A little ahead of our unplanned schedule, today we dropped our cover of “Seventeen” off of Static Prevails.
Check out the official video here:
I opted to track Seventeen this week because, well, I’d already been practicing the acoustic version, so instead of going through the arduous task of beginning from absolute scratch, we set our thimble on the board and we were off to the races.
I didn’t really have any ideas in mind when I started this one, and honestly I figured it would end up being the first “carbon copy” cover of the bunch… turns out that’s not quite what happened.
While the bulk of the structure remained the same, I had some fun messing around with the drums, bass, and lead guitar lines, and if you ask me the finished cover sounds pretty far removed from the original now.
I was nervous to even try anything off Static Prevails because it was one of the records from the band I got into later on. While I’ve often credited Clarity as my favourite record, the track that lured me in first was actually “Get It Faster” from Bleed American after stumbling upon it while illegally downloading my digital library as a pre-teen, and it would be a little while after both those records before I finally heard SP. As a result, it’s one I’ve spent the least time with, and given how stylistically different it is from a lot of the bands other work, I hesitate a little when I approach it with my cover song producer hat.
All that said this cover came together faster than anything I’ve put out so far and I think there’s something to be said about trusting your instincts on projects like this.
When I do covers like this (or any production really), after tracking the acoustic guitar with a scratch vocal to get a sense of tempo, I whip out the Gibson and do an electric scratch, too, which is really just to make it easier to map out the drums to.
Then, I totally nix the acoustic guitar & scratch vocal, and throw down a very basic drum pattern with minor snare fills to help show me where I am in the track without thinking too hard about it.
And then I ripped down the electric guitar scratch and found the right tone on my Fender Mustang. I wanted something dirty and chunky with a little reverb and I think we accomplished that. It only took a couple minutes of cycling through the amp presets to land on one suitable for what I thought I wanted to hear, fortunately.
I doubled this to beef up the track, but I was considering just doing one rhythm and one lead instead; I’ll probably go that route on a couple other releases, but I just love layering the rhythm, it makes a big difference especially in a home recording like mine.
As always, my bass is run straight D.I into Pro Tools with nothing else. Turns out my D.I box might be kickin’ the bucket because I had some trouble for a bit getting it down without the signal crackling all over the place, which is annoying, but we made it through. Since the rhythm guitar at this point was pretty straight and true to the original, I wanted to make some of the breaks (anywhere the vocals stop, I consider a “break”) a little more interesting, so I tried a couple little bass runs up the neck in them. My favourite part is right after the second chorus and before the bridge because that part is a big departure from the original and it just adds something kinda unexpected and fun. (Did any of you see that coming? I didn’t either!)
At this point, I wanted to get that clean-lead guitar sound in right off the intro and into the pre-choruses, because I suspected they might change the way I tracked the vocal and it was important to me to try to do something similar in those sections. Instead, I ended up using the “Echoing-Chimes” preset on my Mustang, something I always like to play around with but hadn’t been able to find the right place for it. Then, with some sharp panning and delays, it really changed the whole scope of the track.
Now we had somethin’… but there was still something missing.
I went into the bridge with the same preset (initially, I was going to switch it out), and ran with the first lead line you hear come in as the lyrics start up again. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after that, so when the chorus came back in I just like a chord ring out, and the chimes hit it in such an interesting way to me…. so I added a few more. All in, this section took me about 20 minutes to lay down, which is quick, but I’m super happy with the way it ended up sounding and again, just really seemed to change the whole tone of that last chorus.
I was a little concerned about the vocal for this one, but for Tom songs, I always am.
I don’t really know what my vocal range is or anything like that, from a technical sense, but when I sing along to Jimmy Eat World tunes I tend to find my main register sits weirdly somewhere in the middle of Jim and Tom.
Which is a weird thing for me to say about myself, but here we are.
There’s not too much to say about what I ended up doing on the vocal here, only that in the pre-choruses I found the best way to track them was to get right up close to the mic and then raise it later in Pro Tools.
With the chorus, I had to take the pre-amp gain way back because those scream’s really distort the hell out of my mic. I used this to my advantage to add a bit more dirt.
All of the vocals on this track are doubled, which is not terribly uncommon for me but, I did treat them a lot different in the mix than I normally do, especially in the pre-chorus where I pan both vocals out for a more obvious spread. I’ll probably use this trick more often in the future, I think it turned out pretty cool.
Somewhere in the middle of tracking some of that other stuff above, I start to get ideas about where I want to really take the drums.
Tracking the way I do is weird when it happens in this order because now I’ve gotta go back and embellish the guitars with the drums, and normally I prefer to do it the other way around. When you don’t have a luxury of a real drummer on hand, you ended up doing a lot more back and fourth, so of course that happened here.
First I went through the verses and made sure I had some pretty obvious snare fills going into the choruses and made sure I threw in some crashes at all the “right” sweet spots, because at this point I just had the occasional open hi hat, kick and snare.
Then it’s time for fun with toms!
That’s my favourite part but sometimes I get a little carried away with it, so I had to cool it on the grid to stop myself from putting in arrangements that were too fast for the track.
And that chorus beat? I had just finished throwing in the hi-hat across the verses, and because the tempo actually speeds up a fair bit in the chorus here (I go from about 147bpm to 155bpm, I think), it… it just sort of happened.
And suddenly it was like a club beat. And I didn’t hate it.
Is this what that genre “Happy Hardcore” sounds like? If it doesn’t, it should, cause this track fucking lifts now.
I’ve been having trouble deciding if I want to jump into something from “Futures” or skip Go this round without collecting my payphone quarter and head right to “Surviving”.
The reality is I literally don’t have a schedule for this and I’ll probably get lured into one while walking to the coffee shop one day, so, just hang tight and I’ll be back with something soon, okay?
Thanks for listening & reading & see ya next time!