Jobstopper In Studio

What I’ve Learned From Recording an Album

If you’re like me you have two major goals in your life. In order of importance they are to; land a plum job as a rigorous mattress tester for Captain Snooze, release a record for an original band and master mathematics. In the last few weeks I’ve finally managed to knock one of those off my list, and here’s a hint: I didn’t wear a onesie to work today.

If you’re not like me you can return to watching lolcat videos on YouTube now, alternately I’ve highlighted the important bits in bold to save you speed readers some time.

After a bit over four years together my band decided it was time enough to record our fourteen least worst songs and package them nicely on the convenience of one compact disk.

Most other bands refer to this as “recording an album”.

Just in case you’re planning on doing this in the immediate future I’ve compiled my top eight must do’s before and during the event of heading into the recording studio!

Firstly: Have all your songs written before heading into the recording studio.

This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, in my experience not having your bass lines fully written and well-rehearsed before heading back into the studio will cut down on re-work. I can’t remember how much time I spent playing multiple series of notes comprising




before I got a perfect take.

Actually I can remember how long it took. One and a half hours over two days. You could have watched two spine chilling episodes of Dick Wolf’s finest Law & Order and there I was, still plugging away at a seventy second piece of bass line.

This is also because bands who say things like “oh we just rocked up into the studio and had fun with our music and this is what happened” are either ridiculously talented or outright twats. Sometimes both, but rarely neither.

Secondly: If you have >4 members, fire some.

This one is a no-brainer. Every member of your band is going to want to have a look in on the recording and thousands of people huddled into a small recording studio will cause it to smell, BAD. Also it creates a fire hazard.

Thirdly: Invest in a tablet or smartphone.

This one is also a no-brainer. If you’re the go-to guy for the recording (if your band has one, this is the guy your engineer wants to keep on hand to bounce questions off) you’ll be spending a shitload of time in this studio. Why not set a few records on flappy-birds while you’re at it? Play some Alex the Kid. Or why not listen to a better band’s music? Surely you’ve by now heard enough of your own!

Fourthly: Invest in a lot of shenanigans!

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with the same guys/gals. So you don’t all go mental and take your poor engineer with you, have a laugh or two. Got a brass section? Great! Fuck with them all the time. Record videos of you attempting to use a banana as an effect’s pedal, play bottomless (and I don’t mean in octaves) or perhaps hide random pieces of fruit around the recording studio for your engineer to find on his daily pack-ups.

Fifth…ly?: You’ll hit a wall, take a break.

If you’ve adhered to advice #1 this shouldn’t really be a problem. However after recording hours upon hours of strings or skins you might start to screw up even the simplest things. Take a break. Don’t try to grind through a part which you’re not going to get simply because you’re tired. Take ten minutes and nail it first take next time. It’ll happen.

Sixthly: Never invite friends or family along.

Sure, you’re in a band, you love this! To someone (see: anyone) else however, sitting in a control room looking at dials being adjusted by an eighth of an inch and hearing the same guitar riff thirty-one times is fucking boring. I’m getting the rare opportunity for people to hear the best of what I as a musician have to offer and even I got bored out of my skull. I’d rather be listening to my neighbour talk about residential zoning laws when he lived in Fairfield Gardens in the seventies. And I have no idea where Fairfield Gardens is! I DON’T EVEN KNOW HIS NAME! WHAT THE HELL IS A ZONING LAW?

Finally: Record with Dal Smart.

It makes a shitload of a difference to record with a guy who gets you. Find an engineer who understands your genre of music, who has a good sense of humour and who knows how to get the best out of each instrument. This guy for us was Dal “Dalicious” Smart. Seriously, this guy is a gem. He has the patience of a Canberra Raiders supporter, the memory of an elephant (after his morning coffee), the work ethic of mule (they have good work ethics right?) and the shiny coat of a Labrador. Also he found fart jokes absolutely hilarious.

Adam Burke plays in a band, and not one of those hip bands who write the music commonly played in Telstra or Ford advertisements, one of those bands who get drunk, sweaty and take clothing off on stage. He apologises for the length of that sentence.