Published on June 5th, 2015 | by Brian Coney0
The Record: Heroes In Hiding
In the latest installment of The Record, Cian Donohoe, drummer from Dublin folk-rock quartet Heroes In Hiding offers an insight into the writing and recording of their second EP, Decorated Absence, which is released today. Photos by Tara Thomas.
“Our second EP, Decorated Absence was recorded and produced by Philip Magee. The writing and recording process was hugely different to our first EP, Hush, which was released in March last year. Hush was self-produced and recorded and then mixed by SOAK’s producer, the brilliant Declan Legge. That first EP was a much longer and more easygoing process than the one we have just finished. It mostly involved Joe Carroll (vocals and guitar) roughly tracking songs he had written over the course of a year in my recording studio – songs that the band had never played live. The band had just lost two members to emigration and another musical project between 2012-14 so Liam McCabe, frontman from Cavan band, Shouting at Planes, volunteered to play bass. When he had joined the band most of the songs from Hush had all ready taken shape and there wasn’t much time for him to have any real musical input.
We were very conscious of that when it came to writing the Decorated Absence EP and we focused on writing as the fou-piece that we now are. Having gigged for six months or so with the new line-up and with some new equipment such as Ableton Live, we had more of an idea of what direction we want to go in with the new EP and what we could and couldn’t do during live performances.
Now having two lead singers with two very different vocal tones and ranges has definitely shaped the sound of the new material. Some of the tracks almost feel like duets in places with a lot of call and response stuff going on. Philip Magee definitely liked the duel vocal idea and really ran with it. Working with Phil in The Mill Recording Studios was such a pleasure. It was a tad daunting starting out with him as we knew who he’d worked with in the past (Miles Kane, Kodaline, The Script and our personal favourite, Sisqo). He put us at total ease just by how complimentary he was of our performances as well as being an absolute genius behind a mixing desk. It also helped that he had beautiful gear and that the live room sounded so good. The week we were there never felt rushed and we stayed on schedule for the entire process, which was the first time that’s ever happened during a recording process for us. Rushing and over complicating the songs had always been a problem for us in other studios as I think all young bands will tell you, but I think during this process a little bit of, dare I say it, maturity came out. We made parts big that needed to be big and we left parts alone that were great the way they were, which is something we found very difficult when we were younger. I believe it’s called the Fight Jet Theory. In the way a fighter jet only has the absolute essentials for being as efficient and lightweight as possible that’s how we approached the production of tracks with Phil.
Hearing the final mixes was the proudest moment for us a band to date. It’s great to have a body of work that we can really get behind in its entirety. Maybe no one will like it, who knows? But this is one to show our grandkids. Once the EP was done Phil recommended Simon Francis, a London based mastering engineer, to master it. We were delighted with the result and he was incredibly efficient and it really was the icing on the cake and the glue that held the tracks together. Cian Donohoe
Heroes in Hiding launch Decorated Absence at Dublin’s Twisted Pepper tonight (Friday, June 5). Go here for the show’s Facebook event page.