At home, Photo by Metaxia Coustas

Sydney-based, multi-instrumentalist Dave Jenkins Jr has a new project under the moniker of Not A Boy’s Name and has released a fabulous debut EP titled ‘The Internet Sucks”. In this Australian Musician exclusive Dave kindly walks us through the making of the EP in his studio diary

The Internet Sucks EP Studio Diary

Hello, I’m Dave Jenkins Jr, also known as NOT A BOYS NAME.
I’m a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter and throughout this article I am going to tell you a little bit about how I recorded my debut EP “The Internet Sucks”. I am really hoping this information can bring insight into my creative process, and also inspire you on your own producing/recording adventure.

I guess the best place to start would be with WHY I made this EP. There’s so much music in the world, why create more? Well, I guess, because I can. Anyone can. If you’ve got something to say, and the ability to say it, what’s stopping you? NOT A BOYS NAME was born out of my longing to do just that. For years I had been been touring with multiple artists playing other people’s music. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that responsibility thoroughly. But I felt like I had my own signature dish to bring to the table.

(Left) On stage with Lisa Mitchell.              (Right) On stage with Vera Blue SITG (shot by Tom Suyek)

After returning from a particularly long tour, I sat down with my guitar and started bashing out some rough ideas. I wasn’t really focused on any sonic aesthetics at first, I was just putting down whatever nonsense ideas that popped into my head, and having a great time.

The next time I left home (for tour) I was armed with an arsenal of VERY rough, but exciting demos. I showed my fellow musicians and to my surprise, people seemed to dig it.

That was all I needed to keep charging forward with the project. I invested any spare second I had into writing and recording new material. Along the way some of demos landed in the lap of Island Records and after some talk, I had secured a recording contract with them.
In the 2 years that followed I released 4 singles, made some videos, played a bunch of shows, and recorded over 40 songs under the NABN moniker.

NOT A BOYS NAME – Cut it Off (2019 music video by Matt Sav)

When COVID hit, so too did the brakes on my whole writing process. I’d gotten so caught up in creating that I had never taken a moment to look back and really listen to the mountain of songs I was sitting on. When I did, I started to see patterns, almost like a road map of songs with little towns along the way. There were these little clusters of songs that just seemed to fit together perfectly. The first pocket of songs forms my debut EP ”The Internet Sucks” named after the song of the same title.

So that is WHY. Now onto HOW.
I am going to go through track by track, listen to my multi tracks, and see what I can recall about the process, the gear, and the personnel involved in each track. Strap yourself in, it might get weird!

The Internet Sucks cover art by Dave Jenkins Jr

Ok, track one. This was in that first batch of ideas I had. It started as a long form instrumental track where I was experimenting with my Marantz cassette player and the pitch modulating features it has. I also ran my guitars through that thing, because when you turn it right up – FUZZ! It sat on my hard drive for a few weeks until the lyric idea popped into my head.. “Show me a way or throw me away..reality ain’t my speciality”. It was a mantra to me at the time..a plea to the universe. I was feeling lost and without a path before all of this NABN business. I grabbed my favourite 1 minute snippet from the mass instrumental and started building that up as the song. It immediately made sense. My friend, collaborator and live bassist Rosie Fitzgerald came in to help with BVs. We ended up adding another 2 verses to the song, but in the end I just couldn’t match the excitement I felt from that 1 minute snippet. Hence, why the release version is so short!

Everything was recorded into Ableton at my home studio, except for the drums which I tracked at Golden Retriever with my pal Simon Berckelman. At the time I was tracking drums for another artist but we finished early. Simon informed me he had 45 mins free, and as the kit, mics and tape machine were all setup, I could lay down drums for something of my own if I was quick. I recorded all of the drums for my EP in that 45 mins. Just back to back, no stopping. Thank you Simon! The kit consisted of a 1967 Ludwig super classic, 14 x 6.5” Blackbird snare drum and Paiste cymbals.

For guitar and bass I used my MIJ Fender Jaguar (detuned ITB for bass) DI into my Apogee ensemble, except for the fuzzy tape machine ones. I used an SM7b on all the vocals. FX wise I used the Sound Toys crystalliser, and the Valhalla vintage verb. There’s also a lot of Varispeed happening in this track..on the vocals and some of the instruments at the end to get those mental high pitched sounds. I mixed this one myself through my TASCAM M512 board.

My home setup and my big old TASCAM                          Plugging stuff into stuff (shot by Rosie Fitzgerald)

Officially the oldest song on the EP, and one of my favourites. I wrote this when I was 18 years old and it’s stuck around in my brain ever since. I had a very loose demo of it from then, but I always loved it. When I started putting together songs for this project I couldn’t help but inject some new life into this one. When I recorded it, I had recently procured a couple of QUAD8 Coronado preamps from the now defunct BJB studios in Sydney. They’re beautiful old things, and they have a really nice break-up when you push them hard. Everything was recorded through the QUAD-8s with the exception of the drums. Glockenspiel features heavily on this one. I LOVE the use of glock on old rock songs like Born to Run. It has a real magical quality. Again, I had recently bought one so it’s all over this track! Simon Berckelman helped me out with the mix on this one. We re-amped a lot of my ITB elements through his 1176 compressors, Eventide h3000, and my Marantz tape deck. It was then mixed through his NEO-TEK board into the Studer 2” tape machine. Analogue Gooey-ness.

