posted by gregrw:
It's the people skills that are the hard part, and getting to know them while planning things with them is a really big deal.
SET THAT IN STONE!
How RIGHT ON you are...
My contact for the venue (not the musician I was recording) was somewhat cautious, from the initial planning stages, right up to my arrival at the gig. "Why are you bringing all that equipment? There isn't enough power supply to the room... The acoustics are unmanageable..."
I decided early to just bite my tongue, prepare out the wazoo, and constantly reassure everybody that all will be just fine.
Admittedly, the physical conditions were in the realm of dreadful on the surface. But once the contact finally saw my little rig set up and getting signal, he was pleasantly amazed. I was too, to be honest.
I had travelled out to the Pennsylvania boondocks to record a child-prodigy drummer, 12 years old, AMAZING musician. His drums were set up in this little rickety wooden shack, dirt floor, about 4X the size of a telephone booth, WAY at the back of his family's 2 acre backyard. It was basically an old outhouse/woodshed/whatever.
I had 3 mics, 2X 2 channel tube preamps, 5 channels of outboard compression (RNC 1773, dbx 160X, and I'm embarrassed to name the other unit), a Roland VS880EX to mix/record to, and a shitload of cabling.
Once we got the power situation worked out, I set up all the gear on a tiny wooden bench we jammed against a corner wall facing the kit. I had Fletcher's 3-mic drum recording techniques printed out on hand, and used that as a guide for micing the kit: an SM57 on the kick, another one pointed at the shell of the snare, and a Joe Meek LDC as the overhead.
Monitoring was practically non-existent, with the room so small, the kid hitting those drums SO F*CKING LOUD (12 years old!), and with all the thunderstorms we've been having, monitoring from outside the shed was a no-go, and un-do-able anyway given the layout. So I recorded him playing a little bit, listened back, made adjustments, rinse, repeat, etc, and finally got a pretty good balance.
At that point, the pizzas the kid's dad had ordered had arrived, so we ate with his family, shot the shit (the kid's dad is "in the biz"), had some coffee, and finally headed back to the little woodshed, where I hit record and let the kid play his little motherf*ckin' ass off for about 2 hours... jazz grooves, funk, rock; I told him, "Play anything you love to play," and the kid kicked that sh*t out like a pro.
Just as the kid was starting to fade (and I was too, to be honest), dad bangs on the door of the shed and yells, "We got a storm coming in!" I stepped outside, and sure enough the sky is looking a lot blacker than it should at 5pm in August. We made a mad scramble to pack up all my gear (mad props to the kid and his dad for helping out with that), and in just a few minutes we got the gear packed away, shut the trunk of the car, and the rain started coming down in buckets.
After getting back to the city, dumping the three channels of signal into Pro Tools and listening back, it struck me how not only Steve Remote deserves mad props for helping me pull the session off, but Fletcher does too. The raw material was not perfect, but close enough that with a little EQ voodoo and some 1176, the final results made for some truly righteous drum tracks.
Sorry for being a sentimental newbie and boring you all with this essay, but hey! It was my first gig.