Several years ago Jason Snell put out a call for listeners of his Robot or Not podcast to submit covers of the show’s theme song. Over the summer (thats winter for northern hemisphere readers) I finally had a go at it. You can hear the result on episode 123 Janet from “The Good Place” released this week.
The format for this little project is fun but challenging. As the podcast episodes are only a handful of minutes long, a long theme is going to be ridiculous. That’s about enough time for exactly one small idea. It also plays nicely into my limited songwriting skills.
I’m not a metalhead, but its fun to play one from time to time. The guts of this little theme is a two bar drop C♯ nü-metal progression that is repeated, over a drum part, and finished off with a vocal stem.
Garage Band’s smart drummers are just the best thing for home recordings: you pick a style, a drum kit (or drum machine), and then lay down sections with different complexity and intensity settings, and the app builds a drum part for you, filling between the sections. This track uses three segments: the intro, the first time through the progression, and the second time through the progression.
In addition to making it easy to get reasonable drum sounds recorded without knowing a drummer – and without having access to a some kind of drum studio space or faffing about programming the drums by hand – theres two great things this feature can provide: Laying down a rhythmic foundation for recording guitar parts against (as I did here; being able to use the drum part as for a starting point when creating a riff is something I find helpful), or following an already recorded part using it for its rhythmic cues.
The vocals proved to be a real challenge for me. Once I had the drums, guitar, and bass sorted I tried to record some vocals but due to lacking an XLR interface, and my general complete lack of metal vocal skills, I failed. Eventually I posted a demo to the music channel on The Incomparable members slack and asked for help. Antony Johnston1, and Jason Snell both pitched in: Antony explained the sorts of production tricks used for vocals for metal, while Jason provided the vocal stems and arrangement as they are in the final version.
There’s nothing novel about the the guitar part, it’s simply a humbucker guitar DIed (using an iRig) and then run through a Garage Band amp sim, with bog standard double tracking panned left and right. Once again, I’ve been left very impressed with the amp modelling. It’s the American Stack Crunch model – which is in the Soldano SLO or Diezel high gain silliness space – for both tracks. The bass is also DIed and plays the same riff – straight down the middle, Modern Stack