THERE’s almost a mythological status accorded to the very idea of the recording studio, the inner sanctum where music-makers strive for perfection as they lay down their tunes and riffs and lyrics for a hopefully waiting public. It’s a place both intimate and creative, a place in which encouraging producers try to cajole, coax or bully the very best out of their sometimes artistically temperamental clients, tantrums expected but smoothed over in the mission to get everything note-perfect, finely balanced. At least it looks like that in the movies.
I had never even set foot in a recording studio before our Red House session and the romance of it all was inspiring but I had been warned: it is time-consuming, tedious and boring but also very satisfying, eventually.
Turned out the warning was spot on. Boredom and excitement governed in equal measure, held together by a swirling mental gel of nervous tension and adrenalin. That’s what it was like, with both the tedium and the buzz still far greater than expected. What a thing to put yourself through.
Fortunately I wasn’t the only newcomer to the experience and us newbies were determined to start off on a high. I had spent a good hour getting my head into the right place as I decided what would be appropriate gear for an aging rock chick to wear in such a hallowed space, while meanwhile Tania, adopting a similar approach, had spent her time trying to relax as she fixed on her latest wig, bought from one of the city’s Chinese shops, no less. At least we both looked the part
Maybe we did and maybe we didn’t but, two hours into the session, the go-for-it drive had decelerated into neutral: we were still setting up the drums with their myriad of acutely directioned mics. We were told to take a long walk. For some bizarre reason, bass-player Colin suggested a visit to a nearby museum to fill in the time. This struck me as either incredibly rock’n’roll or not in the least bit appropriate. Geoff suggested instead going to Tommy’s music shop to buy a set of strings.
Back to the studio and we were ready for our first run-through. How exciting, I thought, though it was slightly off-set by the fact that I wasn’t actually in the studio proper with the others but, for some technical reason, was located edge-on to one of the recording desk thingies in the control room. We started, my hands and fingers were trembling uncontrollably as I kept telling myself to “grow up” and just play the damn notes. It seemed like an impossible task but my nerves gradually subsided and I felt a bit like an old hand at the biz.
But the hours turned into days turned into weeks turned into routine as I/we sat silently watching Jorge concentrate on listening to every delicate nuance of timing and rhythm and tweaking and sliding various bits of equipment accordingly. All in a day’s work at a recording studio, not in the least romantic, often a bit like watching paint dry, but I quite miss it now it’s over. ML