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  • Recording Session Update

    I figured I should make an update about the recording session... needless to say it was a huge mess.

    We ended up doing 3 rehearsals and it was apparent that the horn players he got couldn't play the melody to many of the songs. I've already mentioned previously about how many of the tunes were really weak and incoherent and how charts had a lot of mistakes.. but things were made worse because the band leader just didn't want to commit to finalizing a lot of things, like whether to repeat the melody on head out, or how many repeats on ending. It's one thing to do that on 1-2 songs, but when you have 10 tracks full of things that are opened ended, it's a recipe for disaster.The band leader kept on assuring that the guest artist will look at the music and fix the problem, but I didn't realize that it would happen during the actual recording session.

    The first of the recording date comes. It's apparently that the guest artist hasn't listened to the original music. After listening to it for the first time he starts changing changing the arrangements, right as we were about to start the to record the first song. Me and drummer were hit the hardest as we were asked to do different patterns, hits and things that are entirely different than the charts and recordings(including the recording/charts of his tunes he sent us prior to the session, which I practiced). Unless you are really experienced in playing this kind of music, this is not something you can do right away and would require us to spend few days, even weeks actually practicing them. A lot of his suggestions were hit and mess and many of his changes just didn't make any sense(like asking me to do a 4 bar pattern when the part in question is in 2 bar, which is further evidence that the guy didn't really know the music well). The entire recording session pretty much followed this routine, where the guest artists listens to the music, make last minute changes, rehearse them and scramble to record them before the deadline.

    But for the most part the problem wasn't with me.. we were recording for 4 days from 11am to 8pm, and half of that time was spent rehearsing.. and majority of that time was spent fixing the horn section. looking back it would have made sense if we tracked the rhythm section first and did horns later, but the band leader wanted to have the live feel for the album.. this, among many other things that really shows just how naive he was and the lack of leadership was really apparent from the start. Pretty much everyone I talked to who had done recording session told me we should have tracked the rhythm section first. The band leader was also unwilling to listen to any of our suggestion but quick to flip whenever the guest artist makes the same exact suggestion. For example me, the other piano player(who played on couple of tracks), the drummer all agreed that this one particular song was weak and should not be recording it... Band leader didn't listen to us but when the guest artist said we are cutting the song, he agreed right away. Basically band leader was just letting the guest run the whole project without any opinion of his own, and lost a lot of credibility because of that. The drummer told me Band leader kept on asking him to play soft, but as soon as the guest guy told him to play strong, band leader was like "yea, great suggestion, it sounds so much better now!

    My friend from out of town told me that when he records with his band, the band has already played the songs for well over 6 months.. they walk into the studio knowing exactly what to do, and they are super tight. In fact the actual playing&recording is actually the easiest part of the whole things because the band knew the music so well. What we got was the exact opposite of that. I think the drummer summed it up pretty well. None of us are expert at the music we are playing, but we all have things that we were comfortable with that works and feel confident playing it.. even though it may not be 100% "authentic". It would have made more sense to work within our limitation and just try to bring the best out of that.. instead we were just scrambling to keep up with the demands of the guest artist. Maybe this would have made sense if this was summer camp and you had a month to internalize the demands for the project, but with such short time, you basically have a recording where everyone was playing well beyond their comfort zone and it really shows.
    Last edited by etcetra; 11-07-2017, 02:23 AM.

  • #2
    and yet, you knew this was going to happen and you stayed with it.
    Rehearsing on studio time?
    Changing parts on the day of the recording?
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by daddymack View Post
      and yet, you knew this was going to happen and you stayed with it.
      Rehearsing on studio time?
      Changing parts on the day of the recording?

      I've already addressed this in the previous post, so I am just going to cut and paste what I wrote


      "As far as the project is concerned, I made it very clear that I want out the project but it's apparent that he actually need me to be part of it. The other latin guy he hired can't make it for all the recording dates or the gigs that has already been booked in the next two months, and there really isn't any suitable replacement in town who can actually play the music. Leaving now will be devastating for the project will completely burn bridges with this guy, where as leaving later will allow me to leave the band in more neutral terms. Also regardless of what I(or any serious musicians) about his ability or leadership, he has a reputation in the scene as an established artist. Me walking out like this is not going to sit well within the people in the scene, even if they understand that I am leaving for the right reasons."

      I can't stress enough how different the scene is here, largely due to cultural difference. Your reputation here is not based on how professional or good you are but how easy you are to work with, or how much you are willing to put up with stuff. I know friends who has worked with big pop acts here, and they all put up with crap that you'd never put up with in the States in a professional environment. Things like having to relearn an entire arrangement on very short notice(because arranger sent you the wrong arrangement) or having to learn new material(because singer finds out they can't do it day before the rehearsal) isn't all that uncommon, and people are ok with not getting paid by the hour for it. I've also had conversation with my friend out of town and come to the conclusion that a lot of common sense stuff you'd expect in professional environment just doesn't happen here.

      In other words. People here won't care if the project was a complete **************** show but they will definitely remember that I walked out from a projected and "caused inconveniences to many people".

      Comment


      • #4
        This was not a knock on you,etc, this was about the lunkhead you are working for. I do feel your pain!
        You saw it all coming, but for the reasons you stated you did what you had to...whoever the 'guest artist' is should be embarrassed as well.

        I did tons of crap session work in the 90s to make money...and some were as jacked up as this one, but I was strictly a hired gun. There were no rehearsals, no gigs, just a session, and some of them were pretty bizarre...more than once I wound up re-charting songs for the 'producer', since they had to pay me for four hours regardless...most of these sessions had no charts, just a melody line or a terrible scratch track with click, an acoustic guitar or piano and a scratch vocal.

        Where are you located [just so I will not try to gig there... ]
        "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

        Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
        "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by daddymack View Post
          This was not a knock on you,etc, this was about the lunkhead you are working for. I do feel your pain!
          You saw it all coming, but for the reasons you stated you did what you had to...whoever the 'guest artist' is should be embarrassed as well.

          I did tons of crap session work in the 90s to make money...and some were as jacked up as this one, but I was strictly a hired gun. There were no rehearsals, no gigs, just a session, and some of them were pretty bizarre...more than once I wound up re-charting songs for the 'producer', since they had to pay me for four hours regardless...most of these sessions had no charts, just a melody line or a terrible scratch track with click, an acoustic guitar or piano and a scratch vocal.

          Where are you located [just so I will not try to gig there... ]

          Thanks, and I appreciate feedbacks from you and the everyone else here. It's nice to hear from saner minds for a change

          and to be frank the guest artist... i am really not sure about him either.. sure he was very experienced in the music, but the way he ran things was very questionable. For example, we were supposed to meet at the stage for soundcheck before the big show but he asked us to go to the hotel he was staying for a meeting.. we all had to walk to the hotel(about 15min away), but he doesn't show up.. by the time he showed up, it was time to go back to the stage to do the soundcheck, and all he did was give us setlist and solo order(I was told on short notice to solo on a tune I haven't soloed on for the entire project up to this point).

          What's really bizzare is that AFAIK, these things happen all the way at all levels, including international pop tours backing mega-stars, doing stadium gigs. My friend told me he had a gig where they were given a recording of the track to practice, and when he walked into the rehearsal the guy who made the program track(there are live instruments and pre-recorded stuff on the track) gave out the wrong arrangement and he was editing and the track as the rehearsal went. The kb player had to learn new parts, new chords, hits, as well as string/horn section stuff(he was doing dual kb).. fortunately for him he has perfect pitch, but I don't know you'd be able to do it otherwise. Even for those gigs, inefficency is the norm here and it's very difficult to change because you don't get paid by the hour for rehearsals here.

          I don't want to make my location because it's a pretty small scene so I'll pm you.
          Last edited by etcetra; 11-07-2017, 11:42 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Wow, what a comedy of errors...

            I appreciate your dedication and willingness to follow-through on your commitments, but you knew going into this that it was going to be a disaster. And the reason for that can pretty much all be laid at the feet of the leader.

            I hope you will reconsider ever working with him again... and that you didn't end up paying for any of those sessions.
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by etcetra View Post

              and to be frank the guest artist... i am really not sure about him either..
              I am sure about him. If he didn't even bother listening to the tunes in advance, he's as clueless as the band "leader" is.

              You'd be better off not working with either of them ever again... unless they're paying you really, really well - and maybe not even then.
              **********

              "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

              - George Carlin

              "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

              - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

              "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

              - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                Wow, what a comedy of errors...

                I appreciate your dedication and willingness to follow-through on your commitments, but you knew going into this that it was going to be a disaster. And the reason for that can pretty much all be laid at the feet of the leader.

                I hope you will reconsider ever working with him again... and that you didn't end up paying for any of those sessions.
                Looking back I guess I should have made an excuse to get out when I was initially asked to do the project. The kind of stuff the bandleader did like changing arrangements was a little bit of a nuisance in the past but it wasn't enough to turn down the gig over.. but the band leader went full retard on his tendencies taking on a project as big as this, making those little issues exponentially worse. I also hadn't been working with him for more than 6 months so I kind of forgot how it was like.

                Having done the project I can walk away anytime now without having my reputation suffer(like I mentioned above people here put up with crap like this all the time on big jobs and I don't think people will be as understanding as you guys are about bailing, even if I had legit reason to do so) On the brighter note, the bandleader has booked whole bunch of easy, lucrative for the next few months which doesn't require learning new music. I figured I'd just take these gigs and ride out the rest of my tenure with the band until a similar big project comes in. At that point I'll just tell the band leader I am too busy and don't have time to commit to a project that big, and if that's an issue with the bandleader, I'll post my resignation

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by etcetra View Post
                  Having done the project I can walk away anytime now without having my reputation suffer(like I mentioned above people here put up with crap like this all the time on big jobs and I don't think people will be as understanding as you guys are about bailing, even if I had legit reason to do so) On the brighter note, the bandleader has booked whole bunch of easy, lucrative for the next few months which doesn't require learning new music. I figured I'd just take these gigs and ride out the rest of my tenure with the band until a similar big project comes in. At that point I'll just tell the band leader I am too busy and don't have time to commit to a project that big, and if that's an issue with the bandleader, I'll post my resignation
                  If you think you can ride out the easy gigs and then resign, then best of luck. I hope that works out for you like you envision it.

                  Hopefully there will be other musical opportunities that will arise in your area for you to pursue.
                  **********

                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The first recording session I ever did, the band had practiced for 6 months first then we played some gigs to work out any kinks. We all had many years playing professionally live too. We went in and nailed 5 tunes in less then 4 hours and they all wound up sounding killer. That was with a 4 piece and lead singer. The vocals were done in a separate session.

                    I'd never try to record something bigger using horns without several months of reversal. I might record the backing band and bring in experienced sessions horn players to do parts but trying to do all that live like you did? You must have the patience of a saint to put up with that kind of cluster going on. I would have been out of there and told the guy call me when you have a band that's fully rehearsed.

                    Doing a full live recording session is no different then playing out live. If you aren't playing out live then you aren't ready to do that kind of recording and should stick with a Frankenstein build from bits and pieces until you are. Maybe even do some live recordings first to gauge whether you're ready.

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