Make the most of your session at Bad Racket Recording Studio
Okay, so you booked a recording session, congratulations! Your vision is about to become a reality. You can bet that wherever you’re booked, (here at Bad Racket, or another one of the awesome recording studios in Cleveland) the studio is going to do it’s absolute best to bring your vision to life.
That said, you probably don’t need me to tell you that the end results may deviate from your original vision for a number of reasons. In this article I’m going to share tips for making the absolute most of your recording session. Trust me, these things matter.
1. Good sound is not separate from good songs
This is something I learned early on. When a band is struggling, or playing a song that one of the members doesn’t like – I struggle to get the mix sounding good: the bass is floppy, the snare is weak, etc. On the other hand, if the band is really grooving on a song with an amazing arrangement, the sound takes care of itself. In other words, good sound is a means to an end, and that end is good music. One rarely exists without the other.
But what can really be done about this?
Play like a band
Lay your rhythm tracks down the same way you practice & gig – together. This makes a huge difference in the vibe of the track, and, as discussed above, the sound.
Have a leader
If you don’t have a producer, then you need someone in the band that takes on this role. This person is the “vibe-master”, and should make sure the group is hitting on all eight cylinders when in the studio. Sometimes, this can come down to cutting weak songs and parts and making sure everyone is happy and on the same page.
2. Be extremely well rehearsed
Obviously, right? I’m going to subtitle this item “Good sound is not separate from a good performance”.
You don’t want to use the studio as rehearsal space. The studio is not the place to hash out disagreements among band members about a song.
You also want to be able to nail a keeper take of a song in less than five takes. Usually, any more than that and the soul will seep out of the performance.
Let me tell you a story of a recording session I had last spring. The band was so well rehearsed, it was amazing. As a result, the sound we captured was fresh and inspired. I was able to work quickly. The results were awesome.
The band was a two piece, so we needed to record most of the parts as overdubs. Now, this is something I really don’t like to do (see “play like a band” above). However, we didn’t have a choice, and each of the drum and bass tracks were laid down in one or two attempts. Then, we sat down to record guitar parts. The guitarist heard playback of the twelve drum and bass tracks, and I don’t think we stopped recording once – he played straight through all twelve songs. And then he did it again. And then he did it again! He laid down 3 separate parts to twelve tracks in an hour and a half.
This level of preparation is unusual, but let me tell you, it lit a fire under this session. Being able to work quickly without dwelling over any particular part keeps everyone inspired and in peak performance.
3. Spit shine your axe
Your instrument (even you, vocalists) is the next most important factor after performance. You’ve booked time at a studio to bring your musical vision to life, so please take some time to make sure your instrument is in tip top shape.
New strings, new drum heads, excellent tuning, amps free from buzz. It’s worth it to figure this stuff out. If you’re a drummer and have always struggled with tuning, it’s worth it to bring a friend to the studio who can twist a drum key.