In the studio: Day 1
Today is my first official day in the studio, getting ready to do my first official full length record. I could not be more excited.
I’m working with a talented Nashville producer by the name of Stephen Gause (Nathan Angelo, Andrew Ripp, Brad Passons, Michael Warren, Steve Means, and bunches more—www.stephengause.com), and even though we haven’t done anything but agree on a price (less than he’s worth and more than I can afford) and start kicking around possible song choices I’m thrilled to be working with him. I think we’re going to have a blast on this project—Stephen gets what I’m trying to do, and it’s right up his alley.
Plus, he thinks I’m hilarious, which is always a plus. Awesome people typically can agree on that.
So, all we’re doing today and tomorrow is our last bit of pre-production. ‘Pre-production’ is a highly technical music term, meaning ‘before production’. Wait three weeks and I’ll tell you what ‘post-production’ means, too (hooking you in like a small-mouthed bass!). But basically all that we need to do before the bass and drums are recorded on Wednesday is choose the ten songs we’re going to track (record) for the record, and decide which 7 of those will be full band and which 3 will be acoustic.
Digression: some of you may be asking yourself, “Why 7 full band songs and 3 acoustic? Those are odd numbers (they’re also prime). Wouldn’t it make more sense to arrange each song to showcase it best, regardless of what that arrangement entailed? How did I get to this blog, and why are there no pictures of cats with funny subtitles?”
To answer your first question: yes, it would make more sense to record that way. However, here in the world of independent artists we have to cut some corners. To do the record I want to do with the producer I want to do it with I had to cut back on some luxuries, like paying for stuff. So in order to keep the budget down certain things have to be cut or trimmed. We could either do the tracks with cheaper players or limit the amount of full band songs. Stephen is a perfectionist about who he hires, and I respect his process completely. So we decided to go 7/3 full band/acoustic.
As far as your other questions: you probably were linked from facebook, unless something very strange has happened like this silly blog getting picked up by Perez Hilton. Which I consider a statistical improbability. And sorry there are no pictures of kitties with funny subtitles. You can always surf over to icanhascheezburger.com.
So, what was I talking about? Ah, yes, pre-production! Anywho, once we’ve chosen the ten songs for the record, we’ll talk about what key and tempo they need to be in. Once that’s done, it’s time to actually turn on the computer and set up mics—we’re going to record SCRATCH TRACKS!
Scratch tracks, as you can imagine, are when the artist and producer set up some turntables and old LPs (‘records’ for those in their 20s) and record themselves scratching like all the finest DJs in those clubs I hate. Except not, at all. Scratch tracks are sometimes called ‘guide tracks’. They are solo acoustic and lead vocals, recorded to a set tempo (also called a ‘click track’, or ‘click’), to serve as a guide for the rhythm players to play their parts to.
See, the order of operations for a record like this is typically as follows:
-Rhythm (either drums then bass, or simultaneously)
-Lead instruments (guitar, piano, etc)
-Rhythm instruments/other percussion/BGVs/strings/horns
So today and tomorrow are for scratch tracks, once we choose songs. I’ll be playing all of them, and may have Justin Halpin (one of my co-writers, who happens to live literally on the same street as Stephen’s studio, and two blocks down) come play one or two, as he’s a far superior guitar player to me. With an admittedly inferior beard. We have a few dark horses in play, too: songs that were written in the last two days that may make the record. So that’s exciting, as no one has EVER heard them.
More to come tomorrow….