Louie Louie in the style of joy division

May 2007

joy division 1980 After being inspired by the motion picture '24 Hour Party People' (2002) I developed an interest in music from the post-punk era of the late 1970's and early 1980's. In particular, I had found refuge in the music of Manchester band Joy Division as fronted by Ian Curtis. The aim of this project was to record and mix the track 'Louie Louie' by Richard Berry as made famous by the Kingsmen in the style of Joy Division. It is a classic 4/4 beat, simple 3 chord Rock'n'Roll song which might explain why it is perhaps the most-covered song in the history of rock music'. Its memorable lyrics and simple structure have made it the party favourite of rock musicians and music fans worldwide.

Here is the project diary I kept:

March 11th 2007

Korg X3 SequencingI re-arranged, step-sequenced 'Louie Louie', to sound like Joy Division on Korg X3 workstation using hints from research. Began by creating tribal drums, with toms forming the main part of the beat, then sang 'Louie Louie' over top in a baritone voice. Changed chord progression slightly, kept same bass root nodes in bass line but complemented with 'A, B, C, B' keyboard riff. Moved root bass note 'A' up an octave cause peter hook was more lead bass than just bass. Also, I created interlinking guitar riff over top 'a, e, a, b, e, b, c, e, c, b, e, b'. Converted via old 750KB floppy disc to Cubase as Midi '.OMF', file and mixed down.

March 27th 2007

wibisono drumsI got Indonesian friend Wibisono Sjarif to play drums, in Joy Division style along with track. Trouble encountered playing new rhythm with hi-hats or ride at the same time. Three takes recorded. Acquired SHURE PGDMK4XLR PERFORMANCE microphone set from university stores. These were assembled around the worn out Mapex drum kit already in the studio. I also used a pair of Neuman KM184 microphones to record left and right channel drum kit overheads. They were assembled in the XY (90°), stereo set up and were placed roughly 2m from source and then moved downwards due to drums being played only moderately loud. Problems were encountered affixing the mics to the kit and additional microphone stands and some tape was used in places.

snare rattle fixedThe drums were really worn out and middle tom had a torn underside membrane. Problems were encountered connecting kick drum microphone and tape was used. Initial I had planned to use the AKG D112 kick drum microphone, but for some reason this had been removed from the studio on the day of recording. The kick pedal was in need of attention and did not have the correct motion when struck. It would not reset back to original position, and rested 2 inches from membrane, but this was overcome by the drummer. Upon sound checking the levels of the kit and tuning etc, it became apparent that the toms were sounding not very sharp sounding, sounded flat and dull. Also snare was not very tight as hoped hence not sounding very much like those present in Joy Division tracks. In particular there was a nasty rattle coming from the floor tom but this was amended using some tape, the sleeve of the drummers coat and a tissue. Despite set backs, some time was actually left to record the kit and 5 takes were acquired, 2 only being anywhere near acceptable.

April 24th 2007

vintage peaveyIn allocated studio time recorded my Fender Stratocaster guitar through the Peavey Classic 30 valve amp borrowed from fellow student. I used a Shure SM57 dynamic microphone centre positioned and a Rhode NT1 condenser microphone off centre to pick up harmonics. Several guitar riffs were recorded, muted riff, lead riff, and chorus riff. However, the amp did not have an inbuilt distortion or overdrive feature so the recordings were cast aside. Also in this session, the ride cymbal was recorded to make up for the fact that none was recorded during the original drum kit recording session with Wibi. I was promised a half decent ride cymbal from a friend but it never turned up so I was forced to make do with the one already in the studio. A Shure SM57 dynamic microphone was used and after some experimentation, it was positioned roughly 0.5m away. The microphone was then positioned underneath the ride but the tone was too dull. Also due to the lack of drum kit fixings, the ride was not securely fixed on the stand and if hit considerably hard it would fall off! The ride was played along with the demo click track and also some individual hits were recorded. These could then be pasted in via Pro Tools later if required.

