Friday, June 29, 2012

Fearless Creativity

Imitation is flattery.  But that’s all it is.  It’s not inventive or eye opening or explorative. I believe that when bands aspire for a certain sound that’s all that results in the end, imitation.   What is exciting about being in a band or a part of a musical production is the possibility of creating something that is totally unique without trying.  What I mean is don’t be scared to let any and all ideas flow out of your brain, into your hands, and onto the recorder.   I see it all the time.  Bands limit themselves to certain instruments and sounds because their self-image is already married to a specific genre.  Get divorced, or at least separated.  Date some new genres.  Hell invent some.  Post Grunge Metal Core Folkdisco chips is calling your name.
The reason the Beatles were so great is because they were on the cutting edge of technology at the time, pushing for new sounds and rebelling against recording industry standards.  I feel like a lot of times we are all scared to defy the “laws” of music/recording that we all hold to be true in our heads.  In a sense it is out of respect for those who came before us. If we really want to honor the greats we should push for new sounds and ideas.  That’s what they did!  I’m not saying force out some weird sounds purposely just to be different.  We have all heard that crap.  Genre: experimental.  But yeah, what the hell, throw that accordion solo on your new wave song.  It might sound cool.  And hipsters like that stuff, and they must be appeased.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vocal. Is. King

The vocal is everything.  This may seem obvious to most music listeners, but I feel like after recording bands for the past 8 years it is often the most overlooked part by musicians themselves.  Myself not excluded (I am a slow learner). The vocal is the connection to the listener.  It needs to be felt, understood, and delivered with an authenticity that only comes from a place of real emotion.  It is what gives you goose bumps that first time you hear a line that hits you in the soul, consequently begging for many future plays on your ipod.

Sure you can argue that there are huge fan bases for dance music and jam bands.  But the effects of drugs are temporary.  I am talking “test of time”, pluck your heart strings, get you through the worst times in your life type songs.   Of course there are bands and songs that can just flat out rock your face off too.  AC/DC would be a good example.  But if you look at it even these songs have a message that connects somewhere:  “Rock n roll ain’t noise pollution, rock n roll ain’t gonna die!”.    Hell yeah!  I’m on board. 

I think, as musicians, sometimes we get fixated on our guitar parts, drum fills, and bass lines to a point that we lose all perspective on the purpose of the song at hand.  The vocal is king, and the instruments are it’s servants.  Get me a beer bass line.  Make me a sandwich guitar solo. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Recording Studio Thoughts: A Recording Weekend at The All Nighter

Recording Studio Thoughts: A Recording Weekend at The All Nighter: Back country road. Sun shining down. You pull down the long driveway to the end and start unloading your gear. You've rehearsed these song...

A Recording Weekend at The All Nighter

Back country road. Sun shining down. You pull down the long driveway to the end and start unloading your gear. You've rehearsed these songs to death and are ready to etch them in stone. Jittery, a bit nervous. You look off to the left and see a woman watering a vegetable garden. This is Paula, she is your lovely host. She greets you and shows you around the barn in renovation where she plans to host many great concerts and parties. You are anxious, but calmed by the country air, soothing atmosphere, and friendliness that surrounds.
Then you meet me (Tommy C), and that is all shot to hell (jk). I show you around the studio and guide you through the setup process. Once settled in we work on getting drum sounds. This is so vitally important to the process and is paid extra special attention. We tape, turn keys, remove heads, loosen snares, tighten snares, remove tape, move mics, high five, finished. The kit breathes, it pumps. No more cardboard.

Next we turn our attention to guitar amps. Knobs are turned, mics positioned, repositioned, we are moving ear friendly waves of sound into Pro Tools and are happy. Move on. I like to run bass direct and have a wonderful Sansamp bass pre/eq that we put the signal through. But here's the deal: There are no rules in audio and the buck doesn't stop with me. Let's mic up the bass amp as well if you desire. Listen, use our ears. Choose the direct sound only. Amp sound only. A Combination of the two, ahhh that's it!

