What order should you record your tracks in? And why? Does it even matter?
We think it does matter! Unfortunately, it's not as simple as a list that you could follow every time you record.
Listen to this episode and learn what really matters when it comes to the order of recording things, the philosophy behind it, how to find out your perfect order and how to get the most out of your recording sessions by approaching them the right way.
The interview with Trivium & Josh Wilbur, mentioned in this episode:
TSRB Podcast 016 - Is There A Correct Order To Record In?
[00:00:00] Malcom: [00:00:00] The person who's playing next, what is important for them? Um, and, uh, that'll pretty much narrow it down cause you don't want to waste a bunch of time recording extra scratch shacks either. So, you know, figure out what, what matters and grab those.
Benedikt: [00:00:16] Just the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own.
Wherever you are. DIY style. Let's go.
Hello and welcome. To the self recording band podcast. My name is Benedikt Hain and I'm here with my cohost Malcom Owen-Flood from stonemastering.com. And instead of asking. How are you Malcom? I'm going to ask today, are you prepared for this? Because we will be discussing something that we already know.
We might not a hundred percent agree with. That makes it even more interesting. So are you prepared? Are you ready to go through this mock up?
Malcom: [00:00:58] Yeah, I've got my, [00:01:00] uh, my slide cards ready to go. This will be the debate of the year. emasteringI actually, I'm going to tell you the truth. .comI have a separate, a second word document.
Cause we have a shared note document and I have a second one with notes for my argument. Not shared with you. That's that's a processor
Benedikt: [00:01:17] and it, as I, I felt that it could be for that. I haven't made any notes for this episode because I wanted this to be kind of a discussion and I have some things prepared as well, but we'll see.
So, um, yeah, w we were talking about preproduction and the mimportance of it in the last episode, and this episode is the next step. Uh, the actual recording, uh, is what we're going to talk about it. And we are talking about the order of things. So. What to start with what's next. And I go through the whole process.
So maybe the first thing we need to say here is that we're talking about an overdose process, right? So it's not about one recording of the whole band, but if you're doing overdubs, so one,
Malcom: [00:01:58] which is the most common.
Benedikt: [00:01:59] Yeah, [00:02:00] exactly. Still one instrument after the other. Then there's an order of it, of course.
And, um, people might be wondering what, what, what instrumental we record first and what's next and what makes sense. And that's what will be, what we'll be discussing. So, um, I'll pass the ball to Malcolm and, um, you start with the first
Malcom: [00:02:21] thing here before we jump in. I think. I do want to say that like, while Benny and I do disagree there isn't a right or wrong.
So take it with a grain of salt and always like, filter it through your project and think about it. Don't just always do this. And I have my preferred way of doing things, but it definitely doesn't always get done that way. So be ready to adapt to the circumstance, to the song and just prioritize things as they need to be prioritized.
So maybe, and maybe we'll be able to kind of figure out how to do that as we, uh, argument or have our argument here. Uh, okay. So the first [00:03:00] step really is what we talked about last week is pre production. You got to do your demoing, um, but what that's going to get you is scratch tracks. Um, in most cases you can just bring those forward from your pre production demo, but even if not, The the, the very first step is making your scratch tracks and scratch tracks for anybody that doesn't know are, uh, kind of performances that are there just to help somebody record too.
Um, so let's say the drummer was gonna record it's a lot better for the drummer. If they're playing to the guitar and a vocal, for example, rather than just a metronome beeping in their ear. Annoyingly, you know, like what's going to get a more musical performance. Obviously they're going to kind of play with more emotion if they're actually hearing like the core components of the song.
Um, so the scratch tracks can be as complete or incomplete as you really want. I would say at least a guitar or main instrument and a vocal would be what I would recommend. Um, but if you want to have more stuff that [00:04:00] that's fine as well. But that is really ground zero for me is, uh, making sure there's kind of like something there for things to be built on to
Benedikt: [00:04:11] absolutely agreed.
A hundred percent there. Um, I would say you said like, if you want to have more, do more. I agree, but. I would be careful doing like Leeds and melodies and solo stuff or whatever, because like the rhythm stuff to me is more important in the scratch tracks. And like, it's the most important thing is to know where you are at in the song so that you don't have to think about it and just play to it.
And it's important to be able to play super tight to those scratch tracks. And if there is a very. Um, like loose solo or lead stuff or whatever, that can be a distraction and a it's harder for the drummer or whoever is starting to actually play to the scratch tracks. If there is a [00:05:00] lot of noodling and let, uh, um, push and pull stuff in there.
So be careful with that stuff, but a main guitar, rhythm guitar, and a vocal. Is is what I would do the vocal, because it's the emotion. And it's, I think with the vocalist, most obvious where you are in the song actually. So you don't have to think. And the main guitar is just most of the time is that the rhythm, the main rhythm element basically, and most songs I guess, are written on the guitar.
So that's, that is probably an important instrument here.
Malcom: [00:05:32] Yeah, I, I'm kind of, of two minds of that. I, I, in one, on one hand I disagree because I think the choices you make are based on what you're hearing. So you might have a course where the drummer has gone to the ride. Um, for example, but once more guitars or your sensor in there, it gets washed away and you realize that he should have been playing on the crash or something.
So having these extra elements, at least available, you [00:06:00] don't have to always be monitoring them, but being able to check against the stuff that is meant to be there later on in the process can make a kelp, make sure you do that. You're making good decisions. Um, yeah, but I do agree with Benny in that part of the job.
