I just wrapped a three-day recording session with my country band, The Paisley Fields. We recorded five songs in the first two days. One the last day, we tackled final vocals and overdubs. The recording sessions were incredible, and I am excited to share them with you soon! Below are my 9 tricks to get the most out of your time in the studio.
1. Practice. Duh.
Are you playing to a click track? Practice with a click track. Are you playing as a full band or recording separately? Practice that way. A mistake I’ve made in the past is practicing the wrong way or not practicing enough. Practice how and what you are going to play in the studio. Things will most likely change once you get in there, but the smarter you practice, the more efficient you will be.
2. Take care of yo’self.
Make sure you always get your 8 hours and plenty of water. A tired voice and a tired mind make for sloppy takes. Take care of yourself, so you’re ready to go when they call you into the booth.
3. Be the worst player in the room. No. Really.
You’re going to be much happier. As a band leader I think the ideal situation is to be the worst player in the room. When I was in the studio, I was blown away by some of the playing. You don’t want to be banging your head against the wall while your tuba player fumbles through his 20th take. It’s much better to get the chills when your guitar player channels Jimi Hendrix and nails the solo.
4. Make a list. Check it twice.
This goes along with practice. Have a plan before you enter the studio. What songs are you recording? What parts are you recording for those songs? In what order? Are you playing to a click track? You should know all the answers to these questions, before laying down that deposit for the studio. Time is money and the more you prepare, the more effective the session.
5. Keep your crew tight.
Making an album takes an army. If you’re going to do it right, you must work with the right people. Know what you want. If you’re not self-producing, hire a producer you will work well with. Get the right engineers in there- professionals who know the gear and can get the best sound out of you and your band. If you’re hiring session musicians, get the best players you can afford. If you have the right group working with you, it’s gonna come through on the final product. This also goes for everything that happens after you finish recording: mixing/mastering engineers, publicists, managers, booking agents and the like.
6. Be comfortable enough to expose yourself. (Not literally.)
If you’re not comfortable, you’re probably not going to have a great take. Sometimes it’s good to put yourself in uncomfortable situations to grow, but the studio is not one of them. You want not only a comfortable space, but also you want to be comfortable with the people you are working with. Music is a very personal thing. You are exposed when you perform. You probably don’t want to get naked in front of someone who makes you uncomfortable. Same goes for recording.
7. Have your secrets.
This is a bit ambiguous, but important. I think every great artist has secret tricks or rituals when they go into the studio. I have mine. Find yours. Whatever your secrets are, keep them to yourself. Let your tricks give you that edge.
8. Check your :( and your ego at the door.
A good attitude goes a long way. Treat everyone with respect. Not only will you get much more done, but you’ll have a better time. Know everybody’s name. Remember why you’re in there: to make music.
9. Have fun.
If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.
Look for The Paisley Fields’ first studio EP Oh These Urban Fences… later this summer. Sign up for our mailing list, and get an exclusive download of a song before the release!