Long Beach, CA’s hard-rock crew Of Limbo decided to record at home rather than pay huge for a big-name studio. The sparkling production quality of the resulting debut LP album, “Nicotine,” stands as proof the DIY record can sound as titanic as any hit produced at West Beach. They told us how they made it happen.
Why did you decide to self-produce your record rather than going to a professional studio?
Well we did commission the help of a producer, Keith Sorrells [of Project K Studios in Tustin, CA] in the creation of “Nicotine,” so it wasn’t self-produced. However, we certainly didn’t go near a “professional studio,” with all the recordings being taken either at Keith’s house or ours (Jake and Luke).
The decision to avoid the studio really boiled down to how particular we are with our sound. We didn’t want to constantly be under the gun, from feeling pressure about nailing the takes immediately, to being unable to give the songs the attention and time they needed to really come together.
Unless you have your own studio, you’re always gonna be on someone else’s clock. That’s not the feeling we wanted to have whilst developing our first full-length record.
Did you allow friends/family in the studio during recording? Why/why not?
Absolutely not. No reason for them to be there. Imagine your friends having to sit through you diagnosing and agonizing over every 10 second clip of the music all day long. They’d hate it, you’d hate them resenting it. It’d all be bad. In general, we don’t like to show anyone anything until it’s a finished, polished product.
What rooms did you record in, and how did you set them up for good acoustics?
The drums were recorded in Keith’s studio room. It had nice wood floors and an open, spacious layout, so we were able to get some thick, beefy drums sound off the bat.
The vocals we recorded at our home studio. Honestly, we didn’t really do any acoustic treatment to the room at all. Just pressed record and let Jake rip.
Guitars and bass, ha ha, we recorded in Keith’s laundry room. I guess it was the closest thing we had to an isolated room sound, so we went for it. I remember one time, about halfway through recording, we were working on “The Devil You Know,” when we heard a weird low rumble coming through on some of the guitar takes. We thought it was some ground hum or house buzz from bad electricity. Ha ha ha, the washing machine had turned on.
What difficulties appeared first?
Man, there were difficulties all throughout. It took us a long time get it up to our standard. I’m not sure what was the first problem we encountered, but they never stopped coming. We just worked our way throughout the better part of a year until it finally sounded right.
Got any recording tricks you learned, or which worked out for you particularly well?
Laying down scratch tracks as close to the finished product as possible before you even start proper recording.
That was hugely helpful to us. Not only did it help us prepare for and limit the number of surprises throughout the recording process, but it also gave us confidence from day one that the record was gonna turn out the way we wanted and expected it to.
Not to say there won’t be changes, but it’s good to have a road map.
Did you use the overall feel and sound of any album as a benchmark? Do you feel you got it right?
Hmm, there wasn’t an overall vibe of another record that we were looking for, but there were certainly elements of many different records that we looked to incorporate. Marilyn Manson’s “Eat Me Drink Me” was hugely influential in our approach to the drums. We wanted to keep it simple and huge.
How did you decide on the songs to record, and how many of them to record?
The songs chosen were really just a combination of which were most ready and best sounding at the time.
As to the amount, six, that’s a separate question. Our songs are long, averaging around 6:30 on that record. By the time you’ve got six of them (including one at 12 minutes), that’s already a full-length album. We wanted it to be able to fit on a vinyl and for it to keep its quality, so we were kind of limited from the get-go in that regard.
But really, we prefer it that way. In an age of shortening attention spans, I feel like the place of the traditional 12-song rock album is diminishing. If I record a dozen songs, how many are going to fall on deaf hears? Four? Five? Now if you released each of those twelve as singles, giving each one its own specific release and support, that dramatically boosts the likelihood of them garnering more attention.
So six is our version of that, somewhere right in the middle. You’re still getting your money’s worth, just no filler.
How has reception been?
Overwhelming. From being put inside the jukebox at our local bar, to getting play time on KLOS 95.5, this record has really helped put us on the map. Because of it, we’ve signed on with a large-scale booking agency that’s sending us on tour for a significant part of 2018.
What is the worst difficulty you’ve had to overcome?
The Long Beach music scene is almost exclusively made up of punk and reggae. It’s been an uphill battle being a rock band trying to get its name out in a city that doesn’t have a lot of love for your genre. Drawing in people who don’t normally gravitate to our style of music has probably been the biggest challenge for us.
What are you looking forward to most?
The next one. Making more and more and more and more, being f-cking prolific.
2017 US West Coast Tour dates:
Los Angeles, CA
Kickoff Show @ Viper Room
San Jose, CA
Goldfield Trading Post
San Diego, CA
Brick By Brick