A Band Mentality for the Solo Producer
A ‘BAND’ MENTALITY FOR THE SOLO MUSIC PRODUCER…..
One of the great things about being a musician, is the chance to play with other musicians. It is indeed the life blood of many players, allowing them to learn and grow and develop their abilities alongside other people doing the same thing. And it shows in the music. Generally speaking a good band will bring something else to a song or track, which is seemingly more than the sum of its parts…. It comes from the communication between various band members and builds over time, to become part of the arrangement, and in some cases can turn a mediocre track into a great one. The key is the way musicians listen to each other. Lets delve a little deeper. I remember being in one of my first bands, I was the youngest member at 14, the other guys were a couple of years older, but I was tall, smoked a mean cigarette, and I could play… We used to play an eclectic mix of Rock music, and our bass player at the time had only recently taught himself to play, however, there was one tune where he had embellished the end of the verses with a line that really pushed his ability. As a consequence, knowing how proud he was of the line, I would take it upon myself to quieten down (never easy for a red blooded rock guitarist) and allow him the space for his fancy line to shine through. To this day, I can’t hear that particular track without preferring his version. Other instances occur when people play off one another, (a good drummer can ‘Lift’ a song at will by pushing the dynamics, and everyone else in the band can instantly hear it it and respond appropriately), Bass players and Drummers tend to gel very quickly, with the Bass man able to guess what sort of fill is coming where, Singers can ‘quieten’ down the band at certain parts of a song with hand actions or fingers to lips, effectively controlling the dynamics of a track live. So these few examples, and there are many more, show how the human element in a band, can go towards affecting the overall performance of a song, and this is something that we as music producers should bear in mind, as we sit toiling alone in our studios past midnight. Take a song that you’ve recorded yourself, all the parts, just you. Now listen back to it and pretend that you’re a bass player who’s just joined the band. This is the first track you’ve played on, and you want it to stand out showing what a great job you’ve done for the band. How would he play it? (and I dont mean ‘Overplay’ it!) Do the lines just ‘run’ into one another? are there any little areas that could use a little flamboyance? Is the bass REALLY playing along with the kick drum? Are there any keyboard pads or big chords that are getting in the way of guitar parts? Its very easy for us as lone players to play the part ‘right’ and move on, without any thought to how it would play out in a real band. Are there any strings filling all the space in? Is there an opportunity where a singer would quieten the band down live? This maybe something you should consider on the record itself. Taking 5 minutes out to think like you’re in a band, can sometimes make the difference between a good track and a worldbeater.