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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => j. hall => Topic started by: wiggins on December 15, 2005, 12:32:00 am

Title: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: wiggins 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Reitzas 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Adam P 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Eric Rudd 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: rnicklaus 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.




Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Reitzas 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

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Adam P 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: pipelineaudio 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: wiggins 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."

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: cerberus 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RMoore 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,


Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Slider2 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: pg666 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RMoore on December 18, 2005, 01:31:20 pm
the DX7 is a misunderstood beast,
I too associate it with its horrendous bag of nails preset piano sound that took over music in the early 80's,
I played in a band at that time where the keyboard man traded in his whole 6 pc  'Emerson' rig and van for a DX7 and a hatchback,
I was amazed to learn years later that there were a few DX7 freaks that got into making thier own patches, seeing one experimental band live where the guy had bizarre avant garde blasts and blurps emanating from the DX7,
so its possible to actually make cool sounds with the thing if you want to dive into its programming architecture
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 18, 2005, 02:41:32 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 01:10

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

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

Not the music I listened to, it wasn't. Boy, what a terriffic era of music! Naked Raygun, Killdozer, Sonic Youth, Die Kreuzen, the Effigies, the Appliances, Head of David, Trouble Funk, the Big Boys, the Dicks, Glenn Branca, the Birthday Party, Whitehouse, the Wipers, the Minutemen, the Ex, the Embarrassment, the Blackouts, the Membranes, Your Food, D.A.F, Pere Ubu, PiL, Squirrelbait, Slint... I can't really think of a more un-categorizable, more productive period. The Eighties (not that you'd know it from the hot 100) were an incredible era.

Quote:

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.

My point in the lecture was that it was a sound which dictated a method, both of which were imposed on a band by an engineer acting as an overlord. That's the bad part, not the sound. The sound, who cares. It's a string of tragic cliches, but that's not the point. They're cliches that bands would have avoided if left to their own devices, and now they wouldn't be ashamed of their own records.

No drummer spends his waking hours practicing, in the hopes of someday going to the studio and not playing on his album. Pretending that this is a "neutral" or "equivalent" choice is to ignore the social fabric of the band, and I think tha'ts the most important part. The record is merely an artefact of the band's existence, and I think the band's existence is much, much more important.

Quote:

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.

I know for a fact that they did. I had friends who were in bands at the time, and when they went into the studio, their records came out sounding like other records of the era, not like the bands themselves, who were unique. That's harm. Their legacy has been muted. Shame on the engineering culture of the day. Shame.

Quote:

For many years, studio's had set working patterns and parameters because of the nature of the business they were doing(...)If an AE ever seemed like he dictating that recoding process, it was because of how he was trained at that studio.

You are describing the problem accurately. Engineers and studios should not have applied jingle-session logic and methods to self-contained bands. That it was common is no excuse.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 18, 2005, 02:57:36 pm
pipelineaudio wrote on Fri, 16 December 2005 18:29

Man what a great video!

Highest respects accorded

Thanks.

Quote:

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.

I'm pretty sure this isn't literally the case, but I'll assume you're not exaggerating much.

Quote:

If they dont sound like they could, I dont get paid.

You should consider billing by the hour or the day, not by the perceived-degree-of-in-time-and-in-tunedness.

Quote:

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

Seriously, consider charging by the hour.

Quote:

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 we live in exactly the same reality, we just use different means to try to live up to the expectations of our clients. I've never had a client tell me I had to write a part or play guitar for him or he wouldn't pay me. I don't understand how such an arrangement can come to be, unless you encourage it.

Seriously, you should be charging by the hour.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: pipelineaudio on December 18, 2005, 03:05:37 pm
[quote title=electrical wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 19:57I think we live in exactly the same reality, we just use different means to try to live up to the expectations of our clients. I've never had a client tell me I had to write a part or play guitar for him or he wouldn't pay me. I don't understand how such an arrangement can come to be, unless you encourage it.

Seriously, you should be charging by the hour.[/quote]

I do charge by the hour, and this arrangement is nothing odd. Its how a lot of "bands" are now.

This arrangement is not encouraged by me IN ANY WAY. It is the way it is. I do not have the brain power or music power to write parts for bands. I can make up harmonies easily, thats all, and even that is something Im not interested in. Yet I can end up playing for the band, writing parts, singing, the whole deal. Im not at all a good musician or singer. Yet this happens over and over again.

I swear we got two different realities going here.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 18, 2005, 04:27:45 pm
electrical wrote:

Quote:

You are describing the problem accurately. Engineers and studios should not have applied jingle-session logic and methods to self-contained bands. That it was common is no excuse.


How could this be the problem when it was the exception?

It is hardly " jingle-session logic and methods" related.

These were the same "logic and methods" applied, for many years, to a vast amount of recordings made all over the country. Big bands, frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Phil Spector, Beatles, Beach Boys and 60's pop bands etc...etc.. They all used the same "logic and methods" you are calling the "problem". If there were no producers or arrangers back in the day, we would have heard nothing from these artists.

You say the "dx7" and "linn" drun machine were imposed on artists by producers and engineers, so what is the difference between the producers and arrangers guiding the recordings of the above mentioned artist?

Were their methods flawed and unfair to these artists?

No, the two went hand and hand. IT was a collaboration.

Besides, I don't know of many earth shattering self-produced bands or artists that took the world by storm, and there is probably a reason for that.

Who do you think sought out Bob Ezrin for the Wall? I'm sure it wasn't Ezrin calling Pink Floyd, and I'm sure Pink Floyd was not under the gun by the label to have Ezrin produce the record because they were concerned about sales.

Just a thought.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 18, 2005, 04:59:17 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 16:27

electrical wrote:

Quote:

You are describing the problem accurately. Engineers and studios should not have applied jingle-session logic and methods to self-contained bands. That it was common is no excuse.


How could this be the problem when it was the exception?

Because a self-contained band was the exception, engineers didn't accommodate it. They did things the "standard" way, which was inappropriate for special circumstances.

Quote:

It is hardly " jingle-session logic and methods" related.

These were the same "logic and methods" applied, for many years, to a vast amount of recordings made all over the country. Big bands, frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Phil Spector, Beatles, Beach Boys and 60's pop bands etc...etc.. They all used the same "logic and methods" you are calling the "problem". If there were no producers or arrangers back in the day, we would have heard nothing from these artists.

These session dates assembled by producers and arrangers had much more in common with jingles than they did with self-contained bands who wrote, arranged, performed and defined the requirements of their own music.

Quote:

You say the "dx7" and "linn" drun machine were imposed on artists by producers and engineers, so what is the difference between the producers and arrangers guiding the recordings of the above mentioned artist?

Were their methods flawed and unfair to these artists?

Given the existing showbiz paradigm (and the fact that self-contained bands with all-original music were rare until the 1960s), they acted the way all their peers did, and I can't blame them. I think it is not as honorable as a more hands-off approach, but like a lot of things that made sense, the idea took a while to develop.

Quote:

Besides, I don't know of many earth shattering self-produced bands or artists that took the world by storm,

You haven't been paying attention.
Quote:

and there is probably a reason for that.

I'm sure there is.

Quote:

Who do you think sought out Bob Ezrin for the Wall? I'm sure it wasn't Ezrin calling Pink Floyd, and I'm sure Pink Floyd was not under the gun by the label to have Ezrin produce the record because they were concerned about sales.

If you think Bob Ezrin is what made a record good, rather than the band's music and ideas, which he wrapped his production niceties around, then there's very little I can do to make you understand the music scene from a band-member's perspective.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 18, 2005, 11:02:46 pm
Quote:

Because a self-contained band was the exception, engineers didn't accommodate it. They did things the "standard" way, which was inappropriate for special circumstances.


Can you share with us what popular bands you feel were compromised by this "inappropriate standard".

Quote:

Given the existing showbiz paradigm (and the fact that self-contained bands with all-original music were rare until the 1960s), they acted the way all their peers did, and I can't blame them. I think it is not as honorable as a more hands-off approach, but like a lot of things that made sense, the idea took a while to develop.



So what do you think of George Martian? Was he conducting himself in a honorable fashion? Did he not contribute to the Beatles, or did he simply muck up what we will never know?

Quote:

If you think Bob Ezrin is what made a record good, rather than the band's music and ideas, which he wrapped his production niceties around, then there's very little I can do to make you understand the music scene from a band-member's perspective.


I've seen and lived thru plenty of "band-member's perspective", including my very own band member ignorance and arrogance.

Many years ago, while I was stepping into a few major label landmines because of the whole "DX7" era, the band was thrusted into the folds of a major producer from the 70's and 80's. I was pissed because I thought I was the "producer".

I thought for sure this dude was going to muck up the whole thing.

After many years of our band being totally left to our own devices in the studio, we were sitting there after weeks of rehearsal trying to convince him we were "ready" to record. This dude compromised the band before we could even load into the studio.

What a learning experience for me. I found out that, not only was a dumb ass with out a clue, but that there was plenty of room for ideas to form and grow because of an outside and organized perspective. This guy was like a football coach and producer rolled into one. He had the band creating and playing stuff that was way out of our grasp. He created inspiration and creative opportunities you just won't come to find so easily when the band members our fighting over direction or something as dumb as a bass note in the bridge for 3 hrs.

Steve, if your promoting your method that is fine, but to say a producer or AE is imposing himself on a band is kind of shortsighted, especially when you consider all the groups and artists that had multiple success's with the same producer or AE.

It's called a working relationship, and those exist for a simple reason.

You offer a wire to tape, and others offer something more.

I could see alot of your points clearer, if all bands and acts felt the way you say they do, but it is just not true.

Many seek out the producer and the AE because they know the benefits that can be gained.Steve, you make it sound like there is some sort of epidemic going on when in reality, it is  probably due to simple personality conflicts between a band and a producer/AE.

