Duffin & Ladd: Home Album
Duffin & Ladd is a two man band, an Australian singer/songwriter Nathan Duffin & American musician, Erek Ladd (me). We met strictly by chance when I was looking for some places to live on the local trading post groups on Facebook, and after a couple weeks of living together I started to realise that Nathan was actually not only a really great musician, but an incredible songwriter as well… So being the studio guy that I am, I invited him to record a couple of demos with me. Not too much later we had the ‘Amazing To Me EP’. I moved to Australia in 2014 on a one year working and holiday VISA, and there were no conditions in which I could extend it, meaning shortly after this record was released – I had to go back home to the USA. From a creative point of view, being in a band is tough enough – but to work together from two different countries wasn’t the easiest thing to do either, right? We vowed to continue working together on this creative journey, never really outright saying “Let’s make a record”. We continued to send demos back and forth through e-mail, Facebook message, and over a couple of months we had around 25 songs in the tank.
Our process was Nathan would start out with most of the song in basic acoustic form, with or without vocals on top, which would be played to a click so I could drag it into Logic and build it up from there – being in time was the most important thing for me. The plan was to get all of the demos ready to go, at which point I would head to my local recording studio in Syracuse, NY – Subcat Studios, to record the drum tracks. Everything else I could do at home – so that’s what we ended up doing. The first batch of five songs (One More Time, Like Half A World Away, Like Heaven, Someone & Catch You) were done on New Years Eve 2015 & the second batch of six (How Will You Feel, Try Harder, Lights & Sirens, 9 O’Clock, Glass Houses & Stay) were done May 3rd, 2016, rounding the count to 11 total songs. However, as time grew – our itch for more songs grew as well.
My wife & I flew back to Australia on a semi-permanent basis back in August of 2016, not only so I could finish the record, but apply for permanent residency as well. When Nathan and I got back into a room together, out creative juices started to flow – and we created three (Home, Alive & Neptune) more songs for the record, rounding it to 14 at that point. Our plan was to head to the studio we recorded the Amazing To Me EP at, Bounce Recording Studios, and wrap everything up there and take it home & mix it until perfect. So in mid-october, we took a trip down to Melbourne and recorded two more drum tracks (Home & Neptune), and tried some vocals because we really loved the sound from the EP. Thanks to a nasty cold, Nathan wasn’t able to sing to the best of his ability that day – so we turned around and sat on the project for a few weeks while I mixed all of the instruments together, that way we could just drop the vocals in and have a finished product in little or no time.
With some time having passed, Nathan and I went back to Bounce, recorded a handful of songs and after a week or two we weren’t happy with his performances on the songs. So I decided to take matters into my own hands & have some of my studio gear sent over from back home – an Avantone CV-12 Tube Mic & an ART PRO MPAII two channel tube preamp for a nice warm sound on the vocals. We thought that recording here in a relaxed environment would ease the process and give us better performances, and that’s exactly what happened. It took three days overall, but we managed to record the rest of the acoustic guitars, vocals & bass all at home. So other than the drums which were recorded at Subcat Studios & Bounce Studios – everything was done at home, even the electric guitars. For the electric guitars, I used a really cool piece of gear called the Suhr Reactive Load, which takes place of the conventional microphone & guitar cabinet setup, taking a tube amp signal lowered down to line level and using Impulse Responses of iconic cabinets such as Marshall, Orange & Fender cabinets. Being able to change the cabinet after the guitar signal was recorded was absolutely huge for the mixing process too, it was a game changer for my mixing & recording overall.
The overall meaning of the title ‘Home’ was coincidental. The word was repeated a handful of times in different songs, the title track had a more in-depth meaning with it, but really for me, it boils down to the fact that this is the first record I have officially done from home, aside from my Retro Game Remix projects which is more of a fun hobby than a serious project like Duffin & Ladd. This is the first record that I can actually be proud of listening back to, and know that I won’t cringe listening later as well trying to pick apart mixing techniques as I learn a little more along the way. And you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the 15th song, Amazing To Me, yet either? Well in an effort to see how I could change a mix with a year between the first one and a new one – I remixed Amazing To Me with new guitar layers and different drum mixing techniques I have learned along the way.
Always keep learning. Always keep challenging. Always keep creating.
Want to check out ‘Home’? Catch it on Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your music.