EBD Effects Evolution – Bass

In lieu of more actual music or gigs to talk about in this lockdown world and having just modified my bass pedal board; I (Faye) thought it’d be potentially interesting to write something about how I’ve integrated the humble effect pedal into not just my sound but the sound of Every Black Day since our formation. This may involve jumping back a bit before this band came to be and venture back to my Mourning For Autumn days to get the full picture.

Now, I want to be clear, mine isn’t a large pedal board, it never has been and likely never will be. Pedal boards of all sizes are perfectly legitimate as is not using effects at all. There is no one size fits all, with effects as with many things in life.

I came to actually playing an instrument rather later than others and so our journey only has to go back to 2007, which should make this a little shorter than it could have been. I didn’t immediately get into the beautiful world of effects and as someone who could barely play that’s probably for the best. However, at some point during 2008 I did buy a nuX FL-2 vintage flanger for use on ‘Oncoming Storm’ for a bit of a sci-fi feel but for the most part I didn’t use effects. Looks a bit like a yellow Lego brick doesn’t it?

nuX FL-2 Vintage Flanger | Effects Database

In 2009 I bought a Behringer Bass BDI 21 for when I couldn’t get my amp transported. Not that I used it very often, actually I’m not sure I ever gigged with it. It’s basically a clone of a much more expensive piece of kit by Tech 21, still pretty good excepting for the plastic casing.

User reviews: Behringer V-Tone Bass BDI21 - Audiofanzine

It’s only when we get to Every Black Day that things get interesting, mind you, it’s only when we get to EBD that I could actually play (if Charlotte’s reading this, I’m sorry). I quickly retired both the aforementioned pedals and replaced them with a Small Clone chorus by Electro-Harmonix and a genuine SansAmp BDDI (Bass Driver Direct Input) by Tech 21. The former because I learned Peter Hook used the same circuit from the Closer album onwards, the latter because I wanted the genuine article and could afford it.

Electro-Harmonix Small Clone Analog Chorus | Equipboard®

The Small Clone has simple controls as you can see here. I love chorus, it’s my single favourite effect for bass and whilst it’s a similar effect to flange (both being forms of modulation) I just don’t connect with it as much as chorus.

Now, what bought about the most radical expansion was actually getting feedback from a good friend of ours and also Dave’s partner of (oh that’s redacted), Erica that maybe violin and bass have a little too much sonic space between them (not her exact words). Erica was right, as she often is. This being the case I took it upon myself to fill the gap via the medium of boxes of stomp. Specifically I discovered the then newly released EHX Synth 9 with its dual outputs, ability to create 80s sounding synth lines and importantly a octave up effect.

Electro-Harmonix Synth 9

I always used it on voice 2 (Profit V) and set to a fifth above the octave or what I was playing so I’d get a synth-like harmony line below Kate but way above me. I then added a T-Rex Creamer reverb and Mooer Noise Killer noise gate. The first set to a hall reverb and to make the synth sound much bigger, the latter to deal with the unfortunate excess noise of the Synth-9.

T-Rex Creamer Reverb Pedal | Equipboard®
Mooer Noise Killer

Though I did like the sound all this made, the downside was the Synth 9 didn’t always work on demand, which is problematic in a live situation. Also, the tracking and latency were a little problematic. Helped somewhat by putting a Boss LMB-3 Limiter in front of the whole chain though.

For reference, at this point my signal chain consisted of Limiter into the Synth 9 which allowed the clean signal to go to the Small Clone and SansAmp and the synth signal to go to the Creamer and Noise Killer. At this point the limits of my pedal board had been reached what with also having a T-Rex Fuel Tank Jnr on the top too.

Earlier this year (2020) I was preparing to expand once again and add another pre-amp pedal to the end of the synth chain, after I’d replaced the Small Clone for the slightly smaller and more bass friendly Bass Clone. Alas, I changed my mind and instead decided to streamline. Which brings us to my current and as yet untried set-up.

Gone (at least into storage) are the Synth 9, Creamer and Noise Killer, replaced with the interesting Quint Machine multi-octaver. Ignore the settings here, in lockdown I’ve not had a chance to play around with it yet. Essentially, it allows the user to dial in a sub-octave, and octave up and a fifth note up of whatever note’s being played and to blend them together. So even though it’s a smaller set-up it might just sound bigger than ever. More onus on me then not to mess up.