We all have to give and take sometimes. We all have to live and....... learn.

Some just ignore the latter.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: malice on December 18, 2005, 11:09:45 pm
Ryan Moore wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 19:31

I was amazed to learn years later that there were a few DX7 freaks that got into making thier own patches



Starting with Brian Eno


malice
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 18, 2005, 11:18:40 pm
Quote:

Starting with Brian Eno




Yo Malice,

So was U2 brainwashed and imposed upon by Eno and his evil DX7?
Laughing  Laughing  Laughing  Laughing

Or, did Eno's DX7 niceties take them to a higher level of inspiration?
Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Curve Dominant on December 19, 2005, 02:59:39 am
Ron Steele wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 04:02

Many seek out the producer and the AE because they know the benefits that can be gained. Steve, you make it sound like there is some sort of epidemic going on when in reality, it is  probably due to simple personality conflicts between a band and a producer/AE.


Many artists seek out the producer to protect them from:
1) the audio engineers
2) the band
3) management/A+R
4) themselves

Really good performing artists are just that: Performing artists. The smart ones know instinctively that the recording environment is inherently unnatural to what they know and are comfortable with, and so will enlist a producer to guide that process to a result which will (hopefully) yield a recording that represents the artist's core essence.

The 4 entities on that list tend to be (not always but mostly or inherently) not prime candidates for that role. Why? Well, let's take another look at that list...

1) Audio Engineers - they generally get paid by the hour, and do what they're used to doing: Running a recording facility. Linear thinkers by trade (and they should be - they are "engineers" after all) - AE's tend to be a "get 'em in and get 'em out and let's collect the $100/hr for as many hours as we can rack up" sort of folk. Not optimal for artistic endeavor which has any sort of ambition. Already, the producer makes his fee worthwhile by shielding the talent from these guys.

2) The Band - musicians. Need I say more. It's bad enough the artist has to gig with musicians, and vice-versa. In a recording session, however, there is a set goal (hopefully) which is desired, within a budget and a deadline, so some adult supervision is required. And we know not to expect that from the AE because he already has his work cut out for him (and see point #1). The producer's challenge: Get all these folks on the same page, with the quickness.

3) Management/A+R - they have their own jobs to do which are fairly time-intensive, and so they don't want to be bothered with hanging around studios all day waiting for everyone to get their sh*t together. That's the producer's job.

4) Themselves (The Artist) - yeah, dejavu, but...
Really good performing artists are just that: Performing artists. The smart ones know instinctively that the recording environment is inherently unnatural to what they know and are comfortable with, and so will enlist a producer to guide that process to a result which will (hopefully) yield a recording that represents the artist's core essence.

Telling the artist or the band "You're the producer" is putting them in a position they may be unwilling and/or unable to handle on top of everything else they have to deal with in their daily lives and careers. Any audio engineer who does this in his studio, is unfairly putting the artist on the spot in a pressure situation, and that audio engineer makes himself the default "producer" in that situation, because he inherently controls the gear and the house and the recording methods. The artist has no choice in that situation, only the illusion of choice.

Ideally, the artist chooses a producer as a coach and a navigator, and the producer works as a champion of the artist's goals, guiding the process toward completion of those goals.

The audio engineer may not like that, because HE wants to do things HIS way, and make the sounds HE likes.

The band may not like that because the individual musicians may want themselves heard over everything else.

The management/A+R may fight with the producer because they have commissions to collect on and so they are paranoid about marketability.

The artist is stuck between all these competing folks fighting over their own agendas...and THAT is why the artist seeks out a "producer." Because a recording is not art. The artist's intent is the art, and there are technological walls between the artist's intent and the actuality of of the art itself. It is not the true artist's field of expertise to master that barrier-busting level of sophistication in recording production, so the smart ones will contract that out to a producer.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: oshcas on December 19, 2005, 06:38:23 am
Are we not just talking about collaboration?

This discussion seems to be only about some kind of adversarial relationship between 'band' and 'producer' - why?  I understand Steve's argument, and I agree that some collaborations are negative ... but there are many that are very positive.

Why can't a band collaborate artistically with someone in a really respectful, positive, mutually beneficial way?

orchestras have conductors
writers have editors
actors have directors
sportspeople have coaches

even executives have mentors

What is so bad about this?  Steve, you seem to be saying that the collaboration degrades the art in some way.  Why is that?

You seem to be really opposed to the band collaborating with anyone in the studio ... that seems bizarre to me.

I can't watch the lecture as my internet connection is too slow, so perhaps I am missing something...

... to just dismiss the idea of a band collaborating with someone in the studio out of hand seems way too simplistic.

It sounds like you are talking in absolutes, perhaps I am mistaken.

I am enjoying the discussion though!

Regards,

Matthew
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: lord on December 19, 2005, 10:37:05 am
RS -- let's make a deal. You stop typing "George Martian" and stuff stops flying out of my nose. Cool?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 19, 2005, 11:08:58 am
Lord said:

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

Yes it's cool, and sorry for the spelling error.

Anything else bothering you Lord?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: cerberus on December 19, 2005, 11:48:02 am
oshcas wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 06:38

This discussion seems to be only about some kind of adversarial relationship between 'band' and 'producer'


Steve gets hired by the band, he works for the band, he gets paid by the band.

I know a band who hired Dave Fridmann to make a recording. I can't think of too many engineers of note who are likely to work with them...like I'd recommend say Puig, or Lanois or John Leckie..yeah right, fat chance..   How did they get Fridmann?  In terms of this discussion, I don't find a difference between Steve and Fridmann.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 19, 2005, 12:28:44 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Sun, 18 December 2005 23:02


Can you share with us what popular bands you feel were compromised by this "inappropriate standard".

While I was referring mainly to my friends' bands, and my own observations of the studio culture, It isn't hard to find examples ot terriffic (or at least competent) bands who made horrible records in the 1980s, scarred by the production-of-the-day brought to bear on them:ZZ Topp, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Cheap Trick... The list is a long one.

Quote:


So what do you think of George Martian? Was he conducting himself in a honorable fashion? Did he not contribute to the Beatles, or did he simply muck up what we will never know?

Well, the Beatles (aside: why does everyone use this utterly unique band as an example in every situation, as thought the Beatles were the sole decider of how bands' careers ought to progress?) anyway, the Beatles were essentially producing their own records, except in name, from Revolver on. I think everyone involved has said as much. If you prefer their earlier, more standard material, then you have a pretty good case for letting producers tell bands what to do and how to do it. If you prefer their later material, then you're making my case for me.

Quote:

I found out that, not only was a dumb ass with out a clue, but that there was plenty of room for ideas to form and grow because of an outside and organized perspective.

I'm sorry for you that you were a dumb-ass without a clue. If you had been brilliant and self-aware and comfortable with your own ideas, would you have known it at the time? You didn't know you were a dumb-ass, so it's hard to believe you would have known you were a genius. I've worked with enough geniuses to know that I'm just as likely to be the dumb-ass in any relationship, and I don't want to foist that on a genius. I'd prefer to allow for the possibility of genius, rather than defaulting to a mode where I assume everyone is a dumb-ass.

Quote:

Steve, if your promoting your method that is fine, but to say a producer or AE is imposing himself on a band is kind of shortsighted, especially when you consider all the groups and artists that had multiple success's with the same producer or AE.

I have seen producery behavior be destructive. I have never listened to a record and thought, "that could use a little more producing."  I have witnessed greatness that required no external input. I have an innate suspicion of someone telling an artist what his art ought to be like. I have an in-built respect for the art of my clients and the clients themselves.

I don't think it is possible for me to assume that I am mistaken on all of the above, and a few hit records being made by bands with producers won't change my mind. How many flops have these producers produced-up anyway? Don't those flops prove me right? No, they don't, but they indicate that producing is not the answer. Don't play the results. Play the process.

I have no quibble with a band inviting someone into their fold as a co-operating partner. I think such instances of true collaboration are probably pretty rare, and recording folks who pretend their "How about some tambourine?" constitutes "collaboration" are mistaken.

I know many of my peers do more than that, going so far as to re-structure songs, write parts, sing and play guitar, etc. for bands that hire them. Two things strike me as ridiculous about this:

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!"

Quote:

You offer a wire to tape, and others offer something more.

That's what I offer? Now I know why the phone keeps ringing. Wire fetishists.

Quote:

I could see alot of your points clearer, if all bands and acts felt the way you say they do, but it is just not true.

Many seek out the producer and the AE because they know the benefits that can be gained.Steve, you make it sound like there is some sort of epidemic going on when in reality, it is  probably due to simple personality conflicts between a band and a producer/AE.

My complaint is with the underlying culture of the recording environment, and that comes from engineers and producers: Producers and engineers assuming control of the creative aspects (rather than just the technical aspects) and then trumpeting their achievements. They claim a kind of authorship over the records they work on, and expect to do so always.

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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Fibes 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RMoore 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,

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RMoore 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?


Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RMoore 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/
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Fibes 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.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele 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.





Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Curve Dominant 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??
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman 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
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: pipelineaudio 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?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: kraster 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.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RMoore on December 20, 2005, 06:19:56 am
kraster wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 09:58

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




I recall reading a sci-fi story about kids that were raised in isolation with no contact with other humans or music in order to be free and do their uncontaminated thing on some strange instrument while the 'fans' watched in rapture, hiding in the bushes like birdwatchers,



Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 20, 2005, 08:02:21 am
RKrizman wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 02:34


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

No. My point is that there is no external barometer for "improvement." Each band has its own ambitions and expectations, and they should be allowed to have them, unfettered and un-marshalled by an external know-it-all. It doesn't matter if you like the results or not. It's not yours to pass judgement on. That is for the band to decide for themselves, and share with their audience an audience you have no right to expect to be part of.

Quote:

Sorry grasshopper, but when you can snatch the pebble from my hand...

