This past weekend we officially wrapped up laying down tracks for almost half of the new Allister record. It’s a shame that we have to take three weeks off due to scheduling conflicts, but things will eventually resume and we’ll have this thing cranked out in no time.
It gives us an interesting perspective on these new songs, though, which could be both good and bad. Three weeks away from the studio gives us an exorbitant amount of time to critique, analyze, and (if possible) objectively listen to everything that we have recorded. It’s a double edged sword because on one hand we have time to write and restructure the songs to make them even better, yet, on the other, we have more than enough time to over-think the songs, thereby potentially diluting them and miring them in mediocrity. Since all of our previous records have been recorded in one continuous block of time, we’ve never come across this situation before.
I’d like to think that we’ll spend the time making the songs even better. But let’s be honest here, even though we’re trying out some new things and experimenting “outside of the box,” at our core we’re still a punk rock band playing songs with only three or four chords. There isn’t a whole lot you can really do to change things. Most of our songs are completely written in about 20 minutes. We’ll tinker with some ideas, add a few guitar lines, and probably come up with some alternate harmonies and melodies, hopefully making the whole record better. I suppose there’s always an outside chance that one of us will write an earth-shattering new song during these next three weeks that we’ll be able to include as well. We’ll see…
Right now, I gotta rehearse for the shows coming up this weekend. Hope to see everyone there.
So we’re a little more than a week into recording a new Allister album and things are coming along nicely. Its easy to forget just how much fun the entire process can be now that it’s no longer a full time job. Our conflicting job schedules though have mandated a somewhat unconventional recording session. We’re putting the album together in pieces; recording a few days here, a few days there, and we’re hoping to have it all finished by mid-April.
Most albums are generally recorded in this order: drums, bass, guitars, vocals, keyboards/effects, etc. Bands typically spend around four weeks putting a record together, working straight through without any days off. It can be a long and arduous process, especially when working with time constraints or working under a budget.
What’s great about this session is that we don’t really have any time constraints. We know when we’d like to be finished, but if it goes longer than expected it certainly won’t effect a label’s release schedule or throw a serious wrench into any touring plans. We’ll obviously do our best to reach the goal that we’ve set for ourselves but we have the freedom to extend things if necessary. And we DO have a budget, but we’re pretty confident it won’t be an issue. The entire record (except drums) is comfortably being recorded and produced in the home of our good friend, Marc McCluskey, who has worked on records for Weezer, Bad Religion, and Ludo. He’s a fucking brilliant producer, button pusher, and knob twister, and he makes shit sound GOOD.
Another interesting thing about this session is that we’re essentially doing things backwards; recording all the guitars, bass, and vocals first, and then laying down the drums to all the songs (Marc creates fake drum tracks that we play along to). Its a simple enough process and it really seems to be working well, especially when sorting out the arrangements for the songs. Because we’re not locked into a drum track, we have the liberty to simply cut and paste different sections of the songs into an arrangement that we’re 100% happy with. We can easily try out new ideas without having to commit to anything. Purists may consider it cheating but, what the hell, it’s our fifth full length record and I think we’ve earned the right to do what we want. The results so far have been awesome. We’ve finished about 4 songs and each one is a million times better than the original demo. The first demos were simple, rinky-dink melodies that were thrown together in a basement. The final versions, though, have now completely taken on new life and have exploded into something far better than I could have imagined. They’re big. They’re powerful. And a lot of the credit goes to Marc.
One of the things that most people don’t realize is just how much songs change throughout the production and recording process. Out of all the original songs that we have written and recorded (I’ve never actually counted but I’d guess it to be somewhere around 75 or so), there are perhaps seven of them that were actually recorded exactly as they were written (In all honesty, I suppose you might have to exclude our first record, “Dead Ends and Girlfriends” here. That entire album was recorded and mixed in 4 days and so, by default, we had to record the songs exactly as they were written since there was no time to do otherwise). And with the exception of maybe two or three songs, the final album version has ALWAYS been better than the demo. And I’m not talking about the sound of the song. I’m talking about the actual arrangement.
It’s a testament to how well the band and producer work together. Its the producer’s job to get the sounds and tones, but it’s also his job to bring a fresh ear to the songs. A good producer will always find a way to make a song better. Take any of your favorite songs from almost any popular band and I guarantee the song is at least 25% different than how it was originally written. Not many bands are able to craft #1 hit songs from start to finish without any editing. Hell, even the Beatles had George Martin to arrange most of their material.
Anyways, if these first four songs are any indication of what’s to come, I have a feeling this record may well be our best yet. I like all of the songs already and, considering Marc will most likely make them even better, it’s easy to get excited. It’s shaping up to be a nice mix of the old sound (circa “Last Stop Suburbia”) and the more recent “Countdown To Nowhere.” We’re trying some new things and expanding our minds, so to speak, and we just might even throw some electronica/synthesizers on the record. You’ll just have to wait to find out….