Artist Tips: WhoMadeWho
The Plot (Gomma), the latest long-player from Copenhagen, Denmark-based three-piece WhoMadeWho, finds the group churning out the sort of sweat-stained, mutant techno-pop that might even ruffle some of Philip Oakey’s feathers on a good day—with a few Zeppelin riffs and falsetto vocals à la Josh Homme tossed in for added measure. Hell, the Queens of the Stone Ager is even a fan, and recently covered “Space For Rent” at one of his shows. We recently spoke with bassist/vocalist Tomas Hoefding about some of The Plot’s essential ingredients.
The Creative Process
To start, we usually program a beat, plug in the bass and guitar, and jam for about 10 minutes. Then we go get a coffee and listen to what we did. If we like it, we make a rough edit, picking out the most interesting parts, and then we loop them. Perhaps we’ll plug in a synth and then jam on top of the edit. Our studio sessions are rarely more than three hours long. After recording, we bring home the edit, and maybe Jeppe [Kjellberg] or I do some vocals on top, and Tomas [Barfod] may do some funky programming. It’s a very anarchistic/organic process. I guess part of the WhoMadeWho sound is all the outtakes that you would normally not use—we use them everywhere.
In WhoMadeWho, the bass is always quite loud in the mix. I have been a bass player for many years in mainly rock bands, and I always use a digital interface and a mic on some cool old bass rig. Barfod, in whose studio we recorded the first album, is a very lazy man, so of course he just has a jack cord and a pre-amp. And for this kind of music, my ’77 Fender P-Bass never sounded better! Since then, I have always recorded without an amp, EQ, or computer. You play better this way, and you get a more “in your face” sound.
Technology in software amps (even the one that comes with the cheap version of Logic) is getting so good that the advantage you get from recording a cool amp through expensive mics in big wooden rooms has a hard time competing with the creative freedom and intuitiveness of digital processing. It could be fun to let gear nerds do a blind test on which guitars on our new album are recorded through amps and which are just internally processed. Using Logic’s internal guitar rig, you don’t need to decide if the guitar riff is going to have a dirty rock sound or tight disco picking. You also have the ability to go straight to the musical idea without spending a lot of time getting the perfect amp sound and losing the momentum.
We sometimes record a full kit to get the live feel, but for our kind of music it’s so hard to make this sound right. Therefore, we mostly put up two mics, a hi-hat, and a snare, and play on top of a programmed kick. I am kind of a gear nerd, so I bought AD/DA converters and Neve pre-amps and all that kind of stuff. But I must admit that sometimes stuff recorded through Barfod’s cheap shit sounds even better than expensive studio recordings.
Jeppe and I have very different voices. I bought a Shure SM7A mic because I heard that Michael Jackson used it a lot, and because it was cheap. I use it for all my vocals, but it doesn’t suit Jeppe’s voice, so he either uses a big condenser mic or the mic in his MacBook. I almost always overdub my vocals; it makes it easier to listen to myself, and gives me the feeling that it’s not me but “singer” Tomas coming out of the speakers.