Sensei, I take it you can tell when something is good and bad, always? Truly you are very wise.

I am not so wise. I am man enough to admit that I may not understand why a band does what they do, or even if they have achieved it when they have. If I expect to make such judgements in the heat of battle, I will get them wrong as often as right, from the perspective of the band. I think it is extraodinarily presumptuous to think that anyone outside the band can understand their motives and their art better than they can themselves. It is close to preposterous to me.

Quote:

I mean, why even bother going to a professional studio.

So that the recording can be done with as little damage to the ideas as possible. This is a truly difficult task, and it takes a lot of experience in many different circumstances to be able to do it reliably. That's why.

Quote:

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.

An engineer's job is to manage the technical side of the recording, with as little interference as possible. Anyone who thinks this is trivial (or easy, for that matter), has not been trying very hard, or has not been paying attention. In a professional environment, the acoustics and recording can be managed so as to be flattering to the band and free from the compromises inherent in semi-professional environments. That's why professional studios are needed.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 20, 2005, 08:11:23 am
pipelineaudio wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 03:52

You could even say setting bias levels on your tape recorder would be Forcing decisions on the band.

You could say that, but you would be speaking in absurdities.

Setting the bias on a machine has only the slightest aesthetic consideration, and different styles of music may require slightly different approaches to avoid doing harm to them, but it remains a very small distinction. I'm not talking aobut very small distinctions. I'm talking about engineers or producers taking charge of sessions in obvious, demonstrably disruptive ways. You can make reductio-ad-absurdem arguments if it makes you feel better, but we all know I'm not talking about tiny subtleties. I'm talking aobut the obvious presumption that some recording people have that they know best, and that the band should do as they say. That's not subtle, and it's un-subtly creepy to me.

Quote:

How far should we go with this hands offishness?

How about we start with letting the band have their way? How about we start with not telling them we think they ought to play their music differently, or present it differently, or change it in ways large and small to suit the engineer. That's a good start.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: bjornson on December 20, 2005, 10:18:56 am
First, yes.... most music in the 80's was embarrassing.[/quote]
Not the music I listened to, it wasn't. Boy, what a terriffic era of music! Naked Raygun, Killdozer, Sonic Youth, Die Kreuzen, the Effigies, the Appliances, Head of David, Trouble Funk, the Big Boys, the Dicks, Glenn Branca, the Birthday Party, Whitehouse, the Wipers, the Minutemen, the Ex, the Embarrassment, the Blackouts, the Membranes, Your Food, D.A.F, Pere Ubu, PiL, Squirrelbait, Slint... I can't really think of a more un-categorizable, more productive period. The Eighties (not that you'd know it from the hot 100) were an incredible era.


As a (very small) studio owner and venue operator in Lansing MI during this period, I have to agree with Steve. Add the Necros, the Offenders, the Fix and my cult fav. Doc Dart and the Crucif*cks to that list. College radio was booming with local talent and kids were coming to the shows in droves. Black Flag and the Circle Jerks playing in my freakin college co-op basement. Hell the first Big Black 7" is one of the reasons I started doing this!!! We all just laughed at mainstream rock for an entire decade... errr I guess i'm still chuckleing.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 20, 2005, 12:40:29 pm
So my guess would be,

that the difference of opinions here arise from,

the "college co-op basement" music, which is kind of an activist and rebellious mentality,

and the "mainstream" music mentality.

There is certainly no valid reason to diss or discourage the approach and methods taken to create either genre, and one has absolutely nothing in common with the other to begin with.

Look at it this way, you could have the Chicago symphony perform Bach conducted by a conductor who has a strict constructionist approach, and you could have a completely different conductor direct the Chicago symphony with a clearly different interpretation.

Who is to say either way was wrong?

Any view on art is subjective and personal. It's ok to have a different point of view or opinion, but how is telling others that you think their views, opinions and methods are invalid and insulting a proper reaction?


Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 20, 2005, 02:27:41 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 12:40


that the difference of opinions here arise from,

the "college co-op basement" music, which is kind of an activist and rebellious mentality,

If by that you mean punk rock and independent music, you're on to something. Punk rock is the reason I'm involved in music at all. After that came the enormous worldwide panorama of the independent music scene, from which has sprung virtually all music of interest in the last 25 years (pace Willie Nelson). Some of it has even been wildly commercially successful, if that's your bag. It has changed more lives than Wang Chung and their ilk, that's for goddamn sure.

Punk rock and the independent music scene have together been more important than any other cultural influences since the birth of electric music. (If you want to get into this as a seperate discussion, wade on in. I'll take on all y'all.)

Quote:

and the "mainstream" music mentality.

There is definitely such a mentality, and I definitely do not understand it.

Quote:

There is certainly no valid reason to diss or discourage the approach and methods taken to create either genre, and one has absolutely nothing in common with the other to begin with.


Well, here in the independent world, we think the bands (who are laying their lives' work on the line here) should be given special deference and consideration because they are the engine for the whole process. They pay for everything, and without them, I would have nothing to record and the stores would have nothing to sell.

How is that inapplicable to your "mainstream?" Why would that not work there? Do they use a different kind of money in that world? Do people not have enough smarts to decide their own fates? Are you suggesting that all those people are artless, malleable and stupid?

Quote:

It's ok to have a different point of view or opinion, but how is telling others that you think their views, opinions and methods are invalid and insulting a proper reaction?

It's a lot like characterizing an enormous body of work as
Quote:

"college co-op basement" music

or dismissing an era you completely misunderstood by saying
Quote:

most music in the 80's was embarrassing

or basically admitting you aren't up to speed on this argument by saying
Quote:

I don't know of many earth shattering self-produced bands or artists that took the world by storm

As you noted above,
Quote:

It's ok to have a different point of view or opinion

And I do.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Nicolas Adie on December 20, 2005, 02:34:30 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 17:40

It's ok to have a different point of view or opinion, but how is telling others that you think their views, opinions and methods are invalid and insulting a proper reaction?



Isn't this pretty much the same as telling a band that they should change aspects of their music? It seems very much like it to me.

Also, disagreeing with someone and then letting them know why you disagree isn't insulting. I'd say it's good manners.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Fibes on December 20, 2005, 03:28:47 pm
As an Indy guy, what Steve says rings true with that realm. Punk Rock and indy are what i understand too and i'm surprised how closely blues, bluegrass and jazz stuff works with that same mindset.

Then we get to pop music and "new country" and you have an entirely different ballgame. A different sport if you will...

These things can not be discussed interchangably. Nope, not at all. It's the differences between the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and the Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders, Indian poker and texas hold 'em...

One is about art and reality and the other is about sales and hyper-reality; mix the two and you get shit soup.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 20, 2005, 04:33:42 pm
Quote:

 It has changed more lives than Wang Chung and their ilk, that's for goddamn sure.

Punk rock and the independent music scene have together been more important than any other cultural influences since the birth of electric music.


Really........?

How so and for who?

Punk rock was a relevant movement, but so were the Who, Beatles, Rolling stones and Led Zeppilin,  so how is it relevant to the fact that most of the people that embraced punk our driving BMW's and mini-vans now. And the off-springs of these people listen to bands like the strokes, vines, white-stripes and jet and even Britney Spears because they love it all.  These kids don't need 80's punk music to change their lives because they have their own and they don't discriminate between any kind of music.


Quote:

There is definitely such a mentality, and I definitely do not understand it.



So why are you so against something you don't understand?


Quote:

Well, here in the independent world, we think the bands (who are laying their lives' work on the line here) should be given special deference and consideration because they are the engine for the whole process. They pay for everything, and without them, I would have nothing to record and the stores would have nothing to sell.


A lot of people throw themselves on the pavement everyday and deserve credit and consideration for their work and efforts for the same reasons. You make it sound like you and the bands you record are the only ones in the recording industry.............that work hard.



Quote:

How is that inapplicable to your "mainstream?" Why would that not work there? Do they use a different kind of money in that world? Do people not have enough smarts to decide their own fates? Are you suggesting that all those people are artless, malleable and stupid?


No they are not stupid, and they have and can made..... decisions... for themselves. But your suggesting that they are stupid and misinformed if they ask for help in the creative process.


Quote:



It's a lot like characterizing an enormous body of work as

or dismissing an era you completely misunderstood by saying

basically admitting you aren't up to speed on this argument by saying


I didn't care then to much, so why should I care now?

Let's not forget Beethoven and the Beatles [along with George "Martian"] came along well before the Ramones and naked raygun. At the very least, they owe something to the music and artists that came before them where art is concerned.

And it might be safe to say you owe something to our recording predecessor's.

After all, there efforts, and pioneering work determined the very technology you use today and it was well before punk rock arrived on the scene.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: xonlocust on December 20, 2005, 05:15:26 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 15:33

 These kids don't need 80's punk music to change their lives because they have their own and they don't discriminate between any kind of music.



quick interjection - it'd be horribly presumptous and silly to put my band on the scale of the birthday party et al - but many of these 80s bands hugely influenced me and my peers and informed how our bands work.  there are kids worldwide who are buying my record.  it's certainly not 50 cent quantities by ANY stretch of the imagination - but there's a discourse, and myself and my peers didn't take that as a qualifier in how we wanted to work - or what was important to us.  

i got into killdozer, which got me into the jesus lizard which got me into the birthday party etc etc etc.  

Ron Steele

 
Really........?

How so and for who?



i guess i'm saying as one young dude in a band (in your backyard no less) that some kids and critics like, this sort of stuff is very relevant. it's also very relevant to the people's floors i've slept on worldwide. what is "thier own" is the great catalog of independent/underground music from the 70s to today.  

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 20, 2005, 05:46:41 pm
Quote:

i guess i'm saying as one young dude in a band (in your backyard no less) that some kids and critics like, this sort of stuff is very relevant. it's also very relevant to the people's floors i've slept on worldwide. what is "thier own" is the great catalog of independent/underground music from the 70s to today.


