The loneliness of the in-band producer

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The loneliness of the in-band producer

Post by vvv » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:24 pm

So I'm inna new band now a cuppla months (still no band name!), playing bass and singing BV's on another's guy's songs, and that's pretty weird to me.

And after a month (the delay mebbe tells some, eh?) they give me their recent demo, and it's mebbe not so good.

And so I say, I can do it better, and they take the bait and now we've 95% of the tracks done on 11 songs, and I'm 2/3 done mixing the thing, and having a ball.

But what I'm posting about, then?

The loneliness of it!

I mean, we've sat down a cuppla times and done the basics together - the toughest part was developing the drum mixes (all essentially the same, as ll tracks recorded at the same place on the same day - a basement, no less), perhaps best illustrated when I note that the drummer's reference tracks were initially Porcaro with Joni Mitchell. Asked to get a little more real, last week he brought me some Steely Dan. :lol:

But I think we've done pretty well with the drum sub-mix, if not quite that good.

If only I had placed the kick mic where I wanted it, and not where the drummer said ... :roll:

But stuff like recording a kiddie tom played with hands and then having to figure out that what the intent was was a bongo sound, and then getting it (tons of EQ, some heavy compression and limiting).

Or the keys being played solid thru the whole song and then being told they're too much, they need to be edited - but I didn't play 'em that way, the guy who wants 'em edited did! :twisted:

Out of sync start-stop parts that I diplomatically don't mention I had to tighten ...

The odd drum fill or word or guitar note I hadda fly in.

Mouth-noises and un-intended fades when the singer moved off the mic.

Out of tune, out of time guitars.

The incremental adjustments of effects and volume levels (guitars are never loud enuff for guitarists, of course) ...

The bass I played, of course, was done perfectly - all first takes and needed no EQ, edits, dubs or adjustments at all. Not to mention my stellar BV's being perfectly in time, key and phrasing on every pass. :twisted:

I've probably got over 80 hours into this project, more than 50 by myself, and I'm just the bassist/BV's with one co-write.

Did I mention I'm having a ball?
:D
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Post by Jitters » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:40 pm

It?s a double edged sword of course, and it won?t speed anything up, but bring ?em in. Not all at once, but just the guilty parties as you?re working on their individual parts. Think of it as educational.

?See that?s kinda why I didn?t want to put the kick mic there.?

?You know we probably could have picked up some bongos on CL for 20 bucks.?

?Next time, if the timing gets wiggly we?ll go ahead and stop and start over.?

?Next time we'll retune before every take.?

And my personal fave, directed squarely at you, ?11 tracks? Next time let?s start with 2 or 3 and see how it goes.?

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Post by Gregg Juke » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:02 am

>>>>And my personal fave, directed squarely at you, ?11 tracks? Next time let?s start with 2 or 3 and see how it goes.?<<<<

:lol: :wink:

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Post by vvv » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:24 am

Good idears, all.

Countering them, however, is these guys was together a cuppla years before me, two are cops with funky hours (really!), and the drummer in particular has strong opinions.

And a gun. :twisted:

11 songs because we had worked up 30 or so in a set and I set the limit to record at 10. We did the drums for all 10 in one day, 1-3 takes each, with some false starts. We record in our houses, have families, so there is some pressure not to kick 'em out for more than a day at a time ... (I'm a single daddy so my kids are used to it and just hang; the drummer guy's wife is cool but listening to drums more than 4-5 hours gets on her t*ts, I reckon.)

On the first day doing overdubs the power went out for a cuppla hours; awaiting it's return the guitarists and I wrote a acoustic song and recorded it when the grid came back, and so that makes 11.

And I did the bring-'em-in thing, all at once, and the drummer actually realized his mistake, even as I nudged him toward that realization. :lol: He originally wanted to close-mic everything, and sacrifice OH's and room mic's to do it.

Tomorrow is keyboard OD's, and mo' mixing with the leader. 8)
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Post by ott0bot » Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:13 pm

yeah. this is always the case. the other musicians, just drop in and lay down a track...then bail once they "nail it"....only to critize several aspects of the mix that are all performance based issues you continually try to fix with several creative techniques...then eventually you end up retracting. get over it, or start charging. then they'll take it seriously. producers get 10% right?

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Post by vvv » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:48 am

10% extra fun here, is about all that's likely.

And of course, all professions and/or in-depth endeavors have their "down" sides; I just thought to document these what are kinda new to me.

Today we do keys and mixing - gotta grind some beans and fire up the Mister Coffee!
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Post by frans_13 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:27 am

So you're either IN the band ...or the producer. You can't be both. You're to close for them to trust you or to follow your suggestions. You got no authority and they lack the vision.
At least use it to proof your points. (kick mic) and then start from scratch and do it right.

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Post by vvv » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:34 am

You are right that I'm "to close for them to trust you or to follow your suggestions. You got no authority and they lack the vision. " but incorrect that I can't do both.

