White Men Can’t Clap
“Frick it. Let’s move on to something else,” Bryn mutters under his breath.
It’s becoming painfully apparent that getting 20 lead singers to clap along with a quiet click track is not an easy task. The second gang vocal recording session is off to a bit of a slow start. “Live,” explains Alex, “the intro to ‘Push Push (Lady Lightning)’ has always kicked off with the Bang Choir clapping wildly to the beat. On some nights the crowd would catch on and start rocking before the guitars even started. This is something that we wanted to capture on the album.” Unfortunately, the studio is not the stage and a little creative thinking is needed. Finally, it is decided that Bryn will wear headphones and keep the beat while everyone watches him for the tempo. This unorthodox technique works well enough, and the clap tracks are finished.
Tonight, twenty singers crowd into the Moontower Studio in Cambridge to finish up the Bang Camaro vocals. All of the intricate harmony lines were finished the session before, leaving the percussive “Heys!” and “”Bangs!” for the big group tonight. Most takes first involve Bryn telling the group the next part. For example, “On beat 3, yell COME ON!” Next the group gives it a try. Bryn looks to Dave, Alex and engineer Mike Quinn to see if it was a good take. If so, the group does 2 to 3 more to make the sound as full as possible and then moves on. Before long, the ridiculousness of 20 men yelling “YEAH!” in a single microphone fades away and the rock takes control.
Overall, the night is amazingly trouble free. There is some discussion about what beat to yell “Guitar!” on, but it is quickly hammered out. Bassist Dave Riley was planning on taking part in the vocals, but was sidelined by injury. Two nights before, after a few too many drinks, he had fallen off the sidewalk and twisted his ankle. Down, but not out, he assisted in the control room.
The session comes to a close at about 10:30 PM. Ian Kennedy, frontman for local band Reverse, finds it strange that his drummer is playing jazz at Toad while he spends the night screaming gang vocals. He decides not to give it too much thought. Nick Given, fully healed from the previous session, grabs a 12-pack and announces that he is going drinking at the church across the street. David Nugent contemplates his last name.
And so ends the long-road of recording for the band’s first full-length. I stop Alex, Bryn, and Dave as they help Mike clean up the studio.
Heather Simone: How does it feel to finally be done?
Alex Necochea: Every Bang Camaro recording session ends on such a good high. That’s one of the reasons we do this — you can’t hang around The Camaro and not think it’s a great idea.
Bryn Bennett: And we’re far from finished. We’re going to take all these tracks back to my house and do some early mixing in my home studio. My Pro Tools LE system doesn’t have nearly enough tracks to handle all these vocals, but we want to get some work done before coming back to Moontower for the final mix.
HS: How do you think it went? Are you happy?
BB: Personally, I think everything came out great.
Dave Riley: The vocals already sound huge, and we haven’t done anything with them. What Mutt Lange did with reverbs and delay, we do with manpower.
HS: Aside from the recording, what’s next for Bang Camaro?
AN: We’re going to play some shows. You know, take it to the people. That’s what we’re really about. While making this record we’ve become a much better band and we’re ready to get out there and turn more people on to what we’re doing. We’ll be announcing some live dates soon.
HS: Thanks guys. Can’t wait!
DR: No shoot you can’t.
– Heather Simone