This is a guest post from Eagle Johnson, a Nashville-based musician, songwriter, and producer. Download his latest mixtape here, check out his independent label, Intelligent Pop, at ipoprecords.com, and and find his music here.
Lee of the Original Fuzz asked me to write to about the day he, Mr. Zach Lever and myself recorded a cover of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.” So here we go…
It was this time 3-years ago in Jacksonville, FL at a studio Lee and Zach called the Blood Pit, and that I called the Magic Castle. I called it the Magic Castle because at one point I had a key and would go in there and drop acid by myself at night and write music. It was magical bro.
Anyway…due to limited resources at the time, we used an Mbox 1 with a single Sure SM58 and recorded the song live in mono. We over dubbed background vocals and bass later. I walked around the studio listening for what I thought was the “sweet spot” and placed the SM58 waist high, about 15′ away from where we were set up, facing the drums.
I tried to visualize the the pick-up pattern of the mic and made sure we weren’t getting any reds on the meters. We recorded the song live in one take with Lee on guitar, Zach on the organ, and me on drumzies. Lee and I stood around the same mic and sang ohhhs and ahhss over the track afterwards and Zach tracked a bass line. I believe it was the magical low ceiling room that gave the recording it’s charm nothing special we did.
This is how they did it back in the day (think Sun or Chess Records), and if you really listen to how the music sounds in the room, you can use this same technique to get a surprisingly good recording. It’s really simple and easy to do, so it’s definitely worth experimenting with, if only to improve your mic-placement skills. You can download the final product here.