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Author Topic: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.  (Read 19452 times)

wiggins

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Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« on: December 15, 2005, 12:32:00 am »

I found this video entertaining and highly informative - it's been circulating around the Electrical Audio forums for a while, I figured I'd share it here.

Have at it: http://www.electrical.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2281

Reitzas

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2005, 06:24:18 am »

This is brilliant.

As a fellow engineer, I am encouraged by the thoughts and convictions I hear in your lecture.  I know I remember reading excerpts from that lecture, but to watch the whole thing was very enjoyable. While one could easily see the differences in our individual career paths, it is uncanny the similarities in the fundamental core of engineering, as a profession, that we do share.  It is refreshing to hear genuineness (genuineity?).

I have some questions and some comments if you don't mind.

Questions

1.) How old were you when you did (what you consider) your first session as an engineer?

2.) What was the first console that you had in your home studio?

3.) How do you split the time between playing in a band and recording bands?
   Do you schedule absolute time for your band?
   Do you have a social life or family life that is part of the equation?
4.) Do clients look to you to solve problems or are you more inclined to lead them to their own path in problem solving?  I guess I mean; when you work with insecure Artists, how do you overcome the inevitable situations involving their insecurities?
5.) Is it true what you say about Robert Plant and Jimmy Page?  Kings and commoners?
6.) I'm not sure about the shitstorm that followed In Utero, but from what I understand it was a difficult time. If everyone in the Industry had high-fived you and patted your back, do you think you'd have taken the same path that you're on now? In other words, how much of a psychological effect (negative or positive_) did the post-record experience have in your life and what did you tell yourself to help move beyond?

Comments;

I was one of those engineers you describe that came into play during the 80's indulgence period.  Linn, DX7, Emulators etc.. ; I thought I knew what was best for the band/Artist until one day (I remember it well) when I was bitching and moaning about all the things I didn't have available to make a "proper" record when my boss, David Foster, leaned over to me and basically said "shut the f**k up kid, you can easily be replaced.  You should be more concerned about making the best record with what you have and with what you know. Leave the complaining at the door".  An eyeopener to me and a blessing to all my future clients, I'm sure.  Having an arsenal of great tools certainly allows for more options in problem solving, but getting closer to the basics has always proven to be the best resource.
It is so true how important client support really is.  Making the client's vision the #1 priority has always been of utmost importance to me.  My projects take a lot longer than yours do because of  two mantras I've developed over the years; "If you can imagine it, I will do it" and "No is not an option". Oh well.

Your comments on negotiating are spot on.  Not fun.  Never had a manager and always did my own negotiating, but being on the top tier of paid engineers for so long, it is a constant effort to re-define my accessability and affordability in this "new" industry.  Looks like you've prepared well for longevity.  Square and fair.

It can be easy to become agitated by deadlines, demands or indecision.  I think your advice about not becoming uppity is most valuable.  Leaving the anxiety to others is my preferred way of working.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think your strength lies in building bridges for the bands to gain confidence in sounding like themselves and steering them away from the trap of sounding "like" somebody else.  As an added benefit, they get to employ the tried and trusted methods that you've developed over the many years devoted to your craft.

On the point about digital being inappropriate to record making or archiving, I disagree.  I'm a singles guy.  I rarely listen to whole records anymore and I have found my music discoveries online to be "awesome" in a good way, as in there is an incredible amount of music available made in dorms and the bedroom that is just as enjoyable and meaningful to me as analog, studio recordings.
My take on archiving has more to do with the final 2 track than the multi-track.  As far as I'm concerned, the CD/DVD/Mp3/name your format here- is the gift to the future generations.   Even though format conversion is necessary to keep current data capable of playing on future systems, if one maintains the current playback system as you do with your analog machines, there is no reason why you couldn't replay your current format on your maintained machine without the need to upgrade.  This is not something I care to debate because I'll probably lose but I do have some contrary opinions.  Then again, I believe the lecture you gave that I'm referring to is a few years old and you probably have more to offer on the subject anyway.


I'm going to post this tonight even though I may wake up in the morning and wonder why I wrote this, so, In closing,  the reason I took the time to write this is because I admire your contributions to this industry as a person more so than I admire your engineering.  Not to imply that I don't admire your engineering it's just that I don't actually  know that much about your work except what I've read and maybe a few of the more mainstream works I've heard.
In a nutshell, thank you for your openess and honesty and thank you for your willingness to treat people fairly.  It is contagious.  


