5 Things Dara Has Learned In The Studio
Dara has been playing our music in the studio quite lot lately. Our new album is shaping up and we’re excited to be back in Rigby Roads again today. This is my first studio album to play on and I’ve learned a whole lot about the recording process along the way. Even Ben who’s been in the studio for his previous album, and Kevin who’s one of the best musicians I know have been learning. So what are some of the biggest take aways?
1. Be Prepared
This may seem like an obvious one. Of course you want to be prepared for your recording. The biggest thing we keep learning though is that no matter how much we prepare, we could always have prepared more. Every studio date we’ve had we’ve taken at least a day or two out of the week before to listen to our previous sessions and make notes on what we want to do, how we want to edit them, and what could be learned for the next track. Some things that we go over in our preparations are:
- What parts are extraneous and could be cut?
- How does the song flow?
- Is there anything we need to add?
2. Find The Watermark Sounds Ahead of Time
This album has been one that we wanted to watermark the hell out of from the beginning. We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the sounds that we wanted to use, but at first just relied on our producer Joel Pack to find the sounds for us. After the first song or two we figured out we could save a bunch of time by not just knowing the sounds we wanted, but also having the files on hand before we went into the studio. Now we will scour the internet for the perfect sample of rockets, monsters, hounds, and whatever else we may need. This lesson has saved us many hours.
This one pertains more to me than it does to the rest of the band, but it’s a big one that i’m still getting a hang of. My drum teacher has said that there are tappers, and there are bangers. My natural tendency is to be a banger. This proved to be an issue when we were practicing because Ben had trouble hearing himself, plus we didn’t all want to go deaf. I’ve practiced long hours to bring my volume down while keeping the intensity. I’m often reminded of something Charlie Watts to the effect of “One of the most difficult things to learn is to play quietly, but still have that intensity.” This is something I’ve put a lot of effort into doing.
Until I get into the studio and Joel is saying “Could you hit any harder?” Then it’s time for me to dig in and really hit as hard as I can. This is because drums just sound better when you hit them harder. I know this, and going in try to readjust my dynamics to this higher level. Even still Joel is always asking me to hit harder. While it takes some adjusting, I do have to admit that it that it feels good to really dig in like I’m unable to at practice.
When we’re in the studio it is a time that we’re entirely focused on moving the band forward. Not just in recording, but also in the marketing and social media aspects of the band. I touch on this idea in our Resurecting The Monster Mash blog. As I’m writing this Kevin is laying down his bass tracks! It’s great to know that we can be moving forward on so many fronts at once. Since only one person is tracking at a time, it’s the perfect time to push the band. We do have nights set aside just for marketing, and they are very productive. In the studio though it feels as if the energy is tenfold because there is so much going on.
5. Practice Practice Practice
This is another thing that goes into being prepared, but is so important that I feel it warrants its own section. The practice that we do as a band is also only a small aspect of what goes into creating the parts. When we practice together we will stop after each run through and talk about what went right, what went wrong, and what we could do differently. By really taking a look at what we’re doing we’re able to hone in on the message of the song. Then when we’re in the studio we can create a song, and an album, that really communicates what we want it to.
Crafting the music of DARA
Everything we’ve learned we’ve applied with one goal in mind: To create the best album the world has ever heard! We’ve been fortunate to be working with not only a great producer, but a great manager who has given a lot good input on what we’ve been doing. With every session we have we learn something new to apply to the next time. It’s exciting to see us grow as individual musicians, and as a band.
Sending love from DARA,