I’ve been in three bands but I’ve never recorded. The most I’ve ever done was record into drummer Joon’s computer, a quick run of the Everly Brothers’ “Bird Dog” for my dad’s birthday. Today I did my first real recording ever, and it was awesome.
I actually didn’t think it would be so complicated – I told Joon I wanted to record me singing/playing Dave Matthews Band’s “#41”, another gift (for Raymond this time). I thought I’d just plug and play. But Joon, master musician that he is, had other plans 😉
First he set up a basic drum beat for me to play the rhythm against. Playing rhythm guitar to “#41” should be a piece of cake for me as I’ve been playing it for five or six years now, but never _just_ rhythm guitar without a backing band, so I felt (and played) nervously. Suddenly my playing was naked and exposed with all mistakes clearly recorded! And I’ve never heard myself play either.
Then he started fooling around with the drum track and that took a while. I was peering over his shoulder as he used Reason and realized I didn’t know shit about that software. My excitement over creating electronic music (a 2007 goal) died down a little bit.
But the excitement spread to other things, like singing. Joon holed me up in the next bedroom with a serious-looking mic and a serious-looking headset so the music through the headphones won’t be heard through the mic. He let me sing a couple of times to get the levels correctly, and I found myself (alone in the room) completely relaxed as I sang. So I was thinking, “Ah, maybe I’m more comfortable as a vocalist than a guitarist. Maybe this is what I should be doing.”
And then Joon said, “Okay, we’ll record now,” and I froze up just as I did when I played guitar 😉 So apparently, I have recording fright. Hahaha.
After the vocals were done (two takes, not particularly awesome IMO), Joon picked up his bass after ages (yay!) and added that. Then he turned to me and said, “You’re playing lead.”
(Now you have to know something about my musical history. I don’t play lead. I never found a reason to play lead, and was never asked to play lead (except for some fills here and there), and I’ve never learned to do solo guitar and had no aspirations of doing so. This is why I get along with most guitarists because they all want to solo and shine, and I want to stay in the background.)
So I played lead this time, and though I’d been playing “#41” for years, I realized I had no idea what the lead guitar does for it. And I had half of the solo memorized since I played it last (when I was 18, at a PinoyExchange gig), but the other half I totally had to make up. And other guitarists will laugh at me for this as soloing is about making things up. But as I’d never done it before in my life, I was terrified.
We got that part done, and Joon asked me to repeat some parts so he could do it in stereo. Then he added compression and reverb and delay to certain things, and finally we sat back and listened as our version of “#41” blared out of his 5.1 system.
“I’m happy,” he said.
“Rock and roll!” I said.
So there, my first experience at recording, done. I know some musicians hate recording, but I really really enjoyed this one. It was nice to think of songs in terms of parts, to fool around with this part or that part, to pay attention to the details. And now it’s got me all excited, so I’ll probably try and record a second song at home, just to learn how it’s done.