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Holding Absence x Loathe

This is as one


Engineering, Mixing & Mastering catered to by George ‘G1’ Lever


This record started off life as a conversation early spring 2017 between myself and Feisal from Holding Absence.

At the time, neither of us were to know that it would lead to something as special as this. A record where two bands with distinct sonic signatures, that in all honesty are quite far removed from one another, featuring on the same split. The out come of which is (to date) my most fond record and proudest experience.

Each band push up against the boundaries of their respective genres until they buckle and give way to new and exciting worlds to explore. This was something I had to ensure I caught correctly whilst ensuring I didn’t default to the same directions for each band. 


Holding Absence

Before tracking began there was a lot of combing through songs, idea swapping and in-depth conversations between myself and the band.

We had to ensure that within the two songs we showed not only the bands current identity but where they intended to end up in the future.

Drums i
We tracked drums in a small drum room local to myself, not ideal but we were up against the clock by this point. 5 days to track, edit and then mix the tracks before the deadline closed in.

After going over the tracks I knew that we wanted the drums to be thick and thwacky. We intentionally tuned everything quite low and dry. My thought was that if I needed to introduce more life and air into the shells that I could bring in some pre-recorded room ambience samples from earlier sessions to encourage that energy.

Bass ii
The custom shop jazz that I have here at the studio got the nod ahead of James’ very well loved jazz. purely because of the tuning stability and knowledge that with such a small time frame to work within, we had to know everything would hold up and hold tuning consistently. The bass got tracked DI through my Chandler Germanium preamp and then followed by some kind of amp sim I presume along with drive. I remember keeping the tone pretty light on the overdrive front. Nothing really fancy was done, the bass simply had to just sit, do its job and hold the low end for these tracks.

Guitars iii
In guitar world, Holding Absence were spoilt for choice. They had a few SG’s to pick from along with my array of Telecasters and PRS guitars that I own. Interestingly the guitar that won the majority of the shootouts was my MJT Relic Telecaster with a Bare Knuckle Cobra T pickup. It sang. Seriously, I’ve never heard such a great and consistent rhythm tone. This was helped a whole lot by the use of a profile caught by Kris Crummett (Issues, Get Scared). The profile was of his Soursound, it sounds amazing. I now want one to have here IRL, but that will have to wait.

Vocals iv:
Lucas and I had maybe a day or so of time to go over all the vocals, we had to get into the zone and in a big way. We set up the Slate VMS, selected the U47 and got to it. We chose to track in a way so that we cleared all the easier parts first, knowing they needed less attention and finesse. Leaving us with more time to play with when it came to sections that needed more attention to detail or effect manipulation.

Post Production v
Between the two tracks, ‘Everything’ ended up benefitting the most from the additional post-production work that was put in.
‘Everything’ doesn’t conform to the typical rock anthem song structure, instead, it builds incrementally section by section until the turn at the end that releases all that pent-up energy. With this in mind, I went about building the post-production to go from synthetic ambience with percussion enhancements to full orchestration with backing piano when the whole band kick it up at the end.
Saint Cecilia had some more organic percussion brought into the mix during the chorus’ and we found a way to sneak in the classic Mellotron which ended up getting so mangled I’m pretty sure the source audio could have started life as anything and ended up with a fairly similar result. Never the less, Mellotron is cool.


Drums i
Middle farm roughly translated means. Drum Valhalla. Erik, Sean and I spent a few hours sat in the control room, going over drummers that we like, drum sounds, records. Everything. Trying to decide what to aim for with this session. Sean ended up pulling up Benny Greb and Paramore as the final examples and that’s what we went with.
We picked up the Guru kit that is possibly the best set of shells I have heard in my life. The toms tune so well that it feels like you’ve been tuning all the other drums wrong your whole life. It’s crazy.
The result was this thick, low, juicy goodness that you hear in the final tracks. Really happy that we didn’t need to resort to any close mic samples, I only ended up bringing an additional room sample into the mix to help the snares balance overall.

Bass ii
Again the Jazz got a runout. I wanted to track through the guitar setup that we re-amped through but the preamp I was using died before we could get going. Took that as a sign and profiled the tone instead for just in case. Ended up tracking the rest of the bass back at mine and using a blend of 3 different distorted tones to create the final result.

Guitars iii
While drums were ongoing, Erik was sat in studio b tracking and editing all the guitars to the programmed drums from the demo. Nothing much to mention here apart from running through the mega rig Erik and I build to re-amp through. I’ll begin.
The signal flow was something like this:
DI Out > Horizon Devices Drive > Signal splitter > OUT 1 > Victory Kraken Channel 1 > Mesa 4×12 > 57 & MD421
OUT 2 > Fortin Modded Randall > Mesa 4×12 > C414
These three signals then came back into the DAW to be summed and balanced.

