Scottish indie-pop quartet Model Aeroplanes are all set for take off, having released their new single Whatever Dress Suits You Better earlier this month on Island Records. This is lifted from the band's acclaimed EP Something Like Heaven.
Comprising Ben Buist, Grant Irvine, Kieran Smith and Rory Fleming-Stewart, the band are playing live shows and festival dates throughout the summer, but it was their studio space that we wanted to take a look at.
Click through the gallery to see the gear that gets Model Aeroplanes’ sound off the ground...
“This is the main room in our studio for writing and recording. We have been in here for almost two years now and it’s become the place we enjoy being the most while we’re home. We’re really comfortable here so can spend a huge amount of hours working on an idea and not even notice the sun’s coming up.
“Having our own space is ideal; it gives us the freedom we need to get really stuck into something or just chill out if our heads are needing a break. We record everything that goes out in other studios but this is where the songs are born and where we get to experiment with new mental ideas as much as we like.”
“The main brain of our studio is the computer. We have no idea what it is and it was full of viruses when Rory’s little brother first handed it over (use your imagination...)
“We also use a set of KRK 5-inch studio monitors to listen back to our demos. Running into the back of the tower is an Alesis io2 Express interface. This has two inputs, thankfully, otherwise we would be wasting a lot of time trying to make our demos sound like they were mixed by Rick Rubin (not that any of us could even get close). Before any Model Aeroplanes records get chosen for a release, they all get recorded onto here first.”
“Rory uses the neck pickup on a Gretsch G5422TG into two Fender Vaporizers. The pickup has a pretty dark sound, so the added tone from the bright inputs really helps keep the definition whilst maintaining the creamy deepness. They sound really hot ’n’ crunchy when the volumes are pushed past 12 to 1 o’clock.
“Between the guitar and amps there’s an EHX organ emulator and a bunch of Strymons [pedals]. Most of the Strymons party constantly apart from the Deco’s Saturation switch - which is turned on and off to substitute an overdrive - and the Mobius, which is kept for mental Valhalla vibes.”
“Grant uses a 2012 Gibson Firebird Studio Reverse ‘70s Tribute. It's a fairly loud guitar with high output and great tone variation. He runs a jack out into a guitar synth. The synth has played a big part in the shaping of our ever changing sound and is very sonically present on our latest record.
“If we're writing or jamming in the studio, we take a send out from the synth straight into a Laney VC-30. Or, alternatively, if we're playing live, we send a stereo signal to a DI box, then send that to front of house. Simultaneously, we send another jack out from the synth to [Grant’s} pedalboard, which carries the dry signal.
The board comprises a T-Rex Octavius, Boss Phase-Shifter, Sansamp VT Bass and an Electro-Harmonix Cathedral, which help make his sound hot, modulated and reverb-rich.”
“Kieran uses a Japanese-made Yamaha Oak Custom X Series Kit. It has a well-rounded response with a lot of attack which gives us that punchy sound - live and on our records. Along with the shells he uses hi-hats, a crash and a ride.
“He uses a set of 13-inch Turkish Sehzade hats which are slightly higher in pitch than average and are also very dark sounding. Not long ago he got his Meinl Bizance Series 18-inch medium thin crash; like the Sehzade hats, they are handmade in Turkey. This cymbal is loud and sounds energetic; perfect for that big pop crash sound.
“For the ride cymbal he uses a 19-inch Dream Vintage Bliss series. These cymbals are super-cheap and sound super-great for the price. He also uses this as a secondary crash most of the time and it just sounds trashy/washy.”
“Ben uses a Fender American Standard Jazz bass and on the right is a Fender Japanese Jaguar bass. Ben uses these for different tones and tunings both in the studio and when playing live.
“The Jazz is Ben’s main bass and definitely has the fullest, creamiest tone – however, it can’t always deliver the diversity of the Jag. Ben plays through an old Trace Elliot AH350 head and a 4x10 Ashdown cab.
“He uses a Sansamp VT Bass DI as a constant preamp, with a Route 66 overdrive/compressor. The compressor is constantly engaged as well; it completely solidifies the tone and keeps the bass tight.
“Ben also uses an Ibanez Steve Vai signature distortion, which does a surprisingly good job of keeping the low end tight when engaged.”