Fong Band Weekend

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Photos by Huang Shao Mao, Hui-chen and MJ Klein

This article has it all – music, drinking, food, and babes!

Introduction

I am producing the Fong band’s new recording sessions. This is the first production gig I’ve had in Taiwan, and I hope to get more. I’ve really missed producing and it felt great to get back into the studio, although these days “the studio” is a lot different from the 2″ analog tape and huge mixing consoles I’m used to.

In the past, given my considerable experience, I sometimes have performed on records that I’ve produced. This is nothing unusual, and in the case of the Fong band sessions, I played the backing guitar parts, mainly because it would be faster and much more consistient. It remains to be seen whether either of the two guitar players will add some parts to the recording, but at this writing, I personally played all the guitar parts. Needless to say, I won’t be doing any singing on these records because the songs are in the Thai language. I’m sure that I could learn the phonetic pronunciation and fake it but there isn’t any need for me to do so. These guys can sing quite well and we used 3 of them in a “gang vocal” configuration that you’ll see later (with photos taken from video stills).

So I hope you enjoy this article about what we did over the weekend. I enjoyed doing all these things for sure!

Friday in the Studio

Bryan Chen, owner and engineer of Wellrick Studio

It was a weekend full of music and fun. It all started out on Friday (which was a holiday here in Taiwan). First, it was guitars, guitars, Burns and VOX mayhem and more guitars!

Friday

During the previous week I had played the basic guitar tracks. Today it was time to do the 12 string parts.

Friday in the Studio

Friday in the Studio

I used a setting that I had never recorded before – center switch position and both pickups. I used the VOX AD30VT-XL amplifier (also something I had never recorded the 12 string with before) and we got this incredible sound that actually mimics an acoustic guitar, but with more dynamics. The tone was outstanding. I’m very pleased with the results. I’ll show you the new VOX amp, but the settings on the control panel are not those I used with the 12 string shown above.

Saturday in the Studio

Saturday in the Studio

Throughout my professional musical career, I have always used Orange amplifiers. I love the sound of tube distortion (called “valves” in the UK), and very few non-tube amplifiers have been able to reproduce the sound of tube distortion. Now of course, the VOX company is legendary in the music world, and they wouldn’t release an amplifier design that sounded bad. This particular model is largely solid-state and uses software to model different amplifier types. But what makes this model different is that it does have a single tube that is used to create natural tube distortion characteristics. I’ve been playing guitar for 40 years and everything that my experienced ears tell me says that this is a tube amplifer. I consider this amplifier to be a wonderful alternative to the Orange amps I used to use, and it produces an amazing tone with the new Burns Brian May guitar. I am extremely happy with the results, and the sound of the Burns on the studio tracks is nothing short of stunning.

Friday in the Studio

After I finished the 12-string guitar parts, it was time to begin recording the vocals.

Friday in the Studio

Anune had never been in a studio before and he did a fantastic job laying down the lead vocal tracks. Clicking on any one of these photos will take you to my Flickr photo album, where you will find more photos than I show here.

Friday in the Studio

By the end of Friday’s session, everyone was happy. We left the studio and went to the Blue Sky were we played a short show. We didn’t get any photos from the Blue Sky at this time, but there are photos on this blog that were taken there from other times.

Saturday

We slept in on Saturday morning and went to the studio early afternoon. We went straight to work on the vocals.

Saturday in the Studio Saturday in the Studio These photos (taken from video stills) show Anune belting out the lead vocal on one of the 3 songs. (Video by Hui-chen)

Next I put 3 guys together on a single microphone for some “gang vocal” background tracks.

Saturday in the Studio

Here I am in the isolation room with the guys who are singing. As the producer, it was my job to oversee the session to ensure consistent quality, and to lead the parts so they would be on time, and also to administer encouragement.

Here you can see me with my hand raised as I play the part of conductor. The nature of recording is such that you don’t just play the songs as you normally would on stage. The songs are broken down into sections and often it’s confusing as you are concentrating on a certain section so you can easily get lost. It was necessary for me to be a conductor to keep everything on time.

