Gear Talks: Glitoris

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Gear Talks: Glitoris

Glitoris Feature
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Glitoris have slowly been building a following in the Australian music scene.

Their live show needs to be seen, felt, heard and experienced by every reader here, so it made sense to chat with them about their sophomore self-titled record Glitoris.

Produced by Anna Laverty (Camp Cope, Courtney Barnett, The Peep Tempel), Glitoris pushes the bands sound further in every direction, inviting more collaboration than ever. Ahead of the release, we spoke to the band about the creative process, and Glitoris’s inception.

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

Your new album Glitoris is out today. Why the choice to go with self-titled on this one?

Great question! There were a few ideas in the mix, but we felt that the title captures everything the band is about – the humour, the politics, the irony, the badassery. We thought everything in the record – particularly the politics – could be wrapped up in an eponymous title. It’s a statement as to what the band stands for. 

Glitoris live

How did the songs on this album come about? Do individuals bring songs to the band or is it a group effort every time? 

This was definitely the most collaborative record we’ve made. The songs came about in a number of ways. There was a song Malcolm and Andrew (bass and lead guitar) had been working on for a while which got stuck, but then we split it into two and the verse became ‘The Op-Ed’ and the chorus became ‘Choose Your Fighter!’ That often happens!

Andrew then wrote the shanty in ‘Choose Your Fighter!’ during lockdown and then played it to the band on acoustic guitar at a picnic. ‘Sock Puppet’ was the result of a songwriting weekend. Mickey and Malcolm [bass and drums] were jamming out on this great rhythmic part and then the song was built from there. Andrew had the guts and concept of ‘Femicide’ for a while.

Each song – whether brought to the table or born at a rehearsal – was then arranged by all of us and we didn’t stop until we were happy. Mickey took charge of the whiteboard and it became this really methodical process, but one that was getting us great results.

We’d colour-code the song parts and it was literally a process of elimination: “Is that pre-chorus 4 bars?” “No”. “Ok, is it 8 bars?” “Nup, too long”, “Ok, let’s try 6” and we’d try 6 and it’d just lock in, then we’d move onto the next part. We recorded every single rehearsal and Andrew would go through and chop up all the recordings, stick it on the g [Google] drive and we’d all listen back and say what we liked/what we thought was working.

Also, anyone who had an idea, even if it was wild or random, was given a go. We had a policy that everyone’s idea would at least be tried out. That meant we all had an input. We were all leaning towards different parts of the process. Keven [guitar] was focused on melodies and harmonies. Mickey and Malcolm were focused on locking in as a rhythm section. Andrew was focused on lyrics and riffs.

We also had a policy of “not even a little bit shit!”, so we kept going until we were happy. We’ve never spent so much time working on the songwriting and we’re so proud of the results. 

How complete were the songs when you got to A Sharp Studios?

The songs were all 100% complete before we went to A Sharp. Some of them we had been playing live for a few shows, too. We worked really hard in the months leading up to the recording doing a lot of pre-production. We’d already demoed half the album with engineer Matt Barnes to see if the tempos were right, if we were happy with arrangements. The demos came out really well so we knew we were ready to go into the studio proper.

We knew what guitars were going to be used for each song/section, we’d even worked out pedal combinations. Mickey and Andrew had already gone into the studio in Ngambri to record a day of concert percussion and samples with Matt.

Another thing we did before recording was visit vocal teacher Rachael Thoms. We knew we were going for big operatic vocal sections on “Sock Puppet”, “Oizys” and “The Goats” and we needed to nail it. Rachael got the band in shape to be able to deliver those opera parts really quickly. So that was a real help to get us where we needed to be vocally. The band stayed in a shared house the whole time in Dharug and on a couple of evenings we worked on some final lyrics to “The Glitterball”. But other than that, everything was complete before we went in. Andrew spent time on the phone with Daniel Denholm, going over the strings for “Sock Puppet” and “Oizys”. He sent demos through to the band and we tweaked the parts before going to his studio to record the string quartet.

Why Anna Laverty for this record?

We wanted to work with a female engineer/producer for this record. Anna is very experienced and has worked on some great albums that we really liked the sound of, so she was an obvious choice! 

