Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

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soundguy
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Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by soundguy » Sat Feb 05, 2005 11:48 pm

A good friend of mine from high school is playing in a band and when he found out I was in LA, he's been hounding me to come stop in and say hello. Rick Rubin is producing the record, a guy who engineered this year's indie sensation is engineering and they are recording in the house where RHCP blood sugar sex magic was done, along with the recent system of a down, mars volta, etc. Ive had a very strong opinion about BSSM since it came out and visiting the house confirmed so much of what I had been thinking all these years.

This is gonna sound really harsh and I know Im gonna take shit for it but with the way the industry is going these days, I think Im really beyond caring about it. If you guys have a lousy recording on your hands, its not the recorder, its not the mic, its not the console, its not the monitoring, its not the guitar or the drum kit or any other inanimate object you want to scapegoat, its YOU. In case you werent listening, the problem isnt your gear, its you.

The people here that are going to respond with some name calling feel free and knock your socks off, for the rest of you still reading, if you are gonna believe any of the bullshit on the internet (which is for porn), this might be a good lesson to note. The house is really cool and all and I dont mean to sell it short, but its a house. Period. A house. Parallel walls are what the place is about, its not a studio, its a house. Granted, a $200K console is wheeled in there, but beyond that, its a house, just like all the houses all of you guys are recording in with all the same problems your houses have. Yet, in spite of that, records that absolutely FORM generations are made in this space and the whole thing is very "tapeop" once you cut through the budget the pre-empts things there. Why do these records sound good? No, its not because of some fancy mic, no its not entirely because of some fancy console, its because of human talent. TALENT that makes these records, not equipment. The gear that is available to these guys of course makes the flow much easier to work with, but in the big picture, its only slightly relevant, its talent that makes this shit happen, its talent that makes it sound good and its talent that pulls it off.

The next time you feel like you need to spend money, or the next time that you are blaming your gear for the problem you are having, try to remind yourself of this and put things in perspective. Spending money will NOT solve your problems in so many of these cases. Buying the next new and hip thing will not solve your problems in so many of these cases. Following the advice of the internet guru of your chosing (I suppose this post included) will not solve your problems in so many of these cases. Its up to you and you alone. Not you and some gear, not you and some fancy studio, you skills alone.

I hate to break it to the nose turning fuck you indie Im so cool because I fuck the system types that read this board, but rick rubin is making platinum records in pretty much exactly the same acoustic environment as so many of the people that read this board. These records are recorded in a home fucking studio. Will you all please take a bite of this fucking sandwich and get over yourselves and start making good records? This shit doesnt need to be done in a million dollar studio and while the example Im citing has all the power in the universe available, certainly you dont need that to make a good record.

BSSM was a record that meant a lot to me as a kid and after hanging out there tonight, there are no more excuses for anything anymore. If you make a record that isnt that good, its your fault as an engineer for not delivering and its the bands fault as a band for not delivering and that is really the end of it. Theres just nothing special about the "studio" or the gear or anything that contributed to that record beyond the talent of the people who wrote the songs, the talent of the people who arranged the songs, the talent of the people who performed the songs, the talent of the people who recorded the songs, the talent of the people who mixed the songs and the talent of the guy that made it all work together so beautifully.

There is a human element to this game that is entirely overlooked and instead all anyone focuses on is the aspect of the gear, and of course they do just because its so easy to scapegoat a mic pre or a drum kit or a console or whatever. Start owning up to your own shortcomings and forget about upgrading your gear annd start focusing on upgrading your skills as an engineer. You guys are the future of music and currently from where I stand, music sucks. Dont let the future be comprised of a bunch of guys recoridng music who only ever looked at gear. Forget all the fucking gear and the best mic pre for under $100 and how cool you are because you fucked the system and just be real and look at yourselves and improve your skills. Making a record is easy if you let it be, make a good recording and when it sucks dont blame your pre, look at the real problems and do everything in your power to improve it. With an attitude like that, you can take a house, a tape deck and a dream and change the world. Jimmy Page recorded his band, Led Zeppelin at home and ruled the world. Rick Rubin has been making records at home since the early 90's and not only impacted my generation with a 30 ton weight with a home recording of the chili peppers, but continues to slay kids in high school today with home recordings of mars volta and system of a down. You can make all the excuses you want and you can scapegoat these people for having money all day long but these records were recorded in squares with parallel walls and ceilings and floors, acoustically hostile spaces, JUST LIKE YOURS and they totally rule becaue the people involved had some talent and a vision and the ability to achieve a goal: the realization of a vision.

you can do this. Lose your attitude and get inspired.

dave
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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by workshed » Sat Feb 05, 2005 11:56 pm

Damn, I know the Internet is for porn and all, but I'm feeling pretty inspired by reading the above rant. Great stuff, and more specifically, very inspiring for a relative newbie like me. Thanks for this post, Dave.

Now I need to go find some porn.

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by Scodiddly » Sat Feb 05, 2005 11:58 pm

Right on!

It's what I say once in a while on these forums - "yeah, you could buy those mic pre's for $1,000, but maybe the money would be better spent on voice lessons".

I don't claim that items like mic preamps are all hype, but for the average non-professional they really aren't worth the price. There are so many better places to put money, and education tops the list. What I've learned from various $20-50 books has been worth more than any little hardware gizmo or software plugin I could have bought with the same money.

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by TapeOpLarry » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:29 am

Fuck money. It's all about time. Tape Op gets sent a lot of home made CDs, and most suck. Taking time to write better and more songs, time to record versions of them til the magic one hits, time to put the mics in the right places...