I’ve not yet managed to pull Kate down the well of effect pedals, though she is into the greatness of reverb and compression and those alone serve her well.

What’s in a Song? Temple and Arch

Hi, this isn’t intended to be a thorough breakdown of the lyrics to Temple and Arch as it is about the history of the song and inspiration behind it. This song was the first song I wrote that doesn’t have lyrics that would embarrass me now. There were earlier songs, three of them, just not as good.

The inspiration came from one one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman and his urban-fantasy classic Neverwhere, however there are references and hints to other work of his, particularly The Sandman. As such it was the first based on a work work of fiction. The protagonist of the song meets a man ‘at the World’s End’ a reference less to the Camden pub of the same name as it is to the one in the titular Sandman story. The title itself is simply a saying from the book, an exclamation really not very dissimilar to ‘oh my God! but to Archway and Temple on the underground rather than whichever Above deity we may carry with us.

Whilst I was given verbal permission to use any of the Mourning For Autumn songs I wanted when that band split, Temple and Arch was the only one I felt comfortable taking, as it was the only one I’d penned and still liked – excluding maybe a couple Charlotte and I co-wrote and one of those would have just been weird having Dave sing it. Really weird.

When it came to writing it – as I approached Temple and Arch with the notion of wanting to write about the book rather than because I had lyrics in my head – I made the conscious decision to not try to turn the book into a song. I felt that would be too awkward and instead took the approach of throwing our singer in to that world, having them hear the story, disbelieve it and eventually come to realise it was utterly true. By extension, the audience hearing Temple and Arch draws them into the world of London Below, or indeed the Below of whatever city or town they’re in.

We were intending on making a video for Temple and Arch during 2020 but then this global pandemic set in and so that’s not happened yet. We still want to make it happen though and get to see what sort of Sheffield Below our video crew have imagined for us. I think it’d be a lot of fun.

Gig report: The Hop, Leeds

Our first gig! Totally over-excited, we bundled ourselves into random vehicles and launched into orbit around Leeds’ one-way system, trying to find the venue. It turned out to be under a huge GPS-blocking railway bridge – the Dark Arches – which we thought was an awesome and suitably atmospheric address for our debut. Loading in, it became apparent that the stage was upstairs, whereas most of the audience was downstairs. Odd. We also found that we were the only rock band on a bill otherwise occupied by acoustic guitarist/vocalists. More odd. Still, this was our first gig, and we weren’t about to be put off by such details. The bank-holiday chill-out vibe was about to go up in smoke!

Needless to say, we rocked. Which is to say, we got some polite applause and nobody threw anything at us. Well, the important thing is that we didn’t put anyone off their beer, nothing caught fire and after an initial bout of nerves we actually rather enjoyed ourselves! Pretty good for our debut outing I reckon.

So thank you Leeds for nursing us gently through our first time. We’d love to come back soon if you’ll have us. Get in touch!

Rogues Gallery

band-forestThe other weekend we were out and about in Sheffield with Clare Starkie, our friend and talented photographer, to shoot a few pictures for the site. It was a fun day scouting around the city, hunting out interesting locations, dodging curious pedestrians and getting covered in mud unexpectedly.

We’re chuffed to bits with the results – check them out for yourself our new gallery page (our new site header-image is part of the set too).

Clare doesn’t have a website we can point you at, but if you like what you see and you want to get in touch with her, please hit us up via our contacts page and we’ll put you straight through.

Every Black Demo

Today has been an absolute blast! We’re camped out at Yellow Arch studios in Sheffield recording our first demo. As I type we’ve got most of the music in the bag and we’re just finalising the vocals.

We’ve focused on three songs: the atmospheric Temple & Arch, the pacey Drag Strip One, and the eponymous Every Black Day. We’ve also laid down for reference rough versions of three of the other tracks we’re working on.

I’ve got to say it’s all sounding much better than I’d hoped it would and I can’t wait to get the final cut off the mixing desk. Fair play to the folks at Yellow Arch who have been awesome. For our part it’s been hard work but a lot of fun and the results are amazing.

We can’t wait to bring them to you!