So for example, two episodes ago, we talked about the importance of having a producer on your project. Even if that is you, um, if you're the producer end primary songwriter and record or whatever, you could be doing all those jobs. But the part of the job of a producer is to critique the performances that are going down.
And make sure they're tight and are played really well. And if you have a bunch of tracks, um, like a bunch of guitars and a bunch of scents and whatever, it gets harder and harder to actually tell what's going, like getting laid down. And if it actually is tight, it might just think, okay. Yeah, that sounds pretty good.
But then when you remove all of these extra tracks that aren't tight around it that were played to, you might realize it's not. As, as good as you [00:07:00] were hoping, um, or as you thought it was, so really make sure your scratch tracks are AE in time. Like really in time and tight, even if they're like a little like unemotional, you know, that's probably better in this case, just like veer on the side of too tight and, uh, and make sure things are really in tune as well.
Because depending on what instruments you're recording next, you, you're going to end up using this as a tuning reference either. Um, on purpose or not. Uh, so it has to be really in tune and really in time.
Benedikt: [00:07:32] Agreed. So main takeaway here is maybe absolutely do scratch track the scratch tracks and then have as many of them as you can ready and prepared, but try using, um, Only the ones that you really need,
Malcom: [00:07:51] basically.
Yeah. You know, to take it a step further, just ask the person who's playing next, what is important for them? [00:08:00] Um, and, uh, that'll pretty much narrow it down cause you don't want to waste a bunch of time recording extra scratch shacks either. So, uh, you know, figure out what, what matters and grab those. Um, so Benny, what's next for you?
Benedikt: [00:08:12] Uh, for me, uh, it's drums, and I think that's pretty common like that. The first real thing that you record when it comes time to recording, um, that it's, it's the drums. And the main reason for me is that I don't, I don't know. I think that in modern music and rock and pop and metal and whatever, like the groove, the drums are the most important part.
Like maybe after the vocals in some jars, even more important than the vocal, probably. So it's just getting that right. And getting that foundation that groove that's like that that's, that's like, yeah. Super important for me. And that's the thing that makes your head move when you listen to the song and that's.
Uh, I don't know, everything else locks into that. The guitars and whatever can be a [00:09:00] little loose, can be a little laid back or a little rushed or whatever, but I like to have super tight drums and then everybody else can like play around that, or lock into that. So that's just, the first thing I want to have, but never without a scratch track because the drum tones that I'm dialing in and the way the drummer plays and everything absolutely has to fit the song. And I don't like to create drum sounds or drum performance in a vacuum. I like to do it in context. So I start with the drums, but I want to hear the song while I'm doing it because otherwise I feel like I can't make a great decision, a great informed decision on bass drum sound or the intensity of the playing and everything.
Like if I don't hear the song. I think the worst thing was back in the day when I didn't know about all of this, my first couple of projects that I did, we didn't do scratch tracks. We didn't do anything. We just started with the drums and I didn't even know the songs of the band. [00:10:00] So I was listening to drums for days, without even knowing what the end result will be or what the song is like, how can you make a great decision that way?
But that I, I made a couple of records that way, because I just didn't know. And the band just. Ruin the song. So the drummer could play without any scratch track. They just played to the click. And I would hear the song for the first time when all the other people started recording to those drums. And that's a crazy idea to me these days, but I still started with the drums.
Malcom: [00:10:27] But, yeah, you're right. I did that too. Uh it's I think a lot of people make that mistake, so if we can stop anybody from that, we've done our job. That's great.
Benedikt: [00:10:35] Yeah, exactly.
Malcom: [00:10:36] Um, I'm with start on drums, uh, people, good bands play the drums. The drummer pretty much dictates how good a band is live and it's the same in the studio.
Um, even if you're overdubbing. So in almost all cases, drums go down first for me after the scratch tracks. Of course.
Benedikt: [00:10:54] Yeah. So, and now here's the first thing that I want to ask you that, um, is a [00:11:00] little unconventional, but I read it and I find it interesting. And I want to hear your thoughts on that. Um, The person that I've been working with or that I'm currently working with, um, uh, the, the recorded drums for the record with me now, they are recording everything else on their own.
Then they will come back for vocals and then it will mix the record. And, uh, we were just chatting and he was sending this person who was sending me an interesting article. And it's about a metal band called trivial men. If you're into metal, you probably know them. Uh, it's a pretty famous, pretty well known big band.
And they did their latest record with Josh Wilbur, a pretty like legendary producer. And they, in this interview, they were talking about that. They did the drums last for their new record. And, uh, Jake Joshua, the producer came up with that idea and he said, or it's apparently it's something that he does a lot.
And he says, Yeah. W we should like, quote unquote, like I'm [00:12:00] quoting him here. He said, we should do drums last because we're not committed to arrangements and everything like that, but we can record the record. But also if there's something we wanted to kind of change up or do something different. So he says it's easier to rearrange or cut different things with guitars and vocals than drums because of the technicality of the recording with just the amount of effort it goes into microphones and everything that has.
That goes into drums. It's easier to edit and change things on the fly with guitars and stuff than drums. So if there's anything we change, we do the drums last and we kind of record the drums to whatever we kind of altered or changed if you had to do something during the recording process. So I guess they did pre-pro but they were, the songs were not really set in stone a hundred percent.
They left some of that for the recording on purpose, which can be tricky. And if you listen to the last episode, we talked about why we. Usually want the songs to be close to finish after pre-pro, but if you're a very experienced band and you know what you're doing, and you purposely like on purpose, [00:13:00] leave some of that for the recording process.