Nick, no where have I characterized punk rock or independent/underground music as an invalid or irrelevant source of influence.

When Elvis and the Beatles first arrived they were considered the punk rock of the day. It has always been more of an attitude then anything else, but while the look and sound of it changes, the rebellious attitude does not. and that is what makes it
independent/underground music.

Hell, for all practical purposes, the soul music of the early 60's was punk to. It was considered taboo by white society and there for was very underground.

If anything, soul music was way more relevant, influential and important to a cultural movement then punk ever was, because it set the tone for something alternative to exist, and eventually it became acceptable in a buttoned up, conservative and narrow-minded society.

It's something to consider.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman on December 20, 2005, 05:59:37 pm
kraster wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 03:58

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




If you're going to say that any scenario is artistically valid, then certainly a scenario with a band and a meddlesome producer is also valid.  It will have it's own artistic integrity.  In other words, the band just gets bigger.

-R
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 20, 2005, 06:00:57 pm
Nick, I checked out the newback site and wathced " booze olympics".

Very cool stuff.

What's interesting is that I actually prefer today's "independent/underground" music. It's an exceptionally refreshing approach, with even more attitude, twists and melody from past years. That is, at least for my taste's.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 20, 2005, 06:05:23 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 16:33

Quote:

 It has changed more lives than Wang Chung and their ilk, that's for goddamn sure.

Punk rock and the independent music scene have together been more important than any other cultural influences since the birth of electric music.


Really........?

How so and for who?

First, I'll post a poll, and we'll get some more opinions, then I'll go chapter-and-verse on you.


Quote:

So why are you so against something you don't understand?

I am against it because it seems so fundamentally wrong to me. What I don't understand is why this isn't the case with everyone involved in it. I have my speculations regarding inflated self-image, greed, hunger for power, status and control, but they are just speculations.

Quote:

A lot of people throw themselves on the pavement everyday and deserve credit and consideration for their work and efforts for the same reasons. You make it sound like you and the bands you record are the only ones in the recording industry.............that work hard.

Hard work isn't the issue. Crack dealers work hard. My point is that presuming the authority to "work" on someone else's art in a significant way is intrusive. That said, I don't care how hard someone works at an endeavor I don't respect.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman on December 20, 2005, 06:08:48 pm
electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 08:11


How about we start with letting the band have their way? How about we start with not telling them we think they ought to play their music differently, or present it differently, or change it in ways large and small to suit the engineer. That's a good start.



I'm totally with you there.  

-R
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 20, 2005, 06:20:26 pm
Quote:

I have my speculations regarding inflated self-image, greed, hunger for power, status and control, but they are just speculations.


If your looking to find a logic behind what many of us do here and why, how about  speculating that many here, just like you, are trying to make a living while doing something they love and take pride in.

It's not a cake walk to do that....... in this, or any other business.

That shouldn't be so hard to understand and respect.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: pipelineaudio on December 20, 2005, 06:21:38 pm
I got into this business to document hardcore punk, but I also realized just what a studio could do by hearing The Meatmen's Rock n roll juggernaut, I couldnt imagine that album being anywhere near as good if it werent "produced"
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman on December 20, 2005, 06:22:28 pm
electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 08:02

Quote:

Sorry grasshopper, but when you can snatch the pebble from my hand...

Sensei, I take it you can tell when something is good and bad, always? Truly you are very wise.

I am not so wise. I am man enough to admit that I may not understand why a band does what they do, or even if they have achieved it when they have. If I expect to make such judgements in the heat of battle, I will get them wrong as often as right, from the perspective of the band. I think it is extraodinarily presumptuous to think that anyone outside the band can understand their motives and their art better than they can themselves. It is close to preposterous to me.



No matter what the situation is I don't always make the right choice, nor should I have to.  As if there always is one.  Insisting on that type of perfectionism, in fact, is what's often wrong with a producer/artist relationship.

But the fact is I do make the right choice often enough. (and don't sell yourself short for the sake of an argument--I'm sure you do too) I have a good sense of how to get the best perfomance out of someone, and I do make judgements about whether a take is good or bad, whether it can be better, whether the artist can dig in and give a little more.  And a zillion other things.  But at the end of the day, I like you, still want to be amazed by something mysterious and wonderful that even I didn't anticipate.

Moreover, I'm grateful in my own development as an artist to the people who stood above me and protected me, supported me, found ways to coax good ideas and perfomances out of me, helped me separate the wheat from the chaff and expand my own sense of who I am and what I'm capable of--as well as the people who put up with my own stubbornness and allowed me to do my own thing.

You know, a lot of this discussion may hinge on the relative quality of L.A. bands versus Chicago bands.

-R
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on December 20, 2005, 06:27:32 pm
Ron Steele wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 18:20


If your looking to find a logic behind what many of us do here and why, how about  speculating that many here, just like you, are trying to make a living while doing something they love and take pride in.

The part I don't understand is the meddling. Why do so many people in our business take it on themselves to direct processes they have no ownership of, and ultimately will not have to take responsibility for? Why do they not see this as meddling? Where do they get the balls? That's what baffles me.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Level on December 20, 2005, 06:31:01 pm
Quote:

Why do so many people in our business take it on themselves to direct processes they have no ownership of, and ultimately will not have to take responsibility for? Why do they not see this as meddling? Where do they get the balls? That's what baffles me.


Steve, I believe in my heart..it boils down to some form of insecurity. Somebody trying to "prove" they know something.
People are best..when they are challenged. Perhaps this form of challenging can bring out the best..but IMHO, if you go against what the artists intentions are, you are doing a disservice to that artist. Pointing out an area or "asking" if this is "what they want" is of course a different matter..because we all need open communication with a session.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 20, 2005, 06:43:29 pm
Quote:

Why do so many people in our business take it on themselves to direct processes they have no ownership of, and ultimately will not have to take responsibility for?



Because they are hired to do so based on their past work experience and efforts. And they do take responsibility for it, because it is their job to make "it" happen.
If they fail to make "it" happen, the failure is a direct reflection on themselves.

Usually, the prospect of messing up and not getting the next call back keeps people on their toes, and at their best. I'm sure it works the same way for you.

Quote:

Why do they not see this as meddling? Where do they get the balls? That's what baffles me


Read the above statement again.

And Steve, even you have to admit your poll is slightly "leading" and slanted.
Laughing  Laughing  Laughing  Laughing
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman on December 20, 2005, 06:49:36 pm
electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 18:27

The part I don't understand is the meddling. Why do so many people in our business take it on themselves to direct processes they have no ownership of, and ultimately will not have to take responsibility for? Why do they not see this as meddling? Where do they get the balls? That's what baffles me.



Hopefully, you've been invited in, so it's not presumptuous at all.  And hopefully, if you're good at what you do, then it's not just meddling.

Every situation is different.  Every producer/artist relationship is different.

Even as an engineer, you may think you're not making choices, but you are and it's affecting the outcome of the art.  Your own hands off approach is not some objective rule of the universe, it is a conscious production choice you have made, and you get the corresponding results.  To me, it's one of many options, and I'll be more or less hands-on according to the needs of the situation.  

That said, my own favorite type of sessions are always "point and duck".

-R
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: ratite on December 20, 2005, 09:59:47 pm
[/quote]
The part I don't understand is the meddling. Why do so many people in our business take it on themselves to direct processes they have no ownership of, and ultimately will not have to take responsibility for? Why do they not see this as meddling? Where do they get the balls? That's what baffles me.
[/quote]

Surely it doesn't baffle?The power differential between the band and AE/Producer in the studio is open to exploitation,and where the possibility exists,in some cases it will be taken.Sadly both parties may even believe that this kind of relationship is appropriate as, if it is perceived to be the prevailing paradigm, it must be correct.After all, if the major label bands that the client(s) seek to emulate/have been influenced by, apparently elected such a process then same should suit them and they may well welcome such "medddling".
What to do with "The Exploited"(hair band) and the "Exploiters"?Send everyone to Rock'n'Roll ethics 101,then maybe we can all see eye to eye.Until that happens expect the same old, same old...
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Eric Rudd on December 21, 2005, 04:55:32 pm
Curve Dominant wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 01:28


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




I wonder about that. I personally feel that this an ideal. I've found in my experience there is an inverse relationship between how strongly an artist professes "I don't care what people think of my art" and how strongly they actually do care what people think of their art.

If you look back in history many of the world's most talented artists (music and other arts) were obsessed with approval by the public, whether they would readily admit it or not.

It takes a very enlightened person to create art and openly give it over with no expectation of acceptance.

But then, that's my opinion.

Eric
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: c.gymer on December 21, 2005, 08:43:31 pm
I do genuinely hate the fact that this is my virgin post here, but I cannot for the life of me understand what Ron Steele doesn't get about Steve's point.

How can a person (who is not in the band) telling them what they should sound like be at all ethical?

By its very nature, imposing your view on the band is wrong. Talking with the band about their music, being a sounding off board, that is fine because your are voicing your opinion that the band maybe very happy to hear and consider. Imposing YOUR ideas is totally unacceptable.

If i were to force my religious beliefs or my political beliefs on you, how would you feel? Violated? Raped? Because that is what it feels like when someone makes artistict 'adjustments' to YOUR MUSIC.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman on December 21, 2005, 08:53:36 pm
c.gymer wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 20:43

 Imposing YOUR ideas is totally unacceptable.




Yes, when you couch it in those terms who would disagree?  You're defining it as undesireable.

-R
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: c.gymer on December 21, 2005, 09:26:16 pm

The tone from from Ron Steele seems to imply that telling musicians that they are wrong about their music is ok, and I cant see how he can be defending what is in my view morally wrong. My defining it is making a point that what he is advocating is not some insignificant point of small print, but something that is deeply offensive to anybody that really believes in creative thought or true freedom of speech and expression.

