Jan 30th, 2012

The Final Frontier - recording diary by Kevin Shirley

January 6, 2010 Los Angeles - Nassau
Been working flat-out at home in Malibu. I'm pretty burnt out.
I've just remixed the classic Deep Purple album, Come Taste The Band over the New Year, and just recorded six new tracks with a brand new band this last weekend. Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and keyboard wiz Derek Sherinian (tentatively calling themselves Black Country). So, I am pretty wiped out.
The next adventure on my horizon is producing the new Iron Maiden album - this one to be recorded in the Bahamas.
Left the family, sadly, in the early hours of today, and met Jared Kvitka at LAX. He is to be my assistant and the engineer on the new Iron Maiden album. We fly together to Nassau in the Bahamas, where we'll cut the new album at Compass Point Studios. Maiden have made three of their huge albums of the 80's there. Piece of Mind, Powerslave and Somewhere In Time, I believe. It's cold in Nassau when we land -- highly unusual, but all of the States is mired in a "Deep Freeze" and the Bahamas are experiencing the runoff. Studio manager Sherrie Manning meets us at customs and immigration, and once the work permit thing is ironed out, she shows us to our accommodations. In the early evening I see Steve, Adrian and Janick at the local pub for a beer and walk back home. A cold night.

January 7, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Bump into Steve in the apartment complex parking lot - I have opted not to have a rental car so Steve kindly takes me to the supermarket and we push trolleys around like two old queens, doing their weekly shopping. Quite a sight! Nassau is expensive -- half a trolley of basics is just shy of $300!
Off to the studio, and the gear has just arrived - mine from L.A. and the band's from England. The crew, Sean, Charlie and Michael begin unloading the equipment. Not much for Jared and I to do at this stage as drums, amps, guitars, etc start escaping their packing cases.

January 8, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Drums are up, Guitar cabs are up -- the day is spent wiring, plugging things in, putting microphones up and doing line checks by studio owner and tech-wiz Terry Manning and Jared. It's a very complex setup -- the studio is basically one big room, and there are not any isolation booths in which to put guitar amps to avoid the leakage into the other instruments as we do record the basic tracks with the whole band playing together live. So 'Arrys bass speaker goes in an adjacent office -- the three guitar cabinets go into a second studio, with about 100 feet of high quality speaker cable running from the amp heads, while Nicko's huge drumkit is in the corner of the main studio, so they can all play together and interact with one another. The little tiki-hut vocal booth, originally made for Mick Jagger in the eighties, is where Bruce will sing to get a little separation, but it's still in the main room and there's just no escaping Nicko's booming bombast! The old Neve V series console at Compass Point isn't on it's last legs, but it's definitely seen better days. We don't use any of the console channels for anything other than monitoring -- every microphone has it's own preamp and feeds the Pro Tools recording system. Most channels won't be recorded with EQ. The exceptions are the kick and snare drums, which have copycat Neve 1073 EQs across them. Nothing much, a little top on the snare and a little scoop on the kick -- as Nicko has no padding and the drum sound very resonant.

January 9, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas

Final touches are made to the guitar rigs -- the crew string the guitars and the studio is made ready. We get sounds on everything and the road crew play AC/DC's Highway To Hell to test the systems. Ironic, as the iconic Back in Black album was cut in this very room! We finish up about 6pm, and Jared and I head to Compass Point Resort across the road, and have a drink as we watch American NFL football and the Eagles lose their wildcard game. Jared is from Philly. Michael Kenney drives back from the apartment complex in the rain to pick me up and get me back home. I have hiccups...

January 10, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Day off today -- the weather is miserable. Rainy and windy. I'll stay home and watch football, and work on the "Black Country" Hughes/Bonamassa recordings. I have Pro Tools on my laptop, and quite enjoy the zen of working at my own pace, on headphones. Enjoyed watching an NFL playoff game in my apartment and then Steve Gadd, Maiden's Road manager called, saying Bruce and Davey were getting in and wanted to meet me. So off to the bar and dinner and a chat with the lads, then it's off home.

