Perth based producer Forrester Savell
first came to notice as early as 2000, when he won the coveted West Australian Film Institute award for Sound for his work on the Chris Frey-directed short film Enashell
. Savell later migrated to Melbourne in 2001, where he operated out of South Melbourne's acclaimed Metropolis Studios, which saw him work closely with a range of bands and artists from Sum 41
, Something for Kate
, Alex Lloyd
, through to Delta Goodrem
and Pete Murray
In 2003, he was invited to Los Angeles for a six month period to work at the famous NRG Studios in North Hollywood. While there he co-produced and engineered on the Columbia record Full Scale with uber-producer Jay Baumgardner
(Evanescence) and engineer John Ewing Jr.
During this time he was also privileged to engineer for the legendary Helmet
on their Size Matters album.
For the past two months, Savell has been hard at work with The Butterfly Effect
working on their upcoming third full length album Final Conversation of Kings. In part two of UG's exclusive two part series, In The Studio With The Butterfly Effect
, Joe Matera
talks to Savell
about the recording process as well as chats to Butterfly Effect drummer Ben Hall
. And in a world-exclusive, UG
gets to hear a sneak preview of some of the new tracks on the upcoming new album.
UG: As producer, how are you approaching the making of this album?
Mainly, I talked to the guys about what they'd done in the past and I wanted to try and do something that was a little bit different to their previous work. The idea was that when people would listen to the new record, they wouldn't be thinking that it was the same old Butterfly Effect doing the same old things. It is still sounding like The Butterfly Effect, but also this time around, we're doing some really interesting things with the sounds and the ideas rather than just having a straight up drums, bass, guitar and vocal format. So with that in mind, we wanted to explore it further and a little bit more.
How are you going about capturing the tones of the guitars in the studios?
I have a splitter which is really handy to have as it allows me to run a whole bunch of amps at any one time, and a bunch of boxes too. I am putting a couple mics on each box and mixing and matching depending on what the song needs. It is convenient to have a bunch of amps running at once and blending the sounds and seeing what works. We have plenty of options using this method which is what it really comes down to. I mean we've got our favorites but in the end, it comes down to choosing what is right for the song out of the many amps we have at our disposal. And also because with tubes and all that sort of stuff, you have to turn amps on and off, so it takes a lot more time. But this way, it is a more efficient way of working because everything is ready to go at the push of a button. Whereas going through the setting up and turning the amp on, waiting for it to warm up, listening to it and then turning it off, cuts into a lot of time in the sessions.
What does a typical day involve for you as producer on this album?
|"The idea was that when people would listen to the new record, they wouldn't be thinking that it was the same old Butterfly Effect."|
Basically my day involves getting up, having some breakfast and then going straight into the studio. Usually later on in the process, I begin by chomping the vocals that were recorded the night before. Getting together the tapes that we all thought were good. And just shifting through all of what we have recorded. We've basically been recording as we go along. We haven't done one big session. We did the drums at the start but then from there on, we're basically been doing guitars, bass and guitars and vocals all at the same time. We have just been building it slowly so that there is something there for Clint to sing on rather than having him put all his vocals on right at the end of the recording space. So that takes the pressure off him too. And so it's been sort of a staggered process throughout the whole time. So to answer your question, we start of with bass or guitars during the day and after dinner time, we start doing vocals and that usually goes through until past midnight. But the sessions and days have gradually been getting later and later as we go on. We're all here together and here to do this album so there is no point in trying to make time for anything else. We just put our heads down and get to work.
You're very thorough with the demo-ing process during pre-production. You tend to cut off a lot of the fat of the songs to make them recording ready. Is that your way of working more efficiently in the studio too?
