Here in the last week, my band has spent fifteen hours in the studio, recording cuts from our second album. We’re really knocking them out, too. We’ve recorded three complete tracks for the album in that relatively short amount of time. We also recorded a fourth song, which won’t be on the album. It’s a promotional thing for an event planning company. So technically, we’ve recorded four complete songs in fifteen hours. But let me tell you a little bit about what goes on in the studio.
People all the time ask if they can come hang out with us while we’re recording. Somewhere remote in their minds, I think people associate music studios with cocaine and strippers. It’s a helluva good time, all of us hanging out, snorting off their bellies and popping champagne into the air, confetti everywhere, a big wild orgy. It’s off the hook! But yeah, no, yeah, it’s really not like that.
We each go into our respective booths and record a first take of the song, then we usually scratch it and give it another try. Then after thirty minutes, we’ve laid down the basic rough cut of the song. I then go back and record my actual rhythm guitar track, while the lead lays his lead track. Then I go back and record the vocals. So after an hour and a half or so, retakes, punch-ins, you’re finally beginning to hear the first elements of a song. It’s a pretty neat feeling when you’ve written a song, to hear the finished product in such a relatively short amount of time. From conception to production in less than a day in some cases. It rarely happens that quickly, but it can. And it has. Like yesterday. We wrote our own arrangement for Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” yesterday afternoon, and had it recorded – completely finished – by midnight. Bad ass. Anyway, that’s what one song kind of feels like.
After I come out of the iso booth where I’ve just finished putting my first vocal track down, I’ll meet everyone in the control room. This is where the cocaine and strippers are. Well, maybe in Aerosmith’s studio. But not ours. In ours, there’s uh – well, whoever wanted to come hang out with us, hoping to see strippers and cocaine. And they’re usually bored off their asses. Because it’s a whole bunch of sitting there doing nothing but listening to fifteen-second sections of songs over and over and over. And over and over. Then moving to another part, isolating the vocals and hearing my really shitty voice say a few words over and over and over. And everyone laughing at how ridiculous it sounds by itself. Then – and so on. You get the point.
Then you get a drummer who has an effects board. And hilarity ensues. Chris keeps asking us why we’re laughing while he’s trying to cut his lead track, because he can’t hear Steve’s booth in his cans. But we’re sitting there in the control room laughing like little girls. I’ll show you an example. You may have to turn up the volume quite a bit to hear the added effects.
Little things like that help to pass the time when you’re sitting there for five hours in the control room. So yeah, if someone tells you they have an eight-hour studio block scheduled, it probably means three hours of recording and five hours of sitting there playing with Rubik’s Cubes and drinking beer. Trying to entertain yourselves. Unless you’re Aerosmith.
To hear the finished product of this song, by the way, check out the forums and download Late on Sunday.