January 11, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Started tracking today -- was very funny seeing all the band assemble at Compass Point, and they all share a similar headspace, all exclaiming "holy fuck, remember when we were here 25 years ago -- it's still the same!!!!" First we worked on getting everyone's headphones sorted etc. Cut the basics for the ballad Coming Home by 2.30pm, then went on to track called El Dorado. Got 2 takes done, when technical gremlins jumped in -- Adrian's headphones became intermittent, Janick's guitar kept cutting out, then Bruce's vocal microphone fried, then the vocal compressor fried -- but despite all these, we still managed to get 7 takes done -- one of which I'm sure will be quite good enough to begin with. Then at Nicko's bidding, it was off to the Travellers Rest for all of us and a dinner of banana daiquiris and minced crawfish -- apparently band staples 25 years ago.
Haiti just had an earthquake this evening which looks to be devastating... and as we are on a tsunami warning for the Bahamas, we headed back to the studio and retrieved the hard drive for storage on higher ground for the night.

January 12, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Cut an awesome track called Isle Of Avalon today. There were no high waves overnight, and no tsunami here, but we hear reports that Haitian capital Port-Au-Prince is in ruins. I donated to Red Cross this morning as they'll need all the help they can get. My family are home in L.A. and are off to Disneyland today. I miss them...

Wednesday January 13, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Up early and swam across the bay in front of the apartments. Glenn Hughes rang just as I was leaving, to discuss Black Country, (his new band) -- and then I drove to the studio with Steve, Janick and Charlie (Nicko's tech). I had to stop for a cup of Starbucks en route. Once at the studio, I reviewed the track Isle Of Avalon and overdubbed new guitars with all the guitarists - the Three Amigos - playing together. They have a unique chemistry playing together and the signature gallop in the guitars is a result of their individual rhythms combined. After that was wrapped up, it was everyone back in the room and we cut a new song - Mother of Mercy...
Banana Daiquiris have started something -- Bruce came in this morning with a brown paper bag filled with alcoholic ingredients to brew disaster -- 63 proof rum, etc., and after they had cut the track, Nicko and Bruce proceeded to "experiment" with making the perfect banana daiquiri -- blowing up the blender in a stinky electric puff of smoke in the process! Really......
Finished the new track at about 6.30pm, then Nicko, Bruce and I went in search of more daiquiris, Nicko was on a mission and wanted to take in a bit of adult entertainment and do some gambling, and he wanted me to tag along and be his foil -- so I said I was up for a little fun, but that I needed to get back home by midnight - after all I do have a job to do! A determined Nicko went off and I ended up having a beer with Jan at the end of the night, who's about the most normal of the lot I suppose!! Charlie appeared later after putting Nicko to bed about 10ish, after Nicko had cleared the casino at the Sheraton on Cable Beach and lost a bit of money! That's our Nick......... we do love him so!


Thursday January 14, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Not everybody was up to cutting a track today so the band had the day off, and I went to work alone, to go through all the takes and compile a great performance of Mother Of Mercy.

Friday January 15, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Today we cut a Janick song: The Talisman. It really came out great and after the session, Adrian, Dave, Adrian's wife Nathalie and I went to dinner at Nobu in Atlantis. Chocolate martinis and wine started the evening, and then it was off to a late night rock 'n roll bar called Crazy Johnny's where the night turned into morning... I lost my driver's license and credit card and we got home in the very early hours - all the worse for wear. I'm getting too old for these shenanigans!

Saturday January 16, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Woke with a teensy hangover -- to the wrath of my wife back in the States, as she says she doesn't want to be a widow just yet, and I headed in to work nonetheless, after a swim in the ocean, to sort thru the track The Talisman. Sounds amazing, even if I do feel like Death warmed up! Home to recuperate and watch the NFL playoffs... Saints and Arizona...

