Frequently Asked Questions

Q: We have 10 songs to record, and each one is about 5 minutes long, so we need about an hour, right?
A: Yeah right!

Q: Uhhh.. Do you have block or daily rates?
A: I don't. Here's why: Block and daily rates usually involve spending a minimum of 8-10 hours in a day recording. My experience is that 8-10 hours of diligent, productive recording in one day is not always easy to achieve with most bands.. To avoid the feeling of burnout associated with trying to get x amount done in one day, I feel more comfortable simply being loose with how I count hours. That means slicing time off here and there when we eat, fuck around, tell funny stories, etc. My biggest thing is making the experience fun and comfortable for everybody.. Nobody has ever expressed dissatisfaction with my pricing.

Q: What can we do, as a band, to prepare for recording?
A: If you want to save time, and therefore money, you will have practiced your songs until you know them in your sleep. This includes second guitar parts, solos, vocal melodies and harmonies, and lyrics. Do not assume you can make something up when the clock is ticking. That can get expensive, fast.

Q: What can I do as an individual to prepare for recording?
A: Come well rested, in a good mood, and on time. Don't piss off your bandmates. Do participate in critical listening and constructive criticism.

Q: And my equipment?
A: Guitar players, come with fairly new strings. Bring backups, and extra picks too.

    Drummers, come with fairly new heads, and bottom heads on your toms as well (otherwise they tend to ring, and will need to be gated).. Bring extra sticks, and tune your drums. If you don't do it, I will, but I don't claim to be an expert on the way your drums should sound.

    Bassists, learn the songs. Just kidding. You should know that unless you have a great amp, I will probably record your bass direct. If you want to mic your amp, we'll still do a direct line, and mix the two. Trial and error has taught me that 95% of the time, this is the way to go. Do not expect me to mic a shitty crate or peavey amp. It's just not worth our time. It also streamlines the process of recording live with the rest of the band.

    In general, if you take music seriously, please invest in decent equipment. I am not in the business of performing miracles, I make good, high fidelity recordings. Therefore a crappy instrument or amp will sound like a crappy instrument or amp. We have a few nice instruments and other gear laying around here, and we'll be happy to let you use them. But wouldn't it be nice to never have to worry about finding the right tone?

Q: Can you pitch correct my vocals/fix my drummer's bad hits/edit that and make it sound good/we can fix that later, right?
A: Yes, I can. But it's so much faster, easier and better sounding to simply play or sing correctly. Please don't make me spend lots of time fixing your mistakes, I HATE that.

Q: So what you're saying is...
A: I'm coming from the school of thought that says you start with the best sonic ingredients possible, record them in the highest possible fidelity, process them as little as possible (unless you're going for that sort of sound), and let the songs and performances speak for themselves. This is my aesthetic, you don't have to agree with it.

Q: John, how would your musical idol, Neil Young, feel about that?
A: I'm glad you asked! mp3

Q: John, please ramble on about the importance of timing.
A: My pleasure. The most common problems I encounter while recording are timing issues. If you're going to be laying down alot of tracks as overdubs, there need to be cues in the previously recorded audio that tell the player recording the overdub where they should be at in the song. For instance, songs that start with the drums, bass, and guitar all coming in together at the same time need to be started with an audible count, to ensure a tight, live feel. It is often also helpful for the drummer to keep time in passages he's not playing, with stick clicks. A caveat though - if you want them to be taken out later, be sure to leave sufficient time for cymbal wash and natural reverb to decay completely.

Q: Well then, why wouldn't you always just want to record the whole band live?
A: Two reasons. The first being that many players just want the luxury of not having to deal with the pressure of screwing up an otherwise good take. In most cases, alot of parts need to be re-done anyway, so it can streamline the process to just do everything seperately. The second reason is, until I'm rich enough to afford all the mics and gear I desire, I'll always be bound by quality limitations. In other words, I'm always going to want to use my best mics and preamps, etc, on everything. But if my 8 best mics are being used to get the best possible drum sound, what does that leave for the other instruments? Although I'm always improving my setup, there are some months where you just have to pay the bills before you buy a new mic. All this being said, I can still get a great, though not the best possible, recording of a live band. Think about which way you want to record, before you come in. That way, you'll have a plan, and less time will be wasted.

Q: Do you do mastering?
A: Yes. There are professional mastering engineers out there who do only that, and can make your mix sound world class. I don't claim to be one of them.. And I don't charge near what they charge. I do, however, know a thing or two about mastering, and have acted as the mastering engineer on projects that I didn't record or mix. Plenty of stuff I've recorded, mixed, and/or mastered is played on college radio on a regular basis, and most people can't tell it's any different than other major/minor indie recording.

Q: Do you only record pussy folk music?
A: No, I love metal and most other types of aggresive music, and record punk bands ALL THE TIME. It just so happens that most of the best songs I have recorded (and therefore the songs I post to this website) have been folky. Just coincedence. If you are a sweet heavy/metal/whatever band, by all means let's do a record. I'll even replace your kick drum with a completely unrealistic, mega-punchy sample (a la most modern heavy music) if that's your thing. If I have to record one more fucking glockenspiel...

Q: Will you wear a shirt during the session?
A: Not usually! (Update: I now have AC in the studio, so chances of me wearing a shirt have increased dramatically. However, you'll probably still want to dress in layers during winter sessions!)

 

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