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So here we are at a venue on Sunday afternoon. The place is deserted and the bar felt more like someone's kitchen then a commercial establishment. The problem was the bar owner was planning on people leaving the seafood festival to come to the show and it didn't happen. Perhaps the rain discouraged the motorcycle riders from puttin around. Anyways, after the second break, I was sitting outside with the band and the bar owner comes out and pulls up a chair. Now we are nervous. Anytime a bar owner wants to talk like this it's usually a sign that were going home early and that means not getting paid. The bar owner was a tough as nails tough and his shirt that read "The BOSS" was an understatement. So here we are all together and it felt like a proverbial woodshed moment. "Boys", the owner said, "you got the sound, your sound is great". "You got the songs that I like to hear and my customers like to hear". He continued, "You make it look easy to play and you play it damn good". I seem to hold my breath when people start out complimenting. I figure that this is it...time for the "but....." part. I just sat there, still not breathing. He talked about album covers and band pictures and what these images meant to him personally. Still expecting to be fired on the spot, the owner then surprised me. He went in a direction that I never expected. The owner went on to tell us what was on his mind. "When I close my eyes I hear your band playing. The singer is simply outstanding", he says. "As I am listening, an image of the band is formed in my mind", he says. "I see that image in my mind and when I open my eye to see you guys playing, it's not even close to the image in my mind". "You just don't have a look", he explains. "You don't look how you play". He goes on to explain how bands have to have a look to be successful, He sounds actually disappointed which I take to mean that he is impressed with the band, but wants his image of us satisfied. He starts to explain how, as a bar owner, he sees lots of bands and how successful they are or are not. As he is talking, there is an air of fatherly advice in his tone. From my perspective, the guy broke us down and was now building us back up. As he want on to explain how an image of the band is very important, I listened. He explained how other bands built their image and what it meant to put on a show. We are in show business, right? So by now I am hanging on every word. I know this is tough to hear but it is so important to the band's progress. He is right. The band plays great, sounds great and is worthy of a helping hand. This guy sees 5 bands a week, every week. He doesn't need to help us. The turnout wasn't making him any money and it looked like he was going to pay us out of his own pocket. The bar owner didn't need to put his neck out to help us, but he did. I respect that and actually felt pretty damn good for a gig that hardly a soul came to see. Most owners would never do this. There is just too many bands and not enough venues to give slots to all of us. He didn't tell us anything that would didn't really know, he just gave us a clue as to what a typical venue owner wants to see in a band. He gave us a gift of self awareness and I hope the others in the band can see it this way. Next, gig I am going to dress a lot better. Thanks to Bill at the Chop Shop in Seabrook New Hampshire for giving us your time.
Posted on Sep 01, 2010 at 08:26 AM When people ask me why I switched from drummer to sound production, I answer that it's all about the sound. At least to me it is. I mix, master and generally produce everyday. Right now I can hear better than in any other point in my life. I listen for the edges of the sound. A good edge in sound will be preceded by a moment of silence. Silence is important. Silence is a musical element on par with any instrument or voice in the mix. Silence is drama. Most mixes I hear are decent but they lack depth and sparkle. I have the ability to pop the song into three dimensions instead of the two-dimensional format that they are left in. Don't get me wrong, my mixes sound somewhat flat until I master the them. This is the Art of Sound. What I do is to connect with the ears and minds of the listener. I create emotional moments with which the listener can respond. Staying natural in the mix and cutting instead of boosting gives the listener a better listen. You may have heard the word "fatigue" being bantered about. Listener fatigue is real I have done this long enough to know that a song will induce fatigue from the first listen. I can reduce listener fatigue. This is the Art of Sound. With a finished mix, I sometimes have to pry out the sound of one instrument without affecting the other instruments in the mix. Very small eq changes (like a 1/4 db) affects the whole sound. The sound engineering community is still learning about what sounds good to people. People who are entertained by your music from become fans. Fans are the lifeblood of the artist. This is the Art of Sound.
Posted on Aug 20, 2010 at 09:04 AM I am a producer of high quality sound. My method is to take the individual tracks and blend them together to make the song speak in many voices but with a singular purpose of supporting the lead singer. I also make sure that I am mixing live sound for bands on the typical Friday and Saturday night. This gives me ability to watch people react to my sound choices. It's fun to watch people get excited over the sound of the band. The band creates the dramatic swings and most bands really mix themselves. I am the director who provides focus and attention on the individual musician as they play their parts. I will give each musician their own lane in which to play. This gives the audience member a way to follow a particular player.