Sunday January 17, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Woke feeling almost normal! Crazy Johnny, proprietor of his eponymous club -- scene of Friday night's debauched shenanigans - took a bunch of us out to Rose Island with his kid, Dylan, where he has a house on the hill overlooking an absolutely perfect gorgeous white beach -- a great day out. His 400HP Yamaha engines zipped us across the ocean in his boat at "a strong 50" knots, and it was very enjoyable. Janick was the only one from the band to come along; the rest either busy or perhaps even still suffering -- so tech Sean from the crew and his girl Sarah, Tour Road Manager Steve Gadd, and engineer Jared Kvitka made up the rest of the pirate crew. Back in time to watch the New York JETS make it to the conference championship! After living on the U.S. East Coast for 16 years, I'm a declared supporter

Monday Jan 18, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas

Up at 7am, a great way to start this beautiful day with a visit to the Dentist this morning (I chipped one tooth and a crown fell off another over the weekend). Seems I'm just falling apart! A pretty Bahamian dentist Dr Coverly worked on my teeth in her high heels and a nicely coiffed do. A first for me!
Nicko flew back from Florida today so we didn't start until 1pm. Cut a great proggy tune of Adrian's called Starblind -- which came out very strongly, I think....

Tuesday Jan 19, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Having trouble sleeping -- seemed to be up all night long last night. Late-night text chats with Joe Bonamassa seem to be the case most nights these days, as he sleeps weird hours, planning and scheming... and chatting with his girlfriend in a far off land. I'm the therapist...
Recorded another new Maiden song once we finally got going today. It was a late start at the studio as there was no power at all -- Bahamian Electricity was off until 1.30pm, but the song was quite straight forward - even quite simple for Maiden but very powerful: The Final Frontier -- almost more like a rollicking Mellencamp or Tom Petty type song than a Maiden song, but it looks like being the anchor tune for the new album. We kept it pretty raw!

Wed Jan 20, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Didn't sleep last night. Cut a highly complex song today, one of Davey's I believe, The Man Who Would Be King -- one which the band hadn't managed to rehearse beforehand as Janick had cut his hand very badly just as they were starting to learn it and run through it at the pre-recording rehearsals in France -- so he had been rushed to hospital and had surgery on his hand and fingers - the upshot being that the song was cut in sections and pieced together today. It was very difficult. Bruce has decided he didn't want to stay in the fairly boring accommodations we're in, that are a residential complex, so has moved to the Sheraton which is probably a lot more fun and goes on much later than we do, and consequently was a little tired today, which didn't really help :) Well, he's at least not flying anywhere.......

Thurs Jan 21, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
I've been having trouble sleeping at night, so Maiden Road manager Steve Gadd gave me a sleeping tab, and I finally slept great all night. Got up, went to the gym and worked out with a trainer (first time in years), and really enjoyed it. Cut a great Deep Purple-ish tune today -- tentatively titled House of Dr. D! I'm pretty sure that title won't stick as it's pretty uniformly sneered at. (It was renamed The Alchemist. KS) Nicko, normally loves the way his drums come out on all the albums, and asked respectfully if I minded if he watched while I edited the takes, and he promised to not say anything -- I of course said I didn't mind, but once I began working, he couldn't stop talking and admonishing me the whole while, about his mistakes, which he calls "Nickoisms", and which I was attempting to repair, so I had to stop the session. Update tomorrow, when we cut the last song, which Steve is still working on tonight and it promises to be an epic... ahhh, the Mighty Maiden!!!

Friday January 22, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
We cut a very intricate piece today. Where The Wild Wind Blows. Nobody had heard it at all and Steve had all these ideas, so we cut about 10 totally different melodic pieces -- he'd show the band then we'd cut a few takes. He shows everyone the song and whistles the melodies to everyone. Nicko was unusually reserved today, but played very solidly and well. We ended up with over two hours of recorded music, which I attempted to start editing as the evening closed in on us, but Steve was totally wiped out - he'd forgotten to eat and drink all day, such was his concentration -- and I don't even know how the song pieces fit together yet, so it will have to wait 'til we get together on Monday! Steve won't come in over the weekend normally, as his weekends are mostly chock-full with his kids activities, and he is first and foremost a dedicated father.