And if you have like a very creative, great producer in the room, or if one of you in the band is that person, the record might benefit from some creativity. And during the recording, I don't know. Um, Or some always benefits from creativity, but I mean, from still being able to work on the arrangements. And so they are saying that if you do that, it's easier to change things.
If you start with guitars rather than drums.
Malcom: [00:13:33] Right. Well, here's the thing. I bet they had programmed drums. Down that they were playing those guitars too, you know? So they had essentially scratch drum tracks that were perfectly in time, you know? Um, so the drums were kind of recorded first in a way because they had, they would have programmed them first and then played to those.
Um, uh, another van I've heard of that does, this is I think Nickelback is meant to do this as [00:14:00] well, where they'll have program drums and they'll record the whole album to that. And then at the end of the process, the drummer goes in and tries to beat it and then they just decide what sounds best for each song.
If the human performance beats, the superior drummer take they'll, they'll use that. But if not, they'll just keep the spirit of drummer and then it's like, cool. But it does give you, it's a cool idea because it gives you a lot of flexibility. Um, you know, you can change the kick pattern if the guitar, like you might not notice until the end that things would like vibe differently.
If the kick was succinct to the kick then, or to the bass guitar or something, you know, uh, like. It does give you a lot of flexibility, but I think that's kind of the same thing in a way, you know, I highly doubt that they just recorded all these guitars without middy drums, at least there. Yeah. That doesn't seem likely to me.
Benedikt: [00:14:46] Nope. And I just wanted to hear your thoughts without, um, telling you what else is there in this article because they, they go on and they say that they did pre-pro and then jammed over those songs, got the tempos and then went on [00:15:00] to recording guitars. So they obviously recorded everything. With bumps then recorded the real guitars, do that.
And then the drums. So of course, as you said, there is, there are some sort of drums in there and they did the pre-pro just, as we, uh, were talking about in the last episode that they completely did that, but, and the songs were probably finished by then, but they then during the process, they, they thought in case we still wanted to change something and we have a producer now that's.
Not that I think they did one day of pre-pro with him. So the producer wasn't involved all the time before that. So they just wanted to give the producer, I guess, the flexibility and the opportunity to change things up. And the best way to do that is to start with. Guitarist because it's easier technically.
So I guess if they would have been in the room together with Josh Wilbur for weeks and it pre-pro together, then they that's, that would not be necessary. So in your case, if you're recording at home and can do pre-pro on your own, in the same room, [00:16:00] you would do that during pre-pro essentially. And then you would start with the drums probably.
Malcom: [00:16:04] Yeah. That makes sense. Um, It's so they, yeah, they kind of did the order that we're laying out here, but they did it twice in a way
Benedikt: [00:16:11] exactly correctly, but it's just like the thought process like that, because it's right. Like if you record real drums, it's difficult and time consuming thing. And if you don't then find that you want to change something, it's hard.
So I totally get the idea and I thought it was interesting. But yeah,
Malcom: [00:16:28] very cool.
Benedikt: [00:16:29] All right. So, so I think we agree on that one and we start with
Malcom: [00:16:34] definitely, am I leading the next one? Yes. All right. This is where we're going to disagree. I'm sure of it. So for my go to a style, I like to do bass after drums.
Um, and I'm, I will, I know for a fact that Benny likes to do guitars instead, so I'm sure we'll have some, uh, conflicting ideas on this, but I think at the end, we're, we're, we're doing it kind of for [00:17:00] the same reasons, but we're probably using the, uh, the instruments in like in different ways. Um, so I like to do bass because it.
Helps me hone in on the relationship between the rhythm instruments. So like the locking of the drums and the bass guitar as like a rhythm section. I really, I dig that a lot
Benedikt: [00:17:18] and
Malcom: [00:17:19] I find that it's easier to keep a base guitar in tune than a guitar in tune. Um, so for me, it's like this easier thing to get the tuning locked in on.
Um, cause it's one note they're generally more steady and intimate better than guitars anyways. Um, So I like to start there and kind of build a tone off of the drum kit. Uh, the other reason I like it is that I like building my guitar tones off of that base. Um, otherwise I find it kind of overdue my guitar tones.
I'm like trying to make them sound too thick because there's no bass there. Um, but a lot of. [00:18:00] The aggressiveness of my guitars generally comes from my base tone. So that's kind of where I'm coming from from that, uh, is one, the relationship between the drummer and the bassist to the tuning. And then 30 is the kind of order in which I'm choosing to build the tones.
But let's, let's lay it on me. Benny, what do you think? Ooh, no,
Benedikt: [00:18:25] I totally right there, but, um, I, I, the funny thing is I disagree, but for the same reasons, so
Malcom: [00:18:32] yeah.
Benedikt: [00:18:32] So, um, to me, I totally see what you, what you're getting out of your book, but to me, It's I like to do guitarists after drums. And the one reason is tuning and I agree that a bass is easier to keep in tune and maybe Internet's easier because it's like four strings and that's six and you're a don't play chords and stuff.
And it's not as complicated usually. But I'm having a much harder time or we as humans, I think have a [00:19:00] hard, much harder time to actually perceive the little tiny, subtle differences in tuning on a low note compared to guitars. So when a guitar or one string or one note with an accord is off, I immediately hear that when I hear a bass and the basis plays a low E or D or whatever.
