It has been a while since my first blog post.
Apparently I'm supposed to aim for roughly one blog post a week, but frankly I couldn't think of anything to write about and I've been busy....so.....yeah.
Early this week I was in the beautiful Silk Mill Recording Studio in Newcastle Under Lyme. It is truly a wonderful place with some unbelievable gear and the engineers/producers Bash and Andy are lovely, talented guys. I was talking to them (as one occasionally does when you're trapped in a room with somebody for several days) about things that really annoy them in the studio and I've pulled together a bit of a list of some studio etiquette recommendations for making your life and your producers life just that little bit easier. Some of these are a bit more drum-centric, but the general rules apply to all musicians so here goes....
Seriously though....it's not that hard. Don't be a douche. Ask how they are. Ask if there's anything you can do to help them out. Make the tea. Congratulate your band mates on a good take. You have to sit in a room with these people (producers and band mates) for a long time and it can be really tedious listening to your guitarist play the same thing over and over and over again. Have a friendly conversation, be nice and it will help everything run just that little bit more smoothly. This feeds into literally everything you do in the studio.
KNOW YOUR PARTS
Learn what you need to do in the song, know which harmonies you need to sing and what tempo you want to record it at. Know that when you sit down to play you're going to be able to consistently reproduce the same drum beat over and over, and hit consistently so that your producer isn't constantly having to adjust levels during a take. Sometimes you'll have to do several takes and it really helps if you can pick and choose between them sometimes. Which leads me on to....
LEARN TO PLAY TO A CLICK
Practice to a metronome. Know how it feels when you are bang on time and when you push or pull the beat and play around it to give the song some feel. Know when you need to do these things for certain songs. A funky song, for example, needs feel. You'll probably want to sit back on the beat a little and really find that groove. A more dancey song needs a solid "four on the floor" right on the beat to give it that drive.
TRUST YOUR PRODUCER
If you have opinions on something put them forward, but don't get upset if they disagree. These guys do this stuff every day, they know what sounds good and they know how to get the best out of the microphones and equipment that they have. If they ask you to play something a little different, do it. If they ask you to move a cymbal because they're getting loads of bleed through the snare mic, do it. If they tell you that you're not playing in time with the click you probably aren't, fix it. Most importantly, if they tell you that you've got the take and that the song is done, listen to them. It's so easy to keep adding things and changing things but sometimes you just have to stop. And all the while....BE NICE.
ONLY PLAY WHEN YOU'RE TOLD TO
You don't need to play that awesome new solo you've been working on for 2 hours while everybody else is waiting to record. You don't need to hit things while the engineer has his face 2 inches from your snare drum trying to align a microphone. When the other guys are laying down their tracks you don't have to loudly practice your rudiments in the corner. Playing a fill from the song a few times to really nail that sticking is fine, but don't take the liberties. Finally....
Honestly. Be nice. It makes the world of difference to everybody involved.