I’m recording at the moment. As I write this, I’m over half way through. Seven tracks down. Five still to do.
I’ve already gone crazy several times. Recording does that. It sends me crazy. You too I’ll bet. I’m yet to meet a musician who doesn’t go a little bit nuts when recording.
Every fear and insecurity rises and takes hold. At some point at least.
It’s not rational. So treat this as a timely reminder.
I don’t think we can avoid the craziness. But we can get better at observing it. When we observe our own crazy rather than becoming it, it’s at least easier to catch it and stop.
So what does crazy look like inside a recording studio?
The most common way to be crazy is to obsess about tiny things. I’ve spent an entire afternoon on one note that I wasn’t happy with. Really. One pointless note.
In the mix, I couldn’t hear the note anyhow. It was a total waste of time. And money!
But in that moment, it felt like the one thing that was going to ruin the whole album. People would listen and go “oh no! what did he do with that one note?!”
Of course, nobody would have done. Listeners listen to the song. They’re not bonkers like us. They don’t forensically assess each and every note.
These rabbit holes are costly. They drain your energy. They make the process less fun, because the fear takes over. They cost time. Worst of all, they pour your budget down the drain.
I’m writing this post so you can mock my antics enough that you’ll spot them in yourself.
And it will happen. At some point you’ll realise you’ve spent hours on one inconsequential, fear ridden detail. Then you’ll think back to this post and kick yourself.
Don’t worry. You’ll get better at catching it.
I remember my last album. I didn’t even need my producer to give me that look anymore. You know, the one that tells me he’s about to strangle me.
I went down a rabbit hole for ten minutes. The poor guy was harrassed as I fretted about an aspect of my guitar track.
Then I caught my crazy.
“I’m being a nob again aren’t I Jon”, I said.
He shrugged his shoulders and nodded. “Yeah, man. You are.”
We both laughed and moved on. I was pleased with myself. I’d just saved hours of nitpicking that wouldn’t have moved my album forward.
I don’t remember now what I was so fretful about. It sounds great. As usual, it was a pointless detail.
So here’s 3 things to tell yourself as you go into the studio. It’s basic stuff. But it’ll save you a fortune in studio fees.
In fact, don’t just tell yourself, print them out and stick them on the studio wall. Your engineer will love you for it. And so will your pocket.
Here’s your rules for staying sane in the studio:
1. Don’t obsess about tiny details.
2. Listen like a fan rather than the “Forensic Note Inspector.”
3. Keep hold of the bigger picture. Ask yourself “is this one note a good use of my limited budget?”
Crazy happens. It’s one of those things about the studio. The skill is keeping it short.