Archive for the ‘In The Studio’ Category


AU61: Oppenheimer In The Studio piece

January 4, 2010

Here’s a curio for you. This article was published in November, a month before Rocky and Shaun announced that they were splitting up . So although the interview is all about their upcoming third album, that record will not now see the light of day. And they sounded so optimistic and all… Oh well. Apparently they are going to release an EP culled from these sessions, so we can look forward to that. And wish them all the best for the future.



WHAT: Third album
TITLE: TBC (potential titles, Nightmare On Ice, All In With The Kicks)
PRODUCER: Self-produced
STUDIO: Start Together, Belfast
TRACK TITLES: ‘One Day Your Life Will Flash Before Your Eyes – Make Sure It’s Worth Watching’, ‘Let’s Get The Hell Out Of Texas’
COLLABORATORS: Tim Wheeler, Hornby, Tom McShane, string arranger Van Dyke Parks (TBC)
RELEASE DATE: Spring/Summer 2010

Big changes on planet Oppenheimer. Since the release of 2008’s Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It, Rocky O’Reilly’s (and friends) Start Together Studios have gone from strength to strength, while partner in pop Shaun Robinson has got married and decamped to New York. We dropped in on them when Shaun was last in town to get the skinny on album number three.

How’s recording been going so far?
R: We’re both living very far apart at the moment, and we’ve been recording songs by ourselves and sending them to the other person. It’s the first time we’ve been so isolated. It was initially a problem and really weird, but it’s turned into something really cool because we’re developing the ideas in a different way. [Shaun]’s not restricted by me being the engineer and sound-finder – I’m writing lyrics and trying vocals, which is terrifying.
S: One things that’s changed for me is that I’ll play a song for three days until I’ve got it totally live, one take, so it’s a real human being. We play it straight and rely on machines to record it, but rely less on machines to, erm, polish that turd.

What’s this album about, for you?
R: I want this to be about the stuff we’ve been listening to and the bands we’ve been touring with. I want it to be about people, and for that human angle to connect with people. We both got to see The Bronx play in New York this year and that was just life-changing, because there were 800 people tearing down the walls of this building and it was rough as anything, but amazing. We toured with The Presidents of the USA, who believe that if you can’t play it in one take, you shouldn’t be writing it. It’s not quite that extreme because we can’t play anything in one take but, you know, it’s definitely taught me about different ways of writing and recording.

How are the songs sounding?
S: Well, Rocky’s rapping, which I think is a brand new thing.
R: A terrifying new thing.
S: Writing songs, this time round I had a piano in front of me rather than an acoustic guitar. So I’ve written some Pink Floyd-esque monstrosities – there’s one song that’s nearly eight minutes long, which is a complete departure.
R: The way Shaun’s been writing, and the way that I’ve been writing as well, it’s much more structured around the song than about the process or the production.
S: Plus, changing the rules or having a blast at doing things. One album that I’ve been quoting is Midnite Vultures by Beck. [On] over half of the tracks on that album, there comes a point where it just turns into a completely different song, and it never goes back to the way it was before. It just goes… zhoink! It’s something that I’ve thought about. You’ve got to be playful sometimes.

Do you think people will be surprised when they hear it?
R: I think it’s one of those things where they’re still going to hear Oppenheimer in it because it’s still us, but for people who’ve written us off as an electro, synth-pop duo, deliriously happy – those days are gone. We’re not happy any more.

Are you collaborating with anyone on this album?
R: There is going to be, hopefully – budget allowing, a collaboration with a string-arranger who has come forward and wants to work on the album. We just need to find the cash to make it happen. That’s going to take us in a completely different direction, and in a way that we never thought possible.

I take it you’re not naming names?
S: His name’s Van Dyke Parks. He did the instrumentation for Smile by Brian Wilson.
R: The Bear Necessities for The Jungle Book, U2, Silverchair. It’s remarkable. And he just contacted us saying that he really, really liked us and let’s find a way to make this happen. So possibly, at some point, we’re going to be in LA watching an orchestra playing Oppenheimer songs, which is incredible.


AU60: Strait Laces In The Studio piece

November 17, 2009

Lovely lads, these. Their debut single ‘Seconds Out’ is out now by the way on Bruised Fruit – check the latest issue of AU (Air on the cover) for my review of that.



WHAT: TBC, possible EP
ENGINEER: Joe Fields
STUDIO: Roundhouse Studios, London
TRACK TITLES: ‘Away To Escape’, ‘Kissing In The Reichstag’, ‘Where The Wolf Roam’, ‘Your Fearful Admirer’.
RELEASE DATE: Early 2010
LABEL: Bruised Fruit Records

At the start of September, fast-rising indie-rockers Strait Laces took their trusty Citroen Picasso off to England and played a couple of gigs in London. However, that was just the cherry on top – the main reason for the trip was that they won a free day’s recording at Roundhouse Studios in Camden, courtesy of EMI Records and presided over by an engineer who has worked with Paul McCartney, Cat Stevens and Placebo. On their return, David and Jonny from the band called in to the AU office to tell us about their fruitful day.

How did the session come about?

Jonny Creelman (bass) – Our manager, Jen [McCullough] from Bruised Fruit Promotions, entered us in a competition online and kind of forgot about it. One day Dave got a call from her and she explained that we’d won this competition for a day’s recording in Roundhouse Studios in Camden. It was a big surprise – doubly surprising because we didn’t even know we were in the competition!

David Hanna (vocals, guitar) – Demos were sent in and they picked 30 bands, so each band got a day in the studio.

Had you been planning to go into the studio before this opportunity came up?

David – From the start of July, we said that we’d take six weeks off to write and record demos and not play gigs – just to practise as much as we could. And we’d done that – it was only mid-August when we found out about this competition. We didn’t really plan on recording, but we were probably the most ready for recording that we’ve been as a band.

Were you able to do much in a day?

David – We decided to record all the instruments live and do the vocals afterwards. We went in and got four songs done – brand new ones that we didn’t even plan on recording – with vocals as well. We had an hour left at the end so we set up a video camera and recorded an older song live, so we’re going to sync the music to the video. We ran out of new stuff to record!

What are you planning to do with the songs you recorded over there?

David – There’s a few ideas floating around. We’re releasing a single on the second of November. We recorded it a year ago and we’re waiting for the right time to release it. The launch date is the Friday before [October 30] with The Cities We Captured. Then we started looking at releasing an EP in January/February. If we got back into the studio again, we’d have quite a lot of songs done, so it’s deciding whether to call it a four-track EP or put six or seven songs in. We’re not fully sure yet.

How was your time in London overall?

Jonny – We saw Amy Winehouse! She just walked past, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a lookalike. But the studio, it was such a good experience. The sound was amazing. It was so good. I can’t believe the quality we got from a live recording. I said to the engineer, ‘Would there be any advantage in us doing single tracks, because I can’t imagine it sounding better than this?’. It was above and beyond what I expected the day to be – getting five tracks done at that sort of quality, I was well chuffed.


They are bona fide rock legends and after spending the last couple of years touring all over the world to great effect, the mighty Devo are still working on a new album, which would be the first since 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps. Indicating recently that they are interested in working with modern artists like Outkast, LCD Soundystem and Justice, frontman Mark Mothersbaugh told Rolling Stone, “”The new challenges… are interesting to us. With the business turned upside down like it’s been in the last couple years, we’re looking for ways to use new technology that wasn’t around when we did this the first time.” The album, working title Fresh, is expected some time next year.

Phil Selway is set to become the third member of Radiohead to release a solo album, following in the footsteps of Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke. The drummer has yet to confirm a name, release date or release method for the album, but we do know two things – he sings on it, and celebrated guests include Wilco members Glenn Kotche and Pat Sansone and solo artist Lisa Germano.

