Monday, June 29, 2020

The World of Recording - Part II

The World of Recording - Part II

After I got to visit a professional recording studio for the first time I…didn’t really do anything about it! Getting a glimpse of mixing was great, but having the equipment to do so and the hands on part of it was still beyond me. Fortunately, I still got to be a part of actually creating an album. In the Summer of ’08, a friend and bandmate in high school had a couple of microphones and the hookups needed to be able to have our band record a whole album (called See You Soon from The Mango Garden…look for the follow up between 2022-2029). It was a ton of fun, and those sessions may have really spurred my “One Take Frank” mentality when it comes to recording.

Allegedly when Frank Sinatra would record, we would commonly nail it in one take. The amount of practicing, rehearsing, and studying of the material needed to do that is incredible. And those sessions in my friend’s basement had a similar style. I would practice for hours and hours at home, learning the changes and trying to hear and feel out what would sound best. When it came time to record, I wanted to knock the take out of the park first time around.

It didn’t always work that way. But, there were occasions where it would be my turn to record and I would be able to move right on to the next song. Though it’s maybe technically more efficient if you get a great take right off the bat, but I found out a good rule of thumb a little over a decade after See You Soon: It’s always a good idea to have at least two takes. There will generally be that much more of a comfortability with playing the song, especially knowing you can contrast and compare. Better yet, if you can double up on a solo note for note, it has a bigger sound going on and an effect heard on the likes of “Money” by Pink Floyd.

After getting to record See You Soon with The Garden, I didn’t record anything else for a long time (over a decade later, check out my band’s debut album here). All throughout college I was in a half a dozen bands or so. Though the projects got time on stage, there was no project I ever went into a record studio with, or no project where we set out to make an album. The closest thing I came to that was having our sound “recorded” when we were live on a friend’s radio show. Better make the take good! The mentality wasn’t to go in and lay down tracks to pitch, it was just to go in and have fun (and it was, taking place in a room completely surrounded with vinyl records a big window to the control room so you could see and joke with the DJ). Though CDs were made of the performance, it’d didn’t really feel like an album, maybe some sort of studio-live hybrid, but that wasn’t the point of playing that night. 

Bizarrely enough, the next time I entered a professional studio to record was when I was studying abroad in India. It was right after our program ended there and 4 of us from the 9 in our group hopped in rickshaws and made the journey to a studio (that's us up top!). It ended up being owned an operated by a tabla player we got to see perform months earlier. It was a session put together by a producer and great lyricist Jackson Whalen. Trevor Ring and I were the main ones on analog instruments so we practiced some parts ahead of time to go with the beat that Jackson made. Rubina Beg came in to provide a great lyrical melody for the chorus and I mirrored and harmonized with that line on guitar. I forgot how great it felt to hear, see, and be a part of creating music to be mixed and mastered into a tangible recording. It immediately became something I wanted to do when I got back to the States.

All these years later, check out songs off the debut album from my band Alpha Pegasi by clicking here

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