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Old 09-22-2013, 05:29 PM   #1
slimjimmypage
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Bandmate mixing and collaborating w/ a bad attitude

Hi, so I guess this thread kind of fits into this subforum, but I don't go anywhere except GB&C. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets relocated somewhere else. (I realize this is a long post, so feel free to skim, the last paragraph is the prompt.) Anyhow, my band is recording our first EP, and we decided to do this in our practice space (lead guitarist's basement/bar/game room). We have a decent collection of mics and gear between us (I say us, it's just me and the lead guitarist, who happens to also be my best friend). Mics and gear and know-how are not the issue here, though. The issue is that he wants to mix it. Initially, at least, this was not a problem. Engineering went fine, but a week ago he emailed us all what he considered the final mixes of two of the songs. It sounded really different to when we tracked it, and rough mixed it together. Turns out he turned his rhythm and lead tracks up a fair margin above my rhythm track, and what's worse, my vocals. His rhythm track was a little fast, too, and I'm sure mine is as well, but I couldn't hear it. So I asked him if he'd be open to retracking his, and he got really pissed off about that. Our drummer agreed, and so the lead guitarist retracked it, and it was in time.

Yesterday, I went over to retrack a few lines of vocals because I wasn't satisfied with the original takes. I happened to ask him if he could make our rhythm tracks equal volumes. He said they were. They aren't. I also asked him to turn down his solos. He wouldn't because they'd get "lost in the mix". I asked him to just try it. He did, and it worked. Then, he claimed he hadn't turned it down at all, and then played it again at the original volume. Other BS has happened at band practices when we're fleshing out a song idea, where he'll just be noodling the whole time, and needs a part 100% of the time, or else he'll moan and cry about the song being empty and how bored he is.

My question is this: How do I talk to him about his bad attitude towards mixing and collaborating? I feel bad because he tries to write songs, but they aren't good, I tell him they need work, and then he gets pissy about that. I feel like maybe he doesn't feel his creativity is represented in the final product, but I really don't want all of our songs to be overly complex, twenty guitar overdub P.O.S.s. That's fine and dandy for most of our stuff, emphasis on the piece of shit part, but there needs to be some low bits.

Anyhow, I want to tell him he needs to be more amicable, but I don't want to lose his support and friendship. I'm tired of him getting everything he wants in the mixing and day-to-day, but I could see how he could feel the same way towards me. Anyone older, wiser, more grizzled, and experienced care to help out?
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:03 PM   #2
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First of all, don't let him mix it himself. If he is the kind of person you are making him out to be and he will change the tracks to make his shit stand out anymore, then he shouldn't be mixing, or at least not without supervision and direct input from the other band members. Don't make it seem like you are "supervising" him though. As far as the current mix goes, take it to someone with a more experienced opinion/ear. Whether it's an actual engineer or someone you know who is well versed in it doesn't matter (actually, a real engineer would be preferable). Get an outside opinion on it, preferably an uninterested 3rd party (one that agrees with you). Also what do your other bandmates think, do they agree with you? Because if they do that is a lot of leverage in itself.

As far as his shitty songwriting, offer to write with him. If he goes off and writes all the parts to a crappy song on his own and brings it in, you can either play it as is and make him happy (and sound bad), alter it and piss him off, or flat out reject it and really piss him off. Try to make him feel like he came up with some ideas while you guys are writing, when in fact you came up with it. A great negotiator will make his opponent come to the conclusion he wants while the opponent thinks it was his own idea all along. If he comes and says "hey lets do X" you can say "yeah that's a great idea Chip! But can we try X' I think it'll sound awesome".

In terms of him feeling bored because he isn't playing something 100% of the time or there aren't 20 guitar overdubs, that just sounds like immaturity, hopefully it will pass.

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Old 09-22-2013, 06:08 PM   #3
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He sounds like a typical lead guitarist who wants to solo over everything and overplays. I would just kick him out, you'll just have more problems with him in the future. Making the song sound as good as possible should be the most important thing. Or at least have a serious talk with him.

Tell him that many times songs need space. It sounds a lot better when there's more space in the song, at least in some parts - dynamics are good and sometimes it's cool when only bass guitar or drums or rhythm guitar is playing. Your lead guitarist only seems to be interested in how his own playing sounds in the album, not how the band sounds like.

Songs shouldn't be made fun to play, they should be made sound good. And it's fun to play a song if it sounds good. If everybody's part was the most fun to play, everybody would shred like Malmsteen at the same time. That would not sound good. As a bassist I will play the low E note throughout the whole song if it needs it. It may not be the most fun thing to do but if it makes the song sound good, I'll play it. The song is the most important thing. See my signature.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:22 PM   #4
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You can either kick him out or wait (possibly a loooooooooooooooooooong time) for him to get over himself.

