We're going to try and get you these more often. From the computer of Mr. John Taylor:
It's kinda dark in here. That's the first thing you'd notice. We're all used to it, but it would certainly put someone off if they entered out of the straight world (I can imagine my Mother saying 'How can you see anything in here?") The music goes around and around infinitesimally, at whatever stage we're at in the making of a record, you got to find joy in repetition (I do).
We're mixing today, a song for the new album. It's a noisy one, quite aggressive in places, and Mike Patterson our Engineer/Co-Producer is working several knobs at once so that Simon sounds just the right mixture of nasty and cool. It's new territory for us, this song.
It's about alienation or is it? I have to be careful making assumptions about Simon's lyrics. The chorus line, 'We go under the wire, we go in under fire..' but this war zone is domestic, a council estate.
Nick and I just took portraits of each other for the site. Nick took one of Simon half an hour ago, and we'll probably lure in Mike so you know what he looks like. Now we're both on our computers. We can spend hours online in the studio these days, the internet is really a godsend. Working like this, where we need to be present for hours on end, if only to make a comment every fifteen minutes or so, we just get lost in cyberspace for hours. Yesterday we were googling 'early Duran Duran tour dates'. Losers!
There are five pairs of speakers in this room (we're in Chiswick, West London) and Mike moves the sound from one set to another as we work to get the sound just right. There's the big fuck-off pair built into the wall (my personal favourites, as they're like nothing you could have at home), a pair from our own studio in Battersea, some Yamaha NS10s (generally considered the 'industry standard', yawn), a pair of small speakers known as Auratones, always meant to imitate TV, and a pair of Rolands, rather like a nice Bose set. These we seem to be gravitating to most.
The final drip of my espresso has gone cold. I'm the coffee drinker here. When I came back to the UK to work with the guys again I could not believe how much tea was consumed. British cliche, right? Charlie is a tea drinker, basic PG tips stuff, unless it's after dinner, then he has the most sophisticated selection of herbal teas I've seen anywhere. Roger is also yer basic tea drinker, as is AT. Nick, as you probably know, 'doesn't drink hot drinks'. Never has, never will. Anyway- what was my point? Ah yes, that I am the coffee drinker, as if I'm not manic enough!
Enough of that. A mix- that's what we're doing now. Shall I explain? On this song we recorded 'the band' playing the song live. That's Roger drumming, me bassing, Andy approximating the wall of sound he will build later, and Nick ditto. Simon puts down sketch, usually a chorus line he likes, which is a suggestion enough of an idea that he will fill in over time. Then Roger would have gone over that recording, possibly rerecording the whole kit again, but certainly adding toms or percussion. Nick likes to fine-tune his parts in his studio, he usually allows two days a song- his shit is pretty complex, even on the simpler songs. Andy might adjust his guitar part, (he likes to work at night) as might I, (who likes to work during the day) although I think on this one the bass all belongs to the first day.
We have been working on around fifteen songs over the last couple of months, so by the time Simon got the lyric polished off for this, we had probably been listening to the rough idea for twelve weeks or so. It's all about fine tuning, but without losing the energy and attitude of the original take. Now all these parts that we have been adding have to be balanced- thus carving out the best possible rendition of the song. This can take several days just for one song. We are on day two with this one, but there's no reason why we shouldn't finish it tonight.
John Taylor, April 20, 2006
All photos courtesy of Duranduran.com. May not be used without permission.