Still image of Helge Rognstad taken from the TELEGRAM music video with The Halloween Project (Manny Charlton 80th birthday tribute).
Manny Charlton's 80th birthday tribute: The making of "Telegram" & "Ship of Dreams".
The Fluffy Jackets join forces with The Halloween Project
After releasing The Fluffy Jackets' second album "Something from Nothing" in 2019, I received a lot of positive feedback from fans and friends who had seen the documentary film with Manny Charlton (Nazareth). One such message was from Odd Gunnar Nergård, who happens to be a fellow Nazareth fan and also runs a great metal band called "The Halloween Project".
As we were approaching Manny Charlton's 80th birthday (25 July 2021), I already had in my mind to do a tribute to Manny. So, after hearing The Halloween Project's fantastic "Masters of it all" debut from 2019, I asked Odd Gunnar if he was interested in doing something together, and it was this idea that subsequently ended up in the two single releases in 2021.
Guitarist Odd Gunnar Nergård is a founding member of The Halloween Project, a band that morphed into "Loud and Proud" (named after the Nazareth album from 1973).
Odd Gunnar Nergård also started a Nazareth tribute band called "Razamanaz" in the 1990's which featured notable Norwegian vocalist Knut Erik Østgård (Return), before re-forming Halloween as "The Halloween Project" in 2019.
Ronni Le Tekrø (TNT) recording the tribute to Manny Charlton (Nazareth) at Studio Studio Nyhagen, 2021
Ronni Le Tekrø's guitar tribute to Manny Charlton (Nazareth)
The Halloween Project recorded the Nazareth cover "Telegram" at Studio Studio Nyhagen, a studio which is owned by Ronni Le Tekrø.
When Ronny Le Tekrø heard about the purpose of doing a tribute to Manny Charlton, we were all truly humbled to hear that he wanted to be involved. The average rock fan probably needs no introduction, but Ronni happens to be THE truly great guitarist and founding member of Norway's most successful rock export "TNT".
Leif Knashaug is the lead vocalist for The Halloween Project has an amazing voice.
The making of "Telegram" (Nazareth cover)
Telegram was recorded at Ronni Le Tekrø's (TNT) Studio Studio Nyhagen in Løten, Toten (Norway) with overdubs recorded at The Fluffy Jackets Sound Studio in Bergen (Norway). The musicians involved were Odd Gunnar Nergård (Guitar),
Leif Knashaug (Vocals),
Rune Nergård (Drums),
Frode Nergård (Bass), Helge Rognstad (Vocals), Ronni Le Tekrø (Guitar) and Markus Klyve (Keys). The song was co-produced by The Halloween Project and Kjartan Hesthagen.
Frode Nergård plays bass on Telegram
Directing and producing the Telegram music video
It was also the first time that I directed a music video from a different band - and this was a great first experience. First off, since I knew that The Halloween Project would record their parts at Studio Studio Nyhagen, the band was pre-prepped to take some video during the recording and the subsequent overdubs, keeping in mind to be detailed about the needs of what specific shots, and angles I would need for the movie. They ended up taking some really great film. The editing of the movie was done in Adobe Premiere Pro, with photo editing done in Adobe Photoshop.
Rune Nergård (The Halloween Project) plays drums on Telegram.
The Telegram single artwork
The Telegram cover artwork was designed by Kristine Gyenese in Oslo, Norway.
Artwork designer Kristine Gyenese (L) posing with vocalist Leif Knashaug (R) and the The Halloween Project "Masters of it All" album cover, which she also designed.
"Ship of Dreams" (Nazareth cover)
Ship of Dreams is the first song that I recorded, engineered, mixed and released via The Fluffy Jackets Sound Studio. In other words, I did the whole recording, engineering, producing and mixing job on this song.
As I have recorded two full-lenght albums, I have learned alot from other engineers and producers. Therefore, it was a natural progression to start taking those lessons and put them into use. Overall I found the experience good, though it has some drawbacks to do the engineering + producing + mixing a song from A-Z. First, it is easier to make quick decisions when you pay 250 pounds for each recording hour in a professional studio... It is harder to make that same decision when you are in your home studio and can do 40 additional takes - without costing extra.
Most producers will also tell you that it is very hard to produce yourself as an artist, because you lack the self-awareness to decide when "that is good enough" (it is very tempting to try another take, etc). But, overall I am very pleased with this first recording.
Leif Knashaug (left) and Helge Rognstad (right) shares vocals on "Ship of Dreams" and "Telegram".
The vocals on Ship of Dreams
On Ship of Dreams, I sing the first verse, Leif Knashaug (The Halloween Project) sings second verse and we both share vocal on the final verse. Leif really sings his heart out on this song, so I am so grateful for his involvement. He also recorded a great chorus choir which you hear throughout the recording. Leif recorded his vocal tracks at Studio Studio Nyhagen - Bøverbru, Toten (Ronni Le Tekrø´s studio), and his vocal was engineered by Kjartan Hesthagen.
