It’s an analogue set up (giant vintage tape machine and desk), very few computer screens, underneath a share house on a bush block.
Nao Anzai, a sound engineer they work with, recommended they use the same studio to maintain their old sound.
With a modest advance in hand spending money on something they’ve already got seemed unnecessary to Brendon Love, bass player and producer for Half Mile Harvest.
“We didn’t want to have a huge debt over our heads. And we have the studio ourselves. So it’s really set up for us to just sort of go, well, we only need what we need.”
There’s a 24 track tape machine (a Studer A800 MK3, more info below) in the tracking room that Sam bought off Jimmy Barnes years ago.
The bit of trivia came from Pierre Baroni, host of Soulgroove 66 on PBS FM who’s a friend of Jimmy.
We asked Jimmy if he sold it to Sam but he couldn’t remember. That’s rock’n’roll. Gear is moving around all the time so one tape machine years ago is probably lost among the other trades.
“This is something that they have poured everything into. They’re there all the time,” says Al Parkinson, assistant manager of the band.
“There’s this really beautiful swing chair. And I love that swing chair so much because you can sit there and just watch everything that’s going on. You can look in the tracking room, you can look in the recording room and see everything.”
From early morning to late at night assistant engineer Soren Maryasin is there too.
“The space really captures the whole energy of of everyone there who you know, the the bustle of a share house with, y’know, people …there’s gardening going on, there’s cooking going on, there’s yelling going on, there’s mostly good laughs from Josh, y’know, and the rest of the boys.”
On the deck is where the band, Soren and producer Paul Butler recorded the stomps and claps for Hold Me.
“Hold Me was hilarious because it compromised the structural integrity of the entire property,” Paul says.
“That house has good bass.”
“We were all outside doing the stomps and claps on the wooden decking, y’know, there was moments I was like, ‘Is this safe? Should we be doing this?’”
The neighbours weren’t fans. They were, as Paul says, “Looking over like ‘Shut up!’“
Paul arrived in early December, which is summer in Melbourne, from the Californian winter.
For the first few nights of recording he’s sleeping, sometimes, in a shack that’s on the property, metres from the studio. That’s it below.
“Well there was a couple of moments for the whole thing moved. And I think it was just from something walking on the ceiling, on the roof. And that woke me up a few times.”
Sam Teskey seems unaffected by the possible night terrors of Australian fauna.
“Yeah, lots of spiders, lots of lots of animals that you know, Paul’s probably not too used to you know, possums in the roof. It’s a real bush property, I guess.”
Paul didn’t last.
“And then at one point, a spider walked across the floor, and I could hear its legs. And that was the point I was like, I think I’m gonna get an Airbnb.”
A little further is Josh’s cottage, about 10 to 15 metres away, where he lives with his partner, Hannah.
“So it was quite a disruptive kind of three weeks, y’know, having everybody around all the time at our house …(it’s) a mess of a property y’know, there’s all sorts of things growing up around the place …the wisteria’s kind of gone wild and it’s a very chaotic property basically.”
Here’s how Soren, assistant engineer to Paul describes it in the episode.
“It’s a sort of big grey machine but the primary kind of colour you get off it is this the warm glow of the V-U (volume unit) meters because they’re all backlit.”
Soren is working with it daily, setting it up, tuning it, threading tape.
“There’s something really satisfying about working the tape machine because they’re these big heavy rolls of tape and you sort of slot them in and you turn them around and I have to sort of screw them on and you slowly pull the tape through the all the different notches and little rolls and different things (and then you have to) to rewind it all the way back to the start, and then pull it through again and then you’re ready to go.”
First day of recording though, wasn’t so good. They switch on the machine and …Liam explains.
“And this puff of smoke just ‘pffffff’ comes out of the machine. And we switch it off, we’re like holy shit there’s this acrid smell through the studio.”
One of the capacitors (looks like a thick battery) has popped and it’s oozing.
“But we need to get recording. And it’s like we’ve literally just started,” laments Liam.
Eventually they get onto the tape technician who has an idea. Liam was on the phone to him at the time.
“‘Oh, just pull that part of the tape machine out that component section and see if it runs and switch the machine on.’ And it worked fine.”