Anatomy of Studio Day

6:00 am: Wake up and have breakfast with my wife, check work email to see if anything is on fire.

8:00 am: Meditate by running through some gumdo forms; this calms me and scares the living hell out of my cat.

9:00 am: Run a few errands, picking up extremely important studio provisions such as beef jerky, Starbucks Doubleshots, and pop tarts.

10:00 am: Leave for studio, stopping at liquor store for beer. Surprised to find out that the liquor store opens at 9:00am. Feel kind of guilty at being in the liquor store before lunch.

10:30 am: Arrive at the studio and load in gear. Have the following conversation with Mike, the guitar player:

Mike – “You brought beer?”
Me – “Uh… this is a recording session, right?”

10:45 am: Wonder if it’s too early to start drinking beer.

10:47 am: Open the first Nordeast. I mean, this is a recording session.

11:00 am: Start tracking.* This surprises the hell out of me, as the first rule of studio work is that you don’t actually start playing until well after lunch.

12:30 pm: Drum tracking is done. Adjourn to the control room to edit the drum tracks. Two running gags start up at this point; one of which is Mike proclaiming how thoroughly pleased he is with how everything is going, and the other being me continually one-upping everybody with my tales of previous studio sessions.**

1:30 pm: Slam two Starbucks Doubleshots, grab two Nordeasts, and start tracking bass. Concentrate on getting good, solid, aggressive tone (but not too agressive), keeping perfect time with the click track (but not too perfect, I want it to sound natural), maintaining a solid pocket with drums (but pushing the groove a bit in some songs and letting it drag in others for a better feel), all while playing my parts perfectly (some of which I put the final touches on seconds before the recording started), and at the same time, avoiding the sight of my bandmates mooning me from within the control room.

1:50 pm: Done tracking all three songs, because that’s how I roll.

2:00 pm: Take a break; head outside to have a couple of beers and toss around a medicine ball. That isn’t a euphemism, this band is into old school calisthenics.

2:30pm: Start tracking guitar. Josh (our singer) and myself proceed to drink the rest of the Nordeast and make obscene gestures at Mike while he’s recording.

3:30pm: Guitar tracking done! Proceed to Jimmy John’s for lunch, stop at liquor store for beer. Keystone Light. This will not end well.

5:00pm: Edit guitar tracks, put together a pre-mix for vocals, use lots of words like “grindy, dirty, chunky, presence” when trying to describe the bass tone I’m looking for. Get called a diva.

7:00pm: Start tracking vocals. Drink Keystone Light and make obscene gestures at Josh while he’s recording.

8:00pm: Finish tracking one tune for vocals; adjourn to the porch to drink beer and talk about band goals and other silly things.

* Tracking is the part where you actually play music in the studio. It only takes up about 10% of your actual time in the studio. The rest of the time is spent editing, listening, mixing, listening, drinking, and getting on each others nerves.

** Did I ever tell you about the time I recorded in the same studio that Nirvana recorded “In Utero” at, on the same mixing board that AC/DC used to record “Back In Black”?

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