… the Album
So here it is… Sleep Sound. The third Hope and Social album in as many years (actually, it’s less than two calendar years since we released “Architect…“). We’re very proud of it indeed… Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to do blog posts for each song like we did for April talking about each song in detail and how it was recorded but we just wanted to give a little bit of a picture about how it was made as you hear it for the first time.
It was written and recorded incredibly quickly. It’s been just over 3 months start to finish but because of everyone involved’s other schedules it’s been way less than 30 days of work in that period. Essentially less than a day to write, a day to record and a day to mix each song. When you’re working with fairly complex arrangements (with brass, choirs, wind ensembles and all that) as we are, that kind of timescale leaves no time for making mistakes or changing ideas… It was tight when we planned it but if we didn’t get it done for the start of May it was not going to get done till the end of June; we had a tour booked for May (and a launch date of Friday 13th May!) and to miss that was unacceptable to us.
Our deadline became even tighter as a round of flu decimated the band. We had to push back all the vocal recording as no-one could actualy sing. It became tighter still as we lost yet more days to other commitments. There were a number of points where we sat down with diaries and just looked in dismay at the tiny amount time we had left. The little raft of gigs we booked at the end of April didn’t help either… Immense fun to do but with everyone so exhausted they didn’t really help… Especially with vocal healthiness.
At one point we were packing down to do a gig, coming back exhausted to the Crypt the next day, setting everything back up, squeezing in 4 hours bleary eyed recording to pack everything back down again for the next gig. And those four hours would be the only chance we got to track that song.
We made it though.
When we planned the album which has become “Sleep Sound”, we had an idea of making a political album to party to and it’s turned out a little more personal than that I think. There are songs about Simon (W’s) family growing one stronger last March, there are (dare I say it) songs of love, and those political thoughts are still very much there too. There may actually be a couple of songs which could legitimately be described as ‘groovy’ and that’s a definite first for us… There’s also a little bit of anger and a lot of happiness. A lot of hope. And a lot of love for those around you…
As always Sleep Sound is Pay What You Want/Can/Think it’s worth and we encourage all kinds of sharing. If you like it please do pass it on to other people!
Sleep Sound Cheat Sheet
– The album was basically tracked as a live band and then edited together out of those live performances. Brass, strings, vocals and choirs were mainly overdubbed but even then brass on 2 tracks (Back to the Green and Sleep Sound) and vocals on another 2 were recorded at the same time as the band. Piano was overdubbed on Swaddled and for parts of The Road Never Lies. Organ was overdubbed on Sleep Sound, Back to the Green and You’re The Lighter Side of Life. Si’s electric guitar was overdubbed on Sleep Sound as he couldn’t make the tracking day and an extra acoustic was added by Rich to Fast Train. Apart from that pretty much all the instruments including piano are us playing together live in a room at the same time. Even those songs where it sounds like there are doubles of guitar parts the doubles were made from other live takes of the same guitar part.
– We had a fairly strict no headphone rule on this album. Gary on drums had click in headphones for the band tracking but everyone else was just monitoring each other in the room. Old school! All lead vocals were done without headphones with Si handholding the mic and the track blasting out of the monitors. Backing vocals were done everyone together without headphones as well.
– The Road Never Lies was originally conceived as a very different sounding song and was tracked live with Si Goff playing keys, Gary playing piano and Si Wainwright singing and playing electric guitar. The first minute and twenty seconds is just the vocal mic from that recording… the guitar and keys you can hear are just spill in the SM58 he was using as a vocal mic. The song is one complete vocal take from start to finish. No edits.
– You’re the Lighter Side of Life is a complete unclicked live take apart from the organ on the solo and outro. It was the first thing Si sang after he recovered from his flu and you can really hear how tired and damaged his voice is…
– all strings are by Si Goff (bass player) and his patented one man string orchestra and recorded at the Crypt
– all brass is arranged by the awesome James Hamilton and recorded at the Crypt (expect the amazing Katie playing sax on Rolling Sideways which was recorded in James’ bedroom [steady girls]). The large brass section you can hear on Fast Train, Swaddled and The Road Never Lies is a 8 piece ensemble consisting of 2 x trumpets, 2 x trombones, 2 x french horns and 2 x flutes. The brass on Back to the Green was arranged and recorded by James, Katie and Rosie as we tracked.
– 2 separate choirs are on the record. The Voices of the Day Community Choir who are on Sleep Sound and Swaddled and the Hope and Social pickup choir who are on Fast Train. Both sound amazing. Each one we had about an hour to teach the parts to and record. VOTD we recorded at their church in Seacroft.
– The Hope and Social Choir on Fast Train we recorded at the Crypt as the very last thing to go on the album and it was recorded literally less than 12 hours before the record was due to be delivered mastered and finished the replication plant.
So there you have it. We hope you love Sleep Sound so please head over here and buy, download it, share it, tweet it, facebook it, blog it or just plain shout about it if you do… and know that by doing so you help sustain us and enable us to continue. You make our music.
If you feel so inclined, drop us a few words below in the comments, and if you are going to tweet about it, please use the hashtag #sleepsound as we’re archiving that one up on TwapperKeeper se we can read it when we’re old and want to relive the joys of
youth, young adulthood, middle age.