There are certain sounds I will never forget – the brutally loud noise from Lemmy’s amp, the brute force A.J. Pero in a rehearsal studio and the band I found in a dive bar in the 90’s. In all my years of service I have heard nothing that compares to the power that came from the four of them. Pounding drums, monster bass, massive guitars and a voice that was 50% growl and 50% attitude. They needed to be heard and I would do whatever I could to make that happen.
I waited until they finished their set and made my way to the cramped backstage area. I always had a good sense of who took care of band business and I had pegged the drummer as the leader of this band. I introduced myself to him and asked if they had a demo. He handed me a cassette (remember those?) and told me it was just a rehearsal tape. He wrote his number on a flyer and tucked it into the cassette cover. I told him I would give him a call in the next few days and my way back to my rental car. I remember popping the tape in and driving aimlessly for the next few hours as I listened to it over and over. I needed to get them signed.
I had worked in recording studios throughout my youth and had the chance to produce demos for a few smaller bands before but I wanted to go big with this band. My idea was to sign them to a development deal, record an album quality demo with them and get them signed. They were young and inexperienced so I expected them to be a challenge to work with but their sound was undeniable.
Over the next few weeks I managed to get them signed to the development deal and booked into a studio that was closer to them than it was to me. I had 5 days off at the end of the month and wanted to get 12 songs recorded and mixed. I was footing the studio bill and knew it wouldn’t be easy. Over the 2 weeks we had before hitting the studio I gave them a few arrangement ideas to work out and other small tweaks. I was surprised at how willing they were to try new ideas, something that wasn’t very common to new artists. They were totally dedicated to the cause and rehearsing 12 hours a day to be ready for when we went in.
Day 1 in the studio was set aside to mic the drums and hopefully get a few songs to tape. The engineer was professional and seemed excited to work with a heavy band. He had us rolling quicker than I imagined. We cut all 12 drum tracks that first day and even had some bass tracks that would be usable. Day 2 was bass and guitars and we were done with hours to spare. These guys were prepared and it showed when the rhythm guitar tracks were mostly first takes. The next 2 days would be set aside for vocals.
Singers are a different animal. You have to get them in the right mindset on a day where their voice is co-operating. Those days are rare and I would spend half of the first day with him getting him in the right mindset and believing on his voice. We didn’t get much on tape that day but I knew, voice willing, he would tear it apart on the second day.
10 tracks were done and 2 to go with 3 hours remaining. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. This singer had 3 distinct voices. The soft, the heavy and the motor voice. On this day his motor voice was not there. He explained to me he now feared that voice because he heard his father screaming at him in it. Great, the mind is ruling once again. We spent the next hour outside the studio talking about it – babysitting is part of any job in this business, I had come to accept this fact years earlier. We went back in and he got both remaining songs done in about 20 minutes, motor voice raging on 11.