Brian Paone

Author // Musician

Vocal Effects - Staying true to the Yellow #1 sound

Even though the last Yellow #1 album was 19 years ago, we are still keeping the integrity of what we wanted the album to band to sound like, even before we ever wrote our first song. And if I had to list the top 3 musical approaches that make Yellow #1 sound like, well, Yellow #1 it would be: whimsical electronic pop music that can take a 90 degree angle at any point in the song, using sounds as samples that become percussion when they are looped, and using the studio's vocal effects as an instrument within itself.

Now, all 12 songs for the new album are finished musically, lyrically, and vocal melody-wise. But the stage of the "writing" that I'm in right now, I feel, may be the most import as the singer of the band. Its the stage where I need to go through every verse, chorus, and bridge of lyrics and make detailed notes of which line of lyric (or whole block of lyric) will be getting overdubs, how many overdubs, and what the vocal effect should sound like.

With "Bottle of Rain," we spent MORE time in the studio working on layering vocals, overdubs, and vocal effects than we did on the actual recording of the base vocals. This "sound" or "style" of vocals is a major trademark and fingerprint of the Yellow #1 sound. Unlike most rock bands, where the singer might have some chorus, or echo on their voice to help give it depth, we look at every single line of lyric, and think, "how can the vocals not sound like a voice here." This is where my love for industrial music shines through in the band.

Since it's been 19 years since the last album, I forgot how stressful and time consuming this element of our writing process is. I have been agonizing over tiny pieces of vocals, trying to work out how many overdubs of clean vocals: whisper, scream, sing, talk, yell ... and then, I have to decide what effect all those vocals will have that will represent what is happening musically in that part, and will convey the emotion of those particular emotions of the lyrics.

Even though this album is only 12 tracks (as opposed to the 17 songs that made up "Bottle of Rain") I still feel the task is just as big, and every decision on the vocals lay on my shoulders. The vocals and lyrics are such an integral part of the Yellow #1 sound, and its been 19 years since my head was in "that mode of thinking vocally for the studio" that I find myself getting lost throughout the day, agonizing over how this verse should be recorded, what effect it should have, how many layers etc.

Writing, recording, and releasing a new Yellow #1 album 19 years since the last one is either going to be the greatest album I've ever been a part of, or a complete disaster. We hit the studio June 8, so I guess only time will tell. I have 4 weeks from today to get all this figured out, because if I don't, the album still gets recorded and I will have failed the Yellow #1 name.

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