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Author Topic: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.  (Read 19447 times)

Fibes

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #30 on: December 19, 2005, 01:42:45 pm »

Some of my favorite records I've done I was merely a clerk. As much as i enjoy the creative process one of the things that used to drive me mad was engineers and producers who were in the game because they were frustrated and washed up musicians. I don't want to be that guy. No way.

The part where we have to jump off the clerk route is when Songwriters want to have a backing band and more instrumentation than just a guitar/piano.

Do you do projects like this Steve?

I've found that indpendent songwriters (who normally play solo) can't really carry a band (financially) and usually end up relying on us to make some decisions for them. We choose players based on the wants/needs of the artist but even then I feel like i'm stepping over some sort of line. I dunno, just food for thought.
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Fibes
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electrical

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #31 on: December 19, 2005, 01:53:34 pm »

Fibes wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 13:42


The part where we have to jump off the clerk route is when Songwriters want to have a backing band and more instrumentation than just a guitar/piano.

Every time this has come up, the person doing the singing has found musicians to play with him, and I defer to him/them in all areas.
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Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2005, 07:02:03 pm »

electrical wrote:

"These people are riding on the backs of the truly creative people, the bands. I find this attitude insulting to the bands, and I cannot understand how it can be justified."

Steve, I'm truly sorry you feel this way. You must have had some real horrible experiences in the beginnings of your career to come to this conclusion.

I certainly understand how an artists project can be hijacked for the reasons you speak of, but I also believe that this certainly could not have been the case to the degree you say.

I agree every artist has the right to achieve their own vision. Many have CHOSEN to do this with the input of others while maintaining much integrity and success.  It strikes me as odd that you would put this "method" down as flawed.

Were these artists some how flawed in their decisions?

It's like your saying that even if an artist is happy with the outcome of his musical vision achieved with the assistance of a producer or AE, that they were some how brainwashed. It could also mean you think, that if an artist doesn't think solely for themselves  at all ends of the spectrum, that their art doesn't deserve any credit either.

If this is the case, it is an unfortunate point of view.

Your position and views are very unique, that an artist or group should only be allowed to think for themselves without any outside interference,

or,

they should not be taken seriously?

What's interesting is that with in the context of a "band" you have say, 3 to 5 different personalities, with different thoughts and opinions trying to  to complete ONE vision.

How is that any different by adding, one person outside of the group, to assist in the creative loop?

And let's forget about how the corporate mentality plays the bad role it does in music. I ask the above question within the bounds of the purest circumstance's.
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RKrizman

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2005, 07:21:50 pm »

electrical wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 12:28


1) If he's so good at all this stuff, why doesn't he just make a record and be famous?

2) If a band is so dissatisfied with their music that they need all this stuff on it to be content, what the hell did they start with, and why did anyone think it was worth recording? "Boy, this  material sure is clumsy and weak. Fantastic! Let's get into the studio right away so we can get rid of it and record something else!"




I think you can still make some very valid points without overly polarizing the issue.

I'm sure this type of evil activity occurs, but really, in my experience as a producer and in working with producers more successful than I, it's a question of seeing something special and valuable and finding a way to enhance it, support it, open it up---apply some Occams' razor, look for the less self indulgent ideas that people might actually want to listen to, bolster insecurities, challenge smugness and complacency, energize the process in times of despair, keep the ball moving forward against all odds.,  help filter the good ideas out from the not as good ideas,  ..... and so on.

I could take a similarly exaggerated opposite stance and say that all that self produced indie crap is just self indulgent wanking with about a 5 minute shelf life.

You can go overboard in preserving the "sanctity of the band", because really, most bands suck to an embarrassing degree.

-R
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RMoore

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #34 on: December 19, 2005, 07:41:51 pm »

lord wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 16:37

RS -- let's make a deal. You stop typing "George Martian" and stuff stops flying out of my nose. Cool?


Not wanting to reopen old wounds here but I also thought 'George Martian' was pretty funny, I wasn't sure if that was a typo or on purpose (referring to some kind of advanced space-faring race producing powers)  when I saw that,

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People's Republic of Ryan

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electrical

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #35 on: December 19, 2005, 08:20:58 pm »

RKrizman wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 19:21



I could take a similarly exaggerated opposite stance and say that all that self produced indie crap is just self indulgent wanking with about a 5 minute shelf life.

You could say that, and be spectacularly wrong. The long and productive careers of bands like Fugazi, the Ex, Slint, the jesus Lizard and countless others are evidence that bands who "indulgently" follow their own intentions can have much longer, more influential careers than bands who welcome outsider "collaboration."

I am of the opinion that a band's records should be entirely self-indulgent. I can think of no place where self-indulgence is more needed. The records mean more to the bands than anyone else. It is their record, and they will have to carry it on their backs forever. Tomorrow, the producer or engineer will move on to another gig, and if he fucks this one, he doesn't ever have to think about it again. I can no more encourage this kind of meddling than I can encouage a stranger to show you how to fuck your wife or raise your kids.

