Studio stories 2
I inherited a project from another engineer.
This was a band (first problem) that played a screamo Punk/Metal style of music (second problem) and thought they were real good (third problem and the nail in their collective career coffin).
So, this was a pro bono in that I was doing a favor for the other engineer who was doing it pro bono for the band. We tracked the songs and when it came time to mix, I got what I thought was a real healthy drum sound. Massive and aggressive.
So the drummer says,”it’s not the sound I am looking for”. “Okay” says I, “what is the sound you are looking for?”
So he proceeds to hand me a CD with some music on it. The mix was highly compressed, and the drum sound, and particularly the bass drum sound was, frankly, horrible.
Think of using a cardboard box as your bass drum (or bass drums in most cases) and you get the idea. Now I have heard this trend, if you can call it that, but figured that I might give these youngsters a dose of old fashioned whoop ass drum sound.
All they seemed to want from the bass drums was ‘click’.
Note: Later I realized that the way people are listening to music is changing. If you listen to music on your laptop or even a computer with small one inch speakers, you will not hear much of or any bass drum. But you will if it is all ‘click’. All those intricate double bass moves must be heard you know.
So being the sport I am, I gave it a shot, but I wasn’t into it, (hard to make an old dog etc) they weren’t into it, and they went on to greener studio pastures.
Their attitude left a very unsavory taste in my mouth for some youngsters getting something for free.
Moral of the story, everyone has their version of the ‘right’ sound. I always take on my jobs after a bit of a sit down, if you will, to make sure all sides are clear about what each of us would like and expects from a recording project.
I didn’t do that with these lads. I was not who they needed to be recording and mixing them and I would have told them such if I would have known they had this specific sound in mind.
…Speaking of good sound.
I was recording a lady who was a song writer.
I did my usual deal by putting down scratch tracks of her vocal and guitar with a basic drum beat to establish the timing of the songs.
I took a few weeks and fleshed the songs out. We got back together and started by re recording her guitar tracks and then did her final lead vocals and background vocals, which she sang most of.
So we would record in three or four hour blocks. It kept both of us fresh and if she started to get tired, we would just quit for the day.
One day, while we were tracking her vocals, I was just getting done re-winding the tape so she could do one more take when I looked up from the tape remote and she looked very funny.
I hit the talk back button and asked if everything was all right and she didn’t say anything but was acting very strange. I asked “are you okay?” She just looked at me and said “you didn’t record that did you?” and I, thinking she might have been cussing like a sailor or something to that effect said “why, what did you say?” “Nothing” she said.
And she didn’t say anything else. So I looked at her through the glass and held my hands up in a gesture of ‘I don’t know what’s going on’. She said “gas, I just passed gas, I farted”. “Just wanted to be sure you didn’t record it.”
Just had to shake my head and laugh.