He’s only just released The Blueprint 3 – to huge sales but a lukewarm critical reception – but Jay-Z has already announced that he’s working on his next album, and he vows that it won’t hit the same commercial heights. Which seems unlikely, to be honest. Speaking to, the Jigga man said, “My next album, which I’m working on now, is not gonna be a Number One album. That’s where I’m at right now. I wanna make the most experimental album I ever made.” Could go either way, really.


AU59: Heliopause In The Studio piece

October 12, 2009

The Heliopause lads (and producer Ben McAuley) let me and photographer Rik ‘Panic Dots‘ Crothers in to talk to them while they were working on their debut album, which is due out early next year. They’re easily one of the best bands in Belfast (even though frontman Rich has recently moved to Brighton) so hopefully it will do well for them.

(Pic nicked from sarahluv‘s Flickr account)



WHAT: Debut album
TITLE: TBC (tentatively, Don’t Let The Silence Go)
STUDIO: Start Together, Belfast
TRACK TITLES: ‘Little Ashes’, ‘Safe From Me’, ‘City Of Glass’, ‘Dead Ends’, ‘Epilogue’
RELEASE DATE: January 2010
LABEL: Furious Tradesmen Records

Following an acclaimed EP in Dark Matter and the recent single ‘Moment Of Recognition’, Belfast trio Heliopause have become the latest Northern Irish band to record a long-awaited debut album at Start Together Studios. AU went down to have a nosey at what they were up to.

Why did you decide to record the album in Start Together with Ben McAuley?
Richard Davis (vocals, acoustic guitar): We’ve recorded with him twice [before] now and I personally have noticed, the third time round, that why we choose him is because we know him, he knows us, he knows our music and he’s into it, which really helps. He’s like an honorary member for the time we’re with him. He’s really good for making decisions and suggestions, or just telling us that it’s pure bullshit. It’s really good guidance. And not only that, [it’s] the level of comfort that I feel when I come in here

How many new songs will be on the album?
Richard: Most of them will be new songs, I think. ‘Moment Of Recognition’, the single, will be on it – it and [extra single track] ‘Mon Peu Rimbaud’ – and we recorded a third song in that session, ‘The Moon And Sixpence’, and held it back, so it’s going to be on the album. And then we were thinking of re-recording songs from the Dark Matter EP because we’ve got a new guitarist [Chris McCorry] since then. One of the songs we are bringing across is ‘Dead Ends’, but we’re re-recording it with [acoustic duo] Albrecht’s Pencil, so it’s going to be a very lush acoustic version.

The last single was softer and more acoustic than the EP, which had its share of noisy moments. Have you continued in that vein on the album?
Richard: We’ve really branched out so that we’ve got a good handful of low-key songs and also upbeat songs. I think this is going to be a really good balance of both.
Chris McCorry (lead guitar): I think we’ve been a little bit more eager to explore the noisier side of things, without letting it be full-on rock or anything.

You’ve been around for about three years but seem to have built up quite a bit of momentum in the last year or so. Would you credit that to Chris joining last year?
Richard: Yeah, definitely. It was a big change because there was a point when Michael [Kinloch, original guitarist] left where we were a bit lost and we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. So whenever Chris came on board, we just kind of collected ourselves back together and re-found enthusiasm. We were really excited about what we were doing and really enjoying it, and Chris’s guitar parts are really great in the sense that there’s a lot of noise and loudness and experimentation in there, but it melds so much better with the acoustic stuff and ideas that I come up with. It’s created a new dynamic.

Do you have any plans to tour the album?
Richard: Yeah, I’d really like to. We have a gig booked in London for the end of October, so we really need to get ahead with booking dates around that. But then we provisionally have January booked for releasing the album and we’ll coincide that with a proper tour, hopefully.

%d bloggers like this: