working in the studio or why i hate deadlines.

i’ve been at bright city studios with producer joel khouri the last couple days recording guitars for the upcoming molly williams album. molly is a dear friend and i’m happy to be involved in any way. it’s been a long time coming for molly and i’m trying my hardest to play my butt off.

it’s not always easy playing in the studio. when you’ve got 3 days to put guitars on 12 songs and you have to come up with parts and hooks and sounds and all that stuff.  it can be stressful and it can be hard.  in an ideal world you could spend a day (or more) on one song. really exhaust every possibility. but that just doesn’t usually happen. finances and deadlines won’t allow for that. so you have to get used to finding your sounds and parts as quick as you can. when i first started recording in the studio i was awful. it took hours and hours to come up with a part and then actually play it. embarrassing and awful. i’ve been doing this for a few years now, though, and i’ve learned how to work in the studio. i try to remember these things:

for one, it doesn’t work if you get stressed out.  i tell people all the time: just don’t get stressed out. refuse to stress out about the fact that you are having trouble nailing a part, or coming up with a hook.  all that is going to do is make it worse. If you just have fun with it and stay light hearted, something will come and you will play way better. chill out and have a good time. it’s music.

another thing i used to have trouble with is being to shy to actually  play like myself.  you know, you put the headphones on and you can hear yourself way louder than you are used to. they’ve got you louder in the control room than everything else so you get a little self conscious. then you start playing it safe. i’d play real basic. normal chords. nothing unique. boring. and then i’d hear the album months later and be mad at myself. the people that bring you in, for the most part, brought you in because they like the way you play. you’ve already proven yourself. so be yourself. and don’t be afraid to try what you hear in your head. and don’t be worried about how many takes you need to get the part right. a good take is a good take. don’t worry about those nashville stories about other guitar players waiting in the lobby in case the session guy didn’t cut it and was asked to leave. don’t worry about session guys knocking everything out in one take. don’t worry about who the producer is and who he worked with yesterday.  i mean, don’t be an idiot and take for ever… but yeah.

and lastly, don’t be afraid to throw out ideas. if you have an idea for how the song should go, throw it out there. but don’t say it like a jerk. always make sure you are being supportive.  9 times out of 10 they are going to be encouraged that you actually care enough to want to be involved in the process. i’ve been in many situations where one of the musicians had an idea for a song it it made the song a hundred times better and the rest of the session was more creative and fun and good and great and the artist was delighted and happy.

anyways. here is a shot of my guitars.

i have mainly been playing my gretsch and my tele with my goodsell and my matchless. my normal pedal board is in there, of course.

bye.

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