Tomorrow night (technically tonight) I’ll be having my first meeting with Undead Viking Mafia, the band formed by my buddy Juan, and my old band mate Adam (from Never Ithaca). A long while ago they asked me to ‘help them out’ with some of their song writing, and from there it’s basically grown into a producing gig.
The layman, and even many in the recording industry, have a fuzzy idea of what a producer does. Considering many people do it in many different ways, the definition isn’t even all that solid, so I’ll spell it out from my perspective. My ultimate goal with UVM is to help them make the best album they can. That’s generally what any producer does. It’s all about having some outside perspective, and some managerial skills so the artists can be the artists and not worry about logistics. My initial focus will start on song structure and ironing out any so-so things so their songs are top-notch. I know from experience that some times a band would rather ignore a tricky transition or other part of a song for the sake of getting it finished. It works for a little while, but it’s just passed down the line until the listener has to suffer through it. It’ll be my job to pressure the band into facing those issues in the hopes of ultimately improving the song(s). It’s gonna be a lot of tough love.
I kinda feel like talking about how excited I am to do this sorta makes me seem less professional. I mean, after all, the producer is supposed to be the experienced guy helping out the band. They know I’m coming into this with a lack of experience, but hey, that’s one of the benefits of having friends. It’ll be interesting to see if we can all separate the job of producer from the friend, and avoid any personal squabbles throughout the process. The whole thing will be a learning experience for us all.
I just finished recording a group, Absence of Ocean with the intent to hone my recording and mixing skills. Of course, having two records under my belt is pretty much nothing, but with my scant free time, I’ve gotta take what i can get. I’m pretty happy with the way the AoO stuff came out, but for them I was simply acting as an engineer, just getting their songs down to tape, trying to make it sound as good as possible (for the time we had). In that case, I had no real input into their song structure or instrumentation. If I didn’t like the way they did something, I just kept my mouth shut. With UVM, it’s kind my job to go, “You guys really happy with that? Doing so without coming off as a smug a-hole is all part of the job. Like I said, it’ll be a learning experience.
I’m hoping this may be something I can continue to do. I’ve said before I don’t think I’m a very creative person, just skilled. I feel like this may be to my advantage in the case of producing. I may not be very confident in writing a song myself, but I do feel like I can help a songwriter hone a song into something really good. We’ll see if that’s all talk or if I actually have the goods over the next few months.
I’ve decided I want to try and follow the process here. Someone may find it interesting, some helpful, and for myself it’ll probably help me gather my thoughts on the whole process.
So tomorrow I’ll sit down with the band and I’ll go over my intentions and we’ll see where all the boundaries are. From there we’ll discuss scheduling and organization, and if that doesn’t end in yelling and fisticuffs, then maybe I’ll get onto some initial comments about songs.
Wish me luck.