(Left) Recording drums at Golden Retriever  (Right) Mixing with Simon Berckelman at Golden Retriever

I had a dream one night, and in that dream Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys was onstage crooning a song with the lyrics “the internet sucks, we’ve broken love”. I woke up and immediately started recording it. Conveniently at the time, my studio was also my bedroom. After a coffee and some synthesiser experimentation I was convinced it was a terrible idea. I cracked on and bashed out the core structure and all the lyrics for the song. I was really unsure about it still so I sent it to saviour Simon. He instilled in me the confidence to finish it. I recorded the whole song in a day at my home studio. My instrument of choice at the time was the Dave Smith MOPHO X4, a small analogue synthesiser that is basically a Prophet 08 with 4 voices. The chords at the start were recorded on an HG Palmer chord organ (picked up for $60 off Gumtree). Fuzzy guitars courtesy of the quad 8. Pretty sure it was my Fender Jaguar, and Fender Jazz bass. There’s also some tuned 808s under the chorus for extra SUBS. I used Soundtoys altar boy for the messed up low vocals in the verses. Gang vocals in the chorus were recored by me in my bathroom..yelling over a loop for about 10mins. The end half of the song, and subsequent key change, initially just had an extra chorus but as I was mixing it with Simon we both decided it needed something extra to really elevate that last section. My pal Kirin J Callinan was in town and agreed to come in for a few hours to experiment with some guitar parts. Like a whirlwind, he burst into the studio, made a big mess, and left us with some KJC guitar magic. The solo at the end is a composite of about 3-4 different solos that Kirin played. It’s absolutely bonkers and I love it. He also contributed some of the tremolo/sequenced parts you hear throughout. For the rising siren synths at the end I had a particular sound in mind that I wanted to replicate. There’s a Smashing Pumpkins song called “In the Arms of Sleep” that has this other worldly high pitched drone throughout. I loved this song as a kid and for some reason I wanted to have that sound in this song. Listening back now, I’m 100% certain it’s an EBOW on a guitar. For my song I used the MOPHO X4. I thought not to go BIG with the drums in the chorus, as much as I wanted to. I think restraint, in a way, makes it feel even BIGGER. Doing my best John Bonham, we really pumped up the room mics for this one.

Experimenting at home. You can see the QUAD 8 preamps in the top left, MOPHO X4 in the centre and my TASCAM M512 on the right

Kirin J Callinan adds a solo to the Internet Sucks

A slight departure from the rest, this one was recorded at my friend Ross James’ (upsidedownhead) studio in Marrickville. I was working on something else and the idea popped into my head. I only had one mic, one guitar and a small drum kit at my disposal.
Everything you hear was done in that one sitting. I recorded all the guitar parts (There’s about 35 of them) DI into the computer, then I recorded the drum kit in a few layers, first the beat, then the rim clicks, and then the ride cymbal..which was actually half of a hi-hat played very lightly. The bass is just a down-tuned guitar. Nothing fancy, just some Ableton pitch transposition. I tried re-recording this one but the original version is just way more fun. That’s what you hear here. Lots of subtle vocal layers in this one. I love doubling my voice with an octave, so I do it lots. If you listen closely you’ll hear it in the chorus of this one. From memory I recorded this with an SM57. The guitar was an old Stratocaster copy but one of the good Japanese ones. This was mixed, very quickly, by me.

Layering guitars at home

This song, much like the condition it’s named after, is a bit unbalanced. In a good way! Like most of the songs I write, this one was created in the attempt to exorcise something negative I was going through. For a time I was constantly waking up in the middle of the night, unable to move, unable to speak, with this terrifying presence in the room. I did some research and found out it’s quote common, and no-one knows what it is or why it happens. I attributed it at the time to my failing relationship and the unsureness I was facing with my musical prospects. Exhausted from all the sleepless nights I started messing around with a beat I had recorded using household items. I built it up with pens, a coffee pot and a mug, just tapping away and creating layers. I added some guitar harmonies and started singing about my awful sleeping habits. It existed as a weird half song idea for ages, until one day I was recording some music with my friend and collaborator Ben Corbett (Halfspeed) I asked him if he could figure out a way to make it make sense. We managed to write some verse and bridge chords around the parts I already had, then the words just fell into place. Much like the internet sucks it features a lot of MOPHO X4. All the sub drops and weirdness comes from that machine. From memory Ben played guitar and synths in the verses and I did the rest. Drums were done with Simon in that whirlwind recording session, I then mixed them in with my coffee pot beat. Rosie Fitzgerald again lends her lovely voice to this track. Quad 8s and Marantz tape machine are all over this one for guitar fuzz and pitch weirdness. This one was mixed by me.

Sleep Paralysis or just a studio nap

With LIVE band Dan Williams, Rosie Fitzgerald, and Ben Corbett (shot by Metaxia Coustas)

So there you have it. That’s how I did it. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
My debut EP “The Internet Sucks” is out now, all over the internet.

Thanks for reading,
Dave Jenkins Jr