I would hope that he could clear up for all of us what he really thinks about this.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: pipelineaudio on December 21, 2005, 09:33:34 pm
c.gymer wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 01:43

How can a person (who is not in the band) telling them what they should sound like be at all ethical?

Because he was hired to?

By its very nature, imposing your view on the band is wrong.

Unless you are hired to?

Talking with the band about their music, being a sounding off board, that is fine because your are voicing your opinion that the band maybe very happy to hear and consider. Imposing YOUR ideas is totally unacceptable.

Unless you were hired to?

If i were to force my religious beliefs or my political beliefs on you, how would you feel?

Did I hire you to?

Violated? Raped? Because that is what it feels like when someone makes artistict 'adjustments' to YOUR MUSIC.



Unless of course you hired them to do that
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 21, 2005, 10:00:20 pm
Quote:

I do genuinely hate the fact that this is my virgin post here, but I cannot for the life of me understand what Ron Steele doesn't get about Steve's point.

How can a person (who is not in the band) telling them what they should sound like be at all ethical?




When they are hired to do so because of a previous experience and a track record of success by doing so.

Mutt Lange, who produced both ac/dc and def leopard, had bands like these waiting in line to get him to do exactly what you and SA consider so unethical.

And it's not like a good producer doesn't take the bands ideas and vision for their material into consideration during a production. If that were the case, do you really think he would have been hired in the first place.

I can't understand why you and SA can't see alot of artists thrive in a producer/artist
relationship. It's not always perfect, but any adults in this working situation should be able to find ways to work with others and have it still be artistically pleasing and productive. Also, some artists really don't need any "producing", but they may need support and guidance where a performance, idea and direction is concerned.

So what is wrong with another ear and opinion,  if it is solicited?

Would that make the person that made the choice to involve a producer, less of an artist, or his music irrelevant?


Quote:

Talking with the band about their music, being a sounding off board, that is fine because your are voicing your opinion that the band maybe very happy to hear and consider.


Yes, exactly. And many would refer to that person as a "producer".

Quote:

 Imposing YOUR ideas is totally unacceptable.



You'd be surprised at what someone may be opposed to one day, loves the next.

I'm getting tired of the word "imposing" in this situation. If anything it is collaborative, and an artist can easily figure out the difference between a creative difference and an imposition. It's all about mutual respect. If that doesn't exist, two people shouldn't be in the studio together. It's not an adversarial relationship, it's the farthest thing from it. It is two entities focusing on the artist and working toward the his or her creative goals. And sometimes creative friction turn out to be brilliant.

Quote:

f i were to force my religious beliefs or my political beliefs on you, how would you feel? Violated? Raped? Because that is what it feels like when someone makes artistict 'adjustments' to YOUR MUSIC.



Your reaching just a little there, and it is a poor analogy.

Remember, nowhere have I insisted a band or an artist MUST have a producer. Anybody should be free to work any way you want to achieve where your trying to go musically.

I'm only defending that the producer artist relationship. If that's what the artist wants, it is valid, not despicable or unethical. And, if the artist is unhappy with the results at the end, I'd have to say they are half responsible for what they think is failure. Communication is crucial to a artist/producer relationship, and a two way street.

Producers can offer many different skill sets, expertise and production styles. An artist has to find the right fit if they feel they have the need. If they don't have any need for a producer, more power to them.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: c.gymer on December 21, 2005, 10:08:52 pm
But we're not (as I understand it) talking about someone being hired to butt-fuck someone else's music, because no-one in their right mind would willingly allow someone to come along and say:

"I'm the producer, and i am God. You are the band who wrote this music, and you are incapable of making a rational or reasonable decision regarding your music. Therefor, I shall tell you what is good or not, and i shall make artistic decrees that you shall abide by. I will fuck up your music and change it from what you wrote because i am a megalomaniac who refuses to acknowledge that what I do is ethically wrong. I will then take my
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ozzy on December 21, 2005, 10:10:09 pm
A well know UK producer worked on a project with a new engineer. After the project ended he was asked if he would work with him again, he said "No, he agreed with me all the time, I mean, I can't be right all of the time."

I agree with the points Ron makes.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: c.gymer on December 21, 2005, 10:30:13 pm
Ron Steele, I just read your post so here is my reply to you, not the one above.


I think how your describing it now is far more reasonable (as in i find your wording clearer now), and i think perhaps you and I are thinking along similar lines.

Where I still disagree is in this idea that bands actually get a say in what happens. For example: whilst recording some material for one of the big 5 labels last year, we implicitly stated that we wanted to work with tape for the basic tracking. That was ignored. I discussed with our engineer how i wanted to approach the drum sound, for which I was laughed at. Then ignored. After i completed my basic tracking for the four songs we were recording, before I could say knife my performances (which were tight to tempo, but still human) were run through Beat Detective to "tighten them up".
The list of consistant bad treatment go's on and on.
It's not just my experiences but those of many of my friends too, so please dont tell me that I just had a bad experience. Because the label were paying we had no say in the matter, and after we had the mixes finished by another party, the label then had more pop-y mixes done without even telling us.

This is what I am talking about. A collaberation or a meeting of minds that is voulantary is one thing, but this kind of behaviour isn't a rare occurance, it is second nature to far to many engineers and so called 'producers'.

A band is told 'you will work with a producer who can help guide you', but surely that guidance should stop well before they star telling you that they know best because of their stunning track record, or their alleged musical skills.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: canada on December 21, 2005, 10:31:08 pm
Did Mutt Lange really make AC/DC sound better though from a producer's standpoint?  I'm a big fan of AC/DC, and don't you  think AC/DC would have been like "Damn make that kick more ballsy and turn up the guitars!" even if Mutt hadn't been there?

I'm just throwing this out there, I know nothing of the man.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: c.gymer on December 21, 2005, 10:35:26 pm
Also, it is by no means a poor analagy.

I care the same for my music as i do for my family, and someone telling my that they know best is far beyond offensive.

People have gone to war for far less, and if you think trivialising a musicians devotion to their music any more than you already have will help your argument then you are sorely mistaken.

That said, I don't want to go to war over this.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Ron Steele on December 21, 2005, 11:48:26 pm
c.gymer,

I don't want to start a war here either, but you obviously signed up for the program and had to have some clue as to what you were possibly getting into.

Did you think it was going to be easy?

They put up the money, they should have some influence on the project.

It very easily could have been a more positive experience for you, but what more would you expect?

I' m not justifying anything for the label, but the minute you signed with them, you gave alot up. That is the trade off, but there are alternatives, and that is why SA and the alternative/underground scene exists.

And, if your going to play with the devil, your going to play by his rules. But, I do believe a middle ground can exist.

For whatever the reasons were, sorry you had such a bad experience. But In the end, I hope the project turned out positive for you and the band overall.

Really, any good or bad experience in life could be turned into a positive. It can be used to learn from in the long run, so don't think it wasn't worth the trouble.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: dikledoux on December 21, 2005, 11:49:30 pm
c.gymer wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 22:30

... Because the label were paying we had no say in the matter, and after we had the mixes finished by another party, the label then had more pop-y mixes done without even telling us.

Not to derail the whole discussion, but aren't we talking about very different situations?  Steve Albini, who apparently does a LOT of work at reasonable prices so that (among other things) he can serve an artist/band directly - - and big label money where they're essentially venture capitalists?

In the big label scenario, I think it's naive to think they won't want to have very specific control of the product.  It may be a bad idea in an artistic sense - but that's not what they're concerned with, is it?

dik
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Colin Frangos on December 22, 2005, 12:35:50 am
My first post here as well. Hello.

Let me put this out there: I have a large number of records in my collection that were recorded on sub-standard equipment in a hurry, and as a result aren’t crisp, warm, punchy, dynamic, saturated, or any other buzz word used to sell equipment. I love these records because they have great songs on them. They mean a great deal to me. And they are extremely poorly recorded.

So I’m convinced that the recording itself means almost nothing. I prefer for the music I like to be well recorded, but it’s not essential. As a musician who occasionally records for friend’s bands, I appreciate the challenge of good engineering, and the work involved in getting a band’s music documented. I like it when bands have the time and money to get this done right. That’s a goddamn grand slam when a great band can get a great set of performances out of a studio session and have them recorded in a flattering way. This is the high water mark for me.

What producers offer never enters into any of what I like about records. What producers in the modern sense offer isn’t generally some sort of quality guarantee – that would be the roll of the band and the engineer. Producers sell a “sound”. This, to me, seems like snake oil. And considering that what they’re generally hired to do is to “produce hits”, I have to weigh that against the 90% failure rate of major label releases and conclude that it is snake oil. The fact that bands are ultimately the ones paying for it (record labels don’t give bands money after all, they loan it to them), it starts looking like a very bad idea.

Friend’s bands who’ve signed to major labels and been leveraged into working with a currently-hot producer have produced shitty, lifeless albums that even they eventually have to admit are embarrassments compared to their other work. I can think of 5 such bands that I’ve known personally and all of them, bar none, have ended up with the same result. That’s an awful place to be, as a band: thinking you’ve stepped up to The Big Leagues, being encouraged by someone whom you’re told knows much more than you about how to get the sound you’re after to trust his instincts as opposed to your own, only to end up with a generic turd that doesn’t speak for you. That’s a horrible feeling, and it tends to ruin a lot of creative careers. Add to that the realization that you’re now in debt to your label, and unimportant outside factors have crushed your creative spirit. And you’ve gained nothing.

I’m sure there are good producer/band relationships out there, and ones that are different from the ones I’ve seen foisted upon friend’s bands. I’m not sure that they are particularly necessary. If bands want to bring someone in, that’s their call to make, and I wish them well. But I also know a lot of bands who “move up” to a major label and get stuck working with some desiccated hack who’s got no idea what they’re about but is feeling the pressure to produce another hit before his cash cow gives up on him.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: bobkatz on December 22, 2005, 04:50:50 am
Speaking of producers and art, what was the Pope's relationship to Michelangelo?

