Blood Becomes Fire Recording Diary

Day 10 Sunday 8th April 2012.

Who’s idea was it to make an album in 10 consecutive days?!

That was an intense experience to say the least but the results are there. We have created another album that is of course totally Beastwars but we’ve pushed ourselves in new directions and to new limits.

And the best thing is that although we have had moments of frustration and bouts of cabin fever we’ve got through this 10 days as great friends on the same creative mission. There have been no meltdowns or vetos just the simple goal to serve the song AKA Obey the Riff.

I think we’ll take a break from each other for the next week. We’re all looking forward to seeing our friends and family again and strangely enough even going back to our day jobs. Then in a couple of weeks we get to play 2 shows with Fu Manchu. Really looking forward to those nights.

I think we’ve made a great album that is a natural evolution from the first album and we can’t wait to share it with you.



Day 9 Saturday 9th April.
Vocal tracks done. We’re all going insane. Someone get us out of here.

Day 9 Saturday 9th April.

Vocal tracks done. We’re all going insane. Someone get us out of here.

Day 8 Friday 7th April 2012.

Today was vocals day. Matt managed to knock out six songs that all sound very different. There are a couple of “quieter songs” that sound more evil when sung softly.

Stephen Kilroy came over and fixed his Hiwatt that we blew last night. Stephen is a GC and has helped us in a lot of ways. The Hiwatt has been an instrumental piece of equipment for the guitar and bass sounds. He also lent us his beautiful Rickenbacker 12 string, which has added a lot of depth to certain parts. James felt very stink when he blew the Hiwatt but Stephen was very good about and sorted out some valves and fuses to get it going again. Matt thinks Stephen’s a time traveller. 

I cooked a Good Friday lamb roast that went down a treat.

After dinner we worked on guitar overdubs. Dale and James really pushed the limits again and we got some crazy, evil sounds. I asked dale to sum up in a paragraph how he got those sounds, so I could write something about the process but all I got in return was this - “it’s a secret.”

We’re on the home stretch and can see the finish line and it’s all quite exciting.


Day 7 Thursday 5th April 2012.

Great day for James today finishing off his bass tracks including some stuff that sounded very synthy on The Sleeper. Straight after he finished the final song James took off to Radio One to play some of his favourite tunes on the New Zealand Music show and have a jibba jabba about what the band is up to at the moment.

He played:

The Clean - Point That Thing Somewhere Else

This Kind of Punishment - Sleepwalker and Immigration Song,

The Skeptics - 2 Pot Resin,

The Gordons - Laughing Now

Snapper - Buddy.

Flesh Dvice - Flaming Soul

Tall Dwarfs - Luck of Loveliness

Alistair Galbraith - Milky Milo Man

A lot of great stuff.

It was nice to have a break from recording and sit around listening to James on the Radio and listen to some music that wasn’t Beastwars (although we have been listening to a lot of ambient music in the mornings).

After James came back we listened back to a few of our songs and got inspired to record some overdubs. It was fun. We drank a few and created general chaos. Hope it sounds OK in the morning.

Dale says we’ve broken the albums back - that means we’ve done all the hard work of laying down the foundations. Now we paint the fence and maybe renovate the kitchen. With hangovers.


Day 6 Wednesday April 4th 2012.

It was James’ turn today to twist his own knobs after twisting Claytons for the last 3 days. It’s slightly unconventional to record the guitars before the bass but it works for us. As you know James has a massive set a tone balls on him so it makes sense to lay down the rhythm guitars first, get them sounding good then slot James in his own space. If we play live and use sound engineers that we haven’t worked with before we always say “Don’t think of James as a bass player, he’s just a guitarist that happens to play the bass”. People get it after that.

We set a goal of recording 5 tracks today and messed around as usual with the amps available to us. We bought a Jansen Bassman 100 and Mesa Boogie 400+ down with us but once again it was the Hiwatt that created the snarling gank we’re after.

James ripped into it and got on a roll doing great takes of Dune, Caul of Time, Imperium, Shadow King and Tower of Skulls. You may of read in an earlier post how some of the guitar takes are just 1 guitar going to multiple amps and speakers simultaneously to create a big sound. Usually you may overdub the guitar multiple times and pan them left and right but this time we James was the one doubling his bass tracks. The sound of a roaring bass in each ear and are ripping singular guitar down the middle was quite spectacular.

It was Clayton’s turn for dinner so him and Matt visited a fantastic local fish shop and picked up some Groper, a fresh squid and a dozen Bluff oysters. We had a delicious “whores” pasta for dinner with pan fried fish, salt and pepper squid and the oysters.


Another thing about recording here in Dunedin is that the weather has been absolutely stunning. We’re actually getting some sun which is a huge difference from how we were freezing our tits off on the last album. And over all the music is feeling different. There are more ‘metal’ sounding songs but also as James said last night “the not so metal songs are sounding so much heavier than the metal stuff”.

After dinner we ticked the last rhythm guitar track of the list with Blood Becomes Fire and Matt finished the last of his guide vocal takes. We ending the night with some guitar overdubs adding texture to Tower of Skulls with a beautiful 12 string electric Rickenbacker but unfortunately a pretty important piece of gear decided to stop working so we had to call it a night early. I wonder if it has anything to do with what Dale said a night or so ago. “I know it sounds good because I can smell my gear working”.

Hopefully we’ll have this fixed in the morning and be able to continue on with the bass tracking.



Here’s a couple of drawings that James has done to send his kids. Never knew he was such an artist.

Day 5 Tuesday 3rd April 2012.

