I spent the last two days (many thanks to my wife, children and dog for tolerating my absence) recording with The Motor Primitives (see post here for some photos.) Rather than going to an actual recording studio, we hired Ken Busch (of Aniv de la Rev fame) to bring his gear to our drummer, Robin's house, where we rehearse on a weekly basis. Most recording studios aren't very pleasant physical spaces in which to spend large chunks of time. Having actual sunlight in the room was a new experience for me while recording, as was seeing a large dog or two walk past me while trying to lay down a track. The end result is still an unknown, but I must say that I feel better, physically, than I have ever felt after two days of recording. The familiar environment made the whole endeavor much more relaxed and I think it allowed us to be more efficient. Things that from past experience would have normally taken multiple takes were frequently finished in only one or two. Laying down vocal tracks also seemed much easier without the stress of feeling like we were in a "Recording Studio." Credit must be given to engineer Ken Busch for being very relaxed and easy going, offering his opinion when he thought it was necessary or when asked, but also giving us credit for being seasoned musicians who know when things are right and when they aren't right. (It's always good to have an unbiased set of ears around, but it's also important for the engineer to let you do your thing without trying to impose his or her personal tastes on the project.) My band mates were also less uptight than is often the case while recording - supportive of different levels of perfectionism and ways of doing things. Recording can often involve large amounts of time spent being ready to go while waiting for someone else to finish their bit, particularly when working with a small budget (and we are talking seriously small budget on this project - it's not unusual to spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars on recording alone. It's possible to record each individual note by each individual player separately and multiple times, and some people actually do it that way. I think our budget is around $500, so we're not going to achieve perfection. We're hoping for something that sounds pretty good and is fun to listen to.) That can lead to internal tension, something that didn't seem to be a problem at all this time around. At one point, Pam made a rude gesture in my direction (involving a single extended finger) which made me laugh. Later, she commented that it was refreshing to be able to do that and not have it result in hard feelings. That little exchange made me think about how this group works so well together with very little of the interpersonal clashing I've experienced in most groups. Sure, we disagree about things, but so far we've been able to deal with artistic disagreements without anyone taking it too personally - an anomaly in artistic endeavors with which I've been involved.
As I said, the finished product is yet to be realized (we still have to go through the whole mix-down and mastering process.) In the past, at this point in the recording process, I typically feel like things sound pretty bad, but it usually ends up sounding much better after mixing. Thus, my hope is that, since I'm feeling pretty good about how things sound right now, after mixing it will sound even better. Stay tuned.