Quote:

You can go overboard in preserving the "sanctity of the band", because really, most bands suck to an embarrassing degree.

This last sentence is a perfect example of the problem. You think a band sucks. So what. You're not in the band, and your opinion doesn't mean a lick. The band is entitled to make exactly the record they want, and they should feel no responsibility to make it suit you. I believe almost all great art is made with some measure of disinterest in its audience. That is the boundary between creative expression and commodity production for mere consumption.
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RMoore

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #36 on: December 19, 2005, 08:34:51 pm »

FWIW - I don;t see why things have to be so polarized eg:  either you must be A)  or B)....if people disagree with the SA handsoff producer view why not take a step back, consider some of the points and perhaps consider what ideas you may choose to utilize to enhance your own producing excursions, or ignore it completely,
Don't see the reason why some seem to get annoyed or offended by the thought of a different way,
Its strange but the 2 most contentious issues on PSW seem to be Steve Albini's album 'production' methods ..that and the dreaded analog versus digital debate,
its not like we are discussing religion or politics yet thats what it starts to end up resembling, Smile

FWIW 2 - I have never even considered it until now but thinking back over the  albums I worked on over the eons as a muso , hired gun, band member or whatever - invariably the sessions that were SA's 'worst case' scenario with the svengali producer taking over and imposing his vision, musical ideas, guitar parts etc -  were the most unpleasant and stress-filled situations where there was sometimes even a pall hanging over the studio...
hard to get good stuff to tape under those conditions.
One album from this category actually turned out well for what it was & sold a bunch, the rest were costly flops, very high fail ratio to $ outlay..

And the more 'artist-run' or handsoff producer sessions were typically fun and relaxed for the most part and produced some results too generally when the people involved were talented with good ideas , musical skills suitable to the genre / material , not too much elephant tranquilizer etc,
some of them sold well in their genre, back when records still sold,
Any of the flops were cheap flops to boot so not too painful,

FWIW 3 - I can totally relate to the SA view, I find it an interesting take and so fully against the grain as per the typical artist / producer / album dynamic,

Funnily, most of the projects I have been doing as a 'producer' (though I see it more like a coordinator) for the last couple years, the approach has been more like some kind of uber-svengali control freak where I put arrange the material, work with vocal artists, mix it, arrange the artwork etc and the artist has very little or no say, thats the way it works and everyone is ok with that generally, at least once they hear the final mixes..note: this is pretty typical for the genre I am working in,

If I were getting paid to work with self-contained rock bands who had their sound and songs together I think I would lean more towards a documentation, don't mess with the band,  approach..  except with lots of DX7 overdubs.

Having been on both sides of das glass, there really is something to be said for the psychological elements in recording, beyond the 'art' or the physical technique alone,

I think  atheletes and musicians are not entirely dissimilar, except perhaps for their cardio health, in that capturing the killer take is like running a race or a sports match so would you want to be in the role of psyching someone out just before the big game or helping them feel secure 'in the zone' to perform at thier best?


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People's Republic of Ryan

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RMoore

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #37 on: December 19, 2005, 08:46:06 pm »

electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 02:20

 
You could say that, and be spectacularly wrong. The long and productive careers of bands like Fugazi, the Ex, Slint, the jesus Lizard and countless others are evidence that bands who "indulgently" follow their own intentions can have much longer, more influential careers than bands who welcome outsider "collaboration."

I am of the opinion that a band's records should be entirely self-indulgent. I can think of no place where self-indulgence is more needed. The records mean more to the bands than anyone else. It is their record, and they will have to carry it on their backs forever. Tomorrow, the producer or engineer will move on to another gig, and if he fucks this one, he doesn't ever have to think about it again. I can no more encourage this kind of meddling than I can encouage a stranger to show you how to fuck your wife or raise your kids.




I just watched part of a DVD tonight on the legendary & influential Germany band CAN, of which I am a big admirer - a great example of a self indulgent , entirely self-produced band that made music which was totally unique & proved to be a huge influence ,

Some of their early 70's albums were literally life changing for me when I heard them,

<<Can was an experimental rock group founded in Germany in 1968. Describing themselves as an "anarchist community", and constructing their music largely through improvisation and edit, they had only occasional commercial success, but exerted a huge influence on subsequent rock and electronic music. They are generally held to be the finest of the original Krautrock bands, and are among the most important experimental artists in recent music history.>>


More on CAN

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Can_(band)

http://www.spoonrecords.com/
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People's Republic of Ryan

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By the end of today, another day is gone forever. You will never get it back.
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Fibes

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #38 on: December 19, 2005, 08:52:44 pm »

The group Can also beleived that because humans are imperfect they could not achieve perfection unless it was by accident, so they improvised most of their material.

