THE MAKING OF MY LATEST SINGLE, ‘ALMOST WITH YOU’
By Joe Matera
The decision to record a cover of The Church classic Almost With You was something that dates back a few years. Prior to joining my previous and last band Geisha, Ash Naylor – who many will know from Melbourne indie pop-rockers Even as well as Paul Kelly’s Band – and myself performed for a number of years around Melbourne in an acoustic duo under the moniker of Radio City. One of the songs that was included in our set was Almost With You, a track that remains a firm favorite of mine from many of Australian band The Church’s brilliant catalog.
I first purchased the track as a teenager when it first came out in 1982 on vinyl (remember those?) on their The Blurred Crusade album. I particularly was enthralled with the nylon string solo that guitarist Peter Koppes put together and performed on the original track. It really encompassed a lot of the qualities that attracted me to playing the guitar in the first place, the rich melodic lines, the warm tone and the tasteful choice of notes which perfectly augmented the bigger the picture: the song. One of the last shows Ash and I did together before we all ventured off into our other various projects, was we recorded our live set and Almost With You was one of the songs included.
For a number of years, I’d often listen back to that live version and it would particularly astound me, how we managed to capture the essence of the song as well as being a single take live, managed to actually get it right in every aspect of it. So I thought it’ll be nice to do an actual recording of it, add out touch to it and make it serve as a tribute to the band and to a great song. So after spending the past few months in my studio busily working away on my upcoming instrumental EP, I thought it’ll be a prefect time to take a breather and take the opportunity before things got hectic again for us, to record a studio version.
The recording session
Nestled in the quiet part of town, in Coburg, Audrey Studios is a vibrant and inspiring studio. Housing loads of cool vintage gear and instruments, it’s a musician’s paradise and the perfect environment to record. Craig Pilkington who runs the place and engineered my new track, is an inspiration and very helpful in all matters related to his studio and the recording process. The room the track was recorded in, lent itself to an ambient atmosphere which was perfect for the track, and allows one’s creative state of mind to concentrate on the tack at hand.
The guitar I used for the recording was my black Maton six-string acoustic which was used throughout for the rhythm track and all the guitar fills. Ash used a Cole Clark 12-string acoustic steel string for his rhythm track. When it came to mic the guitars, Craig chose two fabulous mics for the recording; a Milab DC 96B medium diaphragm condenser which was angled at where the neck meets the body of the guitar, and a Peluso 22 251 which he placed pointing at the body from the right of my right hand. The Milab captured the clarity while the Peluso gave body to the tone. Perfect.
Rather than go down the usual route of using a click track to play to, Ash and I decided instead to set the pace and feel by having Ash lay down his 12-string guitar track first, and from there I would then add my guitar track. This really captured the vibe and spirit of a live performance better than anything else I have done. Once Ash had his track done and dusted, and laid down a guide vocal for me, I went ahead and laid all my acoustic tracks down, which basically comprised of one rhythm track, and one track of overdubbed guitar fills. Once both guitars were done, it was time to lay down the guitar solo. I chose to go with a nylon as I felt it a better tribute to the original than just firing off the solo on an acoustic, and since it does have that “classical aspect” to it, it felt more home on nylon than steel string. So after one run through, Craig pressed record and were done.
Next came the lead vocals, and in this department Ash shined and delivered one of his finest performance, a glowing testament to his enormous talent and skill. And I am sure Steve Kilbey will be very pleased with the outcome. Ash’s vocals were the icing on the cake, bringing home the song’s emotive spirit. Finally, it was time for my backing vocals, and so after a number of “ohs” and “ahs” and “I’m almost with you”, the track was done.
I’d like to add that I highly recommend any band or artist to check out Audrey Studios. From my experience, it was one of the best I have had in my career thus far, and I think it is one of the best studios around. I’ll certainly be making a return visit for more in future. Check out their website: http://audreystudios.com/ And for those who do check it out, tell Craig that I sent you. You’ll find the experience as wonderful and enjoyable as mine.
Almost With You is released on February, 14th, 2011 through Mercury Fire Music and available for download only from i-Tunes.