Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Great Records Aren't Created In The Studio

I was having a conversation with my good friend and colleague Bryan Crouch (lead singer of Hail The Villain) about making records and he said that, in a big way, a lot of the good stuff that goes into recording an album comes from places outside of the studio, like coffee shops and pubs. I had to agree. When you think about recording an album, you think about being in a studio with a producer, an engineer and lots of gear--and certainly this is where the actual recording takes place--but a lot of the ideas and the general approach comes from the conversations and communication that takes place outside of the studio. The studio is the place where you execute those ideas and bring them to life.

First Things First

I think it's really important for a band to sit down together, and with their producer as well, to hammer out all the details of exactly how things are going to go down so that when you're actually in the studio, there's a high level of focus and things are getting accomplished in an effective manner. This kind of preparation cuts down on the indecision and meandering that can really slow the process, lead to over thinking and kill the magic.

Most bands are on a tight budget, so figuring out these details will be essential to getting the most out of the recording process. I recommend determining what kind of overall sound you're going for. Is it going to be really produced and polished, or raw and dirty? Are you going to play together off-the-floor or record tracks separately? Do you want it to sound open and wet with lots of reverb and effects or dry and tight sounding? Discuss this with your producer so he/she can offer insights and suggestions to get you where you're going.

Who's In Charge of What?

Make sure you discuss what's expected of everyone during the course of the recording, so everyone knows what their responsibilities are. Figure out who needs to be present for which sessions. It's not necessary for everyone to be there for every session. In fact, it's usually better that only those who need to be there are there. When there's too many people hanging around, it can be distracting for those who are trying to perform their parts. Especially if they're being told by five different people with five different opinions how they should do it.

So, if you think you're ready to record your next album or EP, give me a shout and we'll meet at the local pub for a pint and start the creation process.