Making independent music with Kings No More

Okay, I have been absent for awhile. Mostly because the spring semester at ASU just wrapped up, finals and all that. So, I am in a band. Nothing major, we are independent and like the music. In June of 2007 we created an album that is comprised of 6 tracks all recorded in one shot on a four-track recorder. In total we spent about 3 hours recording and our engineer spent 4-6 hours mixing. Still, a big thanks to Killing Time Productions for helping us out. Everything adds to experience in the music biz. It was a bit of rush job because we wanted to have merch for our first summer camp we were playing at. Not a lot of production value in the recordings. I spent a few days working on the album art and letting my graphic design side run wild. I’ve posted that album art at the end.

About a year ago (May 2008) we decided that we wanted to have a much more professional recording. One that we could really get behind and not feel that we have to explain to people what they are about to get. With that goal in mind we got together with Paradise West Recording Studio in Scottsdale and went in for a 10 hour session with Robert Venable. We tracked drums, guitars and bass for “Call for Help” and “Back to Heaven” in that time. The experience was amazing and invaluable to us, and expensive. In the end, that was all we did “in studio”. Robert is a master at his craft and I would hope one day to be even a tenth as good as he is.

Since that point we have decided to record, mix and produce our own work ourselves. Brian and I have enough background in media and enough prior experience to get us going. We are not setting out to make a platinum worthy album here. We want to make an album of Kings No More’s music that reflects us and is “studio quality”.

Computer music production is not what it once was, that is for sure. When I was in my first semester of film school back in the fall of 1999 and we had to shoot some short 16mm films about Y2k (my film will be up in the videos section). When I got the telecine (transfer of the film to VHS) back I didn’t go back to the school and edit it on the VCR to VCR systems we had available to us. I took it home and edited it with Avid Cinema 1.5 that I had been using to create videos for a least a year prior. Non-linear editing (NLE) was new territory in the consumer market in 1999. Now we have things like iMovie, Windows Movie Maker and Adobe Premiere Elements that make computer based editing almost common place.

The same is true with music production. Around the same time (now May of 2008 again) we starting writing a song that would come to be known as “The Dead”. Rick had written some lyrics after a frustrating day of online theology arguments and I starting putting musical arrangements together on my then new MacBook Pro using GarageBand. It is amazing to me how standardized the NLE user interface is. GarageBand felt like familiar ground because it was so much like Avid Cinema and the big Avid Xpress system I was certified on back in the earlier 00’s. The only difference being that is was much more intuitive and flexible. That song continued to evolve and change up until about October of 2008 when we pretty much called it done. GarageBand was invaluable to the process of making that song what it is today.

Since then we have been slowly piecing together things that we need to make a “studio quality” recording. For those techies out there, here is where we are at.

Mics: 1 Shure Beta 57, 1 Shure Drum Mic Kit, 1 CAD Drum Mic Kit, 1 Sterling Audio ST51 Large Diaphragm FET Condenser and a handful of Shure SM58s
Preamp: ART Tube MP Studio V3
Computer: MacBook Pro 15.4″
Software: Logic Studio 8
Audio Interface: MOTU 896MK3 Firewire
Reference Monitors: M-Audio Studiophile BX5a Deluxe Pair
Misc: Ebtech by Morley Hum Eliminator 2 Channel, 50ft 16 channel XLR snake, piles of XLR cables, and some sound deadening foam things

We had some of this stuff already but that basically makes up our mobile “studio”. We have already done two sessions of drums and a bunch of learning in Logic Studio. We are quickly learning a lot of things through trial and error but also through the enormous amount of info available on the internet. You can find good starting points all over the internet. BUT, they should be taken as starting points and not written in stone. Just like using presets in Logic are good starting points for us but we will be creating our own sounds by modifying, adding to or just creating other settings.

Just remember that this should take time. We are finding out that when we don’t like a sound or a technique we used we do it over again rather than trying to fix it. GIGO holds true in many areas. By the way, that means Garbage In, Garbage Out. So, we are taking our time, doing tons of research and trying different things. Some work, some don’t. At least we tried it ourselves to know for sure. This untitled album officially started production on April 20, 2009. From here on out I will keep updates and tidbits coming, we’ll see how long it take to get to the end of this one. Hopefully more than 3 days worth of work.

Kings No More - Sometimes (Live) Album Insert Front
Kings No More – Sometimes (Live) Album Insert Front
Kings No More - Sometimes (Live) Album Insert Back
Kings No More – Sometimes (Live) Album Insert Back
Kings No More - Sometimes (Live) Album CD Face
Kings No More – Sometimes (Live) Album CD Face
Kings No More - Sometimes (Live) Album Inside
Kings No More – Sometimes (Live) Album Inside
Kings No More - Sometimes (Live) Album Back
Kings No More – Sometimes (Live) Album Back

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *