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 Post subject: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 00:34 
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I am going to record an album with legendary sound engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, Page & Plant, Blues Explosion, various others). But there's a crossroads as to how I go about it. Do I...

A) Go it alone and experience glorious autonomy. Set up a session, get a two-way Greyhound ticket like I've done many times and go off to Chicago. As far as I can tell, Electrical Audio studio has a large selection of equipment available for use so going this route would not even limit me to solo-acoustic performance. The main advantage here is that it's totally simple, no room for failure and no special arrangements have to be crafted together. It's also always very satisfying and exciting to do things like this alone. Despite my lifestyle, I very rarely get to feel like an adult and do things without being checked up on, not that I don't appreciate the help I'm given.

Or...

B) Assemble a motley crew and have an epic summer roadtrip adventure. The idea here is that I get together a group of friends to be "my band" for the recording session in exchange for (me giving them) an all-expenses-paid 3 or so day trip up to Chicago. For the name, I'm thinking of Keith Cohen & His Communist Cohorts. This plan is many times more expensive on a trip that will already probably outcost Burning Man. But if I can't spend my money on Steve Albini recording sessions then I might as well put it in a pile and burn it like The Joker. I'd love to be a homeless bum who records albums with Steve Albini all the time.

This would be cool for a number of reasons. I kind of feel like if I'm going to get face time with Steve Albini, I should share it with somebody. I mean, this is Steve Albini! On the other hand, I'm not sure ayone else will be impressed. Levi might be because he is into underground shit but he is also a pretty no-idolization guy with his music stars. If Maura can manage to come then she may be impressed by the Nirvana connection. I could get people like Marko and Ben who might be impressed by Steve, and they're darn good but perhaps less keen on roadtripping with me. I'd probably feel more comfortable and therefore have more fun with my closest friends. The biggest advantage of taking this route is that I think maybe we could just set it up like a 'live in the studio' thing and get songs done much faster, thus ending up with more songs. The main disadvantage of this route is that it is extremely complicated... I need to get people to agree to do this, and we need to get together and learn my songs.

Either way, it promises to be one of the awesomest times of my life. But it's an extremely difficult decision as to which route I want to take.

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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 02:06 
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I'd wait. There's nothing to be gained from going now other than the immediate gratification of interacting with an idol, but everything to be gained by waiting.

Not only will you experience more life and thus be able to create richer music, but you will also grow as a musician and have a better idea of how to express what you want. You could also find dedicated musicians to record with; friends are nice, but working alongside skilled musicians that you have a good rapport with will no doubt come across in the studio.

After all, if a master chef is presented with a steak, a candy cane, popcorn, orange juice, and a bag of pasta, is he going to be able to create some kind of masterpiece? Probably not.

Even if this guy is all that, how many bands and acts has he recorded that haven't come out well? The sound engineer may play a large part in how the recording turns out, but so do the musician and band.



So, essentially, I guess... work on what you want to be able to do, get better, and then go for it. Why risk blowing the chance of a lifetime on a spontaneous ureg? Sure, it'll be spontaneous and unique, but a few years down the road when you've grown a lot more as a musician, what will you do then, when you could do the opoprtunity justice?


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 04:31 
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I've been growing as a musician for years. I've got a larger discography than The Doors. There comes a time when greatness gives way to monotonous mush. While skill and control develop with age, there comes a point when it kills the creative side, or you simply lose your fire. Virtually no artists are legitimately greater in their later period than they are in their early formative stage (provided they were around long enough to actually get into their later period). Even people like Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison who have twilight hits are being secretly coaxed (and ghostwritten for) by hipsters (Rick Rubin for JC and Tom Petty for Roy). Even great albums from most artists in their twilight stage (and I love a LOT of them) lack the depth of their stride during ages 20-35. There are the early formative efforts and then they hit their peak. And then it ended.

Don't get me wrong, I think you are absolutely right. If the gap between where I am today and where I was in 2006 will be the same for 2012 to 2009, then I should wait. But it's not quite that simple when I really think about it... Because in 09 I can play guitar a lot better, and my timing's a lot better than in 06. But my signing was better in 06. I had a level of control then that I could never match now. It makes my folk music in 09 so much less interesting and impassioned, but on the other hand my rougher steadied voice might be a lot more pleasing to less adventurous audiences. So the crucial decision is picking the right moment when the balance between experience and heart will result in the best recording. If I pick the wrong moment, I could skip right past something like 'Light My Fire' and end up starting out with 'Tell All the People.' A lot of my favorite material from bands is from the absolute earliest period available, that's why I'm so relentless in making sure I record that period, whenever it hapens/ed. I think it's getting close to time for a 'Buffalo Springfield', a 'Bleach,' or at least a 'Fecal Matter.' And my friends are pretty good musicians, I mean for some reason I know two professional bass players.

