Photos by Anna Denton
On the heels of their sparkling new single ‘I’ve Got a Voice’, Bones and Jones sat down with Mixdown to share the gear behind their sound.
On the heels of their lush, sparkling new single ‘I’ve Got a Voice’, which sees the band elevate their signature blend of folk, pop and country twang to produce a sophisticated adult contemporary offering, Melbourne mainstays Bones and Jones sat down with us to chat about the production of their forthcoming album, writing collaboratively and the old refrigerator cooling room they currently call their studio home.
How has the band’s writing and recording process evolved from your first few releases all the way up to this new single – was there a conscious effort to expand the band’s sound this time around, or do you folks like to work more intuitively and see how things shake out?
Jasper: We have always recorded ourselves in whatever space/house we have available at the time, I usually take the reins with the engineering side of things and I suppose sonically through our releases you are hearing me learn the recording process better.
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The songwriting process has always been super similar, either a song is brought to the band or we just play around with ideas during practice and either Finn or myself will write lyrics.
Tell me about the Bones and Jones songwriting process – Is it entirely collaborative, do individual members tinker alone and then present to the group, or is it a combination of both?
Jasper : It can be pretty tailored per song, It ranges from having a full demo shared around to the band to just a couple of chords and melody ideas in a practice. Once we run a new song in the set a couple of times we start to feel like it’s ready to be recorded or just thrown away, haha.
Lately Tom and Bailey have started going down the synth rabbit hole, Tom got himself a Behringer Poly D and we have been writing a lot more with that in mind. I think we have been always trying to avoid being pigeonholed to a certain sound and just trying to expand our live shows. It’s also given us some more freedom in recording, we are a bit more confident adding some more synthy textures to our recordings with the idea that we can replicate it live.
Talk me through your workflow from demo to track completion. Any preference of DAW? Do you begin in the bedroom or head straight to the studio?
Jasper: I’m super lucky to have a really great studio space to work out of at home, I live in a sharehouse on the coast with an old refrigerator cooling room from when the property used to be a functional fruit orchard. It’s a really beautiful wooden lined shed sorta thing with super thick walls, so it’s been perfect to convert into a recording studio. A Lot of our collaborative writing gets done there when we have some time between shows to record the mics and just get shelled around the kit and amps and start tracking. It’s really a rare thing to be so comfortable in a space that can allow us to write and record so casually, so we are always pinching ourselves.
On the tech side of things I track into Logic with a mix of mostly Sebatron Hardware preamps and UAD Convertors. I’ve managed to be at the right place at the right time and scored a good deal on some really nice Neuman KM84s the other month which have found themselves on most songs on the record. I never used SDCs until then and now they’ve taken over my life. Like I said before we’ve started toying around with adding some more sonic texture to songs with synths and keys. There’s been lots of Rhodes, and a Roland RE150 on our recordings, but that’s progressed into fiddling with the DX7 presets and some of the newer more budget options like the Poly D and the Roland Boutique range. Our input list for our live shows has been growing by the week.
Which pieces of equipment are integral to the band when it comes to translating B&J’s essence from a recorded to a live context? Are you trying to replicate your studio sound when you perform, or do you prefer to let the songs breathe and find their own live groove?
We track live a lot of the time so our Guitar setups are exactly the same as if we were playing a show, maybe give or take a couple of pedals. We are always trying to translate the energy from our shows into recordings so it’s really been trying to replicate our live sound rather than replicating our recordings.
A lot of our songs are road tested before we record so the recordings can be pretty true to how we are live, unless we want to go for a different vibe on the day.
That being said, half of the songs on our last record GingerGold (Farm Singles) were just me recording by myself because lockdowns kept us apart from each other, so that was a good learning curve to then translate the recordings into a live setting. But we have moved on pretty quick from playing those tracks.
As of late though, we have been writing with a different instrumentation and a different recording process in mind, it’s not a crazy shift of gears but it’s just naturally happened that our songs seem to be shifting into something different. Different for us at least, haha. It’s all pretty much based around us being able to pull different sounds from the synth and keys.
Are there any pieces of gear you’ve acquired, be it something cheap that punches massively above its weight, or a less-wallet friendly splurge, that have tangibly influenced the way you write and record music to this day?
I got myself a Fender Rhodes for the studio just when the pandemic was starting. It was looking likely that there would be rolling lockdowns, so I thought I’d just bite the bullet and buy a dream instrument that would let me kill some time in the studio. It was definitely the dumbest financial decision I’ve made but it still is so fun patching it through different effect processors and bending the sounds. My fav combo has been running it through a Roland Re-150 and the Electro Harmonix Mel 9 Mellotron pedal.
