Online with SilverChair Fans
Nick, when did you first start experimenting with mixing?
When I was 9 years old, on my dads 2 track Grundig reel to reel tape Recorder. I dubbed the vocals from a Beatles song onto one channel (taken from an early stereo vinyl release, where the all vocals were on their own,panned to the Left hand channel only), and a repetitive tape loop of the rhythm track from a Rolling Stones song called "Satanic majesties request" on the other channel. When played back together hey created an interesting Beatlesk tribal 'REMIX'
Around what time period?
Before you were born!
And what were your reasons for your "experimental" times (Were you recording a song? What was going on?) -Dave Kahler, 'chair fan for life!
My experimental times are still alive and kicking. It is the main drive that keeps me wanting to make records. A lot of experimenting was done in the studio during the making of Neon Ballroom. Some of the best Inspired madness such as Backwards piano, Distorted Tape loops, Chris's bass put through a Mini Moog Filter, Drums and percussion recorded at double speed to give a slow motion effect, and Backwards reverb on Daniel's vocals, all happened up at Gary Garry's Studio on top of a hill near Terrigal Australia. My friend Jim Moginie, from Midnight Oil came to join in the fun.
Nick, how long did NEON BALLROOM take to record, and what is your favourite song? -Amanda Davis
Neon Ballroom was recorded very quickly considering the complex ideas that we were trying to be achieved. It took around two and a half months to record, and about a month to mix. Please check out Kate Bush's Dreaming LP: One and a Half years, Peter Gabriel's 3rd LP: One Year, at least!.
I have a few favorite tracks for different reasons: "Year 2,000" (the Australian LP version) Because it was great fun Coming up with all the wild unusual sounds. (Some were taken out of the American release.) "Emotion Sickness" because it had so many landscapes to colour in, and the day with Helfgott will always be a day remembered. "Ana's song" because it came together really well, very quickly, and meant so much. "Steam will Rise" because it is so different to anything I've heard in a long while.
What was it like working with Silverchair on this album?
It's always great working with them, because of their overwhelming enthusiasm. Their attention span is shorter than other bands I have worked with but they are way more focused on what we are trying to achieve. The overall effect of this is that We spend less time going down the wrong paths musically. It is very common when making "Interesting albums" that a lot of time is spent on songs that don't end up on the final LP, because the vague experiments simply didn't work. Silverchair are very decisive people it's all "F**k that's Heaps Good" or "that Sucks" So you either keep it, or you move on and try something better.
How do u feel about Silverchair's music? -"ddns"
I love it. I think there are people out there who don't take the band seriously because they had such huge success at such an early age. I have been very lucky to have worked with some of the most talented musicians in the world, and I would have to put Silverchair right up there with the best, because not only are they naturally gifted. The chemistry between them is very special, and rare to find.
Among the bands you've worked with, how different are Silverchair from others in question of their talent, visions, goals, and experience? -Karl Boulanger
They are only different to other bands in that they got through to a lot of people with their first record, which happens to have been made when they were very young. It's worth remembering that they had been playing together for almost seven years before Frogstomp. Many bands make their first LP after only a year and a half. The neat thing, about their GOALS is that they don't really have any. They are just doing what comes naturally. They don't have a big plan for world domination, or Manipulating their fans. It's all very honest. Which once again is very rare these days. As for Vision.... Just listen to Neon Ballroom... You are listening to the inside of Daniel's Head, made audible thanks to Chris, Ben, and the cast of millions listed in the LP's liner notes, with a bit of push and shove from me, and a kick from Watto. I sincerely hope they stay together for a long time. It will be fun to see where they take us next!!
So, how does it feel having people you absolutely do not know asking you so many questions? -Bonnie
Oh how wrong you are! I know exactly who you are!, and what you are doing right now. ... that's a great look by the way!
What do u think about NEON BALLROOM? -HENAR
It has Awesome Verticality!
I have only heard a couple brief sound bytes of "Anthem" but from what I can tell, it sounds as though Daniel and Chris have downtuned a half step, then dropped the D. Can we expect to hear Silverchair downtuning to dropped-Db (flat) rather than just dropped-D (natural)? -Mike Stramaglio
I will ask them next time I see them.... I think It will have to be done!!!
How do you and the band go about recording? do they show you their stuff and then you tell them what you think and how to improve it?
Yes, That's basically how we work together. Although on this album, as you may have read in the press, Daniel spent a lot of his Holiday time in his bedroom writing. When he first played me the songs He wasn't sure how they could be done as Silverchair songs, being a three piece. So in a more complex way, I put it to him: What is Silverchair?.. Just because the last two LPs were sought of straight forward Rock, That dosn't mean this one has to be!. I think the challenge side of this really appealed to him. The band and I then went in to rehearsal to work out the arrangements, and how best to go about getting it all to tape, much like we did on Freak Show.