And in the end this is more something personal for me than it is for any idea of potential in the music world. My music stopped being about trying to get paid after Drug Abuse came out. I focus on creation now, believing that being good is the highest priority. I can stay in this underground environment where my heart won't get stale, and build up as good a body of work as I would have going down any other path. Then when I'm old and stale I can put my heart & soul into marketing that shit, selling songs to movie soundtracks and songwriters. Then I become a retroactive legend through propagating self-mythology like David Allen Coe or GG Allin. If it doesn't pan out in the end, then I've still succeeded in crafting my own personality in my real life, making the intangible real in my own mind. And having something done with Albini would be a badge of pride I could wear my whole life. I would cherish it no matter what was on it... even if I decided to hate Steve tomorrow, I'd still have worked on my own music with a legend. There's always the chance that the old dude will die... I don't know how old he is but he was making bands in the early 80s and I'm pretty sure he drinks heavily and does drugs. And since there's only like 2 producers whose names I know by heart, Steve Albini is pretty much my only chance at working with a legend.

But I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I would have never thought of the 06/09 gap at all if you hadn't brought it up, it's a very good point. But I think there is fair enough reason to believe that this is already the right time. Besides, if I got the reservation right now, I'd still have 3 months to develop in. And boy would I have something solid and inspiring to make me work hard in those 3 months! I could wait until I'm living in a shack before sinking any real money into music, I'd probably practice like ALL THE TIME since I live in a shack. But who knows what I'll sound like then. That might be more of a Houses of The Holy period and I would have missed out on I-IV. I mean obviously I can't pro-record everything I do. But I can say that, as unfortunately sloppy as Bisexual Anthems is from 2006, I wouldn't be suprised if I could never do a better version of 'Suite Jesus.' My songs are so topical, once I'm not feeling them anymore then I have to rely only on my skill to try to make them good. So I have to shoot for the point where skill & heart are both as high as possible.

peace & love
peace & love
peace & love

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"If I could take it all back now, I wouldn't. I would have did more shit that people said that I shouldn't." - Marshall Mathers

"I hardly ever leave my house or my neighborhood really, and that's not a sad thing." - Fiona Apple

"It's alright, ma. It's life and life only." - Bob Dylan


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 07:17 
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I guess if you feel the call, you feel the call. Better to regret having done something than not having done it.


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 08:17 
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I seem to recall Bob Seger spent a lot of time on the road and put out a number of albums before he "caught on". And of course, when Stevie Ray Vaughan was signed around 1983, he was already as good as he ever got - he had just gone largely unnoticed (by the masses, not his audiences) in whatever small local venues he played at. And then there's Ronnie James Dio's Elf albums. One of the standard voices of early metal was releasing honky tonk albums before he met the guitarist from Deep Purple. So there's something to be said for taking your time and building your craft, until you either figure out what it is the people like to hear (if that concerns you, that is), or until the people figure out that what you're playing *is* what they want to hear (this often takes a while).

But of course, I don't see any real point in waiting on this opportunity. I mean, you either want to do it or you don't. If you do, then do, and if you don't, you won't. As for the options. Option B would be much more fun. And by the way, advantages of quality aside, I feel that playing with friends would be far more rewarding, and fruitful, than playing with uptight music school graduates you've never met before. But with option B, it'll never happen. You'll talk about it and you'll plan for it, and you'll laugh and you'll joke, but you'll never get there. If you wanna go, you gotta grab your guitar and start walkin'. It's the only way to be sure. Let the road hit you in the face, or else you'll be hitting your face in the road.

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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 22:01 
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Elf is at least as good as Dio, that's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. The early stuff is the most exciting, even if "Screamin' Ray Daniels" isn't as good as "The Doors". The way I see it, if I'm not good, I'm not good. I'm just not the kind of person that is ever going to sit down and hone a craft, that's not what music is about for me. Music is that thing "for me" that people have, you know? If I had to do it by anyone else's standards, I wouldn't do it at all. If I'm not good now I doubt I'll ever be. Bisexual Anthems sounds so damn shoddy today, but if it was recorded by Albini I bet it would be damn cool... and despite its rawness I have sold some copies. If I'm someone who is ever going to buckle down and act professional about music then it's going to have to be in response to some 'serious' activity, and an Albini record sounds like the right kind of thing to cause that stuff to happen if it ever will. I'm reminded of how Kurt Cobain used his band Fecal Matter's release Illiteracy Will Prevail to shop around and find people who wanted to form Nirvana. And Fecal Matter (with local-legend Dale Crover on drums) may not be Kurt's best album but their version of Spank Thru is the best ever, and there have been a lot of versions through the years. 'Course you could say "uhh, dude you've got like 10 albums that you could shop around to people,' which is true. But I wouldn't really feel confident shopping with them. An Albini record would make me feel legit for the first time... while not stoned. I mean, plopping down an Albini record would sure make me more likely to be accepted by Star Bucks and ilk, though I may have to go to a college town. I know Albini will record anybody, but having such a serious record sends a very solid message.