A super long day today. 10am start and wrapped up just before midnight with Clayton aka Satan managing to finish all his rhythm guitar tracks. We’ve spent a long time on getting a good range of sounds for the guitars so far but the tone we got for The Sleeper seriously sounds like it’s from another planet. James is a sound engineer by trade so loves fiddling with knobs and has been key in working with Dale to harness the madness. Tempers were slightly frayed on Realms after spending 2 hours trying to find the elusive ‘sound’ then recording the takes and realising that it wasn’t quite right. So we reset the amps and basically did the complete opposite to what we initially thought the song needed. And of course it worked!

Dale slowroasted some pork hocks for 3 hours until the meat fell off the bone and we had the most incredible tortillas that I’ve ever tasted. Beautiful fresh salsas and a bit of diced pineapple in the mix too. Kind of like doing overdubs when you get to construct your own food like that.

The not drinking until 5pm thing worked for most of us and the no phones in the studio also was a success. Definitely a lot more focus and concentration in the room, not that we were unfocussed before hand but this has definitely been a positive rule.

After dinner Matt did some vocal takes on Shadow King, Rivermen and Caul of Time. What our plan has been is every night we’re laying down sketches/demos of vocals and over the next few nights we’ll listen back and see what’s working and what isn’t. Matt’s voice is sounding really strong and is showing some ‘versatility’. I think some of the sounds are going to freak some people out.

Time wise we’re halfway through the recording now and feeling like we’re in a good place.


Day 4 Monday 2nd April 2012.

By the end of the fourth day there were four new commandments: No smart phones in the studio, no booze before five in the afternoon, no plusies and no farting in the studio (James).

Today was a guitar day, which started off very well with the rhythm guitar tracks laid down on Dune, Ruins and Shadow King. These were the last songs to be recorded with the duel amping technique. Early afternoon we worked on the rhythm guitar tracks for Blood Becomes Fire. This is where the wheels fell off. After spending several hours getting what we considered the right “tone” from two guitar tracks, when it was played back it didn’t sound right. We moved onto the choruses for Rivermen and got a great tone from Bob Scott’s Gretch.

Dinner was a gourmet affair. Matt outdid himself again, with paprika marinated lamb rumps with pea risotto, made with stock from the roast chicken last night, roast tomatoes and broccoli with roasted almonds.

Matt did vocals for Dune and The Sleeper. Again Matt outdid himself with the lyrics and vocals for The Sleeper, it certainly gave us inspiration to get stuck into guitars for that song. We got a a beautiful sound for the verses using the Gretch again and some cool reverb type effect on it.

Recording finished just after eleven with a debrief. We’re all starting to lose a bit of concentration because of a few things, one being smart phones in the studio. Instead of listening to whoever is doing their take a lot of the time people have their head buried in their phones. This wasn’t a problem on the last record because none of us had one. James’ farts are really starting to wear us down, also.


Day 3, Saturday 1st April 2012.

No April Fools jokes today although we were prepared for anything with Clayton the practical Joker in the band. I’m sure he’s going to get us at some stage of the session.

Today was all about guitars and our quest for the hugest guitar sound. On the last album we layered the guitars to create a density in the music but this time we decided to layer the amps instead. So this means we have one guitar going into 2 quite different amps (a 60’s Hiwatt and a newish Orange Rocker 30) to create a wall of one guitar rather than a lot of guitars trying to sound like one. After hours of experimentation, choosing the right cabinet to go with the right amp and what mic worked best on what speaker, we got the sound we were after. It was so loud we felt sorry for the neighbours who were having their peaceful Sunday annihilated by our doom. But people around here are either very understanding or the howling sounds of hell coming from Dale’s basement made people too scared to come knock on the door to tell us to shut up. 

Clayton laid down takes of Tower of Skull, Shadow King and Dune and they were all sounding very, very heavy. The house was literally shaking.

We’re all on wifi and here on our phones which is both a blessing and sometimes a distraction but there are benefits. A guy called Dan posted on our facebook page how much he enjoyed the show at Refuel and had bought a copy of the album that day and then asked how he could get a t-shirt of us. So we messaged him back and said if he bought to the studio a few bottles of nice beer (Emersons and Epic Pale Ale) and a couple bottles of wine we’d give him a free tee AND give him cash for the booze. He turned up 30mins later and we were obviously very appreciative.

Matt made us a Sunday roast chicken for dinner with delicious stuffing and then we sat around for a few lol’s and drinks.

After the meal had settled we got back into recording mode and Matt sung a few songs including Tower of Skulls, Imperium, Realms and Ruins. They sounded great and really cool for the rest of the band to hear the new lyrics.

We have 7 days left here so at the very end of the night we went through the list of songs deciding exactly what we need to do on each song. 9am wake up tomorrow for a 10am start.


Day 2 Saturday 31st March 2012.

Had a good listen back to yesterdays drum takes and happy with everything apart from Dune so we went back down to the basement studio and gave it another go. Nailed it the second time through and knocked out Caul of Time and Realms. A couple of songs we had planned to leave to recording later in the session ended up being recorded too. Slow burners Rivermen (a new arrangement of a song the we had recorded for the last album which was close but didn’t quite make it) and one that at this stage is called The Sleeper, the name pretty much sums up the vibe of that one. The feel was right and the Vistalite drumkit is singing in the concrete room. I have thought of started a swear jar for every time the word “Bonham” pops into my head.

Dale cooked us a great pasta for dinner then we got picked up by Steve the Feastock organiser for our set at Refuel for the afterparty. It was pretty insane turning up and playing with no soundcheck after recording all day with such a focus on “perfection” and then just smashing it all out in front of a few hundred people.

Such great fun being in this band.