How did you record the album? Isolated or the whole band at once + some overdubs?

We all spent 2 weeks at A Sharp Studios in Dharug recording the album with Anna. Matt assisted for the first few days, as we had to get “Oizys” and “Sock Puppet” down for Daniel early on in the sessions – and they were the two most challenging songs.

By and large we took it “song by song”, so the drums and bass went down first, then rhythm guitar, then lead guitar, then vocals. We kept that process for the main part, but did spend some of the time returning to vocal parts we weren’t happy with and re-recording them. In terms of tracking, everything was played to a click, except the speed-up section in “Spoiler Alert”, where we all followed Mickey.

There were quite a few guitar overdubs, particularly Andrew’s guitar, because there were so many pedal combinations and different guitar sounds. Also, Keven and Andrew played some acoustic on a couple of songs. The album wasn’t quite finished at A Sharp – we still had all the percussion and some vocals to do – so we had a couple more recording sessions with Matt and Clem Bennett, who mixed the record, in Ngambri once we got back.

Clem did a lot of post-production on the record at [the] mix stage. All the samples, synth stuff and crazy sounds in “Lickety Split” and “Sock Puppet”, as well as all the chopped up vocals and effects on “The Glitterball” – all that was done by Clem at Black Mountain Studios in Ngambri. We also recorded stylophone there and all the hand percussion. 

A Sharp Studios

How does the equipment you use in the studio differ from live? Or is it much the same?

By and large, we used the same equipment as we do live. So the guitar amps were much the same – Keven plays a Mesa dual rectifier, Andrew a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL. Malcolm plays through a Mesa Prodigy bass amp live, but much of her bass was recorded through an Ampeg.

Mickey has a deluxe vintage Mapex kit, which she plays live and recorded with too. There was a lot of stuff on the album that we don’t play live though – all the percussion, the synths, the glockenspiel, the stylophone.

Also Andrew borrowed two guitars from her friend Susan MacGillivray, who played in punk bands in Vancouver in the late 1970s. She had this incredible 1960s Fender Mustang and a Gibson Melody Maker, neither of which Andrew plays live but both went on the record. 

What did the production team bring to the project? 

We had a ‘dream team’ on the recording and production of this record and we’re made up with how it sounds. Anna recorded the majority of the record at A Sharp, then Clem Bennett mixed it back in Ngambri. Matt Barnes recorded the demos earlier in 2022 so we were very well prepared going into A Sharp.

Anna was great in the studio. She is a terrific engineer and got the parts down efficiently. We were really industrious for those two weeks and a lot of that was how Anna organised the sessions and what we were going to do and when. Given that the songs were finished, it was a case of recording everything part-by-part until we were happy with the takes. Clem is a brilliant mix engineer and added a lot of new sounds in post. The percussion brought the whole thing alive. The album was mastered by William Bowden, who took it up another notch. We needed to retain the dynamic range but still have it loud and punchy. It was a difficult balance, but he nailed it. 

Has anything that made it onto the record informed your live show? What about the equipment you use? 

Malcolm made her own bass guitar for this record – a 2-string slide bass that’s now referred to as ‘Slidey Boi’. It sounds superb. She played it on “The Glitterball” and that’s now a feature of our set. Keven and Andrew hadn’t used much reverb on past records besides a little bit wound into the amps. On this record, Andrew fell in love with Native Audio pedals and used the War Party distortion and Ghost Ridge reverb all over it. The War Party then went on the board permanently and is now Andrew’s main distortion.

Keven now has a Nuenaber WET reverb, which she uses mainly for “Spoiler Alert”. The recording process is unforgiving. Everyone’s playing and individual parts are exposed, so a lot gets tweaked once we’re out of the studio and back in rehearsals. There were a few parts that were constructed at mix stage, like the stop in “Sock Puppet” that we never played live, but we’re now playing it. 

Thanks for the time! Any funny stories or anecdotes from making Glitoris

So much happened during the making of this rekkid! Let’s just say quite a lot of rum was consumed at A Sharp…

Keep up with Glitoris here.