Take Your Songs on the Road Before Heading Into the Studio

“Home” will be the last Beautiful Losers recording that isn’t really a band effort. Chris (lead vocals and guitar) and I (Rob, drums) were working on the recording before the band was fully-formed. We did eventually get Keegan to add his bass to the mix, but we didn’t get Des’ guitar or David’s keys in there. That had changed once we got to recording “Isadora”, the next Songsmiths single by the band.

By the time we started recording “Isadora”, Beautiful Losers had been rehearsing as a band for a couple of months. So everyone had worked out how to fit in and the song benefited from having our various personalities baked into it. In fact, in the verses, I ended up replacing the #1 guitar that Chris had layed down as the backbone of the song, with Des’ guitar and an acoustic that Chris had added as an afterthought. The guitars were playing the same rhythm and worked well together as the foundation of the verses.

Figuring out that those two guitars could carry the verses actually turned out to be the key to finishing the mix of the song. I had realized that we needed a break from the “ringing” guitar part that had initially hooked me and turned it off. What was left was the acoustic and Des’ wah-electric which I turned up to fill gap. Now the song “worked” and I could stop trying to fix it in the mix.

I guess I’m making two points here. One is that it’s best to play your songs over and over as a band until everyone has worked out their parts and can play them backwards with their eyes closed. Songs evolve after they have been presented to a band. They need a chance to find themselves before you even thing about recording them.

Second, when recording/mixing, it’s important to find the backbone of the song. In Rock music, it’s usually the rhythm guitar part. The rhythm guitar defines the chords and rhythm of the song and keeps it sounding solid when the lead guitar takes off on it’s own. The roadblock I ran into while mixing Isadora was that I thought Chris’ first guitar part was the cake when in fact it was icing. Once I recognized and corrected for my mistake, the mix fell into place.

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