Saturday Jan 23rd, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Went to workout at the gym early then on to the studio, and spent the entire day editing some tracks recorded for Black Country in Malibu -- Black Country is the group I put together with Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian. Met Nicko, Davey and Steve Gadd in the Poop Deck bar in the evening, and we drove to the big Atlantis resort where we had dinner at the fancy sushi restaurant Nobu, and then went to see Jerry Seinfeld doing standup. Davey is a big fan and really wanted to go, but it was just OK - nothing special actually. We had a little to drink over the evening... and invariably ended up at the Daiquiri shack chatting to some Irish wedding guests.


 Sunday Jan 24, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Woke late -- a little tired still. Relaxed around the condo, made coffee and watched some Gridiron football. Adrian dropped by around noon and borrowed my iPod to listen to the rough mixes of the tracking recordings we have done thus far.

Monday Jan 25, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
The lads took the day off and 'Arry and I went to work about 11 o'clock and began the big job of editing the multiple takes of Where The Wild Wind Blows together. Nobody but he has any idea how it ultimately goes, and the structure altered a little from his original idea in the assembly, but it fits together and flows very nicely. An ironic epic about a suicide pact in the face of a nuclear explosion. And very Maiden!

Tuesday January 26, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Workout with a trainer again at 8am - he kicked my butt!
All the band - bar Bruce, who's gone back to London - meet at the studio to listen to all the tracks we've recorded and get a good overview of the album. All the guys seem excited after the playback, and we start work embellishing the rough recordings of Coming Home with some overdubs. Adrian puts an acoustic guitar picking through the verses and choruses, which we double track for stereo imaging. Then Davey plays the first of the guitar solos on his Les Paul guitar, which ironically sounds like a Strat! it's a very Hendrixy Little Wing-ish solo, and he's happy with the result. He's always happy! Then Adrian added the second solo. We assemble a different monitoring system for him in the studio, so he balances his own mix and listen on Genelecs. He's uncomfortable initially, but after a while we get a great solo from him. The raw sound bothers him, so i add a little Pitch Shift, and he's happy. End of the day. Off to the local bar called The Poop Deck for burgers and beer. And coffee tequila. And a last cleansing beer. Nicko and his chef mate, Frankie, visiting from new York, leave first. I leave Jan and Davey chatting at the bar.

Wednesday January 27, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Start the recording day by having Janick add an upper octave to his guitar line in the choruses of Coming Home. This is the end of guitar overdubs on this song.
Then we move onto the song El Dorado. Adrian does a guitar solo, quite a few takes - which I then compile. He's happy. Steve doesn't stay around for things like the guitar solos necessarily, but he likes to hear everything at some point. Next Janick has a go at the guitar overdubs, adding an octave to a prechorus line, then doing his solo. Davey comes in for a late start having had a little beach time and does the middle solo. We listen back quite loud and everyone seems very happy with it. They all leave and I stay to sort through some takes of Mother Of Mercy, so it's ready to be overdubbed. Dinner of fresh fish and a beer at the bar, and I'm home just after 7.30pm. Early night in....... speak to my babies on Skype.

Thursday January 28, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
A very full day in the studio today - Davey starts the day with a bunch of overdubs on The Man Who Would Be King - Harmony guitars on the outro and on the chorus - we try a few on the intro, but they don't really work. Then we do a quick solo, which I reverse a-la-hendrix, and he loves it! We do some other weird noises - divebombs, etc., which go alongside the backwards solo, then Janick does a little tag, after which we do a 3 part guitar harmony with all the guitarists on the second part of the solo. It was originally going to be an Adrian solo, but the track felt so out of control after Davey's musical madness, that we introduce the harmony melody guitars which brings some order into the chaos. This song is now done for the day, and we move to the overdubs on The Final Frontier. Adrian does a big strumming acoustic guitar on the choruses, and then adds a tenor guitar line which echoes Steve's bass line on the chorus - and last he does the solo on his trusty Strat...... and that's it for the day, and the week!

