Sunday, January 2, 2011

Trials and Tribulations of Home Recording

Yo, MotherLovers, this is the lovely Anthony.

We all know that teaching yourself to do anything is hard, but I'll tell you all one thing, and it's this: Teaching yourself home recording is a real bitch.

I hope you like the new song, Look Around. I wrote it, so you'd better...or I will find you. Anyway, about recording the song. As Tristan explained previously, the drums were recorded with one microphone (I still can't believe it myself).  My guitar - the Strat you hear on the left - was recorded within a few takes. Seth and I had to work out what tempo we wanted it at and finally settled on a quick dirge. The licks and solo provided by the delightful Tristan Yonce were recorded in one take, because he's just that good.

So what was the real bitch of recording, you ask?


We had to do so many takes on the vocals that if I told you, your head would blow up like in Scanners.  Honestly, I don't even know how many takes we tried, but it was a lot.  And there were a few reasons for it.

One reason is my own damnable perfectionism. I tried so many different ways of singing the song, and I was rarely happy with any of them: whispering, screaming, standing on my head, burping it, you name it. The final take is me with a bronchial infection. Go figure.

Another problem we had was the construction of our makeshift booth. Tristan posted a photo of the booth in the previous blog. I'll describe it to you. It's the crawlspace under the stairs. You've got about three square feet of space where you can stand (if you're 5'11” like me). There's a little light in there, but don't let its size deceive you. It makes the room feel about 115 degrees.  The claustrophobia and heat are stressors in and of themselves that make it difficult to put down a take.

Another huge stumbling block we ran into was eliminating reverb, or echo, in the booth. Many of the takes for Look Around sounded all right, but during the mixing process, we realized that because of the reverb, it made the take unusable because the voice sounded out-of-place with the rest of the instruments. So what did we do? We threw up a lot of egg crates and a few blankets and towels, all of which catch sound waves as they attempt to bounce off the walls, and placed the mike right in front of the egg-crate wall so as you sing, it goes right into our soundproofing. That helped out immensely, and we finally had usable takes...once I was happy with them.

We've learned a lot about recording in these first few ventures. The learning curve is steep, but it plateaus after the initial harsh face. And despite the hardships we've faced while trying to make our hovel a recording space, I can honestly say that the process is fun hard work.

Stay savvy,
Anthony Harrison

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