Studio Philosophy. Words of Experience on Modern Recording.
It’s that time again, recording time!
You've written your songs, rehearsed the band and booked the studio but are you really ready?
I've done many studio recordings; in fact, I was finishing up tracking an EP just last week. In some respects, its easier and more attainable to create a great quality recorded product than ever before. However, I still see newbies and even seasoned veterans of the studio life fall into traps and pitfalls that can sabotage their capture. Eroding the fidelity of the final piece and the enjoyment of the process.
I think that before committing to the recording process with a band (apart from the standard pre-production preparation like song order, tempos, practice etc) you need to discuss a recording philosophy. Sounds like a pretty simple, almost negligible step, but it's more essential than you might think.
Music is an intensely personal thing. A lot of the time logic and efficiency of capture is thrown out the window for people’s beliefs in what they feel is the right thing to do, regardless of evidence to the contrary. If you rock up to the studio and find people immediately digging in their heels and disagreeing on the best way to proceed buckle up for a terrible time buckaroo.
To avoid this happening take time to discuss the aims and manner of recording beforehand. Talk about what each member wants to get out of the experience and develop a unified plan of attack.
Here's a shortlist of points you should touch on when mentally gearing up for a recording session.
1. What kind of production do you think is best?
Stripped back and raw? Live capture? Multilayered and polished production? Agreeing on the aim of the recording will inform your preparation focus and the techniques to be utilised by the engineer.
2. To click or not click! That is the question?
Personally, I favour a recording to click but some people just don’t like metronomes. This is an issue to hash out waaaaayyyyyy before ever getting to studio. Find out if a player is resisting click because of lack of ability or just personal preference. If its preference there is a discussion to be had, if its due to lack of ability it’s a moot point without committed training. Don’t wait till someone has to be shamed in studio, it’s not cool and never ends well.
3. Instruments and sounds, what’s it gonna be?
Plug ins, real amps, or both? Specific drums, percussion, triggers, natural, or just create tracks in superior drummer? Sound effects, noises? Pedal choices, guitar types? Figure it out ahead of time and make sure all equipment is in perfect working order. Broken equipment is no good in studio.
4. Okay now the sometimes-weird bit.... talk about the way you want to record.
Most people have opinions... Strong sometimes overbearing opinions about how best to get the performance capture. Ranging from tried-and-true experience and researched methodology to absolutely mythologised Rolling Stone, puff piece, un-researched, bollocks. Regardless, it's these attitudes you need to manage effectively to have the best experience and make the most of your time in the studio.
Take it from me get this stuff in order before you dedicate your time and money to the recording process. Get on the same page with recording philosophy while you’re not on the clock and enjoy your opportunity to create. No stress, just the rock.
Well, I hope this gives you something useful to consider on your journey into sound.
Till next time stay safe and riff hard.