Friday January 29, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
My family are arriving at 1pm from Los Angeles, and we all take the day off work. No one complains! Well, Delta screws up my family's flight, and leaves them with an enforced long layover in Atlanta - so I take the opportunity to go grocery shopping. I need everything at our condo - toilet paper, water... you get the picture, so it's a godsend to have time to prepare for them. The lifestyle of a bachelor doesn't necessarily meet all the needs of a young family, and once I've sorted out the house I head to the airport with Steve Gadd and Mike Kenney, who've come to give us a hand with the luggage and kids. (They offered and are very gracious and friendly - it's no Producer control-freak thing!). They finally arrive at 5pm and as they come through the Arrivals and I see them, I get a little misty as my 2 year-old Talon yells, "My daddy, my daddy, my daddy" .... sweet!!
Weekend off playing with my kids in the pool and on the beach!!!!!

February 1 and 2, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
More recording on some of the other songs - it gets a bit "Groundhog Day" in the telling and diarizing of it all, as it's a very similar process every day for all the songs and overdubs. We do various guitar overdubs, solos, harmonies, acoustic guitars...... the Three Amigos take turns and occasionally we record all three together to get that great rolling, galloping rhythm that only Maiden can really create - there's nothing mathematical about it, it's all feel. If you sort it out in Pro Tools, all that feel goes, so we don't!!!

February 3, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
It's my wife's birthday today, so we take the day off and I spend the entire day at the Atlantis resort with my family. A great day, playing on the beaches, sliding down the water slides, floating on rafts on the articial rapids and rivers, and viewing the absolutely amazing aquarium they've built there! In the evening, we leave the babies with my mother-in-law and go out for an intimate adult evening, but we're so shattered by the day's activities that we end up crashing at about 9.30pm!

February 4 and 5, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Same agenda as Feb 1 and 2. We've almost finished the overdubs on the last song, guitar-wise. Just a last guitar solo of Adrian's to do on When The Wild Wind Blows on Monday, then we'll all gather for a final collective listen, and that's all the guitars on this new Iron Maiden album. We'll add keys for the rest of the week, then it's home for me next Saturday, and Steve and Bruce arrive the following week to finish up the vocals and mix......

February 6, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas

Windy and stormy today. No studio. Wife and kids are all packed as they leave Nassau for Los Angeles tomorrow - so we had an early dinner of fresh fish from the Poop Deck, then my wife, Dev, and I joined Steve Gadd and his better half, Jen; Janick and Adrian Smith and his wife Nathalie, for a late evening drink. A very nice time and it was fun socialising with just adults for a change.


February 7 - Superbowl Sunday.
Gaddsy and Michael Kenney took me and my family to the airport as they left for L.A. today. Janick went off for his first scuba dive ever, and he really loved it. Gadd and I joined them on the boat about 4pm-ish, had a couple of beers onboard and got the yacht tour. Amazing! Then off to Crazy Johnny's we all went, to watch the Superbowl, and perhaps a few drinks.......

February 8
Not everyone looked like they were ready to run a marathon this morning, after a long night of Superbowl revelry. Our engineer Jared arrives a little puffy, and As 'Arry said of his eyes, "they look like two piss holes in the snow!" Well, as Jared has a vague connection to New Orleans, he was forgiven! We need to do a few updates to the last song and so Adrian started off the day recording a solo on When The Wild Wind Blows, after which we did some melodic lines on the same song with Davey, some guitar jangle chords in the verses, and that is the band tracks for the new album complete! I let everyone go for the day, and spent the rest of it getting the complex tracks in order so when we do some keyboards over the next few days, we hear everything as it's meant to be heard, and nothing clashes musically or sonically. Had a very English dinner of Bangers 'n Mash and a pint of stout at the Nassau Cricket Club, and home earlyish to watch a movie.

February 9, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Slept great, but woke feeling very stiff. Off to the gym for a gentle workout and then set off to the studio at the normal time of 10.45am, with an obligatory stop at Starbucks en route. Finally we got stuck into keyboards today. Michael Kenney set up the keys and Steve poked away at them, hunting for the melodies running around his head like a chicken pecking the ground. Simple lines, but effective and we accomplished a lot of work. We finished keyboard overdubs on seven tunes today then headed to Poop Deck for a quick drink with Steve before heading home to make dinner.... for myself.

