Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

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Dubmaniac
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Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by Dubmaniac » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:33 am

Okay, gang. Think back over all the recordings you've made over the years. What was the most unusual one you ever did? And why? I'll get the ball rolling. About 20 years ago, I was asked to run live sound at an event and to roll tape as well. It was a graduation performance in an auditorium for a teenage girl who had completed her training in bharatnatyam, or classical Indian dance. As part of her traditional costume, she had small bells, kind of like sleigh bells, on her ankles, that would jingle every time she moved. They also had a live band from India playing the music for her performance, consisting of vocals, sitar and a bizarre little box with knobs and buttons on it, which turned out to be an electronic tabla unit. Miking the vocals and sitar was easy, and the electronic tabla box had a line out, as I recall. The hardest part was picking up the jingling of the girl's ankle bells (and yes, they did request that they be amplified). I used a PZM on the stage floor. It worked fairly well, but a wireless lapel mic on her leg would have worked better, if I'd had one. It was stressful, but I had a great time, and I learned a lot that night- being flexible, having the right gear, finding solutions to problems I'd never come across before, and the benefits of getting out of my comfort zone to name a few. Also that teenage girls sometimes step on PZMs when they're dancing.

So far, I'd say that one is my most unusual recording gig. What's yours?
"Stare with your ears"- Ken Nordine

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:46 am

It must say something about me that the only thing that comes to mind are the exceptional weird and/or terrible sessions I've done.
One of the best was a session for a local singer's dad. The band we're all ringers from the local scene but dad couldn't really follow the drummer and having the drummer follow him felt like a tempo roller coaster. In the end we decided to track a few songs instrumentally and have him overdub the vocal. No matter how we cued him he would start the song one or two beats early or late. Finally out of frustration we recorded a whole song with the out of time vocal. I slid it back two beats and it was perfect. He sang the whole song perfectly while being two beats off. It was insane.

More in keeping with the idea of the thread, there is a singer/songwriter duo that I work with quite often that draw heavily on medieval music mixed with instrumentation from all corners of the world. I love working on those records because I get to record instruments that I've never heard or seen before like the nyckelharpa or the water gong. There's a song we worked on for the last record that was mostly build from drums, Moog bass, tape loops and vocals. The song is about Vikings of course.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by markjazzbassist » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:05 pm

when i lived in new orleans i had a soul/jazz band that played in this joint every friday night in the french quarter. funny thing was it used to be a strip club. a guy bought it and the only change he made was to tear down the stripper pole and change the name outside to "mahogany jazz hall" LOL . we played on the same stage (with a gigantic mirror behind us) and everything. tourists didn't know what it used to be so we used to pack the place but it was always kinda funny. the private rooms in the back were still there, drunk tourists would sometimes wander back there to make out, which was disgusting considering what had previously taken place there (it was a grimey strip joint if you catch my drift). eventually he redid the joint and it looks passable but for a while there it was interesting to say the least.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by losthighway » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:22 pm

I have stories about ill-advised extended/stoned jams I was paid for, and fist fights in my studio, and one particularly upsetting episode with a client's unusually large bowel movement in the studio toilet.

None seem like they're from this intended topic. But maybe I'll start another thread, or dish if this is the right spot.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by vvv » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:52 pm

My very first 3rd party band recording was using my little Tascam Porta 2 and a pair of 58's to capture a 5 song demo for this all-gurrl band, The Barbie Army. They were, I think, 2 guitars, bass, drums. The drummer was the mother of my bassist's child and also she was (and is now married, I heard) gay - she was cool. The lead singer was pretty, highly intelligent and college-educated (like, just below or was Ivy league) and other girls were very street, all taking their cues more or less from the L7, Babes in Toyland, Joan Jett, etc. To the point where they pinned tampons on their leather or denim jackets ...

We recorded in this old 3-strory bank building by Humbolt Park, what was undergoing demo to become residential,inna big freshly wallboarded room with ladders and tarps and 5 gal. paint cans and no treatment. I used Rat Shack 6" Optimus speakers for monitors and mixed in the same place, all done in one 6 or 8 hour stretch onna Saturday morning.