As a compromise on the A/B question I'm thinking what if I just bring a few people, maybe Ali, Levi & Z, and they may or may not want to join in on the recording. Or I can do it like Negative Feedback's hunger gig, set the date and then see if anyone is ready & willing to come along, and if they aren't it'll just end up as me, which was as good an option anyway.

I'm starting to get some good ideas for the album. But the thing I'm worried about is whether or not I have *ANY* chance of completing an album in two days. I mean, I have *never* heard of that happening before. More commonly you'll hear "holy shit, it only took 50 days to record this album!" I don't understand all the hub-bub though. I think it revolves around perfectionism, really. If I sit down on the first day and essentailly perform a solo-acoustic concert for the mics, a handful of hours will yield at least like 10 tracks (if every 5 minute track takes 30 minutes to record. If we can perform & overdub 3 or 4 electric tracks on the second day I'm set. I think I should be pretty secure if I plan on maybe completing 6 or 7 tracks total, one of which will be moderately long, the rest of which will be pretty short. Who knows.

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"If I could take it all back now, I wouldn't. I would have did more shit that people said that I shouldn't." - Marshall Mathers

"I hardly ever leave my house or my neighborhood really, and that's not a sad thing." - Fiona Apple

"It's alright, ma. It's life and life only." - Bob Dylan


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090302 23:35 
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IfTheLightTakesUs wrote:
But the thing I'm worried about is whether or not I have *ANY* chance of completing an album in two days.


Yeah, that's why I was suggesting that you take some time and find a dedicated crew and work on your stuff for a while before you go. I mean, if you're paying that much time for an opportunity, you should want to be able to go in and do the stuff you want to do the way you want to do it instead of just experimenting. As nice as pure spontaneity is, I don't think it would end up being a good use of your money...

And despite other peoples' "spontaneous" stuff, you have to consider that a lot of them actually practice riffs and stuff, or lyrics, and they germinate for years and years before they get it all together and make something "spontaneous" in the studio, rather than just walking in and letting it out without a clue...


P.S.: Shouldn't this really be in the Music forum?


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090303 01:16 
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Actually, hands down my best stuff IS purely spontaneous. Most of Meanwhile On My Bedroom Couch, all of Subversive Voice, and 2 of the best tracks on BA, and a lot of the rest. Just sitting down with a guitar and singing what's on my mind, or laying down a drum track and just doing whatever on top of it, that stuff often ends up so much more developed and proficient than the contrived stuff. So far I'm planning on having things down verbatim before going into the studio, but I was thinking earlier today that it might not be such a good idea. Maybe a balance between planning and experimentation would be better.

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"If I could take it all back now, I wouldn't. I would have did more shit that people said that I shouldn't." - Marshall Mathers

"I hardly ever leave my house or my neighborhood really, and that's not a sad thing." - Fiona Apple

"It's alright, ma. It's life and life only." - Bob Dylan


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090310 12:12 
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I suppose I don't follow this thread. Is Doug a well-known artist now that's getting a record contract? Did you win some contest?

Regardless of whatever it was, it sounds like you have the potential to experience something very cool. Many congratulations!

I read most of the posts in this thread, and I would recommend that if you're going to go in and be able to use top of the line equipment to record songs, make sure you go in with stuff that's really worth recording. From what I've read, it seems like you're trying to balance a difficult decision to either have some fun with friends or really put out good music. Being able to combine the two is the million dollar question. However, if that's unanswerable, then I would recommend just making sure you can lay down some good tracks. I would agree with Panda on this:

Quote:
And despite other peoples' "spontaneous" stuff, you have to consider that a lot of them actually practice riffs and stuff, or lyrics, and they germinate for years and years before they get it all together and make something "spontaneous" in the studio, rather than just walking in and letting it out without a clue...


I really don't know any details on this entire thing, so if this is something you're guaranteed to be able to do anytime, I would make sure you bring people on board that can play your songs with you and play them well, then go record. Don't let the awesome-ness of this opportunity dazzle you so much that you go in unprepared. However, if it this is something that's going to be gone in a month, your options are pretty limited: Roll with what you got or let it pass.

Have fun either way, Doug!

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 Post subject: Re: Awesome Problem
PostPosted: 090312 21:17 
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Kashi wrote:
I suppose I don't follow this thread. Is Doug a well-known artist now that's getting a record contract? Did you win some contest?


nah, I'm just a dumbfuck with a wallet.

I definetly want to get this shit in motion though. I mean, if I was Albini I would be retired by now. And my vocal capacities are being erroded by my taste for lady MJ.

I called Electric Audio after they did not respond to my email and looks like I may not get my sessions until August. Oh well, looks like I've got lots of time to prepare. Maybe even come up with some new songs by then.

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"If I could take it all back now, I wouldn't. I would have did more shit that people said that I shouldn't." - Marshall Mathers

"I hardly ever leave my house or my neighborhood really, and that's not a sad thing." - Fiona Apple

"It's alright, ma. It's life and life only." - Bob Dylan


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