February 10, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Today we finished the few keyboards overdubs left to do on the album. Janick's family arrived from England today, so he asked me to send him an MP3 of the solo he did on The Alchemist, which I did, and he called me later asking if he could redo it, so we'll have another crack at it on Friday. Adrian listened to all the tracks and has a few things he wants to add as well. We all went to dinner at The Poop Deck but as the weather had been a little rough, there was no fresh fish on the menu, so we had burgers while sitting at the bar. Nicko sent us his love from sunny Florida, where he's working on the official opening of his restaurant, Rock 'n Roll Ribs, in Boca Raton or somewhere in the vicinity, this weekend.

February 11, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Up early and I swam across the bay - didn't feel like the gym today. Headed to the studio about 10.30am after a quick stop for a "grande-four-shot-non-fat-wet-cappuccino" at Starbucks and once we got up and rockin', Adrian replayed the verse on Mother Of Mercy and added a harmony guitar to the pre-chorus. 'Arry didn't make it in to the studio today, and while waiting for some computer thing to be done, I was noodling around some blues scales on one of Janick's acoustic guitars, which prompted Terry Manning to show me an old National that used to be blues icon Robert Johnson's dobro! It was very humbling and awe-inspiring to hold it and slide a little on it, and I felt more moved even than when I met Jimmy Page or B.B. King. Its serial # is T968. Back to work, and we listened through a few things and I did a couple of edits that needed doing and we were done by 7pm, off to .........yep you guessed it, the Poop Deck again. It's the only place around, as you've probably gathered, that doesn't require getting a taxi. At least they had fresh fish today, and I ordered one to go and had it at my house while watching the news - boring but very tasty!

February 12, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
Adrian and Nathalie, his wife, left early for a week at Parrot Key. It's the last day in the studio today. Janick came in and redid the solo on The Alchemist. He was much happier than before - the first solo had been much more "in the meter", but this one crossed the rhythms, and he liked the fact that it sounded like he wasn't going to make it, and then did. He felt it sounded more "incendiary!". His phrase.
Looked over the tracksheet of Where The Wild Wind Blows and sorted through the multiple parts, and made a cohesive tracklist - then made 2 safety copies of the Master drive, and said our goodbyes to the Mannings in the studio, took Steve two masters - one to leave behind, and one to bring with him. I have one to carry back to L.A. tomorrow, and that's all three master drives. We have a big art canvas in the studio, which has all the album titles and plots the progress of the recording session as we go. So I dropped the big canvas at 'Arry's house, and then went with Steve Gadd and his best gal to the Cricket Club, for bangers 'n mash. Again. Yummy!

February 13, 2010 Nassau, Bahamas
The wind howled all night and the rain bucketed down. I woke at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep. Packed, and checked the flight details. Atlanta is covered in snow and is a frigid 25 degrees. All good, it appears. Left for the airport to find my flight cancelled. Managed to get a coach flight (all Business was booked) back home - it adds another six hours to my flight!!! which means 13 hours from check-in til landing, if all goes to schedule. I'm in Nassau airport now.......

February 15, 2010 Malibu, California
Finally got home late last night. My luggage didn't. Lots of scrambling and frantic running between gates, but I finally had a good flight back and it is great to be home in Malibu on the beach. I had a very chilled Sunday with my family and now it's back to work in my studio today, going over all the tracks. They're not really ready for my studio, so had to spend the day preparing them to suit a different console, etc. Also, the big storms in California recently have knocked my studio about - all the lightbulbs downstairs had blown, as well as my Summit TLA- compressor, so the day was spent in repair mode, as well as getting the studio bedroom ready, where Steve Harris will stay for the month ahead - he arrives tonight.

