#1
Hi.

So a few weeks ago, our band was visited by two guys, that claimed that they are some sort of "producers" (and i use that term very loosely), and they are trying to promote their "studio" (i also use that term loosely). Anyway, they ended up offering us to record a song for free, and of course we were up for it.

What followed was a huge cluster**** of demands and stupid suggestions on their part. I'm not gonna go into details, but the only thing we managed to record up to now, was drums. Sadly i wasn't there for the setup, and after we were done, i noticed that they didnt even rig up a hihat mic, but they had 4 room mics for some reason. Whatever. They also insisted that playing with the click track was not important. And that we should have done the entire track from start to finish (a 9minute song with plenty of blast beats and fast double kick parts). Finaly i figured out that its because the guy operating the computer doesnt know how to cut out a single drum and change the position of it. Bass was done today trough DI, but i have no idea what it sounds like, since i wasnt there do to other obligations.

Anyway, now we are approaching guitars. We play modern metal/metalcore/thrash/whatever. Now the guys want me and the other guitarist to both record rhythm tracks, instead of just me doubling it. And we are supposed to do it on different amps as well.

Would it not be better for only one of us to do rhythm two times and on one amp? I thought that was standard practice, and thats how we did it in an actual professional studio some years ago. And then in another studio as well. So anyway, i need some advice on that, is it better for just me to do it twice, or not. Because i think i would have a much easier time to lock in to the rhythm that i played myself, than if two of us do it. And as far as i know, metal rhythm guitars have to be tight as hell.

I am extreeeeemely sceptical about this whole thing, because, to me at least, it seems like they have no idea what they are doing. They are taking the drum sound from the room mics, they want the entire song in one take, they cant edit two different drum takes together, they dont care about the click, and they almost jumped out the roof because we told them we have a bass solo in there, and they dunno how to mix it.
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#2
Instead of splitting apart quotes, I'm gonna pipe in with my comments in bold

Quote by gorkyporky
Hi.

So a few weeks ago, our band was visited by two guys, that claimed that they are some sort of "producers" (and i use that term very loosely), and they are trying to promote their "studio" (i also use that term loosely). Anyway, they ended up offering us to record a song for free, and of course we were up for it.

What followed was a huge cluster**** of demands and stupid suggestions on their part. I'm not gonna go into details, but the only thing we managed to record up to now, was drums. Sadly i wasn't there for the setup, and after we were done, i noticed that they didnt even rig up a hihat mic this is normal , but they had 4 room mics for some reason also normal . Whatever. They also insisted that playing with the click track was not important not normal . And that we should have done the entire track from start to finish I'm with them on this, you get a more dynamic performance (a 9minute song with plenty of blast beats and fast double kick parts). Finaly i figured out that its because the guy operating the computer doesnt know how to cut out a single drum and change the position of it maybe, but see my previous comment . Bass was done today trough DI, but i have no idea what it sounds like, since i wasnt there do to other obligations.

Anyway, now we are approaching guitars. We play modern metal/metalcore/thrash/whatever. Now the guys want me and the other guitarist to both record rhythm tracks, instead of just me doubling it. And we are supposed to do it on different amps as well. this is actually a good idea, it will be more 'human' and have better textures from the different amps

Would it not be better for only one of us to do rhythm two times and on one amp? no, see previous comment I thought that was standard practice, and thats how we did it in an actual professional studio some years ago.very few practices are 'standard' there are a million ways to do this and they all have different benefits And then in another studio as well. So anyway, i need some advice on that, is it better for just me to do it twice, or not. Because i think i would have a much easier time to lock in to the rhythm that i played myself, than if two of us do it. And as far as i know, metal rhythm guitars have to be tight as hell. have the other guy do one, and if it doesn't come out tight, then you do a third one and let the producer choose which sounds best later

I am extreeeeemely sceptical about this whole thing, because, to me at least, it seems like they have no idea what they are doing. They are taking the drum sound from the room mics if the room is good, this is a good thing , they want the entire song in one takesaid it before, will say it again - I'm a fan of this , they cant edit two different drum takes togetherI mean, they CAN if they take the time to get it right , they dont care about the clickthis remains the only red flag IMO , and they almost jumped out the roof because we told them we have a bass solo in there, and they dunno how to mix it.well that's weird, but they'll figure it out



Sounds like they're still learning some things and they were smart to offer FREE services while learning instead of charging and then making bad calls. That said, a LOT of their calls are good and will yield a very natural and dynamic product. Is that the best product for your band's sound? Maybe not. My advice is to roll with them, let them learn, and don't get yourself too worked up because it's not worth it.

At the end of the day, there will be a record of a song. Listen back, and THEN give them feedback like 'geez, we should have used a click! maybe next time?' and see if they take away a few lessons from this, then give it another go with them if they seem willing to apply what they learned. If not, then move along.
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#3
Quote by gorkyporky
i noticed that they didnt even rig up a hihat mic, but they had 4 room mics for some reason.
How is that a problem?
Even if you're playing metal the thing might well sound good.
Quote by gorkyporky
They also insisted that playing with the click track was not important.
If you record the drums first and your drummer is good enough I really see no problem with this.
Quote by gorkyporky
And that we should have done the entire track from start to finish (a 9minute song with plenty of blast beats and fast double kick parts). Finaly i figured out that its because the guy operating the computer doesnt know how to cut out a single drum and change the position of it.
If one of you can't play an entire song from start to finish and do it good then you're not ready to go into a studio, no matter how good the engineers are.