BUT MOST IMPORTANT:
Spending the ridiculous amount of time needed on recording anything and everything until your skills are such that you can make great records on crap gear in a house. Or on an SSL!
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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by slimjw » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:37 am

Gee, Dave. It seems like the only one who needs to drop the attitude is you. If your intent by posting this rant was to inspire people, you failed. Besides the fact that you contradicted yourself throughout the whole post, you missed the point about the purpose of this board. Tape-Op is a great resource and no one here is confused about the role of gear vs. talent. What the hell?

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by assfortress » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:49 am

slimjw wrote:...If your intent by posting this rant was to inspire people, you failed...
workshed wrote:...Great stuff, and more specifically, very inspiring for a relative newbie like me...
"It?s the consequence you?ll pay, as long as you got the sound of it blowing up on tape."

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by severe » Sun Feb 06, 2005 1:06 am

I tend to agree, a little, with slim here. I dont think its so cut and dry. As with most anything, my belief is that its a bit of everything that makes better records. Yea, most importantly...musical talent, then good engineering skills and of course some decent gear. And c'mon man, those records were made with nearly anything, as far as gear, the artists wanted. Although I cant speak for all major label type productions, I happen to know first hand that that was the case at that particular house with a particular record made there. We should all be so lucky.
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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by thunderboy » Sun Feb 06, 2005 1:08 am

slimjw wrote:no one here is confused about the role of gear vs. talent. What the hell?
You obviously don't hang out here very often. Or on any other Audio-related board, for that matter.

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by JohnDavisNYC » Sun Feb 06, 2005 1:29 am

good post. but.... how old are you dave? i'm 23 and i consider BSSM part of my childhood... i always assumed you were older than me.... maybe i just latched onto that album at a young age. but yeah, agree with everything you said. now for some porn......

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by vvv » Sun Feb 06, 2005 2:25 am

Good recordings are porn.

OK, they're better.

But that's interesting about BSSM; not my fave Chili's record, but then I was in a power trio that covered "Super Secret Song Inside" and Sly and War and Stevie W. and even Kool and the Gang, (not to mention Cheech and Chong,) etc.

I believe the last NIN was recorded in a house (the Sharon Tate house,) also, although obviously heavily edited.
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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by touched1 » Sun Feb 06, 2005 2:27 am

I agree, good post. A little long, but the message is good and one I agree with. Would love to have seen the house, though I'm not a fan of RHCP, I am a fan of Rick Rubin. Very few modern producers can capture performances the way he does. (Yes! I know he's not the engineer! But I get the impression he does a lot to create the setting for "the take" to happen. And I also get the impression that he would know when the band has nailed it, even if they don't.)

I used to run sound at what passed for a cool small club in NYC. Lots of popular annoying indie bands came through. They would wine and complain about the sound and PA, sound checks would go on for hours, and they would tune their guitars endlessly onstage and yell for more kazoo in the monitors. And they still did not sound great. You get the picture.

Then Marc Ribot comes in. 10 minutes before the show. I am eager to help him because he is Fu$kin Marc Ribot, I'm on stage moving mics around, and I ask him what he needs in his monitors..... He puts a beer bottle under his borrowed amplifier to angle it slightly and says "I'm good".

And the sound that comes out of the borrowed amplifier that has been barely tweaked is unmistakebly Marc Ribot. It's great, it's effortless, it's how it should be. He was the sound. Not the amp, PA, or room.

I lost all respect for indie rock that night. Sorry. I just did.

Actually I'm not sorry.

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by tactics » Sun Feb 06, 2005 3:05 am

soundguy wrote: bullshit on the internet

Yeah it's everywhere.
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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by Harmony Head » Sun Feb 06, 2005 3:51 am

soundguy wrote:Granted, a $200K console is wheeled in there,
In general i agree with most everything Soundguy said, and could tell he was pretty passionate about it, which is nice, (although you didn't have to rant at us.. as has been stated before, this board is one of the last places around that understands what you're saying brother..)

I will say one thing though. Part of getting better at what we do as engineers and producers is knowing why a $200,000 desk is better than the pres in a 001. And while i'm grateful for the things i learned when i had to work harder to get things sounding how i liked when a Joe Meek VC3 was the only pre i had, i'm quite enjoying not having to work so hard now that i have MUCH better gear at my disposal.

So while i agree with the general thing of what you're saying... that it's not about the room, it's all about people's skills etc... your 'granted' is a big one. A $200k desk is no guarantee, but if you're in the position to be working with one, your job sure did get a little easier..

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by Family Hoof » Sun Feb 06, 2005 7:26 am

touched1 wrote:Then Marc Ribot comes in. 10 minutes before the show. I am eager to help him because he is Fu$kin Marc Ribot, I'm on stage moving mics around, and I ask him what he needs in his monitors..... He puts a beer bottle under his borrowed amplifier to angle it slightly and says "I'm good".
I set up for Marc in the studio once and he was incredibly easy to please, low maintenance. The only two things he said were "Where do you want me?" and "Do you have a Fender amp? I don't care what kind". He wasn't really worried about the settings or how it was miked. "Tone is in the hands" is my favorite motto lately, as my clients will tell you.

BTW, Dave, that was a ripping post!

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Re: Blood Sugar Sex Magic and your F you indie spirit

Post by T-rex » Sun Feb 06, 2005 8:17 am

Man, excellent post. I totally agree with everything except as much as I loved that album back then, it feels really dated to me now. If I hear Under the Bridge one more time I will probably kill myself.

Seriously though, very inspiring. I am getting ready to intern at a local studio so I can learn to use what I have better. I am pretty hard on my work as a recorder because I know I am learning. When I am doing a mix and throw up a reference song to gain some perspective, it can get a bit demoralizing. You have to ask yourself, "Can I ever get from where I am to where I want to be with what I have?" I guess the answer, at least in your opinion, is "Yes, just keep working at it. "
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