But they were pretty good, altho' for my 32 y.o. arse it was a trip wrangling 4 strong-willed females with just my 'tude and a 4-track. Successfully, I might add; they gigged the famous Checkerboard Lounge, and Metro, using my recording as a demo. A few months later they hired some guy with a Tascam 238 8-track for another go, album length, and brought me in to "produce". I recall he wasn't very good, and was in a hurry, and the results were not great, so I ended up re-recording some of the songs using the Porta 2 again. This was the early 90's, before home-recorded CD's, and nothing ever went to vinyl, but they did have some nice cassettes printed up - my bassist was actually a printer!
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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:42 am

I have a couple unusual recording stories, but I don't know how to tell them without sounding like I was dissing the clients, and I don't think that's a good look.

So instead I'll riff on dub's sig quote:

"Stare with your ears"- Ken Nordine

Back in college, we'd be sitting around getting :high: , which I'm led to believe is not uncommon on college campuses. Anyway we'd have music on, and at some point some song/recording would capture my attention, and I'd be Really Listening to it. The way we do.

So there I am, listening intently, oblivious to whoever else is in the room with me, and on a couple occasions it'd go like this:

them: *nervously, hesitatingly* uh...dude? what are you looking at?
me: *snaps out of it* oh hahahaha sorry! i wasn't using my eyes!

I must've looked so weird to them. But clearly I went into the right line of work.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by drumsound » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:43 pm

There's a local guy I like to call Hippie Gregg. He's lived here for years, has a small and simple life and loves music. He occasionally books a few hours to do some sort of improvised music. I rarely know in advance how many people will be there, or what instruments they will play. The last time there was a brother and sister, who came in from Wisconsin to be on the session. The brother builds unique instruments and the sister plays piano. She's a talker...

As the day progressed, more people showed up to do various things. There a distinct sound of the door opening during a take. A second piano player came, and she's quite a lovely player.

The sister (I cannot remember her name for the life of me) has a bad habit of talking up to the moment someone starts playing and starts up the moment someone signals the "end." I explained a few different times during the day to be silent so instruments can have a nice, natural decay. After the second or third time through the speech everyone said they would be really careful and wait until I gave the all clears. The two women were sitting on the piano bench, both contributing to the next improvisation. The "second" piano player played some very beautiful things and most of the other (4, 5, 13...?) people were pretty keyed to her, and playing off that. They found what made sense fo an end, with a final chord on piano, dulcimer and something else. OF COURSE the sister says to the other piano play "That was so pretty," and continued talking.

When my girl texted me during to day to ask how the session was going, my answer was "Its like herding cats."

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by losthighway » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:46 pm

drumsound wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:43 pm
When my girl texted me during to day to ask how the session was going, my answer was "Its like herding cats."
This reminds me, any of you guys ever have a session where the band brings in some dude that going to "help them out", and basically head-fucks everything they're trying to do, sort of an anti-producer?

There was a guy a while back who seemed to have all the worst instincts, would freakout an insecure singer by standing with another pair of headpones and pointing while they sang, make people redo parts after they finally nailed them, give the thumbs up on the worst take. Send people to sing against the wall cause it "sounds so cool" on a part where it's not working. But they brought him, so I tried to not let him ruin them.... weird situation.

Oh yeah, and when he left he gave me his card.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by drumsound » Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:29 pm

losthighway wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:46 pm
drumsound wrote:
Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:43 pm
When my girl texted me during to day to ask how the session was going, my answer was "Its like herding cats."
This reminds me, any of you guys ever have a session where the band brings in some dude that going to "help them out", and basically head-fucks everything they're trying to do, sort of an anti-producer?

There was a guy a while back who seemed to have all the worst instincts, would freakout an insecure singer by standing with another pair of headpones and pointing while they sang, make people redo parts after they finally nailed them, give the thumbs up on the worst take. Send people to sing against the wall cause it "sounds so cool" on a part where it's not working. But they brought him, so I tried to not let him ruin them.... weird situation.

Oh yeah, and when he left he gave me his card.
Oh, yes, I know "that" guy. A couple of times I have told artist point blank: "Your friend needs to not come back, he just cost you $400." I find that adding a dollar figure tends to make the point very simply and effectively.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:26 am

One experience I keep having is this:

Artist does one take, in another studio, in the dark, nebulous past. It is not to their standard of playing. They admit this openly.

