So they included on the finished tracks guitar solos that Dave Keuning had played in practice “just messing around” and that Vannucci had recorded in Logic; chorus vocals on “Human” that were done in Price’s old studio in London in a casual after-dinner session; and drums on “Good Night, Travel Well” that were created by Vannucci in the demo sessions. These ideas and moments carried “a certain mojo,” says Price, which they were careful not to extinguish with unnecessary re-recording.
The clock figured in the creative mix because the band set agreed-upon time limits for all recording sessions. “The good thing that happens when you do that is everyone has to be on top form and everyone has to kind of speak up and put down their bit,” says Price. “There’s a real good group mentality to doing it like that as well because we didn’t sit around for days just working one specific element. We really had to all pull together.”
After six weeks, they’d recorded 19 of the 40 song ideas and selected 10 as featured songs for the album, as well as some B-side cuts. They spent another three weeks in London putting finishing touches on the album, which Price produced completely in Logic. “Logic was definitely the production tool that was used on every single song on the album from the beginning to the end,” he says.
Vannucci, who’s used Logic for almost a year, says he is amazed at how quickly he is growing with it. “In the beginning, like a lot of people, we used Logic as a kind of digital four-track recorder,” he says. “But after you figure out the program, it becomes a really useful creative tool for creating sounds and mixing and things like that.”
He and the band got a close look at what Logic could do by watching Price operate in their studio. “I like to treat Logic very much like an instrument,” says Price. “What I mean by that is using Logic features like the automation, which allows you to create in the same way a musician creates dynamics in his playing. You actually start to think about the physical space of the instrument you’re particularly focusing on in the mix and how you can control that and have that evolve throughout the length of the track. That’s when interesting things start to happen.”
Front and Centre
Recently, Vannucci has been using MainStage to try to bring to The Killers’ live performances some of those very same interesting things that developed in the Day & Age studio sessions. “Towards the end of recording the album, I basically freaked out a little bit at the idea that I wouldn’t be able to get our sounds on stage without having to do presets and layering,” he says. “But I learned that all you have to do, basically, is just bring up those settings within MainStage and, boom, there you have it."
The Killers are now using MainStage on tour on newer songs like “Human” and “Spaceman”. And Vannucci says he’s looking to push it much further. “As for live application, it’s really, really useful, but it’s not just about keyboard sounds. I’m looking into running some of the drum mics through MainStage and using some of the different compressors that are built into Logic to manipulate the drum sounds.”
Road Work Ahead
The band are also attempting a variation on their demo experience with Day & Age, using Logic to address a different geographic dislocation — the road. Vannucci is travelling with a portable recording studio that features Logic Studio and an Apogee Symphony Mobile system so the band can work as they go.
“The idea is to start recording a covers album on the road,” he says. “Usually when we travel, we have a little jam room backstage, so my idea was just to mic everything, play with some ideas and just start actually recording. We’ll take it back to the hotel after the show or on a day off and work it inside Logic, on a plane or whatever, just mixing and editing and doing our thing. I just like the convenience of having a full-on travelling recording studio.”
That effort, says Vannucci, is a natural next step for The Killers: “We always push ourselves, trying to outdo whatever we’ve done before. As a band, we’ll never be comfortable staying in one place. I don’t think that we’re going to be making a metal record or a country record. But I do think that we’re bound, just because of the personalities of all four guys in the band, to keep trying to make more interesting music and even better songs.”