Sincerely,
Dave Reitzas
www.reitzas.com

Adam P

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2005, 11:18:14 am »

Reitzas wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 06:24

This is brilliant.

etc etc


I watched the video of the lecture for the first time with all the excitement of a kid with a new toy on Christmas (or other PC holiday of choice), and have watched it several times since.  I too am interested in learning more about Steve's early recording days, and I started a thread about it a couple days ago that will hopefully get some replies, from Steve or others.
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Eric Rudd

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2005, 02:20:23 pm »

Reitzas wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 05:24

 While one could easily see the differences in our individual career paths, it is uncanny the similarities in the fundamental core of engineering, as a profession, that we do share.  

Sincerely,
Dave Reitzas
www.reitzas.com



Hey Dave,

It's good to see you around the forum. Over ten years later and it's fun to see the same folks popping up as we travel down the career stream. Keep up the great work.

All the best,

Eric

P.S. And oh, be careful driving on the PCH. You never know who you might "run" into.    Shocked
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Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2005, 01:10:01 am »

It was an interesting look, but i would like to clarify a few things,

First, yes.... most music in the 80's was embarrassing.

As for the linn and the dx7, it served a purpose and it was quite ground breaking at the time. This new technology allowed wang chung to become wang chung. You didn't have to like it, but there was a sound that it helped to define and create.

Point being, guitar bands were out of the mainstream then and the midi and syth thing was way in. And this was not even just for the mass markets. There were hoards of underground and independent "tekno" bands releasing ep's and albums.
Ko rg and Roland and Yamaha made some cool synths well before the dx7, which was actually more of a session keyboard guys axe, as opposed to the hardcore teckno ravers of the day. Which some also used in conjunction with gtrs.

devo, ultravox, joy division, new order, ministry were the farthest thing from a pop band. They all laid out some really cool tones and songs.

I really don't believe for a second the linn or dx7 did any harm in the 80's, and the linn triggered like shit anyways.

AMS, well what can I say. At the time it was the only thing would do it right and it cost 10k to do so. Did the AMS ruin music? No, I bet clearmountian and the alge bros haven't sold there's as it is still the best way to go.

As for engineers acting like the producer and "boss", I'd like to give some feedback on that.

For many years, studio's had set working patterns and parameters because of the nature of the business they were doing. There was no such thing as a college rock band showing up and putting any demands on a studio or AE for this reason, they were most likely in at a way cheaper rate on the weekend, because studios let there assistants book that stuff in and get some experience. If an AE ever seemed like he dictating that recoding process, it was because of how he was trained at that studio. Most places had a very specific way of dong things because during the week a studio with 10 rooms would be filled up from 8am to 7pm everyday of the week.
It was nothing to have 8 music sessions booked a day, a blues record and album remix booked at night. You had session musicians and singers to set up for. All kinds of producers, and what was funny is that lockouts were actually turned down unless they started after 4pm. The enviorment and the clock created the way it was done and the "why" it was done. And the last thing you would want to do is piss off a studio owner in a town where there were only 3 major studios.

I guess the point is again, the reason for the methods that were created by these studios and projected upon local gtr bands, were because of the clients that showed up during the week. One place I worked at had a card rate for 16trk recording in 1969 for $160 an hr. In the mid 80's they were getting $350 an hour. Now there out of business.

The business Steve has, has nothing in common with the old studio model. Steve created a need for his skills within a niche market. If there was never a linn or dx7 and we still had major studios filled with musicians everyday and we never fell upon the current technology that allow us to recreate symphony's to where you couldn't tell the difference, Steve would still be able to do what he is doing today.

Technology didn't kill the music biz, but the people that buy the technology do.

Now everybody can be a rock star or a film composer. if it's cheap enough they will buy.

Just like plasma tv 's.

Laughing
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rnicklaus

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2005, 01:06:34 pm »

I "watched" it the other night - well, mostly listened.

It's great.  Everyone should watch this and let go of the differences in the way anyone prefers to work or the types of artists they work with.

He's passionate, smart, well spoken and great at what he does.