Did M. ever write that he had to give up some of his artistic choices because his benefactor limited him in some way? I suspect so. But great art was produced, perhaps despite, and perhaps because of M.'s relationship with the Pope.

We could view the Producer as a benevolent and empathic dictator; no musician will ever do what he doesn't want to do, and furthermore, if he's told to do something he doesn't want to do, he will do a bad job of it. A good producer knows this fact as well.

I take the contrarian view to Steve A. that there are many producers whose symbiotic relationship with the band helps them to produce better records. I think that Steve speaks from what works for him and I respect him infinitely for that, and that there is lots of room for alternate views in this department. In other words, "whatever works for you!" This is art, after all.

And by the way, when you mix, Steve, aren't you making "production" decisions just by doing balances? Who tells you what faders to ride and how high to ride them? In other words, what I am saying is that this discussion about producers is a continuum, a set of gray areas, not black versus white. Now I haven't seen Steve's Lecture at MTSU, but I have heard Steve speak at times, and he is very vocal about his opinions, which is also great. It's very important to take the side of the band!

BK
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: JamSync on December 22, 2005, 06:22:58 am
canada wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 21:31

Did Mutt Lange really make AC/DC sound better though from a producer's standpoint?  I'm a big fan of AC/DC, and don't you  think AC/DC would have been like "Damn make that kick more ballsy and turn up the guitars!" even if Mutt hadn't been there?

I'm just throwing this out there, I know nothing of the man.


Maybe...but he certainly helped Def Leppard...
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: c.gymer on December 22, 2005, 10:23:24 am
Hi Ron Steele, thanks for the reply.

I should probably clarify that we didn't sign with the label in the end. Partly due to the project taking some 5 months to complete (it should of been 3 weeks), but more to do with the end product not sounding the way we wanted it to.

I know that we are to point talking about different sides of the same coin, so I hope that I can make this a little clearer:

The label got involved because of demos that we had made ourselves on an ibook with an M-Audio firewire Audiophile interface and a little crappy Behringer mixer with 4 mic inputs. They were interested in how we sounded (our songs, and our 'production' ideas). What they got (which we were to a point happy with, considering the circumstances) was not a true representation of us (where as the home made demos, although perhaps lacking a better recording, were far more representative of our actual sound).

This is one of the reasons that I feel so strongly about people meddling with other peoples music. I mean, the first thing the label discussed with us was how impressed they were with our 'production' ideas, and how they didn't feel we needed anyone else to help us. So what do they do? Bring in a producer. It's not something that is discussed, it is something that is done almost matter of factly. Who say's that a band need to work with someone? The labels do. Bands rarely get to go it alone, and this  really sickens me: the assumption that the band can't make a great record on their own.

Yes, Steve is coming form the independant side of the arguement far more than I am. And yes, we did make a choice to become involved with the major labels and I have no problem with that choice. I have spent years being involved with the indie scene, and all of our releases have been self funded. My previous bands have signed with indies, and i have had equally frustrating experiences with them, the difference being that the majors can affrod better lawyers!

I'm not talking about bands asking for help, and if I maybe so bold, I don't think that Steve is either. I'm sure if a band asked Steve for his opinion then he would oblige, but forcing it upon someone is wrong. My point is that just because it is 'the norm' to treat bands as idiots doesn't mean that it is right, and you cannot defend it as such.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Jay Scherer on December 22, 2005, 01:08:07 pm
JamSync wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 11:22

canada wrote on Wed, 21 December 2005 21:31

Did Mutt Lange really make AC/DC sound better though from a producer's standpoint?  I'm a big fan of AC/DC, and don't you  think AC/DC would have been like "Damn make that kick more ballsy and turn up the guitars!" even if Mutt hadn't been there?

I'm just throwing this out there, I know nothing of the man.


Maybe...but he certainly helped Def Leppard...



Helped them become rich I guess, but to me the pre-Pyromania albums are much better.

But I don't think Mutt did any harm to AC/DC, I think the producers who came after did that.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: RKrizman on December 22, 2005, 02:01:35 pm
"I pledge allegiance
To the band
Of Mr. Schneebley,
And will not fight him
For creative control....."
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: JamSync on December 22, 2005, 06:40:02 pm
Jay Scherer wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 12:08

]
Helped them become rich I guess, but to me the pre-Pyromania albums are much better.

But I don't think Mutt did any harm to AC/DC, I think the producers who came after did that.




You think he "did harm" to Def Leppard by turning out hits? I guess you think the early album for Shania produced by a good ol boy whose name I forget is somehow more pure? Gak. Mutt has done some great stuff and he staved off the downfall of Nashville for a couple of years...now all we have is Honky Tonk Bedonkadonk, or however you spell it.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Jay Scherer on December 22, 2005, 07:32:24 pm
JamSync wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 23:40

Jay Scherer wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 12:08

]
Helped them become rich I guess, but to me the pre-Pyromania albums are much better.

But I don't think Mutt did any harm to AC/DC, I think the producers who came after did that.




You think he "did harm" to Def Leppard by turning out hits? I guess you think the early album for Shania produced by a good ol boy whose name I forget is somehow more pure? Gak.


I never said he "did harm" to DL, I just prefer the earlier albums. There was an exuberance to those records that was totally gone from Pyromania.

I think it's interesting to compare "Highway to Hell" to "Pyromania":

AC/DC - producer helps the band sound great while making a few small song contributions (the break and pick slide in "Highway" was his idea) but not messing with the core sound of the live band.

Def Leppard - producer had a concept (rock band w/ drum machine and pop sensibility) and found a band to impose it on. I'm sure those guys were happy to have the huge success they did but who's to say they couldn't have had that success on their own terms? Maybe they would've felt better about their success and Steve Clark wouldn't have killed himself w/ booze.

From what I've heard (and I'm not a country fan so that's not much) my guess is that I wouldn't enjoy any of Shania's records - her voice is totally bland to me. But maybe that's just the production...


Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: dokushoka on January 01, 2006, 04:11:31 pm
This is such an interesting thread and really illustrates the huge role that personality plays in the recording world.

Steve has every reason to feel proud of his stance on not interfering with the band's sound; that is an increasingly rare quality it seems!  While I certainly agree with this stance in some situations, I can't accept it as always being the "best" stance.

My work load is pretty much split 3 ways, equally, between recording, mixing and producing.  With the exception of producing, I always have a very open talk with the artists about how involved they want me to be.  

I try to understand their goals.  I believe there is a huge distinction between an artist's "goals" and what kind of "production" or "sound" that they want.  Just as Steve feels his role is to make the technical side happen so that the artist doesn't have to, often times, I find myself getting more involved with the artist's music because their goal may be "to make my songs more appealing to younger people" or "to make me sound more unique."  

These goals require consultation from me.  At which point I become somewhat like the coach, or the personal trainer.  It is my job to help them achieve that goal and be as objective as possible, all from the sidelines.  I might suggest that they try a part a certain way, but I will rarely, if ever, go PLAY it.  I'm not in the band and that is not my role.

I work with a lot of artist that write great parts, can arrange and definitely have the performance part of things down.  But, more than anything, they need guidance in how to make those elements translate via a recording.  I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't coach them through this process...

This happens a lot at the mixing stage even.  Oftentimes, an artist will say "can I get LOADS of reverb on this part."  A lot of times, what they really want it a noticeable delay or a change in the sense of space, but they don't know how to communicate that.  I always try to engage them more and get a feel for what they are really trying to convey with that part, as oftentimes, there will be a more effective, less cliche way to do it.  All I do is make records, so my vocabulary for using the process for conveying ideas is most likely larger than that of the artist's.  So rather than just slapping on "LOADS of reverb," because that is what they THINK they want, I get into a discussion of something like "well, do you want this to sound haunting, lonely cold, explosive..." etc.  Maybe someone wants an acoustic guitar part to be distorted.  That might be their only prototype for a "fucked up sounding" acoustic guitar.  Maybe a cooler sound is an acoustic run through 3 compressors and played a particular way?  

Furthermore, arrangements go a long way towards a great sounding mix/record.  A lot of bands don't really listen that hard to what the other guys in the band or doing, or, just don't have enough experience to know what other options there are.  This is readily apparent with drum and bass parts.  Many musicians will "over play" because it "feels good live" or whatever, but, oftentimes, this will translate on a recording as something overly busy and un-cohesive.  I don't think I'm harming things if I help work out a more unified arrangement, unless the band wants to sound un-unified.  Arranging for a mix is a skill that can really only be understood once one is involved heavily with the mixing process.  If I can spot trouble spots at the tracking stage, and let them fly because that is "just how the band sounds" knowing its going to harm the mix, am I really earning my money?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on January 01, 2006, 05:20:57 pm
dokushoka wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 16:11

I find myself getting more involved with the artist's music because their goal may be "to make my songs more appealing to younger people" or "to make me sound more unique."

And you really think you know how to do that? Honestly, you think you know how to make something appeal to someone else? Astounding.

Quote:

These goals require consultation from me.  At which point I become somewhat like the coach, or the personal trainer.  It is my job to help them achieve that goal and be as objective as possible, all from the sidelines.

I've said before that I think objectivity has no place in the making of art. Factory products, sure. Not art.

Quote:

I work with a lot of artist that write great parts, can arrange and definitely have the performance part of things down.  But, more than anything, they need guidance in how to make those elements translate via a recording.

What does this magical word "translate" mean? I see it written in a lot of audio commentary, but I think it is a meaningless word. What do you mean when you say it? And precisely what makes something "translate" more or less? Is it about the tweeters and the toilet paper again? Or the guitar solo? Or the "punchy?"