So now that we have tones honed in it is time to record. My philosophy is that to get an authentic sounding end product we need to start authentic. Band plays live! Just like at any rehearsal or show you've ever done. Feed off of each other. Play off each other. Feel the energy! A metronome is optional, although recommended. Great music has been made with or without. The object is to capture takes that "feel" great, not necessarily perfect performances at this point. We can fix flaws here and there, but if the feeling is there we are on to something and can build off of that. It's been a long day and we are all satisfied with our work, but hungry. It's time to relax, maybe order a pizza, start a fire, or throw on a dvd in the lounge.
After a night spent hanging out around the campfire passing the acoustic around you wake up well rested. You put on coffee and make breakfast on the griddle in the band lounge. The shower is calling your name. You stank. Once refreshed it is time to get back to work! The day is yours. Guitar overdubs and vocal tracks are calling your name. Percussion tracks are begging you to add them. This is going to be a fun.... Get out to the All Nighter! Contact me at Cappel Recording to book time

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why Set-up Time is So Important At The Recording Studio

Before bands hit the studio we always advise them to make sure they dial in guitar tones, get fresh strings, and make sure those drums are tuned very well. The number one mistake recording artists make is to not worry about these things and assume that the engineer will "fix it later".

At the All Nighter we will spend as much time as necessary to dial in great drum and guitar tones from the get go, while working on mic placement and signal processing adjustment on our end. Just because you aren't tracking your songs yet doesn't mean that you aren't contributing to the quality of the product. Taking the time to do this is vitally important in determining what the final product will sound like.

Doing things such as drum replacement and guitar amp modeling are last resorts. We want your recording to sound as authentic as possible. The greatest recordings come from the emotion projected from the band and the way in which they express those emotions through their instruments, not some triggered fake drum replacement kit.

So when you come in, be ready to work on getting some great tones from your gear, and I promise you will be glad you did when you receive your mastered cd.

Monday, September 13, 2010

4 reasons we do reference mixing and mastering

A lot of times when bands approach us for mixing and mastering services we ask for a cd, .wav, or mp3 reference to listen to when we are working out the mix or master. For example if a pop punk band comes to us for mixing, we may use a Green Day tune as a listening guide. This is greatly helpful because:

1) It give us a better indication of what you expect to hear out of your final product

2) Words can only describe so much when it comes to music. Merely allowing us to listen to the sound you are going for is worth a thousand words.

3) It puts us on the same page as the client immediately instead of doing multiple mixes and guessing what the client is wanting to hear.

4) It takes the room out of the equation. Even in some of the most expensive high end studios around the world it can be tough to create an absolutely perfect listening environment. Using reference mixing you can eliminate that problem because you are comparing one recording with another on the same studio monitors. A lot of times the mix will sound great in the studio, but poor in the car or home stereo. Reference mixing and mastering helps to eliminate that translation problem.

As Featured On EzineArticles

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Recording Process

The first question that most bands ask when they come to the All Nighter is "what's the process like?" And usually they follow that up with conveying a previous experience of recording their band one instrument at a time: Drums first, then rhythm guitar(s), then bass, etc... I think it's too bad that most groups have had to "capture the magic" through this process. In fact, it seems almost impossible to capture anything inspirational that way. This is why at The All Nighter we encourage groups to record their foundation tracks live in the studio. We have the capabilities to record a full 5 piece band with complete isolation, which means no bleed from one instrument to the next on the recording.

This does not mean that every member of the group has to nail their part, summoning the precision and grace of an early Beatles session at Abbey Road. Individual punch-ins are not a problem. Each member of the band will be equipped with headphones to hear the full mix. Now, if you are a singer and you have the "I can only sing well when I play my guitar syndrome" (which is all in your head, try strumming a vintage Gibson air guitar and you'll be surprised at the results) no problemo, bring your axe right into the vocal booth with you and go to town.

Of course, before any tracking takes place the band will be honing in guitar and drum tones that appease their highly selective appetites. Focusing also on warming up their fingers and voices in order to lay down a stellar performance.

The whole goal of our suggested process at The All Nighter Studio is to make bands feel comfortable in order to deliver an album worthy performance. We feel the chemistry of a live setup is a great way to lay the foundation of a hit record. Once the heartbeat is achieved, the music can take on a life of it's own!

As Featured On EzineArticles