I thank them for not giving into pressure until much later in their careers.
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Fibes
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Ron Steele

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #39 on: December 20, 2005, 12:41:34 am »

 It's clear to me now, that for many years,  the vast majority of music recording professionals have made it impossible for true artistic vision to exist, and that all of the recorded groups we all aspired to, or admired, were sabotaged.
,
We will never really know what could have been. Will we?

It is to late to turn back time. All we have left now, is the future to try and correct the mistakes and misdeeds committed in the past by the..........

imposing, menacing AE and producer.

Well at least there are alot of us here that fall into that category. So it won't be hard to get the message out that we should only be charging by the hour and attending to nothing much beyond setting some levels and punching in and out when told to.

But,  just think of all the great artistic vision you'll get to see, and think of all those hours you will get to charge for while your waiting for the vision to arrive.





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Curve Dominant

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2005, 02:28:11 am »

electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 01:20

I believe almost all great art is made with some measure of disinterest in its audience.


I could agree with that.

I would personally take that farther, and say that ALL great art is made with COMPLETE disinterest in ANY audience.

But perhaps you are discounting the possibility that the producer may help the artist achieve that very goal.

Often the artists second guess themselves in that regard. They are not sure if their music is getting across the way they really want it to. They may feel financial pressures, peer pressure - all sorts of performance anxieties which manifest themselves under pressure of the recording environment.

A good, effective producer who understands the artist's goals, can coach the artist back to that "fuck-all" mentality of what their art really stood for in the first place.

In that capacity, the producer actually brings out the uniqueness of the artist to the extreme that the artist now stands out from the crowd. The irony of the result is: The more "Fuck-All" the statement makes, the more attention it gets, and that equals strong results for the artist. And that is what we are all in business for, right?

Good producers need good audio engineers to help accomplish that goal. Good audio engineers need to work well with good producers to make that happen.

If we're all good, and it's all good, then why should we be enemies?

Yes, there are bad producers.

Yes, there are bad audio engineers.

But we don't follow somebody else's bad example. No.

Let's move onward and upwards with the arts.

All of us.

Can I get a witness??

RKrizman

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #41 on: December 20, 2005, 02:34:58 am »

Ryan Moore wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 20:46

I just watched part of a DVD tonight on the legendary & influential Germany band CAN, of which I am a big admirer - a great example of a self indulgent , entirely self-produced band that made music which was totally unique & proved to be a huge influence ,

Some of their early 70's albums were literally life changing for me when I heard them,




I also loved CAN.  But for every CAN there was a hundred lame assed art rock bands that just sucked.  Just because a band can afford Albini's low rate (or anybody's low rate, for that matter) to make a record doesn't mean they're any good.

I believe there is such a thing as good art and bad art, and I also believe that in the arts pretty much 95 percent of everything sucks.

The real argument that is being put forward is that aspiring artists are immune to mentoring or improvement.  Sorry grasshopper, but when you can snatch the pebble from my hand...

I mean, why even bother going to a professional studio.  The crude utterance on your home Digital Performance rig should have just as much validity, and will suffer even less from any possible interference from some outside recording engineer who is not in the band.

-R
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RKrizman

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #42 on: December 20, 2005, 02:37:31 am »

Curve Dominant wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 02:28

electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 01:20

I believe almost all great art is made with some measure of disinterest in its audience.


I could agree with that.

I would personally take that farther, and say that ALL great art is made with COMPLETE disinterest in ANY audience.




Then what's the point of recording and distributing it at all?

In other words, perhaps the feeling is mutual.

-R
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pipelineaudio

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #43 on: December 20, 2005, 03:52:43 am »

RKrizman wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 07:34[/quote



I mean, why even bother going to a professional studio.  The crude utterance on your home Digital Performance rig should have just as much validity, and will suffer even less from any possible interference from some outside recording engineer who is not in the band.

-R




I think that about sums it up right there. You could even say setting bias levels on your tape recorder would be Forcing decisions on the band. How far should we go with this hands offishness?

kraster

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Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2005, 03:58:31 am »

There's a new sheriff in town....

RKrizman wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 07:34



I also loved CAN.  But for every CAN there was a hundred lame assed art rock bands that just sucked.  Just because a band can afford Albini's low rate (or anybody's low rate, for that matter) to make a record doesn't mean they're any good.

I believe there is such a thing as good art and bad art, and I also believe that in the arts pretty much 95 percent of everything sucks.





Ironically, I think your comments on what constitutes good and bad art exactly underscore what Steve Albini's saying.
Art and the appreciation of art are entirely subjective and not governed by absolutes or percentages. For example, I don't like CAN at all but I'm not going to say what they are doing is artistically invalid because your appreciation of it makes it valid and the bands creation of it makes it valid.


Quote:



The real argument that is being put forward is that aspiring artists are immune to mentoring or improvement.




Or the converse, that aspiring artists should be allowed develop their own unique artistic vision without having somebody elses artistic process imposed upon them.

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