And it's just a couple of cents up or down. It's very, very hard to hear. And, um, so to me, like the guitar is kind of the tuning reference and it's, if the guitar, the guitar on its own, it's, it's either in tune or not. And I hear that. And then when I play the bass to it, or the band plays the bass to it, I just know that the bass is in tune or not.
Because once you played with a guitar, you hear the difference in those lows notes. So. I could only think of recording the base first, if there is some sort of tuning reference. So if you program a MIDI bass first, for example, or you have a really in tune scratch track of a guitar. Then I could see that work.
[00:20:00] And I did that a lot. I'm on a lot of records until I switched kind of the order of things. But now I really like to just record the guitars, have the final take and then do bass. The other reason is also the tone and I like to craft to get a base tone after I hear the guitar tone. And I totally see that the bass and the drums.
Have to work together. But to me, the it's all about the, the song and the art of the vibe of the song. And most songs are written on the guitar. At least the bands that I work with, they write their songs on the guitar, not on base. So the guitar is always during the writing process is always what the band focuses on.
It's the main thing. And also they have a certain guitar tone in their heads. Most of the time. Um, guitarists have a much clearer idea of what they want to have for guitar tone then basis often, at least in my experience. So I don't like the idea of compromising sort of compromising the guitar tone because of the bass, but I do it the other way around.
So I [00:21:00] want, I want the executor tone that the band wants and that fits the song. And I want to hear the main instrument first, and then I kind of fill in the gaps with the bass tone. That's just how I, how I look at it. And also even, even if you did, pre-pro sometimes when you're actually recording, you might have missed or overlooked something in pre-pro and, uh, the base.
When you've cracked bass first, you might play a pattern or picking pattern or whatever, and just miss a hit or a play one more hit or whatever, and like, just pick a little differently than the guitars. And then when you add the guitar, you either have to adjust the guitar and then compromise the original song and riff because it was actually written on the guitar or you have to redo the bass if it doesn't fit, or if it gets in the way.
And if you start with the guitar, you exactly know that this is. This is the song because it was written on the guitar and there's no question. And then the bass player can't adapt to if they played it differently before that. [00:22:00] So it's just, I dunno, it's I guess to me, it's just, the guitar is more important and most songs, so it comes first and it's the tuning thing, but I understand your point of view as well.
And they, I think you might end up with a better bass tone. If you focus on the drums. I don't know. That's just my, the way I look, I look at it.
Malcom: [00:22:19] Well, first off, that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. No, totally joking, haha, it's, like you said, we're agreeing on this for the exact same reasons. We're saying the same things, but we just get there from completely different ways.
Like for tracking bass, I have a tuner, like a visible tuner that I'm literally watching as they're playing the bass, to make sure that we're not drifting, you know? So it's going about the same thing in different ways. And people will find that different things work for them. You know, so you have to experiment and figure out what works.
Uh, and like I said, at the beginning of this, be really adaptable [00:23:00] if I have abandoned. And I know that the bass player is not on the level that the guitar players in and they're just like half the stuff that we're playing. It doesn't make sense to the guitar riff. I'm not going to record them first.
Absolutely not. I would definitely get a guitar down and then record the bass to them because I know that I'm going to have to sit there and workshop in their base parts to fit this guitar riff. Um, and, and the drums, you know, like it, it all really does depend on the band and the players. And, um, only experience can really get you to that point where you know what to do based on who's in the room with you.
Uh, But, yeah, we're, we're, we're both trying to achieve, achieve the same thing and we both get it, obviously, you know, I I've heard your mixers. They sound
Benedikt: [00:23:40] unreal. Um,
Malcom: [00:23:41] same, the bass tone sucks, but
well, I could talk,
Benedikt: [00:23:48] I mean, I could say the same, but your mixes sell. They, as I said, we both get the chop down. We both get great results. And so, um, I totally missed one point here [00:24:00] though, and I have to bring it up and this doesn't happen. Like it's another reason for my approach and I need to bring it up because, but it's, it has nothing to do with bass or guitar and still is an argument for a guitar first.
And that is Your vocalist needs to rest. And what I mean by that is, as early in the process as possible, I like to have a rhythm guitar because the minimum requirement to be able to sing a vocal to a song to me in most cases is drums and a rhythm guitar for many vocalists. It's hard to sing to a bass, but you can sing to a rhythm guitar.
And I don't like the idea of a vocalist having to do all of the record at the end in one session or multiple days, because you can only really sing for a couple of hours until your voice just is not there anymore. And it's exhausting. It's also psychologically weird. Like if you are in the spotlight [00:25:00] for days and everybody's watching you and you have to perform. so I like the idea of.
Getting all the drums done, then getting a rhythm guitar as early as possible. Then doing vocals on a song or two, then continuing with some bass, then maybe another guitar. Then again, some vocals like having all the setups there and ready, and then like rotating between. Those different things. It just, it keeps everybody kind of fresh and it keeps everything exciting.
Uh, it's easier for the vocalist. Um, it's a little, yeah, it's a little mindset shift and a little objectivity that you get every time you switch between those things. So that's also an argument for rhythm guitar first for me and I, but I, I totally see. And, and that's probably what many people do is that you could do that with scratch tracks.
Malcom: [00:25:46] if you have a really good enough. Yeah, but I did, you definitely have to spend extra time on that scratch track. And sometimes, honestly it doesn't make sense to spend that much time on your scratch track. Um, if like, if pretty much, like if you set up your, your [00:26:00] rig for a scratch guitar and it doesn't sound like even close to what, like it's not worth spending a bunch of time.
