Technical Side of Preproduction
Let's just talk about the technical stuff that you have to do besides the song. Build your tempo maps, make clicks for the drummer. You'll see on this session, with Anup Sastry that he was not cool to play to the produced click. He had his own that he made, he programmed it. I can't listen to it because it'll make me insane. But, it gives him all the subdivisions he needs, and it counts things out for him in a way that makes it super easy for him. And I've noticed that lots of drummers need that sort of thing. So, with Anup he just did it ahead of time, that's great. But some drummers won't know to do that and it's kind of your job to figure out if they need to be hearing things differently in order to sink in. Now, I'm sure those of you who play guitar may have noticed if you're trying to practice something to a click and you've got it on quarter notes and it's a fast part and you just can't lock up, you reset it to eighth notes or a 16th note click, it's that much easier. I'm sure yo...
u guys know what I'm talking about, those of you who play guitar and try to do fast stuff. We'll it's the same thing for drummers. Sometimes just getting the quarter or the eight note click is not enough. Sometimes they need to have that subdivision driven home into their skulls. So, make clicks for them, the best way for them. Obviously, lay markers. Goes without saying. It's much easier to skip to the verse when you know where the verse is. Right? Easy to punch in the bridge when you know what the bridge is. Seems simple, again, this stuff seems simple but it's not so simple when you don't do it. It sucks when you don't do it Now some of you might be like "I don't do MIDI bass, I don't do MIDI drums." Blah blah blah blah blah That stuff's for losers. Well look, I understand if that's not applicable to the project you're working on, fine don't do it skip that step. But if it is applicable, try to get that stuff done before you start tracking. For instance, there's a lot of situations now where it makes sense to track live drums at the end. It's actually pretty logical if you think about it. Especially, if it's a situation where you're gonna be tweaking a lot of the song. If that's part of your job, is to make the songs better tracking drums up front really, is gonna lock you into those parts and you'll have to do a lot of editing, all kinds of weird changes if you wanna fix that stuff later. And not that you can't make that work, but it's so much better to actually just have the part played right and recorded right the way its supposed to be. So, if you're gonna be making tons of changes you may as well program drums so that you have all this time to work on the fills and the parts of the drummer and have them learn the changes and then record the new versions of the drums after. It'll feel way better than creating fills out of thin air and cutting things around and all that. Now, I've definitely made records where drums were recorded first and things got changed around, but it's always sounded better when I've done drums last on those type of records. Any questions from anybody? Saving them for the end?
Yeah, you're answering a lot of them. They're coming in as we're going through.
It's cause I can see through your laptop.
That's right. And with MIDI bass that's another one of these things where people might be like "Well we've got a great bassist!" And congratulations, I'm happy for you. That's not why you would or wouldn't program MIDI bass. MIDI bass is really, really good for you to, number one, get a tuning reference for when you track guitars. Especially if you're tuned low. It gets really, really hard to hear if you're in tune and you can't always trust the tuner. Tuning well, and we'll be displaying this when we track The Monuments' guitars. Tuning well is a combination of tuner and ears and feel. And, it helps to have some sort of a guide, a low end guide, to be your north star on this. Because, if you have the MIDI bass in there, even if it's just for reference, a perfect tuning reference, it would be really, really hard to lay out of tune guitars on top of that. It'll just sound completely sour. And then also, if needed, you can then use that to create the bottom end of the bass. 80 and down or something of the mix. Some people like to do that, it's effective. Some people don't, but at least you'll have that all done, right? Why mess with it later if you can do it ahead of time? And then, I already said that you're gonna be tracking as though you're tracking for real. That means capturing the eyes, that means capturing trigger splats if you need to, getting decent enough taste, all that stuff. And, you'll be setting up tracking templates, which we're gonna do here in a minute. That's pretty important. The tracking templates are basically... Let me get these out of my way. I make one master tracking template for pre-pro, which ill kinda just build right here. And, it kinda allows me to do anything needed that's gonna happen in the project. So, if we wanna work on guitars we can just start working on those, and bass we can start working on that, and I'll assign it all to available inputs. Now, I don't have available inputs here, so that won't work. You're gonna have to take this template and match it to your own situation. But the way I like to do it for pre-pro is, set up the drums and leave two channels for guitars so you can have amp and DI. One channel for bass so you can have the bass DI. And a channel for vocals. And that way you can pre-pro whatever you need to while still recording drums. In a moment here I'm going to get into pro tools. Anything anyone wants to ask before I get into pro tools?
We do have a question. Do you meet bands prior to recording, if so, what are some of your go to questions for the band before you get into the studio? What do you expect? What are some of the tones you wanna hear, etcetera?
I don't always have the chance to meet the bands because I rarely ever work with bands from my area. The best chance would be if we know we're gonna work together and they happen to be coming through on tour, and I'm free that night and everything, then yeah maybe go to the show. But, I'm guessing that he's asking from more like a local perspective, which in that case, yeah why not meet the bands! You get a lot of information just from the way that they interact with each other and the way that they interact with you. And if you can see them live, you can already start to make a few crucial decisions. Like you'll know what's going on but, the things that you want to find out, and I would find this out over the internet too, or like I said before. What's the drummer's set up? Can I have some pictures please? How many guitar players? Is it a rhythm lead type deal? Is it two rhythms two leads? How many vocalists? Is it screaming singing or just screaming? Male, female? Extra tracks? Is there a synth player or you guys gonna want a fake orchestra? Or is this acoustic Christian music? Like what do you guys do, what do you want? And then, what have you done before? And what are you expecting to be different about this? When people start to answer that, the tendency might be to talk shit about their previous experience. And that's totally not what I mean by the question, so I would steer them off of that. That's just kind of human nature to start talking about what went wrong before. More than that, what you're trying to get out of them is what their hopes and dreams are for this coming album. And I guess, where they think that they're going to be taking things next. And you also need to ask, who's the main writer? How many songs do you have written? How many songs did you have written before you recorded last time? How many songs got recorded out of the songs you had written? Are you looking for writing help? All that kind of stuff. Obviously, if its the first time you've ever met them you don't just shake someones hand and just start saying do you need writing help? Does one of of your guitar players suck? It would kind of weird right? Kind of like asking someone for a job after shaking hands with them for the first time. More than anything, I would just try to hang out with them and be cool and develop a rapport at first and just try to get a feeler for the situation. See if you like these people, see if you wanna be around these people for extended periods of time. See if they're worth it. Are they sketchy, are they not? When the time is right you guys can discuss business and make sure you cover all those things once you get to business. I wouldn't just launch right into it. It'd make some people feel weird.