Neil Murray (Whitesnake) plays bass on "Ship of Dreams".
Mixing Bass: Ship of Dreams
I was incredibly grateful that Neil Murray (Whitesnake) wanted to do the bass on this particular song. The bass part was recorded by Neil in his personal studio in Edinburgh / Scotland, and when he emailed it across to me it sounded just great from the off. Both the sound level and timing was perfect already, which saved a lot of time. I mixed this in a professional way, after seeing Warren Huarts video on how to do this. Great advice here - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=btsWALco8Xk.
Essentially, the bass was duplicated into 3 different files, EQ´d separately and sent to a Bass Bus, which meant I could mix different sounds on the Bus, so that the final bass end up loud enough in the mix, and I can mix in the different levels in the final mix. The low bass - was EQ´d to take out the high notes (low pass), so only the low bass below 1000 remained and tailor off sharply up to 2k. I used the upright bass preset on my Wawes EQ 6band - which sounded best on my system, and this has a slight hi pass. The high bass - keeps the bass around 1k, but drops sharply below that. It also drops around 2k mark but then goes higher up +12db around the 4k mar and up to 8k. The final bass file keeps the high bass, but I blend in the Ampeg bass sound (this amp is a digital plug-in and comes with UAD Apollo 8x). I used the “10x1x15 cabinet” setting, which I thought fitted the song best.
Mixing Drums: Ship of Dreams
The drums comes from BFD3 - an instrument plugin containing some great professionally recorded drum sounds. I used a six band EQ - F5 Waves - preset to “drum bus”. This boost low end under 50htz, and a bit higher at 3 and 9 k. I watched Warren Huart´s guide, and he says there are some ugly kickdrum sounds around 300htz. But since I have only BFG drums, I needed the overall EQ - and it sounded much better with this. Checked with bass/drums and both cut through mix ok. The main drums are lifted further still by other inserts: UAD pultec (congas and presence preset) and UAD Fairchild orchestra preset.
The chorus drums - has some drum rides and I added sparkle to these by adding the “beat me up” preset on the F6 waves plugin. This lifts the drum ride even further than the additional plugins I used - which was Helios type 69 drum overheads preset, and the drum snare punch preset on the Pultec UAD plugin.Here are also some drum air that I added (to extend the hits) and these were treated with the UAD Distrressor plugin (Giant drum room preset)
Mixing guitars: Ship of Dreams
The main rhythm guitar was recorded in a slightly strange key (incidentally, I forgot to tell Neil Murray (bass) about this, but still he managed to record the bass to suit). The recorded rhythm guitar is my Gibson Les Paul Standard 2005 plugged into the Marshall amp via the Hall of Fame reverb and the Boss chorus pedal. Interestingly, the top string is tuned to a B and there is a capo on the 4th fret. I recorded the guitar solo using a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Junior via a Boss Metal Zone pedal, a Boss Distortion pedal and a Hall of Fame reverb pedal.
The guitars on this track consist of one basic skiffle guitar, and one arpreggio (using "my own" two-finger picking technique), which I treated fairly similarly: First I used a 6-level EQ to do a high pass, being careful not to cut out any noticeable top end. I think from 5k up, and from 200 down. This is where the guitar sits in the mix. After this I created two copies of the EQ-ready guitars, and panned each hard left and hard right - then applied two different effects to each. LA 2A -compressor both tracks to make the performance more standard sound-level-wise. There is an echo effect on the right guitar, de-esser on the left guitar (useful, after applying compression), The picking rhythm guitar has a basic electric guitar FX preset from Distressor and is slightly EQ'd, The guitar chorus also has a compressor (Distressor) where I used a gentle preset.
The slide guitar that you hear at the end of the song is recorded using Manny Charlton´s old Flying V guitar run through my 18 Watt handwired Marshall 1958X combo, via a "Hall of Fame" reverb pedal plus a "Boss" chorus pedal. I thought this was a fine tribute to Manny..
The story behind the 'Ship of Dreams' Cover
The completed artwork for the single "Ship of Dreams", released as a special 80th birthday tribute to Manny Charlton; The Fluffy Jackets & The Halloween Project feat. Neil Murray.
The Single cover artwork was drawn by Flynnt Biggar, a creative genius from St Albans UK. He did an such an outstanding drawing, so that we understood that we had to make it a main feature of the music video. The music video comprises of the image being deconstructed using Adobe Fireworks and put it back together using basic eraser-tools. You can see the artwork drawing process here.
Flynnt drawing a picture of Manny Charlton
A time consuming process..
An early version of the Ship of Dreams artwork.
Post note, November 2021
The Telegram single was selected for Louder's "Battle of the Bands" weekly single competition in July 2021 (where we came third behind James Cotta and Joe Bonamassa). Odd Gunnar and Helge was also interviewed on Norwegian national radio (NRK P1) in August 2021, and you can listen to that interview here (in Norwegian).