On Track: Me And My Steam Robot

In this ongoing series of articles looking at the development of the tracks found across the Grasslands EPs we look at track 3 from ‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’: ‘Me And My Steam Robot’. Pre-Order the EP here: (Click Here)

Song writing
‘Me And My Steam Robot’ was written around 2006 in Plymouth. The song was developed on the acoustic guitar and many attempts were made to transfer it onto electric guitar, but I always thought that it lacked some of the nice warm tones that the acoustic provided. It is one of Grasslands more structurally complicated songs with a few changes in tempo and some awkward time signatures.

Drum Challenges
The main challenge for recording this song was always going to be the drum track. I had attempted to layer drums over a song with a complicated structure on the first EP (This Is The Way I Rationalise), but I didn’t think this would work on this track.

I met up with my friend (and former band mate) Sam Armitage to jam with the track and see if we could get a feel for what the drums would be like. I soon realised that writing awkwardly structured songs is all well and good, but they take a lot longer to learn. Sam is a busy chap and I didn’t really want to force him through a drawn out recording session, so I started to wonder whether I could try and do the drums myself.

With Sam’s help I managed to get my head around the type of drum sequence I wanted and set to work recording the drum track to a metronome and a guide guitar track.

Awkward timing
The most difficult section of the song to develop drums for was the heavy section in the middle of the song (3:08). The timing makes barely any sense and both me and Sam struggled to get anyting to work. In the end I relied on a rather simple drum sequence using the crash symbol, which I was happy with.

Guitar rehearsals
Most of the summer of 2013 I rehearsed the guitar sections for the song (including over Sam’s stag do weekend) until I knew my fingers were strong enough to get through the full guitar sequence in one take for the recording. I played it on both electric and acoustic guitar.

Recording Software
‘Me And My Steam Robot’ was first recorded in Sonar Home Studio 7, but was shifted over to Logic X on the iMac for final mixing. I was a bit worried about doing this due to all the tempo changes in the song, but Logic X proved up to the job and after a few tweaks everything was sounding okay.

Mixing
As stated earlier, I opted for a cleaner final mix with crunchy electric guitars, but still with the acoustics punching through. This was probably the most challenging final mix on the EP, but I am pleased with the final result.

Have a listen to ‘Me And My Steam Robot’ here:

Remember that the full EP is released on 20th October (Click Here)

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