Friday, January 25, 2008

Notes on studio recording

Let's quickly back up and give both of our loyal readers a contextual lens through which to view the importance of the studio work we're doing now. And by "importance", I mean not so much that this endeavor will prove to be important in The World of Music, it's just important to us. At least for now.

The studio is a funny place for musicians. It can be intimidating to confront the fact that you are committing an otherwise fluid and intangible element (music) to an indelible medium (tape, or in this case, a hard drive). There's a lot of pressure on an artist (often self-imposed) to create the definitive version of a song or to perform the song "cleanly" and without mistakes. This can be antithetical to the personality of the music (and in our case, that of the band), leaving fun and experimentation to wait eagerly in the car with the windows rolled up.

Add to this pressure the fact that musicians usually pay for studio time by the hour, day or week, so the more time you spend fretting about the music, the more money you end up spending. Time really is money, thereby building stress about use of time, thereby adding tension to the performance, thereby forming a cycle of paralytic anxiety that can make the recording process less of a creative adventure than a divisive and frustrating obligation.*

Which brings us to Pete's.

First, we're not on a schedule, we record when we're available. There's no album release date looming over us, we're recording these songs because we're excited to do it, so the motivation is organic and genuine. Second, the more relaxed pace allows us to record part or all of a song and let it sit for a while if we want. We can come back to the recording, add or cut stuff, tweak it or just leave it alone and call it good. Some would say "giving the song breathing room." I don't know who really says that, but they're probably dirty hippies.
Third, Pete's studio is quite affordable, allowing us to focus on making good recordings instead of watching our finances dry up by the minute.

With these three elements in place, we can get to the business of making sounds that are pleasing to us, which itself is a challenging process that entails getting the art out of our brain, through our fingers and windpipes and into the computer. Easier said than done, often, But that's another story.

So regarding JohnA's question: Wednesday's recording session was a hoot as usual. To quote a recent e-mail:
"We did octa-bass for Magic Mouth and laid out the basics for What They Do. We ate some Oreo Cakesters which gave JohnO RLS and I burned my French Bread pizza (again). Evan came later to give some mustache support and not eat dinner, Kirk did not have a stroke and and David wore his ninja hoodie, which gave his performance an elusive but deadly quality."
If that makes any sense?

* This is by no means an indictment of the studios we've worked at in the past. We had lots and lots of fun recording both our previous albums and have nothing but warm feelings for everyone involved. Seriously.


Dirty Hippie said...

Whoah, Dubtrain has a Breathing Room? That is soooo cool, man.

Pete said...

That's nothing: Wolf Blitzer has a whole room just for situations!

/apologies to John Stewart

(by the way, "leaving fun and experimentation to wait eagerly in the car with the windows rolled up" is just about the best thing I've ever read, ever.)

Anonymous said...

It all makes sense to me, except for the RLS thing. Really Lame Stomach? Raunchy Lettuce Shits?
Recurring Lethargy Syndrome?

Matthew said...

Well, I was walking down Broadway last night and I heard somebody walking down the street with one of the Delaware songs (Fuba Wuba, I believe,) absolutely blasting from his headphones. I actually wondered if it might have been his ringtone. It was really loud. Anyway I guess my point is, HURRY UP AND MAKE A NEW ALBUM! If you don't have a release date looming over you, I'll give you some looming...

And by "give you some looming" I mean I'll make you scarves or blankets or something. To keep you warm while you're recording your new album.

PS, my guess for RLS is "Really Loud Satisfaction". I've heard about the Cakesters...

Basil said...

These are the Devil:

This is RLS:

This is Spinal Tap: