Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Lesson Info

Group Personality Types

So let's talk about the personality types within group so I think an important thing to do when you're interacting with the group whether it's before before they enter your studio just your phone calls and your e mails back and forth this kind of identify the different roles of people within the group and strengths and weaknesses of the players because you know again these these people are our tools that you use to make a record and you're a tool for them to your your tool but you know, so anyway um the first type of personality type would would be sort of musical director in the business director so those those air like your point people and you want to try to identify those pretty early on you know, the musical director might be the primary songwriter or the person who has you know who really has a vision of what the records going to be and where it's going to go and that person might be the primary songwriter they might be the best musician the van that might be the worst musician i...

n the band and I think it's easy to say like hey that guys like that guys away better guitar player than that guy but the worst guitar player might actually be the songwriter he might be the one who has the vision and that great guitar player is sort of his his tool to get his vision across I've recorded quite a few bands like that, so you know, don't don't sweep any band then brother under the rug, you know, you might have this, like, hidden musical director in the worst position in the group uh then is the business director and that's your point person for, you know, all things scheduling and billing and, you know, booking a mastering engineer and you know, where we gonna order drum heads from and so forth and so on, you know? So those air, the business director is the primary person to keep in the loop with regard to any any business related stuff. So, um, the next the next personality type should be the easiest one to work with and that's the team player and or the hired gun and that's a person who is playing in an ensemble, they're good at their instrument, they understand their role within their ensemble and they don't they're not a glory hound. They're not trying to step outside of their role, they no, like, you know what? I have just played bass. I know that what I do is hold down the bottom and I'm not trying to do any like lead based or anything like that or, you know, the drummer nose like, hey, I can play this just whatever you want, tell me so I do a d b here do I do double bass or whatever? Just tell me what to do and I know that it's your vision and I'm going to do what it takes to support the what the musical director tells me to do. Um the third one is the, uh that the non musician handed handed a base or mike second guitarist you find uh a lot of a lot of bands I have end up having like their buddy in the band who is like, you know, he's probably like the fun, fun guy that they enjoy hanging out with who keeps the mood light and he's probably crucial for that he might even be the zany guy um but maybe he or she or not the greatest musician in the band but don't again don't discount their role and maybe even though they might not be the greatest musician of the band, their their role as zany I or whatever to keep keep keeping the mood light or maybe that person is is the business director also or maybe that person is a musical director, so try to try to be patient with recording those people and um personally I don't have lack of heart to take their instrument away and assigned their parts to somebody else there's a lot of engineers will say like, dude, you're not playing on the record I'm not that guy if that decision is made I want it to be made with him the band and not not for me because I feel as though ah lot of times well with anything in music the greater your involvement in the greater ownership you take over that music so and if you remove someone's involvement from playing on their own bands record than they're goingto lose their motivation to stay with the band and I find that a lot of a lot of cases like you've experienced this so in a lot of cases you you know if a person sort of gets gets bumped off of a record they're likely to leave big offended you know it hurts the pride and they're likely to leave the band you know they feel a little bit betrayed by their band mates but you know in some cases that person might be a great team player and might know like hey what's best for the record is for for me not to play on it and that sort of brings me to the role of the second guitarist you know there's there's some bands where that air to guitar bands that have each guitarist has their own distinct personality and you know our each crucial to the man in the case of nice hosts who's you know the video that you saw earlier and the song that we're going to going to be taking audio examples from the two guitar players in that band randall and aaron are very different from each other but both equally important randall's a little more wild he's got a little more character in his plane but aaron it's like super tight and rock solid and you know they're their parts are hard pan and they're not they're not always playing the same thing as each other so in that case there's like or like the fugazi thing or something like that like there's two guitar players doing really distinct things and their interaction is what makes the band but also like in the case of of other bands and a lot of like a lot of like metal type bands will have a second guitarist really just there to beef up the live sound and the parts that one guitar player and the other guitar player doing or not really very different from each other and in that case depending on whether or not you know you want sort of like a like a loose big open sounding record or whether you want like a really tight record you might want tohave one guitar player do you all of the rhythm guitars and if that's the case you don't have to approach the second guitarist for the band saying like, hey, that guy should be on the record but you might want to say like, hey, you know we won't we really wanna have like super tight rhythm guitars and we don't really want to hear the nuances varying between the left and right speaker we want tohave it kind of locked in so maybe like you know this guy should do all the rhythm guitar playing or maybe it's even like this person should do all the rhythm guitar playing for these songs and then the other person should do all the rhythm guitar playing for those songs but different different ways to handle the less proficient musician role within a van theun the next uh bullet is basically about singers it could be about anybody but you know singers um singers need to be um kind of I need to be sometimes need to be coddled a little bit more than the other band members and you know I think it's uh you know, people people talk about lead singer disease and I've been curious toe actually do a scientific study someday if like certain personality types are attracted to certain instruments or if certain in instruments further certain personality traits within within a person but lead singers do they have a lot of they have a lot of focus on them you know, like the casual listener of music really focuses on the singer more than any other member of a band and so they have a lot of focus on them which is a lot of pressure and you know uh and and you need to understand that as your recording them you need to sort of you know as your recording the singer they need a little bit more focus and a little bit more attention on the other players like you khun you compress record on the guitar track and then like check your phone a little bit while the guitar players rolling through a song a singer you have to be one hundred percent focused on all the time and that might mean clearing everybody else out of the room and so that they can really focus on their craft and to make sure that they understand that you were with them on two percent of the way because they're not uh they also the voice is such a personal thing you know like when you're in your it's easy to teo say like yeah I'm a terrible guitar player or you've been hits your hands you know it's it's your body but it's it's really it's like it's your hands and it's more of an interpretive type of instrument whereas the voices very personal cause it's all it's not just it's your body but it's also your your thoughts it's your intellectual content soto have that fall under criticism is a bit is a bit harder for a singer to handle than another instrumentalist with within the group so you know bear that in mind as you're interacting with singer that they need that a little bit of extra attention and that maybe berating them it's not the best thing to do um and then oh finally talked a little bit about for the zany I escape goat sometimes there's just, you know, one one member whose whose contribution to the group is levity, comic relief, whipping, whipping boy or whatever it may be and even if they're not a great player don't discount their importance to the group and use it and make fun of them and fart on them and stuff like that. All right, one really quick question from justin gone yea about different arc types I guess you call what about the blooming audio engineer who has your missing or less experienced ideas about what you should oh yeah actually that's that's a great one because I was that guy and I I hate myself for it, but I think you always you tend teo just as as a person, you tend to be irritated with people who, um, who have some of the same personality traits that you have. So yes, sometimes sometimes that can be irritating. I've had I've certainly recorded quite a few people who have an interest in recording, and I think early on I was maura annoyed with them by how by then I have been recently because I felt early on I felt like, oh this person's questioning what I'm doing and they don't have confidence in me and or their their their side tracking me. But as I became a little more confident in what I do and a little bit more experience I've come to like working with other robbie engineers, it helps helps keep me honest. I think that the and it's also great working with someone who's articulate about their ideas, the one thing that can be a little bit challenging is, you know, as your first getting into something, you know, you have just enough knowledge to be dangerous, but you don't necessarily have the experience to know how to apply all that knowledge, you know? So some sometimes I'll record people be like, why? Why are you using a sn fifty seven there? Why aren't you using of s and fifty eight or whatever and that's, you know, that's a perfectly valid question, but when there's too much of that it can, it can derail the session a little bit. And so, you know, one of one of my ongoing themes in this class is really going to be that there's, you know, there's no right or wrong answers to anything and that, you know, these things are all just tools and, you know, I could get a great tom san with a with a four, twenty one or twenty two or fifty seven or whatever, they're all they're all valid valid tools and but yeah but you know again it's like nice to work with people that have some experience in that if the tone that they're hearing coming out of speakers isn't really working for them and they can say like hey let's try a small by frame condenser on that sort of a large shy of frame you know that can sometimes be a good idea and also speak speaking of that I think I hadn't really planned to talk about this all that much but sometimes I find that a client will say we'll come up with an idea whether it's an engineering choice or a stylistic choice like hey let's try this lo fi drum intro or let's try a small diaphragm mike on the esther let's try such and such a lead overdub and you you know your your brain my instantly go stupid idea don't say stupid idea right away say take take some time to think about it and try to try to see their viewpoint but also even if you know one hundred percent for sure that it's a stupid idea sometimes it takes less time to just try it and illustrate to them and the rest of the group that maybe it's just not a good idea what it takes less time to try that than it does to justify it without an audio example and sometimes it helps build your client's confidence in you that you're willing to to listen to their input and then try out their ideas see how it all works and and show them that's not a great idea and you know, sometimes you're surprised maybe it actually is a great idea and you just you thought it was stupid but then it rules so I would urge you to always you know, time permitting listen to what they had to say and try it out or you know if you really don't think there's there's time build consensus you know take your idea and say hey what do you know what? I'm not sure what do you guys think and let you know put it put it to the rest of the group rather than having to be the bad guy all the time you need to rest for years you need to have fresh air and stuff like that you need to have a pleasant work environment and if you are irritated then you're not doing good work and also think about this as you're setting up your studio or your space whatever space we're going to be recording in you don't want to be making engineering decisions based on convenience you know I made like you know I made myself a nice patch bay when I set up my studio in my current mixing console is sort of like a a wraparound deal so all mikey outboard year sort of within arm's reach so you know in my previous set up I might say you know would be nice to use such and such a compressor on this but then I've gotta like do all this weird patching and get crawl around behind the rack and do that and roll over here to do that I'm like that's gonna take a long time so I'll just use this other things right in front of me so just, you know, recognize that all of us are inherently lazy so the mohr uh, work you can do up front to set yourself up to not make your laziness affect your creative decisions, the better work you'll do um second thing about keeping yourself happy is you know, I'm not I know that not everyone is afforded the, um the situation where they can pick and choose their clients the way the way that I can, you know? But I really tried to work on there's got to be something some sort of redeeming quality teach project that I take on whether I really like the people are really like their music or like, you know, even something like, oh, I got this it's a style that I've never done before they got this like, awesome guitar amp that I want to try recording out of her, you know, find find something great about each project you take on that you can focus on and you know, maybe maybe maybe it's a terrible band maybe it's terrible people and think about that as, uh you know, an opportunity to practise you know, new techniques are or howto how to coax something out of people you don't particularly care for or try to open your mind to a new musical john are you know or what have you um you know, for me as I mentioned earlier like I try toe pick projects that air people that I enjoy interacting with music that I enjoyed listening to because I'm gonna have to listen to this stuff for ten hours a day so I want to make sure it's it's something that I enjoy because I know that if I don't enjoy it I'm not going I'm not gonna work hard on it I'm gonna be it's gonna be more like a job and I'm gonna be watching the clock like I can't wait to get this over with and that is, um you know, like even even groups that I don't care for, people that I maybe don't care for I still want them to have a great positive recording experience and so I try if I know that I can't provide that to them all all bowed out of the project and, you know, suggest that maybe they record with someone better better suited to their style and um so yeah that's all about keeping yourself happy and just one last thing about keeping yourself happy is gonna let let the clients and this is the sauce goes back to transparency is and malleability is let the clients know when you are happy um you don't you don't have to like let it affect him too much but like you know don't be afraid to say like guys look we stopped being creative three hours ago and now we're just like beating our heads against the wall and like I'm not I'm not feeling good about myself right now I'm not feeling creative so let's just break for the day and come back tomorrow fresh point of this lie really is about don't don't be afraid to admit that you you've made a mistake or that you're in over your head remember that your clients you know, they they slaved away writing these songs and rehearsing these songs for a long time it's it's really important to them that that the final product of of of this record is meets or exceeds their their their expectations and if if you feel is though you're not up to task make sure they understand that you know make sure they know that you're not deflecting responsibility for anything on you know like if you guys rent the studio to record in or or whatever or you have a crappy sounding room in your basement there you're working out of or your mix isn't up to snuff and the band is unhappy after mastering don't deflect that like if if the band doesn't like the master maybe they don't like the mix you know and be volunteer that you know hey, maybe maybe I could do better and I mean I was definitely times where like on more than one occasion where a band a cz recorded with me we've mixed the record and you know they think it's good and then they master the record and then realized like, hey, maybe you know, this isn't so great that I'll I'm always like kind of in the loop on bands discussions with with mastering engineers and you know, sometimes uh you know they will be comptel they're kind of upset with the master yu's near because they're not pleased with the results of their master and you know, if if that's the case chime in and say hey, you know what? Maybe it's not the master engineers fault and don't claim don't blame that person maybe maybe it's my fault maybe I need to remix this thing and, you know, depending on how how emotionally invested you are in the record and you know, maybe you offered a remix it for free I've certainly done that before if I'm if I'm really emotionally invested in a record and I feel like I just screwed the pooch then um then huh you know what? I want to make sure that it's, right, that, you know, sometimes I do some pro pro bono work. Um, but, you know, and but in the end of the day, like, all you can really do is the best you can with the tools that you have in front of you. And so, as long as you try one hundred ten percent, and then you'll be good. And I think that, um, you know, your clients will will appreciate that any when they, when they see you, sort of taking up the reins. And, um, you know, treating their baby with the respect that it deserves. And by the end of a project, I always iowa's tend to feel like I'm a fifth or sixth member of their group. I think that that's, that's what they want to feel. They want to feel like a true partner in their project.

Class Description

In this two-day course, prolific producer Kurt Ballou will take you behind-the-scenes of GodCity Studios to show you exactly how the magic happens. This all-access studio pass will immerse you in every aspect of Kurt’s distinctive sound — from choosing and setting up gear, to tracking and mixing.

Kurt will show you the basic and advanced techniques he uses in his studio every day, and teach you how to apply them to your own recording — regardless of whether you’re working in a studio or at home with a DIY setup. Using anecdotes from his years behind the board, Kurt will also teach you his best practices for working with bands to extract the best and most inventive sounds.