But yeah, he definitely shouldn't be mixing if he's bringing his ego into it like that.
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Old 09-22-2013, 08:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Haynus_aynus
Also what do your other bandmates think, do they agree with you? Because if they do that is a lot of leverage in itself.


They agree with me, and the drummer told him that, but he didn't change anything. I'm going to have a serious talk with him, and hopefully he won't be too mad.
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Old 09-22-2013, 08:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Danjo's Guitar
You can either kick him out or wait (possibly a loooooooooooooooooooong time) for him to get over himself.

But yeah, he definitely shouldn't be mixing if he's bringing his ego into it like that.


I don't want to kick him out because he is a really talented and nice guy, and we're really close. I don't want him mixing alone, but it kind of comes down to that because he won't give any of us individual tracks for some reason, and he's the only one with a full version of Reaper. I'm going to bring an MP3 version to my guitar teacher who dabbles in production to see if he can offer any insight. What I'm really worried about is talking to my bandmate about this because he can be kind of unpredictable.
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:17 AM   #7
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Mixing is something that really should be done by someone outside the band. I always want my guitar louder. That's why I pass the duties over to someone who didn't play the mad guitar solos.

Try getting together, and listening to some of your favourite tracks. Talk about how loud the guitar/vocals/bass/drums are on the tracks etc. You'll generally find that the guitar solos are usually not as loud as you remember.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHB
Mixing is something that really should be done by someone outside the band. I always want my guitar louder. That's why I pass the duties over to someone who didn't play the mad guitar solos.

Try getting together, and listening to some of your favourite tracks. Talk about how loud the guitar/vocals/bass/drums are on the tracks etc. You'll generally find that the guitar solos are usually not as loud as you remember.


Ooooh, that sounds like a really good idea.

Just to give a little (possibly helpful) background info, he was going to mix this same EP about 6 months ago, but the drummer and bassist we had back then were so awful that it never panned out. I didn't know how he was going to be mixing because I hadn't heard anything, but back then I didn't care.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:21 PM   #9
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External help isn't always the answer. Sometimes, you just need to get down and do stuff yourself. The software Reaper doesn't cost THAT much compared to other software, and even if you are on a tight budget you don't want to keep letting him mix, he sounds like the person that if you gave him an inch he would turn it into a mile.
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by samuelzz10
External help isn't always the answer. Sometimes, you just need to get down and do stuff yourself. The software Reaper doesn't cost THAT much compared to other software, and even if you are on a tight budget you don't want to keep letting him mix, he sounds like the person that if you gave him an inch he would turn it into a mile.


I would, but there are couple of problems with that. The first is that I don't really know all that much about mixing except for the little bits I pick up from Gearslutz rant forums. The second is that there is no way in hell he'll give me all of the files. He's now refusing to give us other members MP3s of the songs he's mixing. He claims that he doesn't want our EP to "leak". Which I think is funny, considering that we're not famous, and no one is looking for advance copies of it. I'm being stretched really thin, and I think I'm just gonna talk to him tomorrow after school, and if he's pissed off, he'll be pissed off. I guess I can live with that for a little bit.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:13 AM   #11
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Also, if he snatches the mixes away from his friend, only to horde them and slave over them himself, he will look like a complete dick and a hypocrite. So I would suggest NOT doing that.
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:33 PM   #12
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I don't understand why the hell you'd even keep working with this guy, honestly.
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:51 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by slimjimmypage
I would, but there are couple of problems with that. The first is that I don't really know all that much about mixing except for the little bits I pick up from Gearslutz rant forums. The second is that there is no way in hell he'll give me all of the files. He's now refusing to give us other members MP3s of the songs he's mixing. He claims that he doesn't want our EP to "leak". Which I think is funny, considering that we're not famous, and no one is looking for advance copies of it. I'm being stretched really thin, and I think I'm just gonna talk to him tomorrow after school, and if he's pissed off, he'll be pissed off. I guess I can live with that for a little bit.

A band is a collaborative effort. If he doesn't want to give out the mix or MP3s he should at least let you sit in with him and have input in regard to the mix.

He probably feels he's working his ass off putting in a ton of effort to try to produce something awesome. You need to respect that he is willing to do the work. Mixing is not a five minute job. But he also needs to remember that a fresh set of ears can be helpful and that as a mixer he is answerable to the band as ultimately it is their sound he is mixing and they have to be happy with it.

It's not fair of him to think that he has complete creative control over the production of the song if that is not something that the rest of the band has agreed. Creative control in the production of a CD has to be agreed by the band. If they get a producer in and trust that producer then they effectively relinquish that creative control into the hands of a trusted expert. However if the producer or mixer doesn't do a good job and they listen to the track and are not happy they might as a band decide to bring someone else in to do the job.

He deserves to be treated with respect for the effort and work that he is putting in but he needs to be reminded that when he works as the "mixer" or "producer" of the EP that he is working for the band, not for himself, and is answerable to the band as a whole. The band should have equal input and be able to listen to and suggest changes to the EP that will be released with their name on it telling the world about their sound.