Uh, they get a few hours building a tone for your scratch track when you know, it's like, you can spend that time later. So sometimes it works out that the scratch is good enough and you can, you can get a vocal to that. But if I don't like I don't get hung up on it. And I do agree with that. I normally, I guess, on the product kind of productions I'm doing, I normally have a couple more instances where, um, Like I would start vocals right after that guitar do a lead vocal or something, then move to keys and then, you know, hit some harmonies, do some percussion, hit some harmonies, you know, like I started alternating stuff kind of one step later than you, but you know, you're absolutely right.
Um, you have to get vocals started as early in the process as possible. Um, it's kind of like this fine line of if the song sounds to bear, I don't think the vocalist is going to be into it enough, so I have to like build it up to a certain level. Um, but yeah, and again, that's the certain [00:27:00] thing, that's the type of thing that's different with every production.
Benedikt: [00:27:02] Yeah. Agreed. Okay. So how do we continue with this? We could basically skip guitar because like,
Malcom: [00:27:10] uh, yeah, basically
Benedikt: [00:27:11] charges like physically one, one point here and there's arguments for both. Uh, approaches and you can just pick whatever you you want to do or try both and see what works better for you.
Malcom: [00:27:21] Yeah.
Yeah, totally. Um, and, uh, like a good rule of thumb is whoever knows the song best. Like if, for bands that are new to this and haven't done enough, pre-pro especially just like, somebody's going to really know the songs inside and out and they should probably get in there first, um, or at least be present.
Well, the other person's recorded, you know, uh, That's I've had that happen where somebody wasn't able to make it and then they show up and you're like, well, that's not how that goes. And you're like, crap. Uh, so yeah. You know, but that that's really, that's all solved by pre production, so nevermind. Um, and then, you know, we also agreed.
So [00:28:00] step three, four is. Bass slash guitar, obviously bass first and then it's, uh, vocals. Uh, we both agree on that. Vocals comes as soon as possible. And then after that really, I think it stops mattering at that point. You know, you've, at that point, you've got a foundation of the song of what's really important is that you just split up the vocals as much as you possibly can, um, and get everything done.
So. Prioritize what plays the biggest role in the song? You know, if there's like, if it's an Oregon heavy song, get an organ. And if it's a piano heavy song, I mean, if it's a piano heavy song and get it in before guitars even, um, but you know, like, uh, in general, we're talking about rock productions really.
That's what we do. And it's normally guitars are the focus, so they're gonna happen before keys usually. Um, but it stops being pretty. Uh, I dunno to me, anyways, it stops. Mattering after that, like core structures recorded. And then it's just about [00:29:00] workflow. What's going to get the job done and keep the session moving, keep the vocalist fresh, keep everybody fresh and excited for that matter.
You know, you don't want to focus on like a, a really boring thing for too long, um,
Benedikt: [00:29:12] because
Malcom: [00:29:13] people are gonna like lose. Lose focus on what's important. You want to keep everybody excited. So what do you think about that?
Benedikt: [00:29:20] I totally agree. Um, I I'd say, as you said, guitar is basically a place holder. It could be replaced with like main rhythm instrument, whatever that is.
And, um, it could be an Oregon could be keys, could be whatever, if in your case, but in brackets, typically the, the rhythm guitar. And I agree that from there, like after the vocal, um, comes in. It doesn't matter as much anymore, but in a way it does, because what I think is important is that you always. Think about all the, like, if there are additional elements in the arrangement, like additional keys since, [00:30:00] um, post production elements, samples, whatever, or additional vocals and all that stuff.
So there's not a fixed order anymore, but it's always good to like half that stuff on some sheet or, um, somewhere where you can just look at it and then, and go through that and always, uh, analyze that and think about. What would actually make a difference if we would do it now? And what I mean by that?
It's hard to explain, but what I mean by that is There could be a pad, for example, a synth pad in a song that creates a certain atmosphere and vibe. And while it's not super important and you can do it anytime and you can do the vocals first or whatever. If it's in there, it might cause the singer to sing differently because all of a sudden, there's this atmosphere and vibe in this part, and it's just different to sing to that.
So it might make sense to do that part before you sing. Or there might be, whatever it is, it's good to look at those things [00:31:00] not only as additional production that you can do in the end, but some of that stuff might change the way you perform to it. And so I like to keep that stuff handy and I like to keep that stuff on a sheet or somewhere where I can look at it and then say like, what if we recorded this first?
Would this make a difference? Is this important for the vibe of the part? I would look at it like that, because sometimes these things can be actually important and then I would do them first. That's
Malcom: [00:31:27] a great point. Uh, the key takeaway there is have a list of everything you plan to record for each song.
It should be written down. You should be able to look at it whenever you want really quickly. Um, I would even say like, make sure it's on piece of paper, so you don't have to spend time even opening up a document or something. It should just be sitting on a whiteboard preferably where everybody can see it.
Um, That will get things done faster, keep people excited as they see it getting knocked off and checked off. I know we've talked with studio boards before, so definitely, definitely do that. Um, and then, but you're, you're absolutely right in that [00:32:00] sometimes like a pad for example, can really set a mood and you know, that's going to probably change how somebody writes a guitar solo over it or something like that.
Um, you know, music affects music and it affects our decisions. So definitely do pay attention to that stuff. Another thing to consider is that sometimes you have too many ideas and your song will eventually get full, you know, like there's only so much space and what you record first is going to be what ends up staying in most cases, because it gets harder and harder to be objective.
