And uh, yeah, thanks 

Benedikt: Yeah. Thank you two. Bye bye. 

TSRB Free Facebook Community:

Outback Recordings (Benedikt's Mixing Studio and personal website)

Benedikt's Instagram

Outback Recordings Podcast - Benedikt's other podcast

If you have any questions, feedback, topic ideas or want to suggest a guest, email us at: podcast@theselfrecordingband.com

take action and learn how to transform your DIY recordings from basement demos to 100% Mix-Ready, Pro-Quality tracks!

Get the free Ultimate 10-Step guide To Successful DIY-Recording

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Cookie Consent Banner by Real Cookie Banner