Of course you have to do things yourself in this world, if you really want to be sure they have been done. Also if you want anything done the way you want it to. Don’t hold everything too close to your chest though, that’s a bit creepy – and needy.
The way the music scene has been blown to pieces, you have to build your palace DIY anyway. Forget the idea of a Sugar Daddy coming to set it all up for you. You have to get your hands dirty all the way. Don’t be afraid to let people in is all I am here to say.
Modern technology has brought the studio into the realms of reality for anybody who wants to have a go. Still, you need to get some knowledge in the black arts of the studio. You need to listen to people and to pick people brains. Of course, you can do a lot of this via the internets as well. Never leave your cave and pull in the knowledge of the world. Of course, ultimately, you’ll have to dive in and press “record” and listen back. At that stage you’re by yourself as well, though wouldn’t it be great to have someone else there to bring their ears to the sounds as well? Through some trials and errors you get some tracks happening. You can do it all by yourself. In the olden days it was truly for the superfreaks like Dave Edmunds (“I hear you knockin”) or Todd Rundgren or Stevie Wonder (“Superstition”) or John Fogerty (“the blue ridge rangers”) who could cook up multitracks of pop genius in their own studios. They had grooves and feels at their fingertips. They had mad chops. They also had come out of group situations and had things to say that they wanted to capture all by themselves. They thought the sounds were so sweet and delicate that they could only be caught by a lone player. They were right too.
The DIY of 2012 has more often than not come straight to the solitary situation without ever experiencing the thrill of an idea being blown up huge and alive by a group of players in a room taking it and wailing hard. Some ideas are killed stone dead by all that energy, its true. Most are enlivened by it.
Anyway, it is possible nowadays for a lone star to do it all. A lot of music misses that extra filter of another person considering certain parts or possibilities of different tempos or arrangements. Think of a filmmaker sitting day after day editing the scenes. How does he get to trick his mind into seeing the whole film again as if for the first time? Usually he has to sit with someone else and watch it through him or her. Its powerful, the idea of another person. Because, with music, in the end, you’ll have to open the door and let a whole lot of people in to hear what it is you’ve been building up. And you can’t stand by them and tell them how to hear it properly.
I like to play music with my band. I write the tunes, words and music. I demo some songs or bring it to a rehearsal, then we go and play and after a while we go to a studio. Of course, in the meantime we have shared many long drives and dull hours in between sound checks and shows and built up an understanding – a general feel for the battleground and a rough plan of attack. Quite detailed actually. I like to be in the room all together and lay it down quick. That’s me on electric 12 string and Clare Moore on drums (we’ve played together since 1979). Clare is great for arrangement ideas and textural hooks. A great drummer to begin with. Bass player Stu Thomas has been with us since 2004. He’s got a great ear for vocal harmonies and grooves. Stuart Perera has been with us since 1998. He plays a solid bodied Rickenbacker, left handed. Thats dave graney and the mistLY.
For this album we did very few overdubs, perhaps one acoustic guitar and some tambourine and some shakers and a guirro. I think we nailed the 70s rock sound I’ve always loved. By that I mean Lou Reed “Coney Island Baby” or the Stones “black and blue” 70s sounds. The guitars pretty clean and all intertwined, panned out, trebley and compressed. Mine through some Fender amps and Stu through his Laney. Lots of room in the sound too.
Then I went and mixed it all by myself. On our Protools setup. That stuff is so amazing to us- we knew the world when studios were expensive and full of tension and dread. Of course we also know that those same studios were like schools for engineers and love to work with people like Andrew “Idge” Hehir at Soundpark who have all those old school, big recording room skills of mic placement and people management. Melbourne is blessed with guys like that at the different studios. Some things you cant DIY. Use those white coated, backroom devils like Adam Rhodes and Casey Rice and Simon Grounds! They have skills and knowledge of arcane gadgets and mics. They know how shit works.
On this album Idge pulled out the ribbon microphone. I have never heard such a great vocal recording. Dark yet peaking with pink fuzz like some old 40s r&b session. Just the way I like it. Of course, sounds like that got made because we work fast and the engineer has to know his field and all the tools and gets shit down while the time is right. When you’re by yourself, you don’t get to be just the mule kicking in the stall (alright the vocal booth), you have to do the miking and the recording as well. Bummer.
Then there’s artwork. Graphics, lettering and the like. We have been lucky to work with Tony Mahony for two decades now. We’ve been with big labels and small and he’s brought some class and continuity to all our releases. He has old school skills too. He letters and draws by hand. To do that sort of stuff DIY takes a long time of dedicated sketching and cutting just for practice, before you let loose on someones image.
Yeah, you can do all sorts of stuff by yourself but musics a scene where its about people, in the end. You have to let go and let other people get their hands on it. You see how strong what it is that you’ve cooked up is then, anyway.
dave graney and the mistLY have a new album “you’ve been in my mind” . written, recorded and mixed by them, on their own label COCKAIGNE, out now through Fuse Music Group.