So you add an idea and maybe if the layer under it wasn't there, it would sound good. But because there is already something there, it seems unnecessary. And you're like, ah, let's just not do it, but, you know, if you had thought objectively, okay, which one is actually more important? What is really furthering the end goal and vision that we had in mind in the first place and get those down first so that the priority pieces are getting the priority space in your [00:33:00] arrangement. Um, so knock things off, not necessarily in that order, but get those priority elements highlighted in advance and make sure they're given the time of day that they deserve. Sure.
Benedikt: [00:33:14] Uh, that w there's one more thing that I wanted to bring up an a, I didn't talk to Malcolm about this before the episode, because I wanted to just start another discussion here.
Um, and this is, there's not only an order of things for me when it comes to which instrument is first, but it's also, there's also an order of. Which parts you do first within a song, for example, or which type of song you do first. So this there's workflow reasons and there is also creative reasons. So a workflow example could be.
You could dial in the tone on your amp, that works particularly well for Palm you'd parts or whatever. So you could go through all the songs and record all the Palm, your parts, because you're already set up. You are like your right hand is already warmed up. You are [00:34:00] ready to do Palm units. If they're fast or whatever, you can just blast through the whole record and do this part with that tone.
And then you switch and do the cord parts or the lead parts or whatever. On the other hand, this could be. Not a good idea creatively because you kind of skipped between songs. You have to switch between different vibes. You're not, you're like you're not in the song anymore. So going through one song at a time also has benefits.
Maybe I'm focusing on that one piece of art rather than skipping through all the different songs. So I'm just curious what, what you, what your, your thoughts on this are. And especially, I think in a, in a DOI recording environment, in a home studio, It might not be the same as in a big studio because in a, in a, or in a commercial studio, because in a commercial studio, you can set up all these different rigs and leave them there for the entire process and then switch between and like jump from song to song.
But if [00:35:00] people record at home, they might only have one or two microphones or one or two inputs on the interface. So constantly changing settings is a big workflow, um, like mess, basically.
Malcom: [00:35:12] Yeah, I, I really love doing like the stations set up at the big studio where you have like, okay, this is the acoustic guitar world amps over here.
And amp, coroner drums are ready to go. And being able to like move as inspiration strikes, that's such a fun way to work, but totally not applicable to what we're talking about when we're talking about DIY recording. Um, so with that in mind, I would definitely just do a song by song thing. I think, um, And there's a few reasons for that.
There's like this focus in general, you know, you don't want to like try and like multitask all these songs together and think, okay, where do I have Palm mutes and all these other songs. Um, and, uh, there's also just like, Strings expiring, you know, so I, I think I'm always trying to just get like the [00:36:00] song done and focused on that one song.
And again, I'm kind of like progress driven by my studio chart on the board where we've listed all the songs and what we want to record on all of them. So we can just like, see the boxes, getting checked off the list. Uh, but you're right. There's definitely. Um, a really cool way inside of those songs for me.
Cause I, I don't think I really do the jumping from song to song, I think, but, uh, when you're working on one song and you have that like chorus guitar tone hit all the courses. Hell yeah. And then dial in your verse tone, hit all the verses. You know, it doesn't have to be from start to finish. Um, same with vocals, uh, you know, get the sung vocals before the screaming vocals, for example, would be.
A good example of this. So like, if that's the, versus you're gonna hit all the verses and then move to the courses after. So yeah, that's, that's just beneficial on a technical level mostly, I guess. But I think these technical decisions that save us time and energy also free up creative ideas. You know, we have more like mind.
Benedikt: [00:37:00] Exactly. So, but just to see that if I got that right, if you are saying you prefer song by song, but you still do like drums for the whole record and then guitars for the whole record, or is it really like drums for one song, then finish that song and then drums for the next song
Malcom: [00:37:17] generally while drums it's always the whole record pretty well, because generally you don't have.
Like the gear space to leave a whole drum set TECT up. Yep. And good to go. Um, not normally anyways, so yeah, drums is normally a whole record, but bass and guitar, I might. Jump around that the bass player do a song and then grab a rhythm guitar from somebody else. Uh, you know, um, I've, I've got a camper that makes that really easy.
You know, like if we're like, if we're trying to get a lot of stuff done in a short amount of time, like something like a camper and a DEI is really like what all set up. And so that's like one station that covers both of those boxes, you know? Um, and we can just keep people fresh. Cause even bass there's something [00:38:00] like bass, a bass player is still gonna be told the spent after.
Four songs recording in a row, they're going to be wiped. Um, so just like a vocalist, I mean, a vocalist even more so because they are their instrument, but it, if you can keep those people fresh, I think it pays off. Um, you can't always do that and it doesn't always make sense to, but
Benedikt: [00:38:19] again,
Malcom: [00:38:19] it's, it's really on a song by song, project by project basis.
Um, it depends who I'm working with and had their attitude. If they need to take a smoke break every hour, you know, I'm not going to make them sit through their smoke break. Yeah. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:38:33] Okay.
Malcom: [00:38:34] So yeah. What do you, what do you do?
Benedikt: [00:38:36] Um, yeah, I can't, I kind of switched between things. I agree with drums, the whole record.
I just, I I've always done it that way and it makes so much sense to me. Um, again, as I said, I like to do vocals as early as possible, so I'm not going to record the whole record with guitars, but I was thought with a song and then get the vocals done. Um, so that's,
Malcom: [00:38:58] that's a really easy [00:39:00] thing to have, like as different setup before, you know, if you have one channel for guitar on one channel for a vocal.