Vocals iv:
Kadeem had a cold while all this was taking place (poor sod) and ended up re-tracking a fair few of his parts back home with an SM7b.
Erik tracked all his vocals with me at my home studio using the Slate VMS and a tonne of different post-processing went on to create lots of different textures / effects.

Post Production v
We ran out of studio time to go over all this in-house so Erik took some rough mixes back to his home studio and worked on all the post-production back at his. I don’t know how he gets the sounds he does but they make these songs take on a whole other shape. He then sent these back already processed so they’d slot into place at mine with very little effort!

Gear Used


Holding Absence
MJT Telecaster – Bare Knuckle Cobra T
Wirebird Telecaster – Bare Knuckle Mules
Gibson SG – Stock Pickups

Squire Baritone Jazzmaster


Holding Absence
Slate VMS – U47 Model > Distressor

Kadeem > SM7b smashed to hell
Erik > Slate VMS u47 also smashed to hell


Kit – Guru Drums Walnut Shells
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element
Snare – 57 & C414
Toms – E22
Overheads – KM184s
Room – R88 & C414

Holding Absence
Kit – Gresch Catalina
Kick – Audio Technica Dual Element
Snare – C414 & M201
Toms – E602
OH – Aston Starlights
Room – Fathead Ribbons


Fender Jazz Custom Shop ’64


The mix process for both bands was fairly intense from the get go.

The time restraints on the project meant that I had to make fairly strong/bold choices during tracking that would be reflected in the final mix. That meant a lot of referencing during setup and before tracking, this was to ensure I wasn’t being misguided by rooms I didn’t know or any other elements for that matter. It had to be right from the off.

Holding’s mix came together pretty quickly. I think from the beginning of tracking to the final mix being submitted, the time scale was around 5-6 days in total. This is a very strong case for trusting the gut instinct and picking the correct mix references to help guide the process so that no time is lost to incorrect decisions.

A few things ended up being a little different to the ‘normal’ approach:

I ended up making a ‘fake room’ for the drums using samples I took while at Middle Farm. These got bussed together and hit with the HIE Pie compressor (waves plugin) and some EQ, then blended to taste till they sounded like they were part of the kit rather than distant and fake sounding.

This provided a lot of the drum character for the mixes here as the room we tracked in didn’t have anything going for it in terms of ‘character’, so that had to be added.

I also ran a different parallel bus for the drums utilising the DevilLoc by soundtoys. Usually this plugin is really aggressive and overhyped, even on minimal settings, in order to combat this I ran a trim before the plugin so I could hit the plugin a little lighter and really focus the saturation / compression that guy brings to the table.

Bass and guitars got treated as a whole, the bass was there to extend the guitars and the guitars there to extend the bass. They got summed and brought in to be a little darker than usual as the focal point for Holding is their vocals, ambient layers and percussion.

Vocals got printed down with compression and EQ on the way while being tuned. I was trying to make sure I had a little editing to do during the mix stage. Just small changes to save time later on and really allow for the mixing process to be focus. Theres a lot of different reverb and delay throws through out the tracks that are there to help encourage the listener to follow what Lucas is singing about. Really proud of that!

Loathe was a more hands on approach with the gents being either in house for the mixing stage or connected via Skype and providing feedback while I streamed out the mix from my DAW (I did this using a genius app called Nicecast)

In all honesty, I made a few mistakes during the process of this mix. We had what became the base for the final mix nailed on when we came back from Middle Farm, however we all became really familiar with the sound and started fiddling with each element to see not only ‘How good can this sound’ but ‘how much can it do’.

As a result of this the songs took on a lot of different shapes and sizes but not always ones that myself or the band felt were ‘correct’ for what was needed for the tracks.

In the end (I’m talking after 2 weeks of mixing) we reverted all the way back to the backup from Middle Farm and went for it.

That final mix process maybe took 4-5 revisions in the end. We knew exactly what was possible with the material, what wasn’t going to reflect well and where each bit needed to sit in order to get the right movement and momentum from all the layers and parts that were playing.

Additional cool stuff;

– In White Hot all the tom overdubs and additional sub impacts are takes from myself, Shayne, Kadeem and Sean stamping / jumping around in the live room to the track over laid and eq’d to hell and back.

– During the song Everything by Holding Absence there’s a full orchestration subsection during the final movement that I worked on with Feisal in secret before the rest of the band came in. Maybe we’ll upload that separately some day. But it’s in there and helps all the ambient layers come together and really push the emotional curve of the end of the song.

– The reason why there’s no additional samples during loathes drum takes is because Sean Radcliffe is a robot sent back from the future to tell you that you are wrong.


Ash Green – Holding Absence

“I love how you’ve approached this entity and really create a universe for our sound.
The space in which each instrument takes place is perfect along with the dynamic captured throughout each track.”


Both bands have previously released material that is available to stream via youtube and all the major music apps.

This is my first time working with the guys in each band, however, all their earlier material is also amazing and worth adding to your own collection!

Until next time.