Saturday, February 11, 2012

Boredom in Music Land

Yesterday afternoon I braved a mini blizzard, arrived in St. Louis and have been sitting in a dark room ever since. I've been sleeping in an unfurnished room with six gaseous teenagers and really crappy internet service.

That really sounds worse than it is. I have been known to exaggerate.

Much too my disappointment,
there was not a single dinosaur inside.
Last month I wrote about going to see my son's death metal band perform in a club. It was loud, as is necessary for shows of that type, and my ears have stopped bleeding since then. This weekend I am with the band again, but this time it is to record their first EP. They have recorded once before, but it was in the basement of their lead singer's house. This time, we are in a professional studio. It is a much better experience when you don't have to chase rats away to keep them from chewing on the guitar cords.

My being here does not mean that I really have anything to do with this endeavor. Because recording is not a fast process, they have to stay here for a few days to get all the tracks done. With five band members, all their equipment and sleeping gear, it would not fit into one vehicle.

Proposed solution: "Christian, call your dad. He's never doing anything."

So, here I am.

The owner's dog. Pit bull mix to guard
his owner's coffee stash.
Despite not having much to do, it really isn't that bad. I brought my laptop, several books and a few rented DVD's. There is also a big screen HDTV in the next room with a large comfortable couch. I am using these things to distract myself because a person can only watch a drum track being laid down so many times. And it has been done many, many times.

It was really interesting in the beginning. When they first started recording last night, I was fascinated by the microphone setup, the sound board, the process and the beautiful 37" computer monitor the sound engineer has on his computer.

Part of the control room
First, the guitar track (scratch track) must be recorded. This is a basic recording that will not be on the final cut. It is used as the basis for the drummer to play off of later. Once the drums are recorded, other instruments get recorded and added in one at a time. It is an incredibly slow process. The guitar scratch tracks alone kept them up until about 3 a.m. this morning. Since I don't have the energy of a teenager they don't need me for any of this, I went to bed at midnight.

This studio is built for several aspects of the music business. They silk screen shirts for bands, create CD and sleeve art and rent out rooms for bands to practice in. Since we live so far away, they let us crash in one of the practice rooms. While I greatly appreciate the courtesy offered to us, I thought I was going to freeze to death. That room was cold.

Since it is not designed for people to be living here, it is missing some basic accommodations. There is a refrigerator, but no stove or microwave. We ran to the grocery store to have food for the next three days, but since we cannot cook, it is mostly lunch meat sandwiches and fruit roll-ups.

One of the motivational moments between takes
Whether well-fed or malnourished, the plan is to have the entire album finished sometime Sunday afternoon. The guys have really been enjoying the experience and I am thrilled that I got to participate and watch their excitement. Despite all the downtime for me, I love that I was asked to come. I've learned a lot. Hanging out with teenagers, a lot of what I learned involved new ways to fart on each other, but I learned some music stuff too.

Hopefully, the new Odysseus EP will be available soon.



16 comments:

  1. This is awesome. I wish them all the luck. What a good Dad you are to go along and help out. Even if you have to play games, watch movies and hang out while bored!

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    1. It hasn't been too bad. Time just moves really slow.

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  2. Interesting! I had no idea how slow the process of recording was...much like publishing. I think it's cool that you do that for them and I hope you get a good cut of the dough when it starts raking in! :)

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    1. I will have to bring that up. Getting paid would be great!

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  3. I have dated many musicians. Not a one of them was talented. At some point, I hope that will change, as I hope to continue to date only musicians. I always found the life they led to be fascinating. The recording process, the touring. I couldn't do it full-time, but it's fun to experience it every once in a great while.

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    1. It seems interesting to me too...from the outside. Hitting all the clubs, days in the recording studio and living in a van while on tour will get old for me very fast.

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  4. Look up a band called Austrian Death Machine, and then find a song of theirs called "It sucks to be the singer during band practise"

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    1. That was funny. My son was familiar with it. Our singer has been here all weekend and won't get to his part until tonight. He understands.

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  5. I have a friend who is a professional country singer (he sings with Taylor Swift, etc.). He loves the traveling, but now he is big stuff and has a million dollar bus. Personally, not my cup of tea, but sounds great what you are doing! Oh, and Sammy Kershaw lives down the road from me LOL! Have fun!

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    1. My cousin married Clint Black's guitarist. He would send us tickets to shows when ever they came through town and hung out with us on holidays. Clint was a cool guy as long as his wife, Lisa Harman, wasn't around. As soon as she walked into the room, he was too big of a star to associate with us.

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  6. My brother-in-law is a musician, and it's interesting to see the process. He's a control freak, and he doesn't like anyone tampering with his process, so he records and layers every single instrument himself. I can't imagine that.

    I've always wanted to be in a band. Maybe one day I'll do like Dave Barry and Stephen King did and make some kind of all author band. We'll be terrible, but oh, how we'll have fun.

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    1. It would be fun. If you get famous first, it doesn't matter how bad you are.

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  7. I had no idea that EVERY instrument is done separately. I understand the vocals, but that's a shame that after practicing together so much they don't record together. Explains a lot about why recorded music sounds so different from live, though!

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    1. The drummer alone took 12 hours. I learned a lot. Next time I go, I will know how to be better prepared.

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  8. You are an awesome dad, and let us know when the EP is available.

    And also, get thee and the band to an IHOP, or something. You can't subsist on fruit roll ups and deli meat until Sunday!!

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    1. We left with a rough cut (not remixed or edited). It sounds great, but the band says I cannot let people hear it until it is complete.

      We ran out of food on Saturday afternoon. Sunday, we went without food until we left that night. We stopped at a White Castle at in the morning. Those burgers have never tasted better.

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