Their request is everything but unreasonable.
Quote by gorkyporky
Now the guys want me and the other guitarist to both record rhythm tracks, instead of just me doubling it. And we are supposed to do it on different amps as well.

Would it not be better for only one of us to do rhythm two times and on one amp?
I agree that you may wanna do everything by yourself so to obtain a more consistent performance between the different takes, but I double track using different amps every other time.

It can fit the production, still not a problem there.
Quote by gorkyporky
I thought that was standard practice
There's no standard practice for this stuff, and if someone tell you otherwise then he's most likely a noob himself.
Quote by gorkyporky
And as far as i know, metal rhythm guitars have to be tight as hell.
If you both are good and the guitar parts are laid down then you should be able to record a couple takes good enough to sound tight.

If you can't, then you're the ones not good enough, not the engineers.
Quote by gorkyporky
I am extreeeeemely sceptical about this whole thing, because, to me at least, it seems like they have no idea what they are doing.
Then again, no offense tho from what you just wrote it seems to me that you're the one without a clue about how all this is supposed to work, so since the thing is free you might wanna do as they say and see how you like the result.
Quote by gorkyporky
They are taking the drum sound from the room mics, they want the entire song in one take, they cant edit two different drum takes together, they dont care about the click, and they almost jumped out the roof because we told them we have a bass solo in there, and they dunno how to mix it.
Half of this is normal, a part you're just assuming and the rest means they're not experienced.

You didn't pay a dime for the thing.
If you think that's gonna cost you more time and effort than it's worth simply walk out of it.
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#4
Fair enough, all of my studio experience was different this, so i guess thats why i'm not sure about this. And i also didnt take kindly when they tried to cut our songs.
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#5
Really what Spambot and Sid said.

True, you might not like all their decisions, but they're recording you for free. The whole purpose of them doing that is for them to learn and get some demo recordings. If you want the best recording, you really gotta pay people. You knew they were producers going in to it, and part of a producer's job is to make musical decisions.

A lot of what you said is fairly standard. I usually mic the hi hat, but then end up throwing it out anyways. Room sounds are HUGE to the sound of the kit, and are very common.
#6
Welcome to "free" studio time.

You are right these guys are newbies and probably don't know what they are doing. If you stick around you might just get a pretty decent demo for your band though. For FREE! That would still be worth a few creative differences don't you think? Remember that whenever anything is offered to you for free, YOU are the product they are selling.

The golden rule applies here: Whoever has the gold (or recording gear) makes the rules.

So you have a choice. You can stick around, STFU, play your music, and enjoy all that is free in this world. Or you can pack your gear and haul it across town to a studio with major industry credits on the wall and pay by the hour. When you are writing the cheques, you get to call the shots.

Personally I would choose option 2 because I have a great deal of faith in pro engineer skills and am willing to pay handsomely for it. $12k is pretty realistic for a 12 song CD properly mixed and mastered. Choose wisely.
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#7
One thing and first thing you need to know is who owns the session files. You should get them to put it in writing that they will give you your session files and no copyrights, etc. are staying with them. You want to make that clear so they don't lock your material. They can hold the right to the production but again you should stipulate contractually that they can't release without your approval, as you might end up legally in a place where they "showcase" their studio online with an awfully crappy recorded track featuring your band...or a song that sells really well for them, featuring your band...both bad scenarios for you if they own the rights to the recording.

Anyhooo...the legal mumbo jumbo out of the way...on to the production.

It was standard practice to record full bands at once without click so that doesn't mean anything. I've recorded full metal albums this way without a problem. I'm currently mixing metal album and it could do without a HH track (which I have but is way low in the mix). I've dropped HH tracks on sessions and sometimes didn't use any mic on HH, it really depends.

It is possible they don't want to cut and paste, there are some producers that work old school and want a full good take instead of something that sounds stale and time-aligned.
I've recorded more albums that way as it is the way I prefer to work but the band has to be really good.

In your case with blast beats I don't know if it could be done but it could be recorded in sections and flown in at the crucial drum edits without metronome, been there, done that on major sessions. It is a pain but again, the performance and songs felt natural and it helped...with a good band, it is the preferred way to go.

You can ask for the robo time aligned approach and as you're the customer it is your prerogative. If I am giving away free studio time I probably wouldn't want to do it as that's where the big $$$ is, suckering your clients into time aligning every little bit while the clock ticks. They might do it on the 2nd song where you're paying the bill. That is how I'd do it, although not showing that they can do it is a problem because you might not choose them.
#8
My take on this is basically a bit of what everyone has said, but disagreeing with a few things, so I'll clarify.