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Reitzas

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2005, 02:26:22 pm »

Eric Rudd wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 11:20


Hey Dave,

It's good to see you around the forum. Over ten years later and it's fun to see the same folks popping up as we travel down the career stream. Keep up the great work.

All the best,

Eric



Eric,
Thanks, you keep up the great work too.  You were always one of the best.

Eric Rudd wrote on Thu, 15 December 2005 11:20


P.S. And oh, be careful driving on the PCH. You never know who you might "run" into.    Shocked



Eric is referining to the time when David Foster ran over Ben Vereen with his car (at highway speed) as Ben was crossing Pacific Coast Highway late at night.  It turns out that David saved his life.  The doctors said that Ben was having a brain annurism and had they not caught it in time, he probably would have died.  Go figure!


Best,
Dave Reitzas
www.reitzas.com

Adam P

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2005, 05:24:40 pm »

Ron Steele wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 01:10

The business Steve has, has nothing in common with the old studio model. Steve created a need for his skills within a niche market.


I wouldn't say that Steve has created a need for his skills, but rather responded to a need, and in very good fashion at that.  For "underground" bands that simply don't have major studio budgets, Steve and Electrical provide a world-class facility on a budget that even my last band could've afforded, and we were pretty poor.  I'd like to think that most bands that record at Electrical do so for a very specific reason above and beyond the quality of the facility itself.  Given the option to record with Joe Schmoe and his $50/hr flavor of the week setup, or spend my $500/day to use Studio B at EA, I think that, at least for me, it would be a no-brainer.

As a somewhat fitting anecdote, a couple of years ago a band I was in opened for a band called Bloodlet, who I'd guess most people here haven't heard of, but during the 90s they were one of the top acts on Victory Records and broke up, but reformed to record a new record and tour.  The drummer of my band and I were talking to Bloodlet's drummer about their new record, and he told us that because they were basically doing a "come-back" and the label wasn't sure how people would respond, they were given a very small recording budget.  He told us that they considered their options and decided that they could use the money at some local studio and stay there for a month and come out with an OK sounding record, or they could go spend a week at Electrical with Steve and have a record that sounded fantastic, and that to them the choice was obvious: go to Electrical.
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pipelineaudio

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2005, 06:29:21 pm »

Man what a great video!

Highest respects accorded

But I have a quibble. I would love to see Steve apply this type of logic to many of the bands I work with. They want EVERYTHING to sound 100% perfect in time and in tune, and cant play their part right once in a row. If they dont sound like they could, I dont get paid. They also expect many of their parts to be worked out or written by me. I am an engineer and not a producer, I am not a songwriter or any of these things, yet I do them or I dont get paid

I think Steve's philosophy is perfect, in a perfect world, but to diss those of us who have to deal with an altogether different reality is kind of lame

wiggins

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2005, 12:56:40 pm »

pipelineaudio wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 18:29

Man what a great video!

Highest respects accorded

But I have a quibble. I would love to see Steve apply this type of logic to many of the bands I work with. They want EVERYTHING to sound 100% perfect in time and in tune, and cant play their part right once in a row. If they dont sound like they could, I dont get paid. They also expect many of their parts to be worked out or written by me. I am an engineer and not a producer, I am not a songwriter or any of these things, yet I do them or I dont get paid

I think Steve's philosophy is perfect, in a perfect world, but to diss those of us who have to deal with an altogether different reality is kind of lame


I think you'd be suprised. I think the idea, at least from what I've gathered, is if you are paying the man, he'll do whatever you want, and I think you'd be suprised at what he can do.

I've been put in my place by him more than once discussing this very thing. I struggle with the thought of making a band sound better than they actually do - I am in a touring band that works very hard to sound the way we do consistently every time we play, live or in the studio. From that perspective, I think being able to drastically "fix" things in the studio, and do it for cheap, is a destructive influence on young bands. Nobody likes hearing a good record, then seeing a band live and them not pulling it off, and I see this all the time. [EDIT: I should add that my band falls into the indie/D.I.Y. group of self-sufficient , self-propagating bands Steve mentions in this video. I would make the assumtion that this group ends up being a large majority of Electrical Audio's client base. I have no problems with what the Pop culture decides to do on their recordings because, for the most part, I ignore it anyway. It doesn't matter to me. Young bands I have to play with and associate with and tour with matter  to me.]

BUT, I completely understand your point of view, and I don't knock it. You gotta get paid, man.