Benedikt: [00:39:05] Yeah, exactly. And
Malcom: [00:39:07] a vocal is also really easy to recall. You know, it doesn't take much to get the settings back to the same place. Just make a couple notes.
Benedikt: [00:39:13] Exactly. But I would limit it to that, that I would say I do the guitar for a song, but then do the whole song and not just do a part and then move to another part of another song.
Because that way it gets really, as you said, it's like hard to keep track of everything and you might forget a part or you constantly have to think, wait, where do we have the Palm you parts and everything. So you're right on that. Um, I don't really do that, but I heard of people do that. So they are, they say like, okay, my right hand is warmed up.
I'm not ready to do all the fast palms and stuff. So we go through the record and do all of that. And I can add that makes sense in a way, but I, I kinda never do that. Um, but what I do is I say, I won't say I never do that. I did that a couple of times, but only then If the performer, the artist, the [00:40:00] guitarists or vocalist or whatever, if they tell me that there is a particular part on the record in some song that they are afraid of or scared for whatever reason, sometimes they just mention that during conversation, I always pay attention to these things because if there is a part that's really hard to do, I keep like a mental note of that, or I write it down.
And then whenever we do a part that I think would be a great warmup for that particular part, then I might say, okay, now I think you are really warmed up now, everything's going great. Why don't we try that tough, challenging thing now, because I think it could work now and then we try that and sometimes that works perfectly.
So that's the only exception to that. I just keep a mental note of things like that.
Malcom: [00:40:44] And that's a cool idea.
Benedikt: [00:40:46] Yeah. I don't know. I would say what we have to add here is that you should always. Make presets templates and track everything. Um, as, as, as good as you can, [00:41:00] or in the end, the preset or something could also be just a picture of the guitar.
And like, what I mean is you should document the tones you're getting, because if you do song by song and you do the whole song, you might come up with a pretty cool rhythm tone. And you want to recreate that in a, on another song. And so it would be dumb not to take pictures of the settings on the amp or the pedals or whatever, or save a preset on the Epsom or whatever you're using.
So you can recall that later and that way it's not too, too difficult to just move between different instruments, even if you can't have the amp sit there all the time.
Malcom: [00:41:35] Yeah. Go recall. Streets are definitely a smart idea. They've saved my butter a couple of times for sure.
Benedikt: [00:41:41] Oh, yeah,
Malcom: [00:41:43] shit happens. Sometimes you need to redo stuff.
Benedikt: [00:41:45] yeah, it, sometimes you'd come up with weird stuff that you just happen to love. And then, uh, if you forget to document that you won't be, you probably won't be able to recreate that and you might need it again. And another part and yeah, or on another record, maybe you're in next record. [00:42:00] You, you remember that one cool thing we did in that part on the last record, we want to do that again here and now nobody knows.
What you actually did if you didn't document it.
Malcom: [00:42:09] Yeah. A smart person getting into this game would make a note of everything that makes them go holy shit, like this sounds awesome. Down to the a reverb on a vocal, or, like a delay effect, or guitar tone or a drum tone, just anytime you're like, yes, that's like, awesome, better than I expected, make a note of it. Because you'll end up in a situation where you don't have that and you'll be like, okay, what was that thing I did? And, you know, that's like what we've talked about even on the last episode, like getting to know these kind of starting points where I can quickly be like, okay, I know how to get a fat snare drum. I'm imagining a fat snare drum on this song, so I'm going to go to this studio, grab this snare drum and this mic, and I'll be pretty close right away, kind of thing. I've got kind of presets in my head for a [00:43:00] bunch of these situations. And that's how you get good at this. You start learning those things about your gear, understanding your gear and what works and what doesn't. And making presets and recall sheets.
It will definitely expedite that.
Benedikt: [00:43:14] True. Yeah. Alright. I think that's it actually for this episode, I mean, there's not much more we could say about that. Um, important things first.
Malcom: [00:43:24] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I was going to mention that, uh, when we say like guitars, we mean really, and guitars, first Lee Lee's are always like after and something I use to break up vocals, um, because like the lead tone can be totally different than the rhythm tone normally, you know, and this is Eddie van Halen song where it's got to just like, be the same guitar on the left, but, uh, but yeah, so.
Yeah, leads are the perfect type of thing to break up. You're a vocalist duty,
Benedikt: [00:43:53] especially if it's, especially if it's a solo, because lead can also mean like a melody or [00:44:00] harmony over the rhythm guitar and stuff like that. You might do that. Want to do that early, or it's basically doesn't matter as much, but especially if it's solo stuff like real lead stuff, I kind of think of that stuff as a, like a replacement of the vocal.
So it kind of. When the vocal, when there's no vocal, the lead takes over sort of. So there's one, one voice, and it could be a lead guitar or it could be a vocal. So it makes total sense to do that into volt during the vocal sessions
Malcom: [00:44:28] that reminds me, there's actually one additional step that I love to do.
It doesn't always happen. The budget doesn't always have, like it's not always an option pretty much, and it's not always necessarily either. But what I really love to do is like a week after you finished cutting the album, Come back to it with like the main songwriter, usually, like, I kind of find it like less people is better, but just like me and the primary guy or girl, and we sit down and reopen the sessions and do a listen through and come up with more ideas.