Well, I s'pose I'm not so much a "producer" as "recordist", mebbe "co-producer".

But it is frustrating. All tracks and performances are done and satisfying, and I'm about 95% done with the mixes.

But now people are on vacation, there are work schedule conflicts, etc., and of course I have to answer to all the last minute requests, and it can take days to even get feedback because there's no real time or money pressure but it still messes up my workflow on itself and other personal projects, and ...

FWIW, everyone has now acknowledged that I know what I'm doing, and promise next time not to interfere (the kick drum issue is amusing in that the mic placement I compromised on with the drummer is what created the greatest number of edits and changes and adjustments until I finally just said, "here" and now they claim to like it).

Alla that said, it's coming out really, really good if I do say so, and I hope to wrap it by the end of the month.

Mebbe I'll post a teaser if anyone wants ...
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Post by Scodiddly » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:42 pm

"Just listen to it for a couple weeks and let your friends listen to it before you tell me what to change".

I played bass on one of those CaPE online collaboration things, and the guy assigned as mixer did some drastic things. It took getting used to. But he was right, it was even better after he'd put away his week-whacker.

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Post by mn412 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:57 pm

Have definitely been there. The best advice I have is to communicate honestly with everyone before you begin resenting them. Did pretty much the same thing no one was interested in showing up to do their parts. I ended up spending so much wasted time editing drums with no one else caring. Begging bass player to come track his parts etc. Then a fairly well know mixer offered to mix a few songs for us. Everyone was super excited but, I was only left with a few hours to track all my guitars for 3 songs.(He had a hole open up in his schedule and only had 1 day notice he needed the tracks) Drove the hard drive over an hour away, almost getting in an accident to get them to him.

Anyway, I was friends with all these guys (still am) although no longer play with them. Two of the guys are in a new band together and have been trying to do the recording themselves. They have mentioned how much the appreciate all the work that I put into it and they wish they had been there to be more of a part of it. I wish they had too. I should have communicated that better at the time.

Good luck with it

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Post by vvv » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:02 am

Thanx.

I just rec'd two youchoob links from the drummer, "This is how I want the drums to sound."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M90tA302X3k
(The fecund is on Facebook - can't link here. It's some racetrack home made vid where the kit sounds more real, but the kick is about 4dB too high in the mix.)

Uh-huh.
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Post by vvv » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:59 pm

So I re-did the kick yet again onna cuppla songs, and sent 'em to the band for eval. Along with the tracks, I also made some comments, part of what are below:
----------------------------------------------------------------
I gotta admit, I do not like Incubus. That said, the drums are, IMO, totally over-produced and un-natural sounding - that is not what drums sound like in the room, and not even close to what your drums sound like. The kick is at least two close mic's, barely any overheads, totally EQ'd, has a slight slap and some other reverb onnit. Actually, I think it's a sampled kick, triggered, and very processed, possible multi-layered.

My approach is to make what we actually sound like sound as good as we can sound, not sound like something else.

There's a old saying goes: if you wanna sound like a Les Paul into a Marshall, play a Les Paul into a Marshall.

If you wanna sound like the Incubus track, we need to do drum replacement or you need to play a electronic kit what triggers samples, and we need to hire Scott Litt or similar to produce. My point is, that's a very expensive to make and artificial drum sound, calculated for the dance floor, and very well-mastered.

Next time we record, we may be able to get closer to that sound by isolating the drums more, not using overheads but rather spot mic's including on the cymbals, if you really wanna sound like Steely Dan, but listen to the context, the bass, the hand-claps, the shaker, the turntable and even the laid-back groove ... that's not a rock or folk or blues drum sound, that's a calculated studio/dance floor/commercial soft-rock radio sound. Without drum replacement/samples, we'd need to find a studio with a good drum room and an engineer who knows it, as opposed to a hack inna basement.
----------------------------------------------------------------

I hope I don't piss 'em off ... :twisted:
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Post by vvv » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:27 pm

This kick-mix issue could almost be in the "Recording" forum, almost.

Turns out, with the drummer's insisted-upon mic placement in the front head of and lack of deadening in his 2-head boomy kick, I have almost nothing above 250Hz on that track.

So I've tried EQ, various compression settings, limiting, combining (after eliminating) the low end of the OH's, etc.

On the 10th attempt, the drummer chose #9 (admitting his death-metal drums-playing son has been contributing to his opinion, WTF?)

Next was parallel compression and (thank you, Snarl!) distortion.

I'm getting closer.
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:05 pm

Yeah, distortion can actually add high end back to a muffled, boomy signal.

Edit. I want to see a photo of the next session with the kick mic going straight into a rat pedal and then into the board. That ought to give him an incubus meets steely dan vibe. Wtf?
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Post by vvv » Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:42 am

Actually, it's more toward Steely Dan than that:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M90tA302X3k
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