Anyway, I was in a discussion about this on electrical.com and Steve basically said, "shut up, kid, if the band wants it, and they're paying you, you should do what they want. It's THEIR record, afterall."

cerberus

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2005, 12:02:26 am »

this is the most impressive and significant lecture i've heard in years.

i must apologize to steve for being contradictory in the past.

i think steve is a much better extemporaneous speaker than it would appear from his posts here, i can see now why he is misunderstood. i get what he is saying that i questioned before. one can't take his comments about this or that out of context, and it's easy to tell when he is expressing his opinion, (because people want to know) and what are facts that he thinks are important and why.

the dx7 discussion is an example to me, it was the way it was used so innappropriately in music that wasn't "wang chung" at all simply because i dunno why.. todd rundgren ruined a great xtc album with dx7 and i was pissed off when i heard it the first time..those sounds don't fit.. they don't belong in the music, they were never in the band's demos, steve is so right about it.

jeff dinces

RMoore

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2005, 08:53:27 am »

Great - thanks for that link, I enjoyed the lecture,

I also browsed some of the other tutorials on the server,
kool,


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Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2005, 10:31:26 am »

Quote:

todd rundgren ruined a great xtc album with dx7 and i was pissed off when i heard it the first time..those sounds don't fit.. they don't belong in the music


First, there is absolutely no DX7 on that album, so be careful, and no exactly what your talking about before you agree with a random statement made by Steve and make it truth.

I am a big xtc fan, but sorry, that is one of the best produced records ever to be produced. And, may I also point out the obvious Beatles influence in xtc.

What would have the Beatles sounded like without George Martian? Did he impose himself on the band, or did they "tell" him how to arrange and orchestrate their songs?


And if you don't think that Todd, being the biggest beatles freak ever, didn't have some sort of pre-pro and discussion about how the album turned out, your mistaken.

XTC is brilliant band on the level of the beatles who never needed Todd, but they felt the need to go to somebody for that record and choose him to produce it. They had
"creative differences", as it turned out to really be more like a colaboration of sorts, kinda like the Beatles and George Martian.

Again, what would have the Beatles sounded like with George Martian? What's interesting is they never set out to produce all on their own even after the tables were turned in a big way because they were "the man".

What does it mean when you have the greatest act of all time, always seeking out a producer?

And, It really doesn't matter if the producer decides to add a real orchestra or a "dx7", does it.
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Slider2

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2005, 12:07:03 pm »

Ron Steele wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 10:31

Quote:

todd rundgren ruined a great xtc album with dx7 and i was pissed off when i heard it the first time..those sounds don't fit.. they don't belong in the music


First, there is absolutely no DX7 on that album, so be careful, and no exactly what your talking about before you agree with a random statement made by Steve and make it truth.

I am a big xtc fan, but sorry, that is one of the best produced records ever to be produced. And, may I also point out the obvious Beatles influence in xtc.

What would have the Beatles sounded like without George Martian? Did he impose himself on the band, or did they "tell" him how to arrange and orchestrate their songs?


And if you don't think that Todd, being the biggest beatles freak ever, didn't have some sort of pre-pro and discussion about how the album turned out, your mistaken.

XTC is brilliant band on the level of the beatles who never needed Todd, but they felt the need to go to somebody for that record and choose him to produce it. They had
"creative differences", as it turned out to really be more like a colaboration of sorts, kinda like the Beatles and George Martian.

Again, what would have the Beatles sounded like with George Martian? What's interesting is they never set out to produce all on their own even after the tables were turned in a big way because they were "the man".

What does it mean when you have the greatest act of all time, always seeking out a producer?

And, It really doesn't matter if the producer decides to add a real orchestra or a "dx7", does it.



There was DX7 on that XTC record.

And...
The Beatles were "producing" themselves on a large chunk of the White Album.
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pg666

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2005, 01:09:11 pm »

Quote:

XTC is brilliant band on the level of the beatles who never needed Todd, but they felt the need to go to somebody for that record and choose him to produce it.


they hired rundgren because the label was pressuring them to make a record that would sell in america. i just read that pretty recently in an interview w/ andy partridge.

i'm a big xtc fan too, but c'mon, that record is butchered by dated production.. especially compared to the earlier records when the band used more 'hands-off' producers.
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