Saturday in the Studio Saturday in the Studio Saturday in the Studio

I am doing my conductor thing, while keeping track of the sections. In the shot to the left you can see me holding up 3 fingers so the engineer can follow the parts. This means we are on the third pass. I had them sing three tracks for a full surround. “Tripling” as it’s called has a long and respected history as a time-tested recording technique. When you listen to music by artists such as Queen you will hear tripled background vocals. There is a track for left, center and right. This makes the backup vocals surround the listener with a lush 3D vocal experience.

Saturday in the Studio

Anune sang some more lead vocals and then we wrapped it up for the day.

We piled into the car and were on our way home when we experienced some car trouble. We couldn’t get it started.

Saturday in the Studio

Hui-chen went back a few blocks were she knew there was a car repair place. In the meantime, what do Thai guys do when they have a car breakdown?

Saturday in the Studio

They get some booze and have a roadside party, that’s what!

Saturday in the Studio

Anune suggested that we use his battery powered Marshall amp and plug in. So I did just that. We were playing guitar right there on the side of the road and having a great time. About 20 minutes later, the boss of the repair shop came by and he got the car started. Hui-chen drove it back to the shop and got it fixed. In about another 20 minutes we were back on our way.

So where did we go?

Saturday in the Studio

To eat of course! This is the King Duck in Shinfong.

Saturday in the Studio

We stopped a a nearby Thai store and got some Sang Som Royal Thai Rum of course!

Saturday in the Studio

The left side of this duck hot pot is “Thailand” and the right side is “Taiwan” because of the amount of hot spice!

Saturday in the Studio

Saturday in the Studio

That concluded our Saturday. Not a bad day’s work, with a little trouble that we didn’t let bother us, followed by duck hot pot.

Sunday

Sunday was one of those days that you just don’t know what to make of. It was fun and yet possessed a surreal element that normally accompanies such events.

Sunday Thai Party

We showed up at the private party and the drummer was already there. He was jamming with a local guy. The drinking lamp has been lit already because the beer was flowing.

Sunday Thai Party

We set up our gear while the manager talked to the people. Notice the new Burns Brian May guitar that I’m using. The Fender strat is just visible behind me, as is the VOX amp.

Sunday Thai Party

And with a count from the drummer, we’re off and playing. We were on the second floor of the building and the floor shook like crazy. Sometimes I thought it would come down!

Sunday Thai Party

These things usually start off slowly and this was no exception. Don’t worry, they get crazy enough later.

Sunday Thai Party

Man it was hot! I took my hat off after the first song!

Sunday Thai Party

Please check out my new, sweat-covered guitar and ignore the gentleman in front of me who is scratching his nose!

Sunday Thai Party

Sunday Thai Party

This guy was just standing there when someone gave him the water treatment.

Sunday Thai Party

This is similar to other Thai customs we have observed, where flowers were use to administer water on the person’s head. This is all part of the Thai New Year observance.

Sunday Thai Party

Undaunted, onlookers cheer the band on.

Sunday Thai Party

Sunday Thai Party

Sunday Thai Party

Thai men just want to sit on a mat and drink. That’s cool with me!

Sunday Thai Party

Another aspect of the Thai New Year observance is spraying, throwing, or patting powder on someone. They tell me that this practice began as a way for Thai men, normally shy, to approach and have some kind of innocuous contact with Thai females. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t make it any less annoying when someone wants to spray powder on you. This woman approached me while I was playing and I actually had to explain to her that I didn’t want any powder sprayed on me or my equipment.

One thing that is lost on people at a party, is that the entertainers are working, not partying.

Sunday Thai Party

Sunday Thai Party

Yup, it’s a SE Asian event alright. Men on one side, women on the other. It’s like being in Junior High with 20 and 30-something people.

Sunday Thai Party

Sunday Thai Party

The Taiwan Beer was flowing.

Sunday Thai Party

But then, it got even worse. Someone decided that a drinking competition would be a good idea. Nothing good could possibly follow that. Here the participants are opening the first round of Taiwan Beer, waiting for the start signal.

Sunday Thai Party

And…. they’re off! The look on Hui-chen’s face is priceless!

Sunday Thai Party

Round 2. Having trouble keeping something down?

Sunday Thai Party

While the center guy in the black shirt contemplates his place in history, Hatman to the right found a second mouth on his shoulder, apparently.

Sunday Thai Party

More pointless guzzling.

Sunday Thai Party

The guy on the left is accusing Hatman of not actually drinking as much beer as he poured on himself. Good call.

Sunday Thai Party

Finally, a “winner” is chosen by some means. I will spare you shots of Hatman puking.

Sunday Thai Party

Here we see Hatman cleaning up his puke. Thanks for making the whole room smell like butt, dude.

Sunday Thai Party

Let’s smell some perfume for a moment, shall we?

Sunday Thai Party

Fortunately that was over and we got back to playing. A couple people played solo and it was a nice change.

Sunday Thai Party

I played along with Anune and it was pretty funny. He’s trying not to laugh as I hack on some Thai songs.

Sunday Thai Party

The whole band kicks in and….

Sunday Thai Party

People start dancing. Well, I should say “the men start dancing.”

Sunday Thai Party

At times I actually did think the floor was going to break. It was really rocking.

Sunday Thai Party

Sunday Thai Party

Wait, there is a woman dancing. At least I think it’s a woman. While it doesn’t look like so many people where there, people would come and get drunk right away, leave, and others would take their place.

Sunday Thai Party

Some of the food that was served. I really liked the dry beef on the left.

Sunday Thai Party

We left the party and went back to our neighborhood. I saw Shao-hui and she looked so pretty that I had to include this shot of her.

Taoyuan Stadium Poster Scan

This last shot is a scan of the promotional poster for the Taoyuan show on 4/13. I hope I can see all of you there!

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11 comments

  1. Mj. Great post mate and what a weekend. Great pictures and well ducmented my friend. I cannot wait to hear you play in person.

    This weekend is Songkran here in Thailand and the powder and water throwing will be on for 3-4 days. I do enjoy it for a little while but too many teens take it too far and get drunk and abnoxious.

    Sadly starting from probably Friday for ten days Thailand will experience its biggest loss of lives on Thai roads. A good time to stay off the raods and close to home.

    Brunty’s last blog post..Army Conscription in Thailand.

  2. thanks Brunty! HC and i were there in 2006 and it lasted a grueling 14 days that year. look at it this way – this time of year thins the population of the really stupid people!

    we’ll put something up on Youtube for you!

  3. Craig, yes it was very much a typical Thai party, with the exception that it didn’t get any more out of hand than the beer guzzling contest.

    re: photos – i white balanced for the artificial lighting in the iso room. hand held, Nikon auto-ISO and the OS lens made it possible. coming from you, i’ll take that as a real compliment.

  4. it’s really something to be standing on stage, controlling a raging dragon that wants to escape and wreak havoc on the audience! that’s what it’s like to control the guitar from feeding back when using a high powered amplifier! i’m going to get that experience all over again this weekend :D.

  5. run, not walk, down to your local VOX dealer. check out the photo that shows the settings and duplicate them. my advice is to wear some DEPENDS because you’re gonna crap your pants when you hear it. with the Strat it sounds virtually identical to the Orange to my ears. with the Burns, it sounds remarkably like Queen, depending of course on the settings. i use the amp model called Modern and it has a lush, creamy midrange. another amp that i like is called Black.

    with the gain turned down low and the master up, the amp really breathes. if you slam on a clean chord it will blow your hair back. it’s the loudest 30 watt amp i’ve ever heard. i am looking forward to blasting it at the stadium on Sunday. there aren’t too many places that i can turn it up, so i don’t think the speaker is even broken in yet.

    we’re going to shoot some video on these weekend shows, so you should be able to hear it soon.

    btw, where the heck have you been?

    1. Carrie » the new guitar and amp did contribute a lot to the sound of the recordings. the guys told me they didn’t want a Thai sounding production and i can assure you that it doesn’t sound like a Thai record. i have no idea about anything past mixing but i’ll let you know what transpires. thanks.

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