When you record the album, does everyone play together or are the different parts recorded separately? Erin
Good Question, Because these days many bands record all the instruments at separate times, this is called overdubbing. Because Silverchair are so tight (play so well together), I felt it was essential to capture the feeling you get when you see them play live, on tape. The only sure way of doing this, is to get them to all play together at the same time. Part of this magic works so well because they play and react off one another. Something else that might interest you, is that most of the songs were not played to a click. A Click is a metronome device that is fed to the bands headphones for them to play along to, so they don't speed up, or vary in tempo. 90% of all records are done to a click. Freak Show had only two song done to a click.
Did 'chair record the new songs live (everything simultaneously), or track by track? Did Daniel record the vocals afterwards? -Zoltan Totik
Wow! You've got a cool name!... See above reply Mr. Totik!. Daniel sometimes sings live depending on how much he needs to concentrate on his guitar playing. Almost always we will then re record his vocals once more of the overdubs are done, such as strings etc... so he can sing to them and get a better emotional felling of how intense each part of the song should be sung.
What was the key ingredient to Daniel's distortion sound? It sounds so full and clear on "anthem".
I presume you mean Distorted Guitar sound: It's basically a combination of his choice of guitar: Paul Reed Smith, or a Gibson SG, Through a Soldano Amp turned up VERY LOUD using the internal Overdrive Gain booster as opposed to an external Distortion pedal. The other important ingredient are the mics: A Beyer 88, and a 1940's RCA Ribbon Mic.
How did the band accept ideas you had for them? -Ana Amélia
As long as it was an exciting, and fresh Idea they were into it. I can be very persuasive at times... I'd probably make a good con man!
What's your influence on the Silverchair sound??? -NICO M.
I think the main thing would be that I push them a bit further than they think they can go. Both as far as their playing performance, and keeping the 'New Ideas" flowing. Sonically probably the way I mic things up, and the use a lot of room sounds to create the largest sound possible.
I know the guys say that it was great working with David Helfgott. Did you enjoy it too? -Tinida
David is absolutely unique. He has no inner dialogue, so anything he says to you is absolutely honest. The other thing is that he never stops talking unless you put your hand over his mouth (pretty funny huh) so you would expect him to say the occasional nasty, or derogatory thing. But strangely, everything he says is totally positive and uplifting. This combined with him constantly hugging you, results in everyone present feeling really GREAT. He is Mr. lovefest!!! He's like a live human Ferby! No batteries required!
When freakshow first came out the band insisted that they sucked...They rated frogstomp a 1 and freakshow a 5....Now that ballroom is coming out I heard Daniel in an interview and it seems like he's gained some confidence in their newest creation.. what do you think? -Jason
Personally I think Frogstomp is a great LP. I love the way it's simple and Honest. Freakshow was a huge step forwards for them, and I think they were just beginning to realize what was possible to do in a Studio. Because of this they probably thought they had along way to go. Ironically I think the balance of knowledge was perfect. I think it's one of the best I've been involved with. I think the confidence in the New creation is justified. Daniel put a hell of a lot of thought into everything he did on this LP (as did Ben and Chris) and I think It has paid off big time.
Since you've worked with Silverchair on both "freakshow" and "neon ballroom", I was wondering how you've seen them change as musicians and what you predict their future as a band? -Andi
I think their learning curve in the last two years has been bigger than most of us are likely to experience, not only musically but also in a 'Worldly Knowledge' way. Some times it has caused me to worry about their well-being. But amazingly they seem to have coped fine. I can't wait to see what they do next. I hope Its unpredictable. And I hope I'm there to see it happen.
If you get to work with them again, what are some things you'd like to see the band do in the future? -Aaron Seidner
Disco- Funk- Fusion... Three years in the Studio ... Triple album... with built in 3D Holographic Images, that play back in your living room. Just wait!
I recently did a school report on the differences between digital and analog recording. My question is: are there any specific reasons why you prefer using the analog method over digital, or is it just a personal preference thing? -Eric Hill
How many hours have you got to hear my reply???... Basically Analogue covers the whole spectrum of sound, including things like Harmonic distortion (Which sounds really good) When you record analogue you basically put the "Sonic" wave forms straight to tape using Magnetic pulses, So when you play it back it sounds the same but with some added anomalies such as Tape hiss Tape wobble and distortion, which some people don't like but Personally I think sound s cool..
