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The Genesis of a ‘Sunbather': Deafheaven In the Studio

Day three continues with more guitar work and finishes with bass. We’re using a 70’s Fender P-Bass that plays through a 70’s Fender Bassman 100 and Ampeg 8×10 cabinet. Bass concludes in a timely manner and we move onto clean guitars. For these sections, Kerry is using his Les Paul again but also mixing it up with the Gretsch 6117, which we actually end up using the majority of the time. All of these parts are played through a Fender Blues Jr.

We maximized these clean parts by, on occasion, tracking up to four different guitar parts. Recording always becomes fun around this time because the stressful bulk is completed and we’re able to really experiment with different sounds and space, even using an EBow for the first time.

Days four and five focus on the clean sections and interludes more while day six revolves around small additions and vocals. To accent the clean and interlude sections, we played on a gorgeous Kawai Upright Piano and a 60’s Hammond M3 organ that was mic’d with a Vintage Sennheiser 421. The vocals are treated in a fairly standard way. Truthfully, most of the vocal sound just relies on the performance so unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to say here. We used a echo chamber reverb and during mixing, the takes are fed through an analog tape delay.

The record is still not completed. We have mixing and mastering to get through before the finished product is readied. Jack Shirley will be handling both of these duties as well, which I’m confident in. All of our material is tracked to two inch tape at 15ips with an Otari MTR-90 ii. From there, it’s transferred to Pro Tools HD through Lynx Aurora Converters. This is all finished by being mastered with an Ampex ATR-102 tape machine.

There is a lot that goes on during a recording process and meticulous detail is something that has become more and more important to us as time goes on. When we released ‘Roads’, neither Kerry or I had any idea where it would take us. I feel that if we did, we would have taken more time with it. Then again, I’m happy with its sound because it reminds me of where we were then. It feels, as this next record does already, like an exciting time. An enormous bundle of hope from two young, wide-eyed people who have been lucky enough to be placed in this position.

Lastly, I named the record Sunbather because that’s the feeling it gives me. It is the sadness and the frustration and the anger that comes with striving for perfection. Dreaming of warmth and love despite the pain of idealism.

It will be released in late Spring/early Summer through Deathwish Inc. and I can confidently say that this is the best product we could have come out with.

— George Clarke

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