Where would you prefer to record an album if you had the chance? Would you take a gamble, spend your savings and follow a dream to New York? Or would you choose to be around family, friends and familiarity and stay in your home country, New Zealand?
I've done both - so I'm now detailing a bit of a comparison between the two roads I've chosen in recording albums with my band. Here's part two of the story...
The Brave Don't Run: I don't think we ate very much at all while we were in New York, we had spent all our money just to get there so we had the diet of hobos. I can remember a lot of things from McDonalds' $1 menu and, if we were feeling like splashing out, a sandwich from a deli. Great novelty factor - but I think we all got sick at some stage during that time.
Album II: This time around we have our own cars to get to supermarkets to make breakfast and lunch in a studio kitchen and we even have a budget for food in the album costs, so we order dinner each night from a local restaurant. The only exception to that is when our main man Andrew Buckton's wife brings in amazing home-cooked meals for us to dine on. Just a slight upgrade!
The Brave Don't Run: In a city of over 26 million people we had ourselves, our producer and a photographer friend for company. We made some awesome new friends along the way but most of the time we only had this small bunch of people to hang with.
Album II: Being in our hometown, Auckland gives us a whole bunch of friends and family we can spend time with during the recording process. Most days we have visitors into the studio who can share our excitement for the songs, take pictures, record claps with us (if the timing's right) and keep conversations fresh. Plus the guys with girlfriends get to have more than just "skype-contact" each night!
The Brave Don't Run: For our first album we recorded in a way that's pretty common for bands on a tight budget - we laid down each instrument in their own block of recording time. We started in a studio where would only record drums - we spent just two days there doing all the songs before we moved on to three other studios, including the one we lived in, to track guitars, bass, keys and vocals. This meant there wasn't a lot of flexibility to change the songs once the drums were down and it was more difficult to zero in to the vibe of each individual song.
Album II: Being in one studio for three weeks has meant we've been able to record a new song each day - this means we can give each of these their own treatment and we can spend a lot of time keying in the right tones for each instrument and thus create a different environment for every song's unique mood.
The Brave Don't Run: Before we arrived in New York we had around five songs with a clear vision of how they'd result. The rest were crafted while we were there, under a lot of pressure. The songs also spanned a long time in terms of their origin - we had songs that were three years old and ones that were three weeks old.
Album II: We've spent a lot of time preparing for this record and we have a lot more knowledge of how it's all done so this time we've come here with 11 fully-formed songs and another three we wanted to leave for the studio as more spontaneous creations. We spent six months focussed on writing while we were living in Sydney and then the past three months doing six-day weeks in our rehearsal room working on pre-production for these songs. So we are, if anything, more than prepared this time around.
The Brave Don't Run: We had about 20 feral cats surrounding our "home" in Brooklyn who provided little distraction from life while there. The only awesome animals New York really gave us were squirrels whose sporadic appearances were always brief highlights of any given hour.
Album II: One animal is giving us all the comfort and entertainment we need in a studio - Derrick, a cat we've adopted as our own who most-likely just lives nearby and likes the attention and KFC leftovers we provide. He's awesome though.
So you do the math - each process had/has its ups and downs and different levels of excitement and focus. I suppose the great thing about recording two albums in two very different ways is that we are sure to produce something that varies from our first effort - and this comparison only really compares the process, where things like our musicianship, experience and age play an unmeasurable role in our sound.
Whatever the case is, I believe the band has made two great decisions about where to record albums and the results will surely follow. I very much look forward to sharing them with you.