1) They're offering it for free. First of all, that means the only cost to you guys is time - do you think it's worth your time? If so, what have you got to lose? Secondly, it means they have no customer base, which means they probably don't have (m)any experience of running proper sessions and probably haven't been paid before for their work, so are trying to offer you this as an incentive for them to get some experience and portfolio work out of you.


2) Hi-hat mics… some like 'em, some don't. Not having a hi-hat mic is not a noob mistake, and though it can be nice to have it isn't essential. Four room mics sounds like overkill, but could depend on what they were doing with them… two might have been paired for a stereo technique, one could be a mono one compressed to fuck for use in choruses for extra sizzle or something, and one might have been left in a corridor/far away for a lo-fi random effect. Basically, don't read too much into that - what matters is that the mics that have been used sound good together.

My band went into a studio to track drums for our album a couple of weeks ago, and I was happy enough with the guys running the place to pretty much leave them to it without too much interference other than on the creative producer side of things, and they chose to give me a HH and a ride mic to work with, as well as OH and a stereo room pair, but in my quick balance for tracking guitars etc. I have got the HH and Ride mics down very low, probably only likely to bring them in more when those elements of the kit are doing something I wanna highlight.


3) The click track thing is interesting - normally if a click isn't used it's because the drummer refuses to try, and/or it's supposed to be a live sounding performance with excusable timing discrepancies allowed etc. I disagree with the guys above about tracking modern metal without a click unless it's almost a last resort. Pretty much any commercial metal release now will have been tracked to a click. Whether you like it or not, it's what the consumer has come to expect and nobody wants that risk of their music being judged unfairly because of technical things like it not being bang-on quantised to a click.

Even for stuff with tempo curves (slowing down/speeding up) it's doable. We have a song on the new album which twice has a section that gradually slows down, so I played a guide track live with the drummer (instead of the guides from demos I did of all the other songs) without a click and then the guys at the desk got the approx. tempo each section should be, time-aligned my guide to the grid, and brought the click back in. For the slow-downs, they did gradual stepping down from the start tempo to the target one, with a bit of a curve for the right feel. Drummer then played along to click with the guides.

I would expect 99% of sessions for most more modern-sounding records, to be done to a click with the occasional exception being a choice of the artist and not the producer/engineer. Maybe they don't understand how to tempo map a song, or didn't want to go to the effort. Either way, that screams inexperience to me if it was something you requested but they didn't do without giving a good reason.


4) How you do rhythm is up to you - sometimes it suits your style to have a slightly different sound and feel on each side, and as long as one guitarist stays on one side of the stereo image and the other guitarist has his own side, it will probably work unless one is playing staccato stuff and the other holding notes out. Experiment, and decide among yourselves as a band - it's none of their business who performs what part but ask them why they want it done that way.

Not having a click may be tougher for you guys than the drummer, tbh, provided he managed to make his performances good enough for each song. If the drummer isn't within a few bpm of the target tempo throughout the song, though, you could find it hard to track all the overdubbed instruments really because you aren't there anymore to 'feel' the track live and it is possible it will translate awkwardly as a result.


To close, I'll just say that if you've got this far in it you may as well carry on and see if they surprise you with what they manage. If you're not happy, just make sure they have agreed not to publicise it themselves or put it online/available anywhere for others to here, and consider it an experience to learn from. At least it didn't cost you anything
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#9
I agree with most of the above. While the studio guys are learning they are using you to tweak their set up and learn their craft. For you it's free studio time. That's not a bad trade unless you just don't have the time in invest. My advice is to string along with this. You may end up becoming their go to musicians when they get the studio going and they have clients looking for additional studio musicians. If they like your work, your attitude and your wiliness to try what they have in mind, you could be first on the studios call list for future projects.

One last thing I can't help but mention as a personal aside, a nine minute song that includes a bass solo sounds like a Spinal Tap moment. Really, nine minutes and a bass solo. Count me out.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 15, 2015,
#10
I almost never record to a click. I like the natural ebb and flow that is made almost impossible when you play with a click.

That said, for something like a tech-metal project... I'd probaby try to do the click.

I don't make a practice of quoting Steven Albini (producer of In Utero), but I totally agree with his assessment of using a click or not. Basically, he says that a drummer might be used to playing with a click, in which case, it can really help glue the track together, but more often than note, the drummer isn't used to playing with a click, so trying to force that will often come out with a stilted sounding performance.

Oh, and I almost never have a mic just for hats. There is always enough bleed into the overheads and snare mic that I've never missed not having one.

Double-tracking guitars sounds bigger with different tones/sounds. So, conventional wisdom says to dial in two different, but complementary sounds - think different guitars, different pickup combinations; different amps, etc.

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#11
For the click track thing.
My band did our old demo without one.
We just played the guitar into his tracking headphones and he played the whole songs in one take.
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#12
Okay, I'm gonna say something:

If the guy running Pro Tools or whatever DAW they're running doesn't know how to splice takes then I'm not sure what they have him on the computer for. That's pretty simple stuff.
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#14
The biggest issue, to me, is the doubling of guitars.

If you double yourself it will sound completely different from two guitarists.

If you have clear preference, you (the band) should make that decision, not the producer.

You could record both ways and see which sounds better in the final mix, but you should have the final decision.