New album – Recording vocals and bass

I’m very proud and excited to announce that I will be releasing a new full-length solo album in 2019! You can follow the whole process – the writing, recording and mixing of the album right here on my web site. I’ll post news updates, in-depth written features and video clips from the studio.

At last! I’m finished recording the new album! There’s only a couple of guest appearances left but everything else is done. It’s always a strange feeling. You live inside this bubble on every project and it’s so incredibly consuming.

It’s a feeling of never wanting to let go and just hoping it will soon end. Strange feeling indeed.

Bjorn Riis - New album 2019

I did most of the bass tracks myself. I always play bass on demos. Both my own and Airbag’s but I’ve never felt comfortable with being a bassist. You can hear how safe I went with Lullabies and I wish I had someone better to do the bass. On Forever I felt that I managed to do a fairly decent job, which gave me more confidence to do the bass for this album.

I’m using an Epiphone Thunderbird. Hardly what you would call a high end instrument but it does the job and I think it sounds pretty cool. I like that fat edgy tone and the neck is really easy for a novice like me to play.

I tend to stick to the stuff that I grew up listening to, like Kiss, Sabbath and all of that classic rock stuff. I can hear a lot of that in my playing and perhaps that provides a nice contrast to the other instruments. And I’m a pick guy. Never really understood fingers on a bass. Unless you’re ripping it apart like Geezer Butler.

I record the bass at home. No amp. It’s fed straight into a Universal Audio Solo 610 tube preamp, which really makes a huge difference to the sound. I like a lot of grit and fuzz, especially on the heavier parts, so we’re re-amping using a UA Ampeg plug-in that sounds amazing. It’s all over Forever and it will be all over this album too.

Kristian Hultgren (Wobbler) has been playing with me for a while and I wanted him on one of the tracks. He has a very aggressive attack, which I think fit that song very well. We recorded using the UA 610 and one of his mid 60s Fender P guitars.

Bjorn Riis - New album 2019

All of my vocals are recorded in my home recording studio. I guess that’s the only place I feel comfortable and confident to lay down the tracks and try new things, which I think I have on this album.

I’m using a Rode NT2-A into the UA 610 preamp, which is for the most part set with a pretty high input. I love those close in-your-face vocals and there are lots of them on this album.

Next time we’ll go deep into how I recorded the guitars for this album. Stay tuned!

New album – Recording acoustic guitars

I’m very proud and excited to announce that I will be releasing a new full-length solo album in 2019! You can follow the whole process – the writing, recording and mixing of the album right here on my web site. I’ll post news updates, in-depth written features and video clips from the studio.

This weekend I recorded all the acoustic guitars. It’s a fairly easy process and I’m always most comfortable with recording them in my home recording studio. Still, there’s always the challenge of mic placement and of course – being able to perform well and record quality tracks!

Bjorn Riis - New album 2019

I have a Yamaha LL16 that I’ve been using for a few years. It’s featured on all of my solo releases and Airbag’s Disconnected. Nothing over the top or super fancy but to me it has a really comfortable neck, it’s easy to play and it sounds great. It’s perhaps a slightly darker sounding acoustic but I’ve never been a fan of something that’s too crispy and bright.

I use Elixir 11-52 gauge strings and Dunlop Tortex .50mm and Jazz 1.00mm picks.

Bjorn Riis - New album 2019

The guitar is recorded with a Rode NT2-A condenser mic. I usually have two setups. For the darker single track sounds I place the mic about 5-6 inches away and for the lighter stereo stuff, I like it to sound as airy as possible and often sit a meter away from the mic.

The mic is fed into a Universal Audio Solo 610 tube pre-amp that sounds really nice and warm. It’s set very gently, with just a touch of the input gain or compression, but it makes all the difference and the tracks are very easy to mix in later on.

Acoustic guitar has always been important for me and my music. I mainly write on acoustics and I often build a song around that initial idea or demo. Hopefully that translates to the finished mix as well.

Next up is bass guitars. Stay tuned!

Lullabies gear guide

I had great fun recording guitars for Lullabies in a Car Crash. I got to explore new sounds and write stuff for guitar that I hadn’t done earlier. Most of the guitars, both electric and acoustic, was recorded in my home studio. The bigger sounds, mostly the solos, were recorded in the Airbag studio, where I have the big setup. I also used a POD a lot. I don’t really care how I get the tones and long as I get what I need for that specific part.

In this feature I’ll share some insights from the sessions and you get to see all the gear used on the album. There’s also a detailed list of all the pedals and effects used on each song and part.

Read the Lullabies in a Car Crash gear guide now.

Recording guitars for Stay Calm

Bjørn Riis - Stay Calm recording session

Most of the guitars on Lullabies in a Car Crash were recorded either in my home studio or at the Airbag rehearsal/recording studio. For Stay Calm, I did all of the leads in the Airbag studio, with the big set up.

There are two solos on the track. One acting as a bridge before the break down and one at the end of the song. Both were recorded with an Electronic Orange Pig Hoof (red MkI) Big Muff clone straight into the amp. No modulation or boosting. I wanted a classic tone similar to David Gilmour’s tone on Animals’ Pigs (Three Different Ones) and what I did on Redemption with Airbag. A silicon fuzz could have worked but the Big Muffs is slightly smoother sounding and seemed to fit the track better.

For the first solo I used the Laney Lionheart L20 for a slightly darker tone and distinct mids scoop. The Muffs sounds aggressive but sort of mellow at the same time, with a fat low-end and crispy top. The second solo was recorded with the same Big Muff but with the Reeves Custom 50 for a slightly brighter tone and more mids. This makes the two solos sounds similar but yet different, with the last one being distinctly more aggressive and brighter sounding.

Listen to the full version of Stay Calm here:

The guitar is my main Strat, with a Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup. I’m using the Laney speaker cabinet, which is loaded with two Celestion V30s. I record all high gain parts with a Shure SM57 placed 1.5″ off axis and 4 inches away from the grille. This adds a slight natural compression and warmth to the otherwise bright sounding Big Muff.

Welcome to my brand new web site!

Welcome to!

I’m releasing my debut solo album Lullabies in a Car Crash this fall and the site will be packed with all sorts of information on the album. We’ll have a pre-order up very soon and of course you’ll find complete lists of all my current gear. I’ll also be adding detailed breakdowns on previous recordings.

The site will grow with time and I count on your contribution. Please join in on the discussions, post your comments and please feel free to suggest features and things you want to see. I’m very much looking forward to hear from you!

– Bjørn