For one of my assessments this trimester, my group and I have to take an Australian song and re-imagine it in the style of a different genre. Our group decided to turn the indie folk song “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye feat. Kimbra into a post-hardcore song. To give me an idea on how to record and mix post-hardcore, I will be analysing the production techniques used in the song “Little Hospitals” by Scottish band Biffy Clyro.
The bass is typically recorded in two ways; an amp (to get that distortion) and through a DI box (to avoid clashing with the other guitars being recorded). Guitars are usually stereo miked with two condensers to capture the harshness of the sound but can also be miked with dynamics to avoid spill. Sound baffles are used to reduce the bleed of the guitar to ensure they don’t sound too harsh. Moreover, to remove any risk of spill (especially if the song is tracked live), the guitars can be overdubbed. In “Little Hospitals” – as Biffy Clyro has one guitarist, it sounds as if the guitars have been overdubbed to play the harmonies which are panned to create a stereo effect.
Drums are typically the hardest to mike but as they are not the most important elements typically the kick, snare and overheads are miked. The snare usually has a microphone hovering above to capture the top and microphone below it to capture the bottom end. A condenser mic known as a room mic can be used to capture the natural reverb of the room.
As the vocals need to cut through the guitars, the presence of the vocal needs to be captured. Therefore, if the vocals are overdubbed, condenser microphones are often used. Otherwise, a dynamic microphone such as the Shure SM58 can be used.
The dominant parts in the song are the vocals and the electric guitars. The lead vocals have subtle reverb and delay to give them a stereo effect and due to their prominence, are centred in the mix. The guitars are heavily distorted to appoint that they sound harsh and abrasive. To allow the vocals to sit on top of the mix, the guitars are panned slightly on either side. To allow the vocals to cut through the guitars, subtle sidechain compression is used. Furthermore, the guitars are compressed to avoid drowning the other elements in the mix, specifically the drums. Backing vocals are also slightly panned and also have reverb and delay.
Although the drums are not the main part of the song, they do maintain the fast-paced rhythm. As a result, the kick needs to just be heard and by removing all high frequencies, I could hear a sub kick around the 30-50Hz region. The kick and bass are in the centre and like most rock genres, the bass is ducked around the 100Hz to avoid clashing with the kick. The overheads sit in the back of the mix and are hard panned. As for the snare, the bottom end allows it to be heard in the mix.
Overall, guitars and vocals take priority in both the recording and mixing processes and ultimately, the drums and bass support them while still being heard.