1. The most important thing every band should do before going to record is to make sure every band member is on board with recording in the first place. It makes it harder to accomplish any goals if the group cannot determine a direction or have everyone be committed to a common goal. Quickest way to derail a recording is to have a member of the group trying to record without being fully committed to the performance.
In one of my bands, we had decided that we wanted to record an album. Most of us were on board with the idea. The only person that was not whole heartedly on board was our guitarist. We had all of our guitar scratch tracks done and the drums where finished. It was time to record the guitars. Our guitarist was so against the recording that he would come up with any excuse not to record. We heard everything from there is something wrong with my amp to my guitar doesn’t sound right, and my personal favorite, the sky is blue. I can’t make this stuff up!
After weeks of hearing the same excuses, we decided not to record and start to pursue live performances. Mysteriously, once we decided to start doing live shows, his gear seemed to work perfectly. In the time it took him to tell us, in his backward way, he didn’t want to record, we could have been show ready instead of having to waste more time. Watch out for these people.
2. The second most important thing every band should do before going to record is to take stock of your talents and create expectations based on your talent level. You can’t expect to make the next great Metallica-like album if you have only been playing guitar for three months. If you have been playing for 15 plus years, why not challenge yourself and your talents. Create those expectations before going into the studio so you have something to reach for as you practice.
Taking stock of your talents will also help you decide what type of recording to use. A full band “live” recording may be the best approach if you are new to the recording game and don’t have the funds to spend hours in the studio. Live recording also be good if you are a seasoned band and can play the songs blindfolded. Try playing blindfolded, it’s kind of fun! Track for track may be best if you cannot seem to nail that 2nd chorus in one try. Knowing your talent level is huge in determining how to record so don’t skip this step.
3. The third most important thing every band should do before going to record is to decide what you are recording for. Are you recording to get a quick demo made so that you can start peddling it to local bars and clubs? Are you trying to release an album?
Knowing why you are recording will also help determine how our band should record. If you are doing a quick demo, you would obviously not need to spend a lot of time getting ready or even recording for that matter.
Also, ask yourself why you are recording. No one can answer this one for you, but just make sure you are not doing it for all the wrong reasons.
4. The fourth most important thing every band should do before going to record is to determine what songs that you want to use as well as the order of those songs. This will hold true no matter what you are recording for. You don’t want to use weak songs on a demo that can get you that awesome gig just like you don’t want to use weak songs on an album.
Once you have the best songs picked, take time to determine the best order of those songs. Make sure they work well together and create the energy from song to song that you want a potential listener to feel. If the songs don’t work well together, try moving the order around or maybe even cut a song entirely.
This may work best if you were to create a scratch recording of the songs before had. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You could use a video camera, a smart phone, a cassette tape, anything. This is just to hear what the songs sound like together outside of actually playing them with your instruments.
5. The fifth most important thing every band should do before going to record is to make sure your songs are finished. Nothing is worst then trying to make up lyrics or solos in studio.
When I was recording this High School metal band, I told them to write all the solos ahead of time. He decided that he was just going to “wing it” because he wanted to use the feeling of the moment to create the solos. Needless to say, the solos did not turn out well. Have you ever listened to a song and turned it off at a certain part because you can’t stand that one part? That’s basically what happened here.
As for lyrics, how can you expect the crowd to sing along if the words are different every time you play the song? Tell your singer to stop being lazy and finish the lyrics!
Finally, PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Goes without saying!
If you have any funny stories about your recording experience, leave us a comment. The best ones will be shared with all of our fans.