Sunday, July 14, 2013

League of Rock - In The Studio with The Shine

The Shine and Michael White at Phase One

One of my favorite albums
So my incredible rock n roll journey with the League Of Rock is quickly drawing to a close. This week (week 9) we entered Phase One Studio here in Toronto to record one of the songs from our set. I was extremely excited just to be going to Phase One, let alone getting to record there. This place is a rock n roll shrine, Whitesnake, Rush, Alice Cooper, Triumph, Helix, Brighton Rock and Lee Aaron have all recorded here. Oh, and KISS worked on "Music From The Elder" here.

Back at our first live showcase, it was recommended by our coach that we should choose ACDC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" as the song we should record. So who were we to argue? We arrived nice and early and marveled at the gold and platinum albums lining the walls. Soon we found our way into the main recording room and we unpacked our gear and were introduced to our engineers, Dajaun Martineau and Matt Snell who got us set up and ready to roll.

Michael White & Dajaun Matineau
Our producer Michael White entered the studio and it was time to get down to work. Now having Michael as our producer was quite a trip for me. In case you don't know who Michael White is, let me fill you in. Michael was originally from Los Angeles where he played in a number of bands including the BOYZ with George Lynch. If you read Gene Simmons' Kiss and Makeup, Van Halen actually opened for the Boyz. Michael then went on to join London and worked with Nikki Sixx for over a year before Nikki formed Motley Crue. In 1983, Michael met Robert Plant who orchestrated a meeting with Atlantic records that landed him his own record deal. Now based out of Toronto, Michael continues to perform in numerous projects including his note perfect Led Zeppelin experience. Jimmy Page was quoted in 1985 saying "Michael does it best".

Decibel Geek writer Wally laying down some bass

Michael took his position, told Laurie just to talk the lyrics so she wouldn't blow out her voice and we started in on the song. Now I have never even been inside a recording studio so this was all new to me. I put on my headphones and Michael had us count in the song. We played along and quite honestly I thought we were just warming up, Michael would stop us at various parts and then the engineers would playback where we left off and we continued on until we made it through the song. I laughed as I could see Laurie trying to hold back but being the rocker that she is she started to "give-er" about halfway through.

The Guitar Duo of Scott and John
From there Michael had us go into the control room to hear the playback. The room was amazing with the big NEVE board. Apparently this was one of only four control boards of this type in the world, Dave Grohl owns one of them that he salvaged from Sound Studios. The engineers played back the track and it sounded pretty solid. We were told the drums and bass sounded solid and other than a couple of cymbal crashes to be added in later the rhythm track was done.

Laurie on VOX!
The guitar duo of Scott and John went back in with Michael to lay down the solo part as I got to kick back and enjoy the ride. It was amazing to watch the engineers working away with "pro-tools", they are truly magicians. The additional guitar sounded great and soon Jim was up next to add in his cymbal shots. Laurie entered the vocal booth to do her thing. We sat behind the glass flashing her the horns and banging our heads as she nailed down a most intense performance.

We then adjourned to the studio lounge to eat and await the final mix. This was my chance and I couldn't resist asking Michael about Nikki Sixx and Motley Crue. For the next half hour I enjoyed some great rock n roll stories about Gazzarri's, the Starwood, and the time Nikki Sixx dyed Michael's hair orange! This was one lunch I wont soon forget.

Scott, Laurie and Jim listening to playback
Before long the engineers had us come back in to hear the completed project. We all assumed positions in the control room one more time and they blasted our recording. We were all smiling ear to ear when we heard it. It sounded so huge and tight, I was thrilled! Whole Lotta Rosie by The Shine will be quite a souvenir of my time in the League of Rock.

Special thanks to Michael White, Dajaun Martineau and Matt Snell for all the hard work at Phase One.

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