Date: 30 September 2011
Session Time: 10am-1pm
Studio: Abbey Road 2
Project: Arthur Christmas
Artist: Harry Gregson-Williams/Bill Nighy
Track: Make Someone Happy
"This was a film session for forthcoming movie Arthur Christmas. The arranger, Nick Ingman, wrote a lovely old-style arrangement of 'Make Someone Happy' for Bill Nighy to sing in character. Nick rehearsed the orchestra for about half an hour, then Bill came and sang the song with us live on the floor. After that, we recorded multiple versions of the track without vocals in order to have flexibility. The feel of the chart was old-fashioned '50s/'60s-style slow foxtrot tempo. I played brushes throughout with a light feel. The chart was very simple with no real phrasing to speak of... just time.
"I was in a booth in the corner of the studio. The composer for the film, Harry Gregson-Williams, was producing in the control room and was mainly giving direction to the strings. We probably played the chart 25 times in all including other versions. It's fairly unusual to have a rhythm section and orchestra track at the same time these days... although it is really quick and good fun. You have to keep your head down and get on with it! We finished early!
"I used some vintage Gretsch drums; a mix of an old round badge bass drum and some '70s toms - 22", 12" and 15". Minimal dampening on the bass drum, only for an old school sound. I used a '60s Ludwig 400 snare drum for a retro sound with no dampening. Heads were all Remo coated Ambassadors, except the Powerstroke 3 clear on the bass drum. My cymbals are all pretty dark anyway, but I used some very dark old Sabian hats that I've had for 25 years... nice and thin; an 18" Legacy crash, a 22" Groove ride and an old 18" HH Medium crash.
"Old mics were used such as a Coles ribbon and Neumann U 67's as overheads for an authentic vintage sound."