The Tambourine Girls On What It Takes To Make A Great Record In The Face Of Grief

20 March 2023 | 2:21 pm | Staff Writer

To highlight the release of their third album, 'Different Streets', The Tambourine Girls have delved into the realities of making a body of work without their beloved bandmate, Nick Weaver, who passed away in 2021.

Photo by: Mike Terry

Photo by: Mike Terry

Take Your Time

Usually, when we make a record, we book studio time with a full album’s worth of songs ready to record. We calculate how much time we need to record the number of songs we have and then base our studio booking on that. This time, however, we booked the studio time almost as a band 'holiday'. It was something special to do for ourselves because we simply love the experience of being in a studio. Instead of aiming to record three songs per day, we went in with ideas for four songs and recorded them over three days, the idea being that we would go with the flow and see what happened. This approach of having lots of time and not many songs was a revelation to us because we felt like we had time to take risks, try different songs and generally see where to mood would take us for each idea. By taking this approach, we ended up surprising ourselves with music that we never thought we would make, and we vowed to approach studio time in this way from now on.

Collaboration Is About More Than The Music

After our guitarist Nick died, the album project froze for over a year before we had the strength or courage to try and finish it without him. We knew there were some extra bits of recording we wanted to finish up, but there was still a lot of work editing and producing the recordings that needed to be done. Tony Buchen—our long-time friend and the producer and mixing engineer for the first-ever Tambourine Girls recordings—felt like the obvious choice to help us finish the record, and we are so glad he did. As soon as we began mixing, Tony took control of the project and used his immense skill and confidence in music recording to tie up loose ends, clean up the arrangements, add finishing touches of instrumentation and generally bring the record home, all while making it sound incredible with his mixing. While we originally came to Tony for his mixing skills, we quickly realised that his steady guiding hand as a friend and professional was just as valuable to us when we were feeling vulnerable and confused about the state of the recordings we had made with our best friend.

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There’s Always A New Rule To Be Broken

After recording You Know How To Bring Me Down, we were totally in love with the sound of the rough desk mix that engineer Simon Berckelman did on the day of the recording. This is a fairly common occurrence, as there is usually a long gap between recording and mixing, and the band grows attached to the sound of the rough mixes. This often goes away when the songs are professionally mixed because they sound so much better. But in the case of this track, we were so torn between the rough mix and the final mix until the end that we actually blended the rough mix and the amazing professional mix by Tony Buchen together to preserve some of the original feeling of the rough mix and get the best of both worlds. Mastering engineer Nick Franklin said he’d never heard of anyone doing anything like that and couldn’t believe it worked! Even for something as seemingly straightforward as mastering, it’s possible to do something so weird that you make the professionals nervous!

The More Voices, The Better

When recording our first full-length album, we discovered that the assistant engineer for that record, Antonia Gauci had an amazing voice, and we’ve been nagging her to sing backup vocals on our songs ever since. Coincidentally, when recording Different Streets, we discovered that the assistant engineer to Simon Berckelman, Chloe Dadd, also had a great voice! Antonia happened to be producing out of a suite in the same building while we were recording, so we ended up getting them both to sing on the record and discovered that there is always a positive to additional human voices - especially great ones like Chloe and Antonia’s.

There’s No Substitute For Getting In A Room Together

Long before the pandemic, we had tried creating songs via long-distance—sending tracks to each other and adding our parts individually. While we created some songs that we love this way, upon returning to a professional recording studio for the first time in years to play together, we realised that in our band, there really is no substitute for getting together in a room and playing music together. Funnily enough, it was during the pandemic that we booked these sessions, so just as the rest of the music world was beginning to experiment with long-distance recording, we were rediscovering making music 'IRL'. 

Stream or download Different Streets here.