What does "translate" mean?
Quote:

Oftentimes, an artist will say "can I get LOADS of reverb on this part."  A lot of times, what they really want it a noticeable delay or a change in the sense of space, but they don't know how to communicate that.

So you ask them, "are you looking specifically for reverb, or a sense of space?" Don't expect people to know everytihng, but at least give them the option of being right about their own music. Maybe the dude really wants reverb, maybe not. The job is to find out what he wants and let him hear it.

Quote:

Furthermore, arrangements go a long way towards a great sounding mix/record.  A lot of bands don't really listen that hard to what the other guys in the band or doing, or, just don't have enough experience to know what other options there are.

When the music walks in the door of your studio, it is already arranged. What you're talking about is changing its existing arrangement to suit you. I think that's rude, and I won't do it.

Quote:

Arranging for a mix is a skill that can really only be understood once one is involved heavily with the mixing process.  If I can spot trouble spots at the tracking stage, and let them fly because that is "just how the band sounds" knowing its going to harm the mix, am I really earning my money?

I don't know what you mean by "arranging for a mix." I've never done that, as far as I know, and I've been making records a long time. What is it?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: chris haines on January 01, 2006, 07:11:46 pm
Hi Steve, I’m a fan of a lot of your work.

I was wondering if you would be willing to share your perspective on recording bands like Failure…

I’m a huge fan of this band and followed them around in L.A. before they were signed to Slash, loved their demos, and was depressed for a couple weeks when I finally got my hands on Comfort…I had such high expectations and was disappointed with the results…I didn’t feel that it reflected the quality of the band live, nor did the recordings live up to vibe on the original demos that they did themselves.  A lot of fans felt the same way, and the band expresses some disappointment with this record on their DVD.  

They went on to self-produce & record their next two releases and in doing so created much more cohesive pieces of art that better represented the band and their sound…  

It seems to me that the pairing of yourself with Failure should have yielded incredible results, and yet it didn’t…

So, in your opinion what, if anything, went wrong…?  The heavy fretless bass was such an integral part of their sound and yet it never really showed up on the record…was that a choice that you were involved in or did the band decide to ditch it in the studio…?  Are those the kinds of choices that you would normally get involved in?  Was the band too young/inexperienced at the time to express to you what they were looking for help in achieving artistically…?  Were there budgetary constraints that precluded you from spending as much time on the mixes as the songs warranted…?  Or are you happy with the results?

My point would be that as self-recordists they were more successful at manifesting their artistic vision…and it seems that you take a very hands-off approach with regard to influencing artistic decisions in the recording process... This theoretically shouldn’t interfere with the ability of a band to achieve what they are striving for artistically.

After working with you, I would expect a band to come out of a studio with a sonically enhanced version of what their record would have been without you, with all of the art intact…but it didn’t seem to work out that way for Failure… (though the drums & gits do sound fantastic!).

In your opinion, does any involvement in helping a band record have potential for diminishing their art?

And, in hindsight, do you think that some of the band’s records that you have worked on would have benefited artistically if you had taken on a more substantial role in helping them make artistic decisions?  
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on January 01, 2006, 07:44:18 pm
chris haines wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 19:11

Hi Steve, I’m a fan of a lot of your work.

I was wondering if you would be willing to share your perspective on recording bands like Failure…

I’m a huge fan of this band and followed them around in L.A. before they were signed to Slash, loved their demos, and was depressed for a couple weeks when I finally got my hands on Comfort…I had such high expectations and was disappointed with the results…I didn’t feel that it reflected the quality of the band live, nor did the recordings live up to vibe on the original demos that they did themselves.  A lot of fans felt the same way, and the band expresses some disappointment with this record on their DVD.  

It wasn't my finest hour, or theirs. Them's the breaks. Sometimes you et the bear, sometimes the bear et you.

Quote:

They went on to self-produce & record their next two releases and in doing so created much more cohesive pieces of art that better represented the band and their sound…  

Makes sense. They took more control of the process, and the results were more to their liking.

Quote:

In your opinion, does any involvement in helping a band record have potential for diminishing their art?


In a literal sense, it makes it less theirs. I'm uncomfortable doing that to a band.

Quote:

And, in hindsight, do you think that some of the band’s records that you have worked on would have benefited artistically if you had taken on a more substantial role in helping them make artistic decisions?  

No, my musical tastes are pretty different from theirs, so I don't think me doing more would have helped. Ken had a pretty strong idea about how he wanted to make the record, and my involvement (such as it was) was probably more of a nuisance than anything else. He (and they) did much better on their own.

I remember thinking I was being kinda stubborn about some things, and thinking I knew better. That was probably part of the problem, and I've gotten better at avoiding that.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: dokushoka on January 02, 2006, 01:33:40 am
Quote:

And you really think you know how to do that? Honestly, you think you know how to make something appeal to someone else? Astounding.



Anyone who has the will to create art thinks, at least to some degree, that they know how to do this.  It comes with the territory, no?

Quote:

What does this magical word "translate" mean? I see it written in a lot of audio commentary, but I think it is a meaningless word.


Playing a jazz kit in a dead room probably won't translate the kind of power that a rock drummer has.  Some drummers don't think this way and assume that the recording process will just automatically convey the fact that they are hitting the shit out of their drums.  I don't know any other way of fixing it, other than suggesting changes to the drummer, or using samples, (which I loathe to do) so I try to have an open, constructive conversation with the drummer about using a different kit in a different kind of space, thusly helping him to translate the power of his drumming through a recording.

Quote:

So you ask them, "are you looking specifically for reverb, or a sense of space?" Don't expect people to know everytihng, but at least give them the option of being right about their own music. Maybe the dude really wants reverb, maybe not. The job is to find out what he wants and let him hear it.


Naturally.  But I like to go deeper and understand what they are trying to achieve on an emotional level.  Music is about emotion to me, and I approach it from that perspective.  Maybe its more than just being about wanting reverb, but wanting it to impact the listener in a certain way that the artist's doesn't know how to do with the tools of recording.

Quote:

When the music walks in the door of your studio, it is already arranged. What you're talking about is changing its existing arrangement to suit you. I think that's rude, and I won't do it.


Not always.  Oftentimes it is a compromised arrangement.  I have been in bands where I never told the drummer I couldn't play well to his part. Sometimes its nice to have someone else from the outside, suggest that the drummer try a different part.  I don't want to hurt the feelings of my bandmates, even to this day, so I enjoy having a producer to work with!

Also, you are making the assumption that I am changing things to suit my tastes.  That is silly.  I am a professional hired to make a record of a band sounding their best.  It doesn't matter WHAT I think of the music.  I love Scott Walker, he's the greatest, but I'll never, ever get to make a record that sounds like his stuff.  Its not about that.  I want to help the band realize everything they can with their own music.  I don't have to live with the record the same way they do.

Quote:

I don't know what you mean by "arranging for a mix." I've never done that, as far as I know, and I've been making records a long time. What is it?


For me, mixing and arranging are one in the same.  If you have 4 guitars playing similar parts in the same frequency range, hearing them all is going to be difficult in the mix.  Rather than have to resort to drastic EQ, I open up questions to the artists about what THEY can do to change things.  I make suggestions, but of course never force things.  I like to educate people as much as possible.  I try to treat each guy in the band as a producer/engineer in training, if they are not one already.  Most people seem to really love this and find it very empowering.  In the process, they come out saying that their record sounds better because of it, which gets us back to point 1 in my post.   Smile

I respect your work very much, Steve, so I certainly don't want this to appear to be an attack.  I just feel, for the public good, that its important for different approaches to be defended.  You've made some records that I admire deeply.  But I also admire records made by some people who work in a method that is in total opposition to yours.  Just reminding us all that there is more than one way to skin a cat, if skinning cats is your thing...
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: bluespark on January 09, 2006, 06:28:55 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.



Even the most cursory glance into the history of composers and artists and their patron relationships shows this statement to be embarassingly ludicrous.

Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: electrical on January 09, 2006, 12:44:50 pm
bluespark wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 06:28


Even the most cursory glance into the history of composers and artists and their patron relationships shows this statement to be embarassingly ludicrous.

Only if you believe that the category of sponsored art (work made for hire) has been responsible for the best art. Currently, that would be a ludicrous assertion.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Colin Frangos on January 09, 2006, 02:19:00 pm
bluespark wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 03:28

Even the most cursory glance into the history of composers and artists and their patron relationships shows this statement to be embarassingly ludicrous.

Erm... I don't think history backs you up on this. Even if we ignore the fact that patronage hasn't been a significant factor in art in the last 150 years, and stick by the period when it was standard practice (let's say 1200 through 1600), I don't think you'd find artists OR patrons that were particularly happy with the outcomes.

Da Vinci was admired as a weapons designer, not as a painter, mostly because he didn't finish things when the patrons expressed an opinion in how his work should continue. Michelangelo said, "I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint."

I could go on.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: bluespark on January 10, 2006, 01:05:42 am
electrical wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 12:44

bluespark wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 06:28


Even the most cursory glance into the history of composers and artists and their patron relationships shows this statement to be embarassingly ludicrous.

Only if you believe that the category of sponsored art (work made for hire) has been responsible for the best art. Currently, that would be a ludicrous assertion.


Currently, yes.  That's a far cry from 'all great art ever made'.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: bluespark on January 10, 2006, 01:42:44 am
Colin Frangos wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 14:19

bluespark wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 03:28

Even the most cursory glance into the history of composers and artists and their patron relationships shows this statement to be embarassingly ludicrous.

Erm... I don't think history backs you up on this. Even if we ignore the fact that patronage hasn't been a significant factor in art in the last 150 years, and stick by the period when it was standard practice (let's say 1200 through 1600), I don't think you'd find artists OR patrons that were particularly happy with the outcomes.