February 16, 2010 Malibu, California
I'm in the studio early today. I FedExed my blown compressor out for repair - Brent Spear, my tech, is coming in for the day from Las Vegas to make sure everything is working perfectly, the Cable TV repairman is coming today to make sure Steve's English Premier League soccer is available on the telly, so it's all systems go around here. Bruce will be in from London tonight to sing ......

February 17, 2010 Malibu, California
Vocal day - Bruce arrived, with stories, as usual. Tales from flights around the world - Russia, Iceland, Niger..... Today he sang Coming Home and El Dorado, then we had a break for lunch, after which he nailed the lead vocal for Mother of Mercy! It's very, very high...

February 19, 2010 Malibu, California
Bruce sang again today, then left to fly back to London tonight and on to Africa as Capt. Dickinson tomorrow - I compiled the lead vocal on El Dorado, and then I mixed it. Went to the store to pick up dinner on the way home and my car got wrecked in the parking lot by some Bonehead. Exhausted!

February 20, 2010 Malibu, California
Knackered - feel brutally tired today.

February 21, 2010 Malibu, California
Had to go with the family to a kids birthday party - I realize I have to do these things, but I really hate doing them. Went for a bicycle ride when we got back, and decided while riding, that I'm going to cycle to San Francisco to do my next job - which is producing Journey's new studio album in April. 

February 22, 2010 Malibu, California
Compiled the lead vocal track from three or four vocal performances which Bruce has sang for Coming Home and then I set about mixing the song.

February 23, 2010 Malibu, California
Compiled the lead vocal track for The Final Frontier today - then mixed it - Steve came in at the end of the day and thought it sounded a bit roomy, so I'll do a drier mix tomorrow.

February 24, 2010 Malibu, California
Did a dry mix then some updates on ..The Final Frontier. In the end we went with yesterday's mix - my original mix. After that I began comping the vocal on Mother of Mercy - Steve has a very particular vocal melody in his mind, which Bruce didn't really get 100% correct. It's close tho..... but needs a few tweaks. Left the comp about half way through - it was mind jumbling. Got home to find two sick babies....

February 25, 2010 Malibu, California
Last night was a rough night with our poor little sick kids - so not too much sleep at all for any of us last night. Got to my studio just after 11am to find Steve doing the crosswords - he loves them! I had to dig back into Mother of Mercy and complete the vocal compiling!
Adrian came by The Cave for a listen - he thought the tracks sounded good but "a little too much like the band in the studio". He thought more reverb to make them sound more "majestic" and "epic". Steve disagreed strongly. Honestly, they are both right. The thing I personally like about the dry, honest mixes, is that it sets them apart from any other Classic Rock or Metal band. They're not really metal anyway, in the present day sense of the genre, but they're more of a hard progressive rock band. I promised to run some mixes each way and decisions can be made down the road, if necessary.

February 26, 2010 Malibu, California
I started the day with an early 30 mile bike ride along the coast and went in to the studio at normal start time of 11 and finished the mix of Mother Of Mercy. Bruce came in from London this morning and very kindly brought me a stack of Formula 1 magazines - it's my passion and the States only sees them about 6 weeks after their appearance in England, so I was particularly thrilled! He listened to a few things we'd been working on - had some issues with a couple of vocal lines he'd sung, and disliked a particular guitar solo we'd recorded at Compass Point, but said "whatever!", and then dug into the work and sang Isle Of Avalon and Starblind. Both are very high - I suggested a lower vocal line in the Isle Of Avalon chorus, which he tried, so perhaps we'll have a harmony - we'll see.

February 27, 2010 Malibu, California
A massive 8.8 earthquake hit Chile early this morning. We were on a tsunami advisory again, and as we live on the ocean, we left for higher ground over the lunch hours. The waves were only about 2 feet higher, which didn't really affect things too much up here in Malibu. I'm sure this will prove to be catastrophic again.....
It's Adrian's birthday today! His wife, Nathalie, threw a great party for him. Gorgeous food, great ambience - Steve and his beautiful daughters Kerry and Faye attended, as did Bruce and a host of people. A lot of fun - she had been quite explicit about overstaying our welcome with "Carriages at 11" on the invitation, but by the time it came to go, Adrian wanted everyone to stay longer. Nathalie said, "but it's what you wanted!" We had sickish babies at home, and couldn't stay in any case.........

