This past weekend, a band was in the studio to put some final vocal touches on a single that we recorded together last month. They finished up the vocal parts in maybe an hour or less and had some extra time, so we decided to experiment and have a little fun on a part of the song with MIDI.
Keeping in mind that this is a rock band, I hooked up my E-MU Planet Phatt sound module (full of hip-hop related sounds mostly) and we proceeded to play around with it until we found a sound that I thought we could use in a transition of the song going from a quiet bridge, to a huge explosive chorus. We used the Planet Phatt to record a little sound effect in the transition that really only lasted about half a second, but the resulting sound was really cool for the part and everybody in the band got way more pumped up about that part of the song.
The next day, a rapper came in to work on a song that they recorded at their home and get some better sounding vocals in a few parts. Maybe I felt inspired by the previous days activities, but after we finished with the vocal parts that he wanted, we again had a little down-time to relax and I suggested we play around with some guitar sounds to try and improve a piece of the song that had a DI guitar part in it. I called my guitar player friend over and we ended up getting a great sound and even a new part that everyone agreed worked better in the song.
I guess the moral is, when you're booking studio time as a band, or working with a band as an engineer/producer, do your very best to plan in a little extra "play" time after you accomplish your goals for the day. This works best if you take a mental step back from the project, even take a physical break from being in the room, and then come back in the with a fresh perspective. You never know what you might come up with when you relax your focus from getting the perfect take on a vocal or instrument, and allow yourself to just have a little fun with it. You might end up with just a bunch of junk tracks that you end up throwing away later, or maybe just a quick half-second sound in a transition. Or maybe you end up getting inspired and completely change the track for the better.
- Mike McDonough