My most precious piece of gear is a Gibson J185 passed down to me from the Carroll-Wilson family. They are dear family friends and the guitar belonged to one of the country’s best blues players and songwriters, Chris Wilson. It’s dearly sentimental and has such a rich sound, every song I’ve written over the past few years that has become a Bones and Jones song has started with me and that guitar. Chris taught myself and countless others so much about working hard as a musician and respecting the craft, that guitar will never leave my side, really.
Conor: I am a rookie when it comes to drum gear, but since I was a kid, I knew I wanted a Ludwig, because that’s what Ringo had. My friend Matt Blach sold me this kit a few years ago… just before we recorded Ginger Gold. It’s huge, (26” kick) sounds good and looks the part.
‘K’ Ride Cymbal
Been rocking this cymbal for ages now. It’s a 22” Custom Dark Ride – I remember skipping meals for weeks to afford it when I first moved out. I love hitting the bell, and this one is hard to miss.
This thing just works itself. I haven’t tuned it in like 5 years. I’ll take it to the grave.
Gibson Les Paul Special – 1977
I only just bought this guitar from a friend of mine, I always wanted something with p90s. I’d had it on loan for six months or so and just loved the tone/feel so then I had to convince my pal to sell it to me.
JHS Colour Box V2
This has been a really great preamp to use in the studio and also a staple on the pedal board. I’ve actually just sent it off for repair so I’m super keen to get it back ASAP.
Boss – Chromatic Tuner
Pretty standard, the lights are really hard to see whenever we play outside during the day at festivals and stuff so I’ve had to make a makeshift shade out of cardboard to see the notes. If anyone has a 3D printer and wants to make some coin?!
Boss – DD8
I only just got this when my DD7 broke, the GLT function is my favourite, I dunno what it means but it sounds good!
Electro Harmonix – Ripped Speaker
I’ve had this on lend for probably way too long, I was having heaps of trouble finding a fuzz/overdrive that won’t muddy the tone and lose the guitar in the mix for ages until I started playing around with this.
Danelectrio – Fab Echo
This was the first pedal I ever bought when I was a kid, they are super cheap but it does exactly what I want it to do, and it looks really cool as well.
1971 Epiphone Casino
This is my dream guitar. I’m a huge Beatles fan so when i saw it pop up on facebook for sale there was no way I couldn’t buy it. I’m biased, but it’s the best guitar I’ve ever played hands down.
2010 Fender Stratocaster
This was my first electric guitar, love it. It’s got a humbucker in the bridge and plays real well. Nowdays it mainly sits on stage as a spare guitar. Jasper breaks like 4 strings a set, so it gets fair bit if use from him.
MXR Micro Amp
A mate recommended this pedal to me. I leave it on all the time as a bit of a boost.
Ibanez Tube Screamer
Such a classic pedal, great to push the amp for dirtier parts.
JHS Colour Box
Love using this for loud and gnarly fuzz tones.
Aqua Puss Delay
Super subtle analog delay, use it a lot during rhythm playing for a bigger sound.
Boss DD7 Delay
Have this set with a super long feedback trail for some whacky sounds.
Boss RE-20 Delay
This is Bailey our bass/keys players pedal, I’ve been using it alongside my new Behringer Poly D synthesiser to add some texture.
VOX AC15 HW
Jasper: I only recently started playing through the Vox HandWired range whenever it was on offer as part of festival or venue backlines, our soundie was always sending me facebook links to buy them afterwards. I’m really into how simple they are and easy to pull a good drive from.
Tom: I had this amp sitting around for ages but ever really played it live until our soundie kept complaining about how much he hates how treble heavy Fenders are. I think he was right in a way, since I’ve switched over I’ve never looked back. I also use a hand wired and pretty much fully upgraded fender Hot Rod Deluxe which sounds great, but for the moment the VOX is the go to.
Nord Electro 6d 73 Keys
Bailey: I’ve been using this for about 2 years now. My trusty road companion that gets me the sounds I want with the click of a button.
Roland JU-06a Synth
One of the newer additions to my setup. I already have to travel with a bass and keyboard so wanted a synth that was small/light enough to travel with without compromising sound and this is where I ended up.
74 Greco Jazz Bass
This bass, I inherited from my brother who moved to England. Obviously it’s not a Fender ‘74 but I love it. It’s taken a fair beating and is still going strong.
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