Recording: For this special edition of SPOTLIGHT we wanted a bit more information than we usually get (but which we wish every person submitting a Readers' Tapes would give us!), and Beto got nicely detailed about the process:
"I tracked the original demo of the song into Ableton Live, and that is where I made the basic arrangement, and added the basic tracks, which did not change much throughout the process. Later on I transferred everything into Pro Tools 9, since the mix was done in PT.
I used a "Rhodes"-style electric piano sample from Live, and that is the sound you hear in the final version; it is saturated a bit, on purpose, using the included dynamic processing in Live, to get that distorted kind of sound.
The electric guitars were recorded using the Peavey Classic 20, a small tube amp. It was miked using a Shure SM57, about 3 to 4 inches from the speaker and a little off center. The Strat was played by me, for the arpeggio parts; the solo lines and harder accents were played by Marcelo.
Lead vocals were recorded with the Shure SM7, a mic designed mostly for voice over use, but that sounds great for singing as well. Backing vocals were recorded with the AT4050. All vocals were tracked through the Drawmer 1960 going to the Apogee.
Drums were recorded with an older version of the Elite Pack from Audix. 8 mics went into the Focusrite (kick, snare (top), hi-hat 3 toms, 2 overheads); those signals were routed to the Apogee via lightpipe (ADAT optical) and the snare (bottom) mic went directly into a Mic input in the Apogee. The final drums were recorded into Pro Tools.
I sent Tony Levin the following tracks, with countoff, for him to add his bass: Vocals; music, as in "everything else"- (no bass); music (with bass), and drums. Tony recorded his bass at his home using a Radial JDI, into a MOTU 8pre, into Logic, and he sent me back the part with a click track countoff at the beginning, to synch. I asked Levin if he could come up with a part that was similar, rhythmically, to what he recorded for John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels", from Double Fantasy.
My studio is just a regular bedroom with a bit of Auralex foam on the walls, but not that much acoustical treatment, really. The vocals were not recorded in a vocal booth."
Well, there's the cold hard data. The music, thank goodness, speaks for itself. I had the privilege of playing on Beto's first album Sube years ago, and loved that outing; but for his new record Beto has outdone himself, and this little track, which closes out the album, is an absolute gem.
Tony's bass speaks with authority and the track demonstrates the tasteful, in-the-pocket playing that is his hallmark. Marcelo's guitars sit nicely in the mix and step forward when required; the Gibson's strong tone melds beautifully with the Strat arpeggio parts. The backing vocals and keys are understated and serve the track rather than calling attention to themselves, bespeaking a great mix to complement the great playing.
I want to call special attention, though, to those two areas that are Beto's forte: the vocals and the drums. Beto has a slightly thinner voice than many rockers, with more head than chest tone; getting the most out of such a voice requires not only great technique in the studio but the right choice of mic and preamp. The SM7, the famous broadcast mic whose huge "Voice Of God" proximity effect has made on-air men out of mice for decades, works its magic here in concert with the Drawmer's lovely tube tone, turning Beto's vocal into something that floats above the mix and commands attention without being overpowering. The drums are played with great taste and have a solid sound that's not overly trebly or hashy in the cymbals or too thumpy in the kick... a perfect choice for this tune.
My only complaint is that the darn song's too short! Beto had a great idea that was presented in the once-traditional under 3 minutes, but I found myself left wanting more, which isn't a bad thing for a musician who wants to hold onto his audience.
You can find Beto's album on iTunes by clicking here
If you like this track in its low-bandwidth MP3 format in this SPOTLIGHT, you owe it to yourself to check out the rest of Rebirth at higher quality! This is the kind of music that makes me proud to hang with the people we have on the RECORDING team.
More from: Beto Hale, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.betohale.com