Lead guitarist James rolls in to Monarch Studios at 10am. With no less than six guitar cabs already setup in the live room, producer Tom Dobrzanski can achieve just about any guitar sound under the sun. The two men hold a pretty steady pace: James briefly presents each new part, discussing the tone and the effects to be used, while Tom diligently adjusts the microphone blend between all the guitar cabs and applies the effects. Tom sits at the console with James to his left, lurking over his dazzling array of guitar pedals. A couple of choice effects units are sitting on the countertop behind them.
Today, they have the classic “Space Echo RE-201” unit doing much of the legwork on delays, as well as the “Tube Tape Echo”, but James is also known to employ the “Memory Man” and “Digital Delay” pedal. They have been integral to shaping The Oceanographers guitar sound. On many occasions, the various units go head-to-head in a quick A/B before a final tracking decision is made. James swaps axes intuitively, between his collection of Gretsches and Gibsons, sensing the vibe and direction of each song, while he closes his eyes to play.
Tom captures magic on a chorus transition by tweaking the “Space Echo RE-201” on-the-fly. A single note picked repeatedly soars into full feedback. Tom de-tunes the cascade of notes to compensate for the Space Echo’s inherent pitch drop. The crescendo of energy crawls up the back of your neck. When the rest of the band arrives, a few dropped jaws should be expected.