Digital is a bit like: someone worked out loads of numbers (DIGITAL) that correspond to all the sounds the human ear can hear (they are actually a series of ones and zeros like computer language) They then worked out if you converted the raw sound to numbers using an Analogue to Digital converter (A to D) and put the numbers on tape really fast. Then played the tape back, and put the numbers through a Digital to Analogue Converter (D to A) It comes back with No Tape Hiss, No Tape wobble, and No added distortion. Perfect you would think!!!! But of course there is a catch: When they worked out all the corresponding numbers, they took a few short cuts, and left out a few things they thought were not necessary for normal home music listening, So the end result to my ears, and many of my friends sounds a bit lacking in Warmth, Harmonic distortion, Depth, or perception of depth as in three dimensional imaging and so on. Digital is getting better, as the Techheads who invented it try to add more numbers to the equasion. For instance 20 bit digital recording means more numbers are used than the standard 16 Bit digital, So it sounds closer to real Analogue. 24 bit is even better, and is the best digital available so far. To truly equal good analogue, we would need at least 32 bit, which isn't going to happen for a while.
All CD's you buy in the stores are 16 Bit. They sound better than (Analogue) Cassettes, because Cassettes are very very bad analogue on incy wincy tape . Unlike the BIG-ASS tape we use in the recording studio. Basically ANALOGUE RULES! DIGITAL SUCKS!!! Pheeeeeeeeeeeeewwwww!! I'm glad I got that off my chest! Next...
Ar e there any songs as heavy as slave on Neon Ballroom? -Chris Marr
Mainly a Big Blue thing known as "that Big blue Thing", also a RAT, or a Big Muff, also known as "The green one". But most of the time it's the overdrive built into his Soldano Amp.
Do you think you are going to make any more remixes for NEON BALLROOM like you did with "Slab" for FREAK SHOW?
I would love to. the SLAB was great fun to make.
Do any of the members of the band contribute to the string or piano arrangements? Or is that just done completely by an outside musician. -Rich
Daniel had many of the parts in his head even though he didn't realize it at first. Jane Scarpantoni (the string arranger) and I had to use a big pair of tweezers to get them out... there are still some stuck in there! You can see them ooozing out of his ears when he screams really loud.
What is the most memorable moment that you have had working with Silverchair? -Lori
Ben Farting, Chris playing me his new car stereo at half volume. My Ears are still recovering. Daniel saying to Watto on the last day of recording "Guess what...I've got another song. And it goes like this..... " Please die Ana.....
What are the crazy things that the boys do in the studio??? -Missy
Yell; AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA at full volume for 20 minutes non stop.... You think I'm kidding don't you???... It's very very loud. After 10 minutes I was on the floor laughing my head off, most other people left ... Ears were bleeding!!! And then there is the famous rides in the enclosed Drum case down the corridor of doom!!!
Hi Nick I was wondering if it's any different working with people Silverchair's age as opposed to someone ten years older? -Veronica Moar
Yes it's way more fun because It makes me feel their age. So every thing is New and Fresh again. They seem to have this affect on most people. It's also a great feeling to be able to teach others what you have learnt, and they are always so open to hearing new ideas. Older people will usually ACT as if "Yea I know that" even if they don't because they feel it's un cool at their age not to know. The age difference makes it only natural that I would have a bit more knowledge about recording, so it's a much smoother process. And then of coarse there is the fact that I"M ALWAYS RIGHT!!!! Just kidding!
I've heard that Silverchair are very nice people, I've heard as well that they have very big heads. Which one is true?
Daniel's Head is definitely Bigger than mine it measures two meters all the way round, But Ben's is Huge (about 4.5 meters I think) If you stick a pin in it He goes flying round the room. It smells awful though, Chris's Head size depends on his Hair cut. One day he walked in with no head at all... He left it down the barbers.
Nick, the first question which comes into my head is: Is Silverchair still a rock band? I've got the impression that Neon Ballroom is composed of lots of ballads and orchestral songs. Of course, there are Anthem and Spawn which really kicks ass but are there other rock songs?
I would say that they are still a rock band... because if you take even songs like Black Tangled Heart or Miss you love and play them up against other types of music such as country, or Euro pop, or clasical, or Death Metal, or R'n'B, or RAP, they still come out sounding more ROCK. It's important to remember that these names are given to forms of music so that the masses of people out there can find what they are into easily. It's not really a case of A bunch of musicians saying" We decided we are a rock band when we started so now we must do this.... Riff Riff Riff Riff, Drum fill, AAAoooow Baby! Yeah!
I was just wondering what made you get into the business you are in, and if it'sa hard job to do. -Ali
It seems I was destined to do what I do. I started (working in recording studios) when I was 17 It was my 1st job ever, and I'm still doing it. My parents told that When I was 5 I used to sit by the radio for hours on end just listening to the sounds, and sometimes mimicking them. Its a fun job. I get to hang out with very cool people, and get flown all over the world. But I do spend most of my waking hours (14 Hour Days) in an enclosed Air-conditioned Box (studio) with no natural daylight. I also have to deal with a lot of unpleasant record company politics, which very often can spoil the whole vibe of an album. That said; the feeling of having created something that others can enjoy always makes up for the down moments.