He probably wants it to be perfect when people hear it - including friends and family as well as fans. That's cool but if he's turning all his own tracks up too loud then he's not the man for the job or needs to be nudged that way. Have him read the Slash autobiography I'm sure there's a part in there where he says that Gilby or Izzy or one of the band members got behind the desk and then mixed the song so that all his parts were louder because he felt they were buried and couldn't be heard. It is a common mistake for band members mixing their own work - EGO is a powerful thing.
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Old 09-26-2013, 02:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 20Tigers
Have him read the Slash autobiography I'm sure there's a part in there where he says that Gilby or Izzy or one of the band members got behind the desk and then mixed the song so that all his parts were louder because he felt they were buried and couldn't be heard. It is a common mistake for band members mixing their own work - EGO is a powerful thing.


I recall that part in the book, and it was immediately what jumped to mind when I read that thread. I vaguely recall him staying up late by himself, stumbling out of the studio and saying "I think I finally got it guys". At which point they listen to the extremely muddy mixes.

I don't recall him putting his ego into it though, I think he genuinely thought that they were the best mixes. Obviously his parts were the loudest but I don't think there was malice intentions behind it - he just thought that was the best mix. And he was very wrong.

Perhaps that's similar to what's happening here. As you mentioned mixing is not a 5 minute job, and the guy may be very proud of his work, not wanting anyone to mess with the "perfect mix". Obviously Izzy was dragged out and we have one of the best rock albums of all time as a result.

I have to say that I've done a lot of recordings, both in professional and amateur environments, and am not a fan of the mixing process at all. Basically everyone wants their part louder, except for the vocalist, who wants their voice quieter. Fight for a long time and give up. Nowdays (probably for the last year) I just ask the (professional) mixer to make a mix he likes. Even if I don't like it at the time, I like it later. Good enough.
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Old 09-26-2013, 08:11 AM   #15
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Yeah I don't mean ego in a selfish or malicious way. Ego can be a very healthy thing.

It's not a matter of thinking they are better than everyone else - they just want to hear their part louder in the mix. - Probably because they are so used to focusing on their part so they think that is how the song should sound best. It is quite normal, but the difficulty in letting their part sit more quietly in the mix is a result of ego.

And you're right, its usually best to let someone that isn't in the band mix it - a fresh, independent ear that will put each part in it's own space and do what's right for the song.
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Old 10-09-2013, 06:02 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by AlanHB
Mixing is something that really should be done by someone outside the band. I always want my guitar louder. That's why I pass the duties over to someone who didn't play the mad guitar solos.

Try getting together, and listening to some of your favourite tracks. Talk about how loud the guitar/vocals/bass/drums are on the tracks etc. You'll generally find that the guitar solos are usually not as loud as you remember.


+1

get the band together and have a talk with him. Suggest this......

--everybody gets to do their own mix (1 song)....since he´s the only one with the knowledge he can help and show you guys how but he has to do what is suggested by each of you. Get Another musician too pitch in too....

--now you have 3-4 different final mixes and then take a pole from family/friends/facebook/UG users etc. on which is best and why...it doesn´t matter if they´re not perfect....this is why your doing this

it´s really win-win...you get:

*audience participation
*a non byass opinion
*create hype about your upcoming release


when it comes to band management then dictator=good
when it comes to band sound then dictator=bad
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:47 AM   #17
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Mics and gear and know-how are not the issue here, though.


Maybe not know-how, but experience is most definitely the issue. I think all of us start at that place that sees us mixing our own part louder than it should be. You can always pick out something mixed by a guitarist. Haha. And this is exactly what is happening.

He needs experience in listening objectively, with the whole song in mind, and how his part fits into that. You don't mix parts and tracks - you mix songs.

You can talk to him all day long, but he is not going to get this experience from talking about it. He needs to learn by doing. If the band can help him, great. If not, you need someone else to do it.

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Old 10-24-2013, 01:50 PM   #18
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Why don't you work on it together? Make it almost fun in the sense of listening to that maybe relaxed environment. As far as bad song writing I know that my brother who is a drummer hates being around waiting for new riffs to come out of the amp so he gets his game boy. But if me and the guitarist/vocalist (I'm a bass player) work on a song and lyrics and jam out a rough version of the song my brother picks it up good.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:18 AM   #19
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It's probably a good update to say that I talked to him and he was pretty pissed for a day or two, but then he got over it. He sent the mixes out to everyone after each session he did. They sound really good.

But as soon as the group got over that issue, more arose! Read more in the next thread I post.
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:06 PM   #20
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It's probably a good update to say that I talked to him and he was pretty pissed for a day or two, but then he got over it. He sent the mixes out to everyone after each session he did. They sound really good.

But as soon as the group got over that issue, more arose! Read more in the next thread I post.


Oh the drama, I can't wait for par duex!
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