It's like, you're starting fresh. You've taken a little break. You buy like [00:45:00] half the time it's deleting stuff. It's like, okay, let's try removing some stuff from this first. You know, it's like the, I call it the auxiliary day. We just come in and finish it. You know? It's like, okay, now the song is done. You know, we.
It's like the, you know, it's preproduction essentially. It's like, okay, fresh ears on it. We're hearing it for the first time again. Oh, I should mention when we finished recording, I don't listen to the songs at all for like a week or two. Um, regardless to if we're doing the auxiliary day, because if I'm going to mix, I'll just open up the mix and then start muting stuff or, you know, or I'll be like, okay, I'm going to record a tambourine.
Cause this song sucks without one, you know, uh, like I, I really wish I did that more often and I wish other people would do that more often. Um, cause at the end of the recording day, especially the end of a recording, like week where you've been cutting your album for like a week, you're exhausted and you've got no more creativity on tap.
So coming back for one last little pass of, of, and coming at it fresh and objectively, that's really cool. I think that's, uh, everybody would benefit from giving their music one last little [00:46:00] brush over after they've rested.
Benedikt: [00:46:01] Such a valuable tip area. We've all been there. Totally. I sometimes I'd even say to the vocalist, for example, at the end of the session, I'd even say it.
Let's not even think about getting creative now and adding all these, I don't know, effects that we had an hour in our heads because I know it won't be as good if we do it now, let's just save that for another day. Like I would even do another day or half a day on my time, even if they didn't pay for it, just because I know it's worth doing it.
And the record would benefit from that. So I even stopped sessions and said, okay, we'll do another day. It won't cost you any extra, just because I know that it would be better for the record, if you do it that way. So, yeah. Yeah, totally agreed. Yeah. Well,
Malcom: [00:46:40] like it, it's just weird thing. I've, there's been a couple times where I'm like, okay, let's stop and we'll do it another day because like, if we push forward yeah.
Like maybe I'm having to give up free time later, but what we would have accomplished if we had just pushed forward and not stopped would have just had to be redone anyway. So it would have been. [00:47:00] You know, garbage Sophia you're you're, you're dead on with that.
Benedikt: [00:47:05] Okay. So yeah, that's a super valuable tip here in the end again.
And, um, I think we can wrap this up. This was great. This is, uh, it was fun and it goes to show that there is, as often in this whole, on this whole topic, there is no, no clear right or wrong. And, um, you just have to find out what works for you, what works for your record. And, but I think there are still some.
Valuable things here that you can use as a sort of a template and then see how you, what you would, you can come up with and what works for you. So it's great to have a starting point like that and just know the why behind what we do. Um,
Malcom: [00:47:44] absolutely. Uh, if you're having trouble, like deciding what to do, like if you're thinking about this for your own project, Go to the self recording band, Facebook page, community, and drop it in there.
People would be happy to chime in. You could throw up a little demo cell phone, demo the song. If you watch it, [00:48:00] and people could listen to it and kind of tell you what they think is important. That'd be a great place to start.
Benedikt: [00:48:05] Sure, definitely go to theselfrecordingband.com/community. That will forward you to this, um, Facebook community, or just search it on Facebook and you'll find it.
And, um, yeah. Love to see you in there. And, uh, one last thing as we're talking about orders, uh, here I have a 10 step guide to successful DIY recording that you can download. If you go to theselfrecordingband.com/tenstepguide. You can write it with number 10 or the letters 10 doesn't matter, both works.
Um, so theselfrecordingband.com/tenstepguide, and you can download a free PDF there. It's basically a mini, uh, ebook thing with 10 steps from writing arranging to preproduction, to recording, to file export everything. And it kind of breaks down the whole process and gives you a clear order of things that you can follow.
And it just. Makes it easier to like grasp [00:49:00] the whole, um, process and to, to really, um, know what to do next and to not lose focus. Um, so download that, um, let me know what you think about it. Let me know if it helps you and, um, yeah, I hope this episode was valuable and
Malcom: [00:49:16] yeah, if. If you have been listening to this podcast and you haven't checked out the show notes page that Benny rates up for each episode, third, they're amazing.
They're like as valuable as the guides that he gives out. And if you haven't checked out the guides, you gotta check those out too. They're like mini eBooks that are awesome. Um, but uh, yeah, head to the show notes. And especially if you're like me and you can't remember these links for more than like five seconds.
Uh, they're always in the show notes. So grab those there.
Benedikt: [00:49:42] Thank you doing a great job, actually come and reminding me of those things.
Malcom: [00:49:45] I would have forgotten about all of this, if you had said
Benedikt: [00:49:48] so thank you. Yeah, he's totally right. Um, another link for you, but that's the only one you need to remember.
Actually, now that Malcolm said this, and it's theselfrecordingband.com/16. So whatever [00:50:00] episode you're listening to is just the Suffolk wedding band.com/and then the number of the episode. And that will take you to the show notes page. And there are the downloads. There are things we talked about.
There's a transcript. There is like everything, uh, again, for you to look up and read, if you mentioned a specific software or tool or whatever, it's there. So there are the links. If you want to hire Malcolm for a mastering, for example, the link to his mastering studio, is there a link to my mixing services there?
So all of it, all the. Dozens of links that we mentioned all the time. They are all there for you. So theselfrecordingband.com/16 in this case.
Malcom: [00:50:35] Awesome. Alright, let's wrap it up.
Benedikt: [00:50:38] Okay. Thank you for listening. See ya. Thanks guys. Bye [00:51:00] .
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Gimme The Beat (The Netflix Documentary Malcom is involved with)
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