The joy of producing

There are moments when you really remember why you do this shit. Of course, there’s a lot of BS in this business, probably in any business. But, when it all comes together, it’s something! I mean, it doesn’t even have to be a big thing. In fact, maybe even better when it’s not.

Yesterday, I went to the rehearsal space of one my my bands, The Motion Sick. We’re working on their upcoming EP for Naked Ear Records. Many of their songs I’ve heard them play at shows, but two in particular were new to me, and largely to them as well. They are good songs, but each needed to be solidified. I sat in that tiny room (thank god for ear plugs – and not the foamies either) for at least an hour while they played, saying nothing. Then, with a few suggestions and supportive comments to the drummer and lead guitar player, the songs were transformed.

I rarely dictate. I think it is a sign of insecurity in a producer. It’s the client’s music and they hire you to help them maximize it. I have very definite opinions, and I offer them. But, in the end, it’s best when they try my ideas, and see for themselves that they really bolster what they were already doing (or trying to do).

Yesterday’s rehearsal was like that. Just a few careful remarks, and it all fell into place. They guys knew it too. It just felt right. I was beaming ear to ear! I love this job.

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Producing 101

On Mar 7, 2007, at 8:59 AM, Jesse Stack-Moss Street Productions wrote:

Hi Brains Trust,
Just wondering if could get some insight into how you guys go about
pre-production.
I’ve recorded dozen’s of EP’s/Albums now but I’m doing a bands pre-
production soon, which is some thing I’m not so familiar with.

Looking for tips, ideas, etc from not just an engineer’s point of
view but also as a producer.
I’m assume that tracking the whole band live wold be what most bands
would want for this, maybe playing each song a few times with
slightly different tempos and grooves to listen to later?

What works (and what doesn’t) for you guys

Of course to keep this on topic it would recorded on a mac based DAW 🙂

TIA

Cheers
Jesse

Hi Jesse,

Welcome to production. First, forget all about your engineering. It isn’t relevant at this stage. Are you a musician? That helps. In pre-prod, focus on the song. Let them play it for you live a few times, get a feel for whether is is well written, has a memorable hook, a clear take-home message. If not, that’s where you have to start. If those elements aren’t stellar, there’s no point in recording at all.

If/when the song is ready, then think with them about the arrangement. Start from what sound (not tone, but genre) they are going for. Listen with the band to favorite recordings. Pick out the elements that either excite the band, or more importantly, you feel support the song. Then figure out who is actually playing what in the band on that song. I can’t tell you how often I find guys playing the wrong chord, just noodling about, or otherwise not really knowing what to do in any section. Make sure everyone knows their parts, and that their parts support the song. A powerpop band doesn’t need a 5 minute kazoo solo!

Last, think about additional parts and instruments. This is key for the overdub section of the recording process and will go much more smoothly if you know ahead of time what you want to add.

Best,


Jordan Tishler Digital Bear Entertainment
Music Producer/Engineer P. O. Box 301090
(617) 522 4550 Boston, MA 02130-0010

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