February 28, 2010 Malibu, California
Last day of the month - relax!

March 1, 2010 Malibu, California
Bruce came in from Marina Del Ray and sang two songs today - Satellite 15 and When the Wild Wind Blows. Started working on the Wild Wind mix.

March 2, 2010 Malibu, California
Compiled the vocal for When The Wild Wind Blows and mixed it! Steve's daughters, Faye and Kerry, came by and listened to all the music completed thus far, and they went with Steve to the local Italian restaurant, The Sage Room, for dinner.

March 3, 2010 Malibu, California
Bruce came by today to hear the five mixes that were done. Did a little touch up on When the Wild Wind Blows mix, compiled the lead vocals on The Alchemist and mixed it as well.

March 4, 2010 Malibu, California
Started compiling a lead vocal on The Talisman. It was a nightmare to compile! Adrian dropped in late afternoon to pick up a CD of the mixes thus far.

March 5, 2010 Malibu, California.
I mixed The Talisman, the second bit. Not the quiet intro bit that sounds like a haunting kids sea shanty. I think fans are going to love this song!

March 6, 7, 2010 Malibu, California
Weekend - happy to have a break!

March 8, 2010 Malibu, California
Finished mixing Talisman (the acoustic intro) and compiled the vocal on The Man Who Would Be King.

March 9, 2010 Malibu, California
Mixed The Man Who Would Be King. Adrian came in and said it all sounded good - and said he was 95% happy with the album mixes and we should look at them and tweak them slightly - I am perfectly happy to reassess any of the mixes, as daunting as the prospect of revisiting everything is, changing sonics etc., but Steve and I are quite happy with it and neither of us can really afford the extra time it would take to remix, so Steve jumped in and basically said we're going to be done this weekend and we are not remixing the entire album. Adrian ultimately understood but wasn't thrilled about it!

March 10, 2010 Malibu, California
Compiled the vocal for Starblind, and began the mix of it - it is proving to be a complicated mix and quite difficult.

March 11, 2010 Malibu, California
Mixed Starblind today. Adrian came by to hear it - and was desirous of more reverb on some things - it's a little bit of a continuous internal battle, and is essentially just a different way to hear things. Def Leppard on one hand, something garagey on the other. Extra reverb was not added to anything. Adrian left happy and understanding, I thought!!!

March 12, 2010 Malibu, California
It's Steve's birthday today! I've just finished mixing the entire album - mixed The Isle of Avalon and Satellite 15 today. The mixes went very well then I assembled the album in order - putting all the master mixes in sequences and adjusting the gaps or segues between the songs. Steve is packing to leave and I'm planning on having a glass of wine with Adrian at 9pm - both lads appear ecstatic! We're all off for dinner......

Friday May 7th, Oakland, CA

Well, it's almost two months later. I've completed the Black Country Communion album and am in midst of producing a new Journey album since we wrapped up the Iron Maiden album. I'm sitting in Oakland airport (I'm producing Journey album in San Francisco) - waiting for a one hour flight to Los Angeles where I'm going to play the folks from Universal Music the new Maiden album later today. We've had the album mastered three times, and have ultimately decided to go with my flat mixes over any of the mastering versions. I think the mastering place did a great job, but Steve, while liking these versions, feels that the integrity of the original mixes has been compromised somewhat and so it's coming out flat. No equalization, no compression, just as it was when Steve heard the MP3s of the mixes and just as it left my studio.

Tuesday June 8th, Malibu CA
Home after recording the Journey album - in the studio mixing a South African band called Panic Circle today. The first Maiden single, El Dorado, was released yesterday as a free download on the ironmaiden.com website and immediately clogged up the server, but I woke to about a hundred emails from people that have loved it - so, THANK YOU!!!

And that is how I spent the early part of 2010 - producing The Final Frontier. Hope you enjoyed that.......

- Kevin Shirley