When Producing and/or Engineering bands in a studio you need to develop ways to interact with all the members to ensure a creative and productive workflow. This article isn’t going to talk production techniques or mix tricks but instead highlight some simple people skills I use when tracking and mixing small to large bands.
1. Memorise Their Names
In the first instances of meeting a band the effort should be taken to learn the member’s individual names, may it be their actual names or stage names. Don’t get lazy by not knowing their names off by heart as addressing each member as their instrument or role in the outfit can be seen as rude and impersonal. I hate it when someone calls me… Engineer, so I assume people don’t like to be called bassist, guitarist and so on.
2. Join The Band
Understand and use their sense of humour in order to connect with the band on a personal and creative level. The best band projects I have worked on were the ones where I was involved in their banter and spirit. This I find builds trust between both parties very quickly. Trust is the most important asset to gain when working with a collective; trust makes every stage of a production easier.
3. Time Management Between Members
Some members will not require much tracking time than others but always make sure that those members felt as though they had enough time and attention in getting their parts performed and recorded correctly. Do not be afraid to send some members away for coffee breaks whilst working with someone that may be struggling on a section. Time spent getting solid parts down in tracking is at least twice saved later in the mix.
4. Be The Diplomat - Not The Doormat
Put two creative people in a room and it is very likely they will disagree on something. Put three or more in a room, including yourself as the Producer/Engineer and it is a dead certainty that creative fallouts will happen. It can be difficult handling X amount of people and their creative needs at once as at times it can feel as though you the Producer/Engineer are being singled out and ganged up on. Prioritise the most important tasks for any given moment and keep the band in your thought process and vision at all times to avoid conflict. Communication is key here.
5. Be Confident
Always give your best to any band project, be confident in your abilities, as they have chosen to work with you for those abilities. Be confident in their vision, material, abilities as musicians and performers. Not every band will be great but there will always be something great in those bands. Always spend the time to find and develop that special something that they as a band believe in.