Artist has lots of editing done to said one take. Never gets what they want out of the one take. Two, three, even four engineers before me attempt to make it into something it cannot possible become.

Me: Let's record another take of this.

Artist: NO FUCKING WAY I ALREADY PAID TOO MUCH TO GO AND DO ANOTHER TAKE. WE HAVE TO SALVAGE THIS NO MATTER WHAT BECAUSE I SPENT TOO MUCH MONEY ALREADY. I REFUSE TO PLAY IT AGAIN.

Mind you, this is not some impossible guitar solo that could only be played by a God on Crack. No. It is a very simply rhythm part. Not hard to play at all.

And so I bow out of this sort of work. I refuse out of basic decency to the Art of Music. And for my own sanity.

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by vvv » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:19 am

Killin' time at work, I'll tell one where I was the "artiste".

So we're in Solid Sound working with just one of the nicest guys and a really good producer, Phil Bonnet, R.I.P.
And because we are young (late 20's) and excited and full of dumb, we are drinking as we record. I recall it was jug wine.

Phil was such a cool guy, he even took a few moments to show me how he was augmenting the snare with samples where necessary (and it was) and some other tricks, what were pretty new to me, and even new as tech in general - this would have been about '88 or so, so it wasn't too common on my level, anywhat.

So towards the end of the session we are doing BV's on our funk cover of "Thankyafalettin'me" and I lose my voice. I mean, I can barely eak out a whisper, much less sing the last choruses.

So I move from plonk to lemon water and Phil starts setting up to fly in the vocals from another take, what, in '88 was not necessarily that easy in that all this dig-igear was pretty new. (A week or two before he had The Little River Band in, and had some stories there.)

Well, he finally gets it all set to go and my voice came back right when he calls us in to the control room. I did end up being able to finish the take, and it was acceptable.

And I learned a lesson - no more wine when doing a vocal session, only whiskey or gin or vodker.
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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by Magnetic Services » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:53 pm

This summer I recorded at a couple sessions of a rock 'n roll camp for girls (aged 8-16). Each time it was ten bands in about 4 hours, each doing 2-3 takes of a single song before the next band rolled in and they went back to their pizza party or decorating signs and whatnot.

I brought my mobile rig in a 6u portable rack with 11 channels of preamps plus mics, stands, cables, and laptop. Set up on a huge empty stage in an extremely reverberant auditorium, but I was actually able to get pretty decent isolation. At the first session I fucked up the clocking linking my two interfaces together and got some truly nasty jitter (Izotope de-click to the rescue!!!). Second session was a lot better.

Some of these girls were absolute prodigies, but many were picking up an instrument for the first time ever so performance was the main issue. Editing was a bitch because at least one person was extremely off in almost every single take. Overall it was a super fun experience, totally out of my comfort zone audio-wise and socially (one of the only males in this place full of giggly tween girls). Learned a heck of a lot though. Makes me not want to do live recording.

The best parts were the amazing band names and song titles. Some highlights....
Bands: Forsaken Magic, Silent Chaos, The Tie-Dye Tigers, Duck Socks, Misshapen Fruits, Pineapple Pizza, UR Mom
Songs: Existing is Exhausting, Traveling Through Dimensions, Camping in the Light of Nature

tldr: wacky tunes from girls rock camp: https://soundcloud.com/girls-rock-mke/tracks

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by Recycled_Brains » Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:36 am

Does grilling meat in the same room as the band/equipment count?
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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by drumsound » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:15 am

Recycled_Brains wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:36 am
Does grilling meat in the same room as the band/equipment count?
Talk about a greasy rhythm section...

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Re: Unusual recording gigs and new experiences- share your stories

Post by digitaldrummer » Thu Oct 25, 2018 11:06 am

I recorded this one a few years ago....

https://jaapblonk.bandcamp.com/album/north-of-blanco

it is of the "noise genre" so rather than describe that, just listen for a minute and you will get the picture.

this was one of several "noise" recordings made around this time. Strange vocal sounds and many non-traditional instruments so it was kind of fun to figure out how I was going to mic something. lots of room mics too. and a few that were DI. but very strange sessions... I was employed to play drums on a few as well. I once did an impromptu drum/sax duet but I don't think the sax player really played sax...

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