April 28th 2007

carlsbro viper ampIn order to improve upon the previous attempts at recording bass guitar, this time with 4hrs booked in the studio a bass amp was hired from Big Wheel rehearsal rooms. Upon collection of the 1987 Calsbro Viper 100w it was clear that it had been heavily gigged. However, it still provided a nice nobbly bass sound and was better than a guitar amp. As the bass amp was being rented at a hefty 15 pounds per day, the perfect recording needed to be achieved. After reviewing my research into close miking up bass amplification it was decided that a Shure SM57 would be used positioned centre and AKG C414 off centre to pick up the high-end harmonics. Some nice recordings were acquired but it was noticed that an AKG D112 was present in the studio and this was then used to replace the SM57. Using the AKG D112 a much richer, warmer tone was discovered and the SM57 recordings were cast aside. Several bass riffs were recorded such as verse, chorus and some improvised solos that could be used in the middle 8 part of the track if needed. However, the majority of recordings were lacking in musical quality due to the performers' inability to play at a consistent skill level.

korg x3 through bass ampIn order to gain a suitable set of synth / keyboard parts for the track a Transcendent analogue synth was located but due to time constraints and logistical problems was never used. Instead, however, a set of transcendent emulation programs were downloaded from the Korg X3 libraries and were loaded into my Korg X3 Music Workstation. A program called "Prairie Dawn.PGM" was selected for dull yet enchanting Joy Division type sound but it was not compatible with the keyboards built in sequencer so it was played in real time. The keyboard parts were played through my Park G25 guitar amp at first close-miked using an AKG C414 (12", centre) and an SM57 (12", left off centre). After several takes, it became apparent that the sound quality was too varied and often a resonant humming was being produced. I believe this was occurring due to the settings of the synth program being directly dependant on the velocity of the midi key pressed. To get around this problem an idea was put forward that because the keyboard was being used to play lowest frequencies in the track and was effectively the main bass line that the Carlsbro Viper 100 bass amp should be used. It was more than cable of handling the synth pad part and again a richer, warmer sound was attained. Similar to when recording the bass guitar the AKG D112 (10", centre) was used with an AKG C414 (8", top right) to pick up the high-end harmonics. Several takes were made until eventually, studio time expired for that day.

April 29th 2007

matthewfedak stratAlthough my fender guitar had already been recorded it was decided to record it again this time through the Park G25 guitar combo amp with overdrive. The guitar amp was recorded using the Shure SM57 (10", centre) and an AKG C414 (10", centre). Several takes were made including chorus riff, lead riff and the muted lead riff heard in the original Cubase demo made. Also in this 4-hour recording session, a slide guitar was recorded through the park amp. The microphone placements were inherited from the previous guitar recordings. Using the slide guitar a simple riff was created around Amin chord but was left out of the final mix as it was not in the Joy Division style.

May 10th 2007

rough acid mixAll recordings are reviewed in sonic foundry acid pro 4 and the individual timings and levels are re-assessed. The best recordings are then noted and the individual riffs and patterns are then cut out using Adobe Audition. These are then put back into sonic foundry acid pro 4 and time division/frequency division analysis stage is entered. Mixing stage later begins in Pro Tools, in Queens due to Clepham studio being overbooked.

Are you famous, are you available on iTunes?

Unfortunately not, or at least not quite yet. However my cover of Louie Louie has since been featured in The Louie Report and was awarded the prestigious 'Louie of the Week' award in February 2008.

Listen to it here

Microphones Used

  • AKG C414
  • AKG D112
  • AKG D112
  • Neuman KM184 (stereo pair)
  • Rhode NTK
  • Rhode NT1
  • Rhode NT3
  • Shure SM57
  • Shure SM58
  • Shure PGDMK4XLR Drum Microphone set

Instrumentation Used

  • Tanglewood 4 String Ovation electric bass guitar
  • Japanese Fender Stratocaster electric guitar
  • Mapex 7 piece drum set
  • Vocals, by Myself
  • Korg X3 Music Workstation (emulating a vintage Powertran Transcendent 2000 synth)

Amplification Used

  • Peavey Classic 30w valve guitar amp combo
  • Park, by Marshall G25w guitar amp combo
  • Carlsbro Viper 100w bass guitar amp combo