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That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

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That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Lennart » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:18 am

Hey guys! I`m a student in this field and I`m simply trying to figure things out.

My next client is a punk band, and I want to try to get that gritty, dirty punk sound from the underground punk movement in late 70`s and 80`s.
I want the pounding drums from sex pistols, the grit from subhumans, b-52s, guitars of the clash, Crass, G.B.H. Vocals that sound gritty and raw, yet not too unprofessional anno 2013.

I welcome any tips and hints like mic techniques and mic choice, compression ideas, eq`ing etc. etc.


I don`t want to be too specific with band references; I rather get a broader spectrum of production techniques, then narrowing it down later on. Thanks for reading through my post, and I hope to hear from ya ;)
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:32 am

Put them in a garage. Line up a few SM58s. Say "Go!".

I hope they've learned the song. Then you won't have to mess around with individual tracking and comping takes together.
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Frank Rideau » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:03 pm

Beware with the guitar sound. Punkrock/hardcore bands of that time had aggressive guitars, but they rarely sound "heavy metal". Listen some records of the time, you mentioned Subhumans, they had their own original saturated guitar sound:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1oZDvlPQnc

For bass, a typical 70s Fender Precision or Jazz sound played with a pick is a good idea. Most of these bands were a lot influenced by dub/reggae from Jamaica and a lot of bassist tried to infuse this style with the saturated guitar and speed beat. Record the bass from the amp and you hope the guy will have something like an old Ampeg.

So avoid metal sounding guitar and fuzzy bass (and hope the bassist will have his own licks and lines over the guitar) and they will not end up sounding like a modern pop metal punk band and wonder why.

+1 to record the band together, with maybe one additional overdub for guitar doubling (hard panned). Vocal should be blend "into" the mix rather than "over" the mix in term of presence and space. In 80s punk music, everybody were equal :).

The drums should be damped to the death and sound mostly dry. Like at opposite spectrum of Phil Collins...
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Frank Rideau » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:14 pm

and from the same link (youtube) at 2:45 you also have a good example of the typical hard panned guitar wall of sound also used by Discharge with extreme efficiency.

Note the nice Fender picky bass in the middle. Good amount of echo on the vocal too.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1oZDvlPQnc

Love this album. :)
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:47 am

Frank Rideau wrote:Beware with the guitar sound. Punkrock/hardcore bands of that time had aggressive guitars, but they rarely sound "heavy metal".

Lots of good advice from Frank there. Punks were miles away from heavy metal - even though, to modern ears, there may not seem any difference. However, they came out of the earlier pub rock scene which was more of a halfway house between rock and the later punk movement. Some of the musicians that I've spoken to who became known in the punk scene said 'we were just a rock band'. To them, what we know as punk was just a natural direction to take.

One of the bands I played in was tagged 'Guildfords leading punk band' - possibly because by that time (1981) everyone else had moved on so we were the only band playing loud and fast. The local guitar shop had just started selling Rickenbacker amps so our bass player bought one to go with his Rickenbacker bass and I seem to remember one of our guitarists buying one too. Our other guitarist had a Fender strat through a Peavey Classic amp which meant he had a smoother sound than many other punk guitarists. I was playing an old set of Carlton drums with single sided toms which had strategically placed gaffer tape to deaden out any rings.

While the bands may have been raw and energetic, most of the sound guys we encountered were trying to make the individual instruments sound like they came from a Steely Dan session so everything was dead and dry. At the time we didn't know any better so we just went along with it.
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby zenguitar » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:38 am

I remember the punk scene very well indeed, it appeared soon after I had started learning to play.

There are a few things to bear in mind about punk guitar. The first has already been alluded to, and that is that while Steve Jones was actually a very good guitarist with some very desirable guitars and amps, the Sex Pistols were marketed as anti-musicians. And the early punk scene was driven my that anti-musician attitude and the suggestion that anyone could pick up an instrument and be in a band. You also had bands that had come out of the pub rock and R&B scene and morphed into punks when that was seen as the route to success.

So, on one side you had some good, competent, experienced guitarists with good guitars and amps that were typical of the blues/rock sound of the early to mid 70's. But on the other side you had guys buying the cheapest guitars and amps they could find in junk shops, adding 2 or 3 old fuzz boxes and distortions and hitting the stage without even learning to tune their guitar. And some of them actually sounded great.

This was before the era of good Japanese copies. The cheap guitars were battered mail order catalogue instruments that languished in 2nd hand shops. And the amps were often early 70's solid state ones. H&H were very popular, especially the VS Musician head and combo, as were solid state Laney and Randall amps. Old Coloursound pedals were easy to pick up then, lots of guitarists had been selling them to buy those new fangled Boss, DOD, and Maxon pedals.

And there was no fancy recording. You went into a local demo studio with an 8 track tape machine, if you were lucky it was a 1" Brennel that was well maintained, but more likely to be a 1/2" machine. No overdubs, just the band in a room going '1.2.3.4.....' and playing the same as they did live.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby James Perrett » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:02 pm

zenguitar wrote:
And there was no fancy recording. You went into a local demo studio with an 8 track tape machine, if you were lucky it was a 1" Brennel that was well maintained, but more likely to be a 1/2" machine.

Maybe we were extremely lucky then... my first proper studio recordings were on a 1" MCI 8 track recorded HERE and released on Seaside Rock.

The real sound of much of the late '70's punk came from a small North London studio called Pathway where much of the early Stiff catalogue was recorded.

James.
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:10 pm

I've just seen a Carlsbro Stingray combo in J Roadhouse in Manc. I used to use the 100w (I think) head into a 2x12. When I sparked up the combo and wound up the overdrive it was like time travel, quite freaky.

H/H VS Musician - how we used to dream about H/H VS Musicians. They were for the local Status Quo band. I still dream in lime green now and again.

They were awful - but they lit up.

According to the Classic Albums programme on Sky Steve Jones put the definitive SP sound (or at least the final part of the jigsaw) down to the fact that, post Glen Matlock it was Jones the Guitar who played bass on most of Never Mind... which consisted of him mirroring exactly what he had done on the guitar.

We did much the same but for different reasons. Our first bass player wasn't really all there in a different kind of way.

Oh yes, drums recorded in a small room made out of heavily carpeted mattresses.
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:37 pm

James Perrett wrote:The real sound of much of the late '70's punk came from a small North London studio called Pathway where much of the early Stiff catalogue was recorded.

I was taken to Pathway once to play piano on some very polite country-rock. Must have been about the last project released on a vinyl EP (until vinyl became trendy again in some circles). Punk was WAY outside my area of interest then :-)
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Dynamic Mike » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:35 am

James Perrett wrote:Our other guitarist had a Fender strat through a Peavey Classic amp which meant he had a smoother sound than many other punk guitarists.

I bought a Peavey Classic which the Pistols had used following the abandonment of the SPOT's debacle. When I collected it I thought someone had nailed it to the stage for a joke. Unnaturally heavy amp for it's size.
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Re: That 80`s uk underground punkrock sound! How to get it?!

Postby Shambolic Charm » Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:36 am

I worked in a guitar shop (Tempo music) when punk started around '77', there was equipment you bought if you couldn't afford so called decent gear. The better of these were Burns and WEM guitars and Laney, Selmer and WEM amps. All quite respected now. They could kick out a really raw hard sound much loved by punks. Fuzz faces also fell into that category at the time.
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