This is the third installment in guest blogger Ryan Hewitt’s series on recording. Today he looks at what it takes to get the job done. If you missed his last post on default recording setups, you can read it here.
Working on remote trucks through the early stages of my career taught me many lessons that I live by today in the studio, one of which is that we don’t go home till the job is done.
Twelve-hour days in the studio can be exhausting. Endless takes of a guitar solo, punching in vocals, providing feedback to musicians, making production decisions and dealing with band-mate drama, computer crashes and temperamental instruments… Lots of intense but fun work, broken up by some minor irritation and perhaps a meal break, and at the end of the day you’ve recorded some great parts on a song or two.
Out on the road, the days run into eighteen or twenty hours, even longer on festivals, and it can be relentless. Unlike a typical studio gig, the day is built on pre-determined blocks of time to get specific tasks done, with an eye on curfews, union breaks and network television schedules. Live shows are run by a call-sheet that ideally provides some semblance of order to the day, beginning with the load-in, progressing through line check, sound check, rehearsals, show and strike. At the end of that day, you’ve documented a performance, and everyone goes home, ready for more of the same the next day.
Now, in the studio, there is rarely a notion of a set schedule, let alone a penalty to pay if you don’t get things done quickly enough – It’s not like you’ve got an audience of millions tuning in to watch a live broadcast of your session or the union demanding a meal break! However, these sessions are most often driven by passion and dedication, so sometimes those overdubs, tweaks and recuts will keep going till the sun comes up, and the engineer must go willingly into that sunrise. The feeling of camaraderie amongst the people on the session only intensifies with the willing participation in the all-nighter. The strange satisfaction of leaving the studio at dawn, having recorded a slew of inspired parts can be truly mind-bending, and being the last one standing, a badge of honor.
No one wants a downer on a session, and the guy throwing shade at the idea of yet another f***ing take, another harmony, just one more time (!) will have it returned in spades by the dissatisfied client. Be the hero! Kick it up a notch yourself! Sit up in the chair, or better yet, stand and deliver; let the oxygen flow and re-energize your body, and attack the task as you would first thing in the morning. Help the people around you to find their inspiration by being the positive force in the room, helping to keep the flow of the session moving forward.
Be relentless. It’s really fun. It’s positive, inclusive, exciting. Makes the day productive, the nights feel shorter, more intense. Always in record.
Do you have a backup plan in place when working in the studio? Check back next Wednesday for Ryan’s take on that and other aspects of getting the job done in his conclusion to Always In Record.
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