I think in the context of demo-ing and with these guys in particular, it is more about hearing whether the songs work. And what we found is that as much as we can work out what we don't like about the songs by way of the demos, we can also work out what we do like too. There is a lot of stuff from the demos that, if we weren't under a lot of pressure with time constraints and all, we would be able to get a lot more creative. Yet a lot of those ideas have continued on with the album. But we're either using some of the sounds and stuff that was in the demos or replicating them because those demos were done under much more freer conditions while in the demo-ing studio. But there is of value much creative time in the studio too and that is really important too in making the record exciting and interesting. But because you're under the pinch of schedules and stuff, you don't always get to do it. We haven't had a lot of time to actually do it here at The Grove but with the week we have coming up in the studio on the Gold Coast, we will allocate time for it.
When it comes to recording gear, what are you using and prefer?
It is all pretty standard equipment that you would find in any other high end studio. The desk is a SSL and I have got Neve preamps which I am pretty much running everything through. The room is big and spacious and that is one thing that Ben really wanted with his drums. He wanted to have a bigger room sound, a more prominent room sound on this album so a lot of the drum tracks have that. And generally working in a bigger studio, you have more space to set up amps and all that kind of thing. I have got like six boxes that are running six different guitar amps so I have quite a bit if stuff out there. I have a whole bunch of tube mics on the guitars as well, along with your standard 57s. The other thing too is everybody is here as well where as if you were in another studio, where people had to travel back and forth to the studio, you would tend to loose a lot of time. And if you're here all together you come up with a new idea. There have been times where those ideas have actually changed the original part of the song. So it is very convenient to have everybody in the same location.
Drummer Ben Hall talks to Ultimate-Guitar about the direction of the new album and about plans to release a live DVD.
UG: With the direction of this new album, what provided the impetus?
|"It is a goal of ours to release some sort of live component somewhere done the track."|
What we've done over the past few years with our releases is that it has always been the formula has been quite standard rock which I felt has been the whole verse/chorus/verse/chorus/middle/chorus/out thing. And I think on some of the new songs on this record we've shaken that formula. And also within that same formula we've also written more interesting parts. There is a song called World's On Fire where it's almost like a seven minute opus where we have got a vibraphone on the end of it and some trumpet playing too.
The Butterfly Effect has always been a live band and always put on a great live show. Are there any plans to capture some of the band's live aspect for a future release possibly?
It is a goal of ours to release some sort of live component somewhere done the track. But it's quite an expensive undertaking to do if you are going to do it. I think that is something we really want to look at on this record though. There are many great live releases and for example if you watch the Muse Absolution Tour DVD, I think that is one of the most amazing live footages ever put together. So already from the start, the standard has been set quite high when you watch something like that. So if we're going to do this, it is going to have to be very, very good.
UG's sneak preview of Final Conversation Of Kings.
visited the band during the album's mixing sessions at Sing Sing studios in Melbourne, Australia, we got to hear a sneak preview of four of the album's tracks. The album's first single will be Window And The Watcher
. This track sees slabs of power chords underscored by a hypnotic riff driving the song. Though it is a very radio friendly track, it also has enough twists and turns along the way to make it interesting and innovative at the same time. Fans will be very pleasantly surprised with the results.
Another track titled The Way
features soaring vocals amidst an air of eerie Berlin circa Bowie all punctuated by trumpet stabs and searing 80s styled hard rock guitar riffage. Next up is Room Without A View
, that has a slow burning, spacious groove which morphs into an all out sonic assault all whilst moving along through some very interesting time signature changes. The last track UG
heard was titled In These Hands
. This is a straight ahead driving rocker that pays homage to some very U2-ish sounds while at the same time pouring on one of the biggest choruses heard this side of rock radio.
And the verdict is
The band has certainly raised the ante on this album, and has more than delivered on all fronts. Whilst remaining true to who they are, they've also moved ahead by leaps and bounds. With this album the band are assured of not only moving to the next level on the international scene, but with their innovative and clever approach in the making of this album and the maturity of their songwriting craft and musicality, The Butterfly Effect
has set the next standard for all the bands that will follow in their wake. It is a remarkable effort and to these ears, it is the best and most adventurous work the band has produced thus far in their career.
Interview by Joe Matera