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So you wanna be in a rock band?: The rules of rock

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 12th, 2007

Your albums are your livelihood, your art, your creation. Inspired by your feelings and decorated with your thoughts. They are you in a musical form: a reflection of what you stand for, what makes you tick, what breaks your heart and what will repair it. A simple compact disc can embody one's full range of emotions: the good, the bad and most certainly the ugly. Because of its power, due time and consideration must be taken when getting ready to record your masterpiece. Whether it's selecting the right producer, or deciding which songs should make the cut, taking your time will be time well-spent. If you want to release an “all killer, and no filler” album, then I recommend taking the following rules into consideration.

Rule #1: Don't be in a rush to record.
There's nothing worse than an album that grabs your attention immediately with its screeching distortion, but come track five has lost you somewhere in the translation. To avoid finding yourself in this scenario, I would advise you not to be too anxious to get into the studio. The best art, like a fine wine, grows in taste and refinement as it ages. So, take your time and make sure that every single one of your tunes is sickeningly addictive, gets stuck in your head on repeat, and makes you want to partake in a full-body gyration before you book your studio time. There's nothing wrong with having a token soft acoustic track in the mix to demonstrate another side to your act, but for the most part, I'd recommend sticking to what you do best. Additionally, there's no faster way to piss-off a producer than to go into a studio unprepared, but hey it's your money, so if you want to waste it, that's your prerogative.

Rule #2: The first 30 seconds will make or break you.
Because of the overabundance of artists vying for the attention of few labels, your act is left with very little time to make an impression. When labels receive artist submissions, they hold listening sessions in which they listen to hundreds of bands back-to-back in order to make their roster decisions. Due to the design of this process, it's extremely easy for bands to get lost amongst one another. After listening to music consistently for hours, one's ears start to get tired (especially if the music is poor in quality), and thus, one's attention span is shortened. I cannot state enough how important it is to be able to grab your listener's attention the moment the disc begins to spin. Every song needs to have a strong catchy intro, and it is recommended by musicologists that the vocal melody of a track kicks in no later than the 30-second mark.

Rule #3: Always put your best song as track two.
Rarely do labels listen past the second track on your disc unless you've truly peaked their interest, and even still, time constraints may prevent them from doing so. Therefore, the first track on your album is designed to act as an introduction to your band. Ideally, it should be a strong song that demonstrates a synopsis of what is to come. It shouldn't be too heavy, or too soft, but rather right in between. This opens the door for your act to be able to expand in either direction, without having the listener form too many preconceived ideas of how the rest of your album will sound. Your strongest and/or title track should follow closely in line as the second track in rotation. This allows listeners to get a sense of your acts full potential from the very start. As record execs don't have the time or patience to go through a half hour of your music in order to find your band's high points, I recommend using this formula if your intention is to solicit your material to labels.

Rule #4: Come prepared.
If you are recording with a professional producer, it will undoubtedly be expected of you to arrive with new strings for your guitars, new skins for your drums, and your vocalist well-rested. Your gear and your band members need to be in tip-top shape to be fully productive and to work to their full potential. Make sure you get plenty of rest, eat well, and don't overexert your energy. As for your gear, revive what you can. It is not expected of