August 10, 2012

Summerfest Sessions: Alberta Cross


Alberta Cross stopped by UniqueSquared Mobile Studio for a recording session.

Hailing from over the pond but calling Brooklyn, NY home, Alberta Cross is the brainchild of Swedish born singer/songwriter Petter Ericson Stakee and London native Terry Wolfers. With a sound all their own, they have worked tirelessly to craft their sophomore LP Songs of Patience which was released on July the 17th here in the US, on the always excellent ATO Records.

Alberta Cross performing “Crate of Gold” of their new album, “Songs of Patience.”

The album comes on the heels of an intense global touring schedule for the band and it doesn’t look like the guys in Alberta Cross are slowing down anytime soon with several tour dates scheduled for the rest of this year. The new record is available on iTunes.  A real treat for me was that the band pressed up copies of their new album on vinyl, which is always a plus in my book. Coming on board the Mobile Studio in the evening, Alberta Cross wasted no time in getting setup in the tracking room for the session.

For the session we used the Sennheiser e935 Cardioid Dynamic Microphones for the vocals in the tracking room. The e935 was also used to track the tambourine and shaker brought in from the drummer. Bassist Terry Wolfers used the Neumann TLM 103 large diaphragm microphone in the vocal booth for additional backing vocals. The guitars were tracked using the Sennheiser e914 instrument microphones and the portable organ piano was tracked using a Sennheiser e604 because at this point we were at the bottom of the barrel for available microphones for this five piece group.

All of the microphones were running into the Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 FireWire interface and live sound mixer. The StudioLive was then routed to Pro Tools 10 via a single FireWire cable. Within Pro Tools 10 we used their extensive sets of plug ins but generally stuck to their phenomenal reverb plug ins to bring out the sounds of the acoustic guitar and vocals.

Alberta Cross interview on the UniqueSquared Mobile Studio.

After the session Terry and Petter sat down with me to discuss the tour, their new record Songs of Patience, and what they think of Sennheiser microphones for the stage and studio, for the full interview keep on reading.

Tell me how the tour is going?

Petter: We literally just started one. We drove in from New York last night, we are in Milwaukee now, and headed to Chicago tomorrow. So far so good.

Terry: I asked the keyboard player yesterday what he was looking forward to most when we were running around picking everyone up and he told me its already happened. He literally had been in the band for a minute.

Petter: We are about to release a record and we have a few weeks till then so we are going to make the best out of it, touring the country.

Terry: We toured the last record a lot and it’s nice for this one because we took on new members for the new record. It’s called Songs of Patience.

Where is the band based out of?

Petter: We are based in Brooklyn, NY. We have been there for five years but its still hard for us to get used to the heat. We are doing a July tour in America but we are not really doing a lot of festivals in America this year. We are doing a lot of festivals in Europe because we were thinking we were not going to go through the heatwave of America but we booked through July so we got hit by it anyways.

How much different is the European tour from the American tour?

Petter: It’s different countries every show but here it’s different states every show so it’s a bit different.

Terry: It’s a bit crazy over there. You drive from one show to the other and you have a language difference. Here it’s easy because everyone speaks English. Over there you literally drive an hour and a half and there is a completely different language. You have just worked out how to say, “please, thank you, good morning,” and some countries like Belgium they speak three languages and it’s hard to tell which one to speak. Some people speak French and others speak Dutch and you can’t offend people speaking the wrong one.

Petter: I feel like in the festival circuit you can jump in between countries more than when you tour. When we do a headline tour we do a few shows in every country. For the festival we fly to a different country for every show like Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, England, Belgium. It’s fun but it can get a bit confusing. Everything feels pretty fresh and new for this tour because we got a new band, new record, so we are pretty excited about it. It’s fun and it’s sweaty so bring a towel.

How have the American audiences been receptive of Alberta Cross?

Petter: Good! Overall it’s been good and we have been touring quite a bit. We took some time off to finish the record but we are coming back now so we are looking to do a bunch of shows everywhere and keep on trucking.

What’s been the best part of the tour so far?

Petter: Well we just started. We played Governor’s Ball in New York which was pretty fun.

Terry: We got to see Fiona Apple. We got to see Beck which was nice. I had never seen him before. I had missed him a bunch of times and it’s always nice when you get the opportunity to see people like that. Iron Maiden are playing and I saw them a bunch growing up and I probably won’t go see them now but that’s the beauty of playing festivals is that there are so many bands.

Petter: I am looking forward to seeing Alice Cooper. We did an event for the Grammys a couple years ago and he was there watching us.

Terry: And he looks the same for like twenty years. It’s crazy.

Petter: He’s getting younger.

Do you have any albums before these last two records?

Terry: We had an EP come out late last year called Rolling Thunder EP which was a bunch of stuff that we had been working on.

Petter: This is the second full length album we have done, but we put a bunch of EP and internet stuff when we are not doing an album.

Terry: It’s been a long process and about eighty percent of it was out of our hands. We just got the CD’s and vinyl back because we wanted to press up some vinyl. Vinyl seems like the only precious format and it’s so rewarding to hold it. The plan is to not leave it that long and we want to keep new music coming out as much as possible.

Petter: I feel like taking that long allowed us to make new songs for another record. I feel like the next record is going to come out pretty soon after this one like next summer. Hopefully we can keep releasing new music now that we know what took so long.

Tell me about the experience of recording on this bus?

Petter: It’s cool. We actually had a bus once before when we were touring the east coast that was kind of like a studio bus. We recorded some demos in the week we had it. It’s boiling hot outside and it’s cool in here and bunch of cool gear, great mics. It’s good to try all these different things and see how it sounds.

Terry: It can be inspiring to come in here and just jam on some stuff. I mean didn’t the Stones have a mobile studio that you could drive around with you and they could just demo up stuff all the time? Its a great idea. There is so much time to kill on the road that if you had the luxury of something like this parked outside the venue, you turn up and soundcheck and then you have six hours. You could do like an album a week to have this sort of thing.

So what do you think about all this Sennheiser stuff?

Petter: Its been really good for us because we all sing and they are very warm and pick up our vocals well. Hopefully we can keep building it up and having more mics from Sennheiser and mic everything as we want it.

Terry: It’s always nice and very rare when you get into venues and they have these e935’s. You kind of see the 15 year old mics that have been thrown on the floor and they stink like hell. To actually have your own mic, it was very kind of Sennheiser to do that for us. Its very nice gear. Our soundman is over the moon about it. He’s already got his little Christmas list of what he wants.

Petter: Yeah it’s good for him. We always had mics but now we have mics that he is very excited about. If you can bring all your own shit then that’s the best for us in the future. You know exactly what you get instead of turning up to a gig with beat up mics. That’s not the most inspiring part of touring.

Terry: It’s always nice as well when you got support as well. Stuff breaks down on the road all the time and it’s nice to have a company that can fix it instead of giving it to some geezer that’s going to charge you a thousand bucks to fix it and probably lick it or something while he’s working on it. The company has been going for years and years and they have well respected gear. It’s really good that we have that support. It’s priceless because stuff always break down.

Petter: We are on the road all the time so we need all the mics we can get. Luckily enough they sound like we want them to sound. They work really well on my voice and they work really well on the rest of the band for backing vocals.

If you want to find out more about Alberta Cross, check out their website here:

For all the best deals on the gear used to track the session visit