Marketing, selling, mass production, making an impact, stand out, socialising,network, management, design, fonts….and somewhere along the line we’ll hopefully get to play some music
Hello again world! We have finally got around to updating the blog. It’s been the busiest few months coupled with a week here and there of vacuous space, but thankfully, all is coming together perfectly :D.
Recording the cd over the past 12/16 weeks and with the sheer number of plates spinning, we wanted to discuss all of the aspects we are experiencing at his pivotal juncture. This ambition aside, we weren’t certain how to title or direct it …so it kind of flows through all that’s been going on for us and hopefully tee’s us up nicely for WHAT IS COMING NEXT!!?!
Three weeks and counting, how to feel?
We are days away from hearing the first set of mixes and it has been paaaaaaainstaking waiting for them to drip through.
In the past we have all been part of bands and have a good deal of experience dealing with the recording process but it was highlighted to us how much personal experiences’ can affect expectations.
For example, I can demonstrate how my recordings went in the past. I recorded substantial work (5 songs +) on 5 occasions, time and money were always the biggest constraints, with time being the more adaptable. We only really ever had a week (5 days recording followed by 2 days mastering).
Band Days Songs Age
Set in Stone 4 12 16
As Sinners Fall 7 5 21
As Sinners Fall 9 6 22
Gary McGuinness 7 4 24
The Survival Code 100ish 11 28
This project has had a different flavour from the off. We agreed to work with John our producer on a “finish the Cd” basis rather than just simply “bashing it out”. I did not put enough consideration into the amount of work and care that would be going into this project from all angles. I never doubted my input, I am just not used to someone (John from Crown Lane Studios) to give so much of himself over to the project too to make it “what it should be”. The experience has been amazing and we really can’t wait….really
Back vox – This was the most uncomfortable I have ever been in the studio!
Backing vox were an area of weakness from the offset, it was definitely one aspect we knew we wouldn’t have tamed before recording. We had some prepared in the basic format of main line, backing lin,some for emphasise and others to add dynamic. Either way we knew we could use guidance in this space.. We also knew there was plenty of scope for wasted time and poor choices at this stage. John kept me focused and literally pulled me through the process helping me to produce some of the best tones we could have hoped for. The truth is I have always felt there is something quite unique about what we have to offer vocally but I would also be the first to admit I wasn’t very aware how best to harness it.
I think most bands can relate to writing backing vox, it is something that can be very challenging for they are so important and the balance is key. The way in which you execute them too can become a USP or style of the band. Like I said, we had the main line and backing line as the main structure. We needed more than the dynamics that were there. John found blends of notes that complimented each other with the kind of ease a chef mixes tastes you may have thought never compatible to create something better than you could have otherwise….true perspective for an arrogant little shit like me who thinks of himself in some sort of musicians light.
The conditions of the work were the most remarkable, a place I can survive but it is so challenging. Without offering more excuses than is reasonable there were a few aspects of the recording that weren’t ideal such as I can’t quite hear myself in this octave, or the guitar properly…or the fact I just learned this line a second ago…none of this mattered…results were all that mattered and the efficiency and quality were king
Aside from backing vox, we laid down some rough synth strings on the early mixes and the presence of some of the pieces needed real depth. We thankfully came across the very talented, capable and thankfully available James Underwood who you may know from any of the following:
Strings for The xx, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, Ólafur Arnalds, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Benjamin Francis Leftwich etc
These small parts will be reduced in the mix but will add dynamic and drama to the riffs. We have been focused at all time on making a rock album and trying our best at all times not to deviate from that path.
A good song is like a good breakfast A good song these days is like a good breakfast! And by this I mean a healthy one! Unfortunately…No fry’s for the lads in this example.. aaaand, hopefully you won’t get indigestion after listening to your favourite band’s new offering either. .
A good breakfast offers one a platform to approach the day, it never guaranteed success but was the basics to achieving something. in many ways good songs have converged to this same simplistic fact: A good song is now the bread and butter of any project and DOES NOT guarantee success of any kind.
A few years ago, I remember a few producers chatting to me about how things had changed since the 80’s as far as recording goes(along with everything else :D). They highlighted key differences from the past. Some of these were obvious such as:
-There were fewer people with the opportunity to play and record for times were different and few had access to studios
-Everything was run by labels and those associated
– Digital has changed everything
On a more general level we can all relate to photography. Imagine how specialised picture developing was as a skill when once conceived. The dark room, solutions and patience. Imagine the wasted processes which were once so rare and significant, which are now replaced by a mili-second reaction on our mobiles’. Society wins, photographers fail
People don’t even need to be able to play an instrument or be able to crack the hidden language of “Protools”. Simply download garageband and within two hours, almost anyone with a musical aptitude will have a song of sorts. The garageband app is one of the greatest things I own and the fact that it costs less than $5 indicates the value aspect of some of these digital versions of reality. The only real loss is the opportunity cost of time, kids that play digital music have no time for real music.
Playing. Or not playing as the case may be
Like other bands that have written and talked about the lives’ of a musician these days, we too are coming to terms with the landscape facing someone/groups. The picture becomes all the more complicated when such individuals wish to pursue a career in music in a genre of their’ choosing which may not be the hot topic at a given time.
Thankfully, Audiences and fans are now aware that the majority of time these “band members” spend being in a “band” playing music these days is at its’ lowest ratio to “other stuff”…since, well since EVER! The list of other activities a 21st century band has to go through to finally pick up their tools is, simply put, OUTSTANDING!! (and well documented and described in resources such as THE SURVIVAL GUIDE).
Sometimes I can’t be sure if this is more of a music group or a business. We have the same considerations and scope to the level of detail needed to succeed. The needs are many, the need to communicate with our target audience along with packaging, marketing and trying to control our brand in a whirlpool whose default setting is – uncontrollable.. Marketing and all the associated buzz-words are not very “rock star”….and aside from deflating your ego, it also doesn’t do a great deal for the fact you haven’t been at a market your whole life….and then you find it’s not even that everyone’s talking about.. Even though these 12 weeks have been central to everything we will be doing for the next 18 months, we have still spent a disproportionate amount of time considering the “everything else” aspects.
As eluded to above, If you happen to find yourself in a band, the amount you rehearse to “everything else” can vary depending on the usual suspects: luck, money, timing, but barring some very fortunate and *uniquely talented individuals…this does not happen anymore. The impact of these activities can be lessened with diverse band mates with interests in the focus areas, or even having pools of mates that work in ancillary fields that can add value without the bottom line. Every big band since bands were big have a team working behind them to help bring what we see to the foreground. These activities are now the actions a playing/working band considers. The list goes on, booking gigs, tours, radio connections, marketing, branding, photos, videos, rehearsal, actual life haha….. At no point is this intended to be a list of words with definitions, oxford has this covered long ago, but I am trying to highlight the differing aspects We spent hours when in the studio discussing our logo, font, design, colouring, art work, management, gigs, tours, leveraging contacts and much more,
Ramblings to be continued…