Polish instrumental atmosphere breakers Tides From Nebula just released a new disc called Eternal Movement, which makes sense because momentum continues indefinitely in space, and if there’s anything I appreciate in a band it’s thematic consistency. Well, that and earplugs at the merch booth. The band’s guitarist/keyboardist Maciej Karbowski took a break on his current tour to answer my burning questions regarding delay pedals and drum mixes. And those questions are burning because of planetary reentry. Thematic consistency, muthafuckas.
I read that you guys wrote this album in a straight 6-month stretch. Was everything created in that burst or were there parts you brought in partially developed?
We had some song ideas ready in January, but between January and May we really focused on the writing of the third album. The attitude was really serious, we were really motivated. Five days a week for a couple of hours, our daily routine was to work with ideas, to create our best album to date.
I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with your previous records. How do you think this one compares to them? What did you do differently this time?
I think the first one was a really spontaneous heavy record, influenced by the other bands which we liked at the time. I still love it, it shows our passion we had at the time. The second was much more mature, a bit calmer, with some really huge ambient parts, even whole tracks. Now I feel we are getting closer to our own sound.
There’s a really wide gamut of guitar tones on this record. Did you have a core amp setup or were you constantly changing out heads and mics?
We used lots of gear, we didn’t stick to anything while recording each part of the song. We started with finding the right sound. I am pretty sure we used at least 7 or 8 guitars and 7 or 8 amps in different configurations. Of course lots of guitar pedals were involved too, we’re guitar geeks, right?
What pedal got the most use? It sounds like there’s a lot of pitch and analog delay.
Delay is quite essential in our music. I personally use lots of whammy to create kinda full harmonic sound. So I agree, that these two were kind of important for a general sound.
What was the signal chain for the more washy, synth-like guitar tones?
Can’t exactly remember, but live it’s mostly some distortion, delay pedal with a double delay in and some lush reverb, so nothing fancy, it mostly depends on the right hand picking.
It sounds like you went for a more meat-and-potatoes tone for the bass to keep things grounded? Or were there a lot of pedals used for the low end as well?
Not really, most of the bass sounds are just the guitar to the amp setup, but of course we used some delays on it too, and distortion from time to time. We used a most classic setup, Ampeg SVT classic with 8×10 cab, tasty!
You got some huge, roomy drum tones on the record. What kind of kit and snare were used? Can you give any insight on the drum tracking process?
The drumkit was Ludwig from 60s or 70s, the toms which we used were Sonor Delite series, and of course we used some different snares. On most of the tracks we used Ludwig Supraphonic from the ’70’s, a piccolo like Ludwig from the 50s and one DW Collectors, I think it was brand new. We used lots of ambiance mics, they were pretty essential for the kickdrum sound actually, which was a bit uprising. All the meat comes from the ambiance mics.
What was the recording process like? Did you bash it out or was it a long session?
Short, 12 days, well-prepared, inspiring funny session. No problems at all, had lots of fun.
It must be tempting to just layer parts over parts. How close to the live arrangements do you keep the songs?
We first recorded the album, then we tried to play it live. We were a bit worried that we would not be able to do it very well, but it seems to be an amazing live album too. We didn’t change much in the arrangements, maybe added some cool song endings, to make them more impressive live, that’s all.
I noticed that “Hollow Lights” is the “album version.” What’s the other version?
We released that song in 2012 as a single. The version is a little bit different, produced by TFN and Jamie Ward.
It sounds like there are quite a few sections with very part-specific mixes, for example a different drum or guitar tone that’s used once and never again. How long did it take to mix everything? Were there time or budget concerns? Do you ever get jealous of hardcore bands with one drum and guitar tone for an entire record, since they can mix in two days?
Haha, not at all. The music is all about fun, so why not to try to create something original. We found with Christer, our producer, some really unique sounds, that we are still proud of. I think the more a listener listens to the album, the more surprises he/she will discover. There were no issues with the budget or time, we planned everything, so we could avoid the stress.
What’s next for Tides From Nebula?
Lots of touring. Actually I’m on a tour bus right now while answering these questions. In 2014 we are planning to tour really heavily and maybe we will write some new stuff too, who knows.
Thanks for your time, buddy.