Pyrrhon's Top Five Rules for Recording under Your Own Budget
"Some bands get hooked up with institutional backing right off the bat. That didn't happen for us," says the Brooklyn, New York, death-metal band Pyrrhon.
"We have been a band for five years, and we've done five studio sessions including two demos and the new album--and we paid for all of them out of our own pockets. We recorded the new album before we were under contract with Relapse. Like most musicians, we're not exactly financial powerhouses, so our budgets for those recordings were all pretty shoestring. That means that we had to work very efficiently for each of those recordings. Working in this manner can produce better results, too. As Steve Albini put it once, 'If a record takes more than a week to make, someone's fucking up.' So here's some of the guidelines we learned for getting the most out of your own money in the studio."
Pyrrhon released their new album, The Mother of Virtues, April 1 via Relapse Records. Check out Revolver's review of it here.
1. Practice, practice, practice. If you can't nail your parts within the first three tries, you aren't ready. If you can, try to track the instrumental component of the album live as a band. Not only will doing so save time, but it'll also give you a more natural, organic-sounding end product. If your band is into layering, you can always overdub stuff later. The drawback to recording as a group is that it's more difficult, so again: PRACTICE.
2. Plan your songs down to the detail before you record, but don't insist on total perfection. It's fine to leave some room for in-studio spontaneity, but the more time you spend trying to figure out what you're going to put on the album, the more costs you're going to rack up. By the same token, the more anal you are about recording an utterly precise and flawless album, the more hours you're going to waste redoing takes over and over and chopping stuff up in ProTools. This is metal--play it raw and you'll convey more attitude.
3. Don't party in the studio. Drinking and fucking around are fun, but recording on a budget is more about getting the job done than it is about enjoying the process. The more time you spend on cigarette breaks and fucked-up drunk or stoned takes, the more expensive your album gets.
4. Work with your friends as much as possible for both the music itself and the packaging. If you're involved in a local music scene, you probably know at least a few people who are competent recording engineers or visual artists. If they're professional enough to get the job done and they're friendly enough with you to hook you up with a good deal, go for it. It'll probably make the tracking process a little more enjoyable too. That being said, be careful about working with people solely because they're friends. You need to work with someone who you can be frank with about the recording process. Do NOT record with a shitty or inexperienced engineer just because you're bros with him. Friends can ruin a mix just as easily as strangers.
5. If you're going to splurge on anything, splurge on the mastering job. Mastering is a mysterious process that few people who aren't mastering engineers themselves can understand, but a good master can really beef up even a mediocre mix. Recording an album within your own budget is all about cutting costs, but the master is one area where you shouldn't be shy about opting for a big-name pro.