Da Vinci was admired as a weapons designer, not as a painter, mostly because he didn't finish things when the patrons expressed an opinion in how his work should continue. Michelangelo said, "I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint."

I could go on.



1. You are far off in your assumption about the appropriate time period.  Let us say into at least the mid 19th century there are many strong examples -- too numerous to go into here.  And beyond, although the extent of Nadezhda von Meck's influence on Tchaikovsky's works in the late 19th century (despite a substantial yearly payment) is debatable - it's clear from their letters over 14 years that many of his works were, in part, for her.  

2. Da Vinci did much great work while commissioned.   The Virgin on the Rocks and The Last Supper were both painted while under the hand of the Duke of Milan.  It is true that he also worked as a military engineer (while he was still painting, I might add - the Mona Lisa was done at this time) - but that is just evidence of his all around talents.  I don't believe I said anything about when one's artwork was 'appreciated' - merely the circumstances and expectations under which it was created.

3. Michelangelo supposedly said many things, as contradictory as our own words might be at various times looking back on our life.  Regardless, the facts stand.  The Sistine Chapel began as a very specific project commissioned under Julius II. And continued on and on beyond the initial concept, true, but nonetheless.  Also, the sculpture David was a commission in fact taken on after a previous sculptor in Florence failed to deliver.


The ludicrous statement was that ALL great art is (and has been) created with no audience in mind and beholden to no one but the artist.  It is true, and thank god, that the current technological and economic stature of the West (for one), is such that this need not be the case.  I agree wholeheartedly with Steve's sentiment about modern music, and its artistic value.  However when someone looking to 'take it further' makes a ridiculous blanket statement about Art with a capital 'A' - all possible art that has been and can be - it must be called out.

That said, I believe the 'some disinterest' Steve speaks of is important not to overlook.  One who commissioned a work may have had the 'Idea', but the artist had the 'Vision'.  And those are substantially different things.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: maxim on January 10, 2006, 04:17:03 am
daniel wrote:

"the Mona Lisa was done at this time"

what do you think of the fact that the mona lisa was never sold

tarkovsky worked for mosfilm, the soviet movie factory

why?

because it was that or no work at all

do you think he thought it was great and helpful to his art?

undoubtedly, if your work doesn't appeal to the punters/patrons, your're sunk as an artist

it's a different thing to state that art must be made to measure of popular "entertainment"

the only gauge i have as an artist is myself

i can double-check against audience responses how it translates, and it's very useful for developing the craft, but, imo, it does nothing for the art
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: chris haines on January 10, 2006, 07:02:39 am
yeah but can you imagine the cool stuff that Heironymous Bosch could have done if he wasn't worried about keeping his head attached to his torso...?  Certainly the integrity of his art suffered...all the homosexual stuff had to go in the hell portion of the tryptych etc...his art ultimately had to support the politics of the Popes & Kings that were collecting and commissioning his sh!t...whether or not he agreed with their point of view or would have expressed it in his work on his own.  He was a genius, no doubt, but we have to appreciate his work within the context of who he was working for...ie...being produced by.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Colin Frangos on January 10, 2006, 02:11:05 pm
bluespark wrote on Mon, 09 January 2006 22:42


1. You are far off in your assumption about the appropriate time period.


I don't think what I said is an assumption, I think it's a viewpoint supported by art history. Patronage decayed with centralized power.

Quote:

Let us say into at least the mid 19th century there are many strong examples -- too numerous to go into here.


Seems a little odd to say there are so many that you can't list any, but I get your point. There's good work from patronage in there, but I wouldn't say it's the majority.

There are a lot of works that have been commissioned, even in the past 150 years, but that's a far cry from patronage. Perhaps that's the argument you're making here, and if it is then yes, I agree completely. But to my mind commissions don't qualify as work for hire because commissions rarely dictate content or grant oversight from the client. Goya's a great example - he worked for royalty, but they rarely had much control over the end result. Rembrandt's a good example, too, although he worked hard to fund himself off of prints (cheaper, available to the middle class and not just the extremely rich, like paintings) instead of commissions.

Quote:

Regardless, the facts stand.  The Sistine Chapel began as a very specific project commissioned under Julius II. And continued on and on beyond the initial concept, true, but nonetheless.  Also, the sculpture David was a commission in fact taken on after a previous sculptor in Florence failed to deliver.


How many times did he quit the Sistine Chapel? How many times was he fired? The project expanded away from being what was requested and became something grander, not because the pope demanded it but because Michelangelo went for it.

I'd even argue that David was a commission. They needed something fast. They agreed to stay out of his way.

Quote:

The ludicrous statement was that ALL great art is (and has been) created with no audience in mind and beholden to no one but the artist.  It is true, and thank god, that the current technological and economic stature of the West (for one), is such that this need not be the case.  I agree wholeheartedly with Steve's sentiment about modern music, and its artistic value.  However when someone looking to 'take it further' makes a ridiculous blanket statement about Art with a capital 'A' - all possible art that has been and can be - it must be called out.


Agreed. ALL and COMPLETE DISINTREST is a long way from reality.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Hud Hudson on January 11, 2006, 09:36:32 am
The .mov file won't play with Windows Media Player or Real Player on my PC (both current versions). Suggestions for an application that will play this on a PC?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: MB on January 11, 2006, 01:07:37 pm
Hellapeno wrote on Wed, 11 January 2006 15:36

The .mov file won't play with Windows Media Player or Real Player on my PC (both current versions). Suggestions for an application that will play this on a PC?


Er, Quicktime?
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: cerberus on January 11, 2006, 02:57:28 pm
also vlc player (freeware) can handle it.

cerberus
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: mr. moon on January 20, 2006, 09:27:32 am
electrical wrote on Tue, 20 December 2005 07:02


An engineer's job is to manage the technical side of the recording, with as little interference as possible. Anyone who thinks this is trivial (or easy, for that matter), has not been trying very hard, or has not been paying attention. In a professional environment, the acoustics and recording can be managed so as to be flattering to the band and free from the compromises inherent in semi-professional environments. That's why professional studios are needed.



AMEN!!

Speaking as a member of a "band" and a home recordist, I wish more of the folk "in the biz" would have this attitude. I got out of the professional music biz years ago because of the attitudes and business practices I had to deal with which kept pushing "commercial success" rather than artistic expression of the artist. Having a "producer" say, "well gee guys, we don't feel like this tune has commercial potential the way it's currently arranged, let's try adding/subtracting this <enter whatever song component here> and see how it works or we won't waste our time with it" or something along those lines, really sucks. Especially when the band is footing the bill! (It's been my personal experience that most "serious" bands are made up of broke musicians who aren't responsible enough, or old enough, to hold down good-paying jobs ...at least all the bands I had been a part of years ago before I went back to school and got a "real" job to support my music habit).

You may say, "Well, that kind of thing doesn't happen at my studio", and while that may be true, it has been my experience at *every* studio that we (the bands I was in) had booked into here in the Twin Cities. Ironically, most of these studios are now out of business. Again, this was quite a few years ago, so maybe attitudes have changed a bit since then, but my guts tells me probably not.

Anywho, I just wanted to add my personal experience and opinion to this very interesting and insightful thread to help offer the perspective from a band member's point of view.

-mr moon
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: suitandtieguy on February 04, 2006, 12:49:09 am
pardon me for jumping in late. gotta represent for my fellow electro blues artists. it's been awhile since i saw this movie so i'm going to skip addressing the Linn and DX7 comments, and i really don't like those pieces of gear anyway so why should i leap to their defence. the DX7 ruined keyboard interfaces for a full decade after its introduction. (the DX5 on the other hand was a fantastic improvisational EM synth. i have proof.)

electrical wrote on Mon, 19 December 2005 12:28

... It isn't hard to find examples ot terriffic (or at least competent) bands who made horrible records in the 1980s, scarred by the production-of-the-day brought to bear on them: ZZ Top ...


the difference between ZZ Top and the other bands you name is that for the others bad 80s elements were grafted onto the band's sound in a Frankenstein fashion, whereas Eliminator was quite a tasteful fusion of european electro elements with the ZZ's texas blues. the electronic elements of that record are significantly more timeless than other market-driven 80s rock production boogaloos of the period.

dude, there's a damn _hoover_ in "Sharp Dressed Man". a fucking HOOVER! that means that ZZ Top (or their producer, who ever you wish to blame) prefaced the use of the 8-voice unison mono open-filter bass in dance music by 8 solid years. that track in particular is important to hip dance music types in a similar fashion to "I Feel Love."

but i will say that "Viva Las Vegas" cover was a mere parody of the electro-blues-rock of Eliminator.

yeah ... that Aerosmith track with DX7 bass for no good reason whatsoever hurts my ears every time i hear it.
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: Nama on February 06, 2006, 01:56:58 am
well Steve Albini is an engineer not a producer. What he's saying makes a lot of sense to me.

The perfect engineer would be close to a robot who could hear the vision of the artist and make it ready to happen. Very boring and there is nothing to talk about it, that's why it's perfect.

just a thought
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: PoorGlory on March 10, 2006, 12:58:14 am
As a rookie recordist (I don't think I deserve the 'engineer' title for a few years), this lecture blew me away. While I respectfully disagree with Mr. Albini regarding analog vs. digital, everthing else he discussed was gold. Especially the part about how it doesn't matter how each individual thing sounds, its about how it all comes together and how the band's vibe makes the record brilliant. I can tell that is going to be one of those things that I'll always remember.

Dan O'Hare
Mark-it-Zero
Title: Re: Steve's Lecture at MTSU.
Post by: maccool on March 13, 2006, 11:28:22 am
Dear Steve,

I watched the MTSU video.  Much good info therein.  My most abiding impression? .... ...there is no magic bullet.  Seems to me that it's down to essential knowledge, essential execution, and essential sympathy. None of those constitute rocket-science; like it or not, all are art.  And I have much work to do.

Salut!

maccool.