News From The Woods - November, 1988


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published November, 1988

"The Creative Spirit"

It may sound corny to some, but "vibes" will make or break the most thought-out session. ALL musicians are at least a LITTLE eccentric and have egos. It's in our blood. It's part of what makes us tick. It's what gets us out there on stage. That can make us pretty difficult to work with sometimes. Tempers flare and egos lash during intense creative periods. We all know what it feels like when you're "plugged in" to each other during a particularly good set at the club, or a hot idea emerges from a jam session.

When in the recording studio, THAT'S the spirit we try to capture on tape. Check your egos in at the door, please! Forget about how mad you were yesterday when the bass player drives the van over your Marshall head. Go sit down in the studio with him and try to get comfortable in your new surroundings. If someone's a little nervous, crack some jokes. Lighten up, Francis!! Act as if you were in your rehearsal hall or practice room, but have some respect for the studio.

I still remember a session we had at Cedar Crest Studio with a heavy metal band from St. Louis. During a break, Susan and I observed the drummer and bass player going around the studio picking up cans and trash, not just in the studio, but in the control room and her office as well. The guys were very well-mannered and I'll have to admit that I went the extra mile with them during mixdown. We had blown the session budget by using extra time doing overdubs and I gave the band some middown time on the studio. Studio owners can do that. Yes they can!

A recording studio should be more than walls and equipment. The studio atmosphere reflects the "feeling" or personality of its operators. I've been in some pretty funky studios and walked out with some great session tapes and mixes, just because everybody's head was in the right place. Vibes again. Anytime you deal with creativity, you MUST consider the creative spirit. I've heard many a song that was recorded and performed technically perfect, but had no "soul" to the music. I've gone into 24-track studios with a band and tried to reproduce the same "feel" as we got on the 8-track, and all we did was waste 30 hours of everyone's time.

There are a lot of reasons for this, and usually it's not one big thing, but rather made up of "little" things that still result in not getting "THE SOUND" committed to tape.

In any serious recording session, it takes good equipment, good "ears" for the misdone, good material, and good "vibes" from everyone. The whole tis only as good as the sum of its individual parts. And when it DOES come off right, you'll know it right away because it's right there on the tape, to listen to again and again - and isn't that was the public is ginn do? They may not even be able to put their finger on "what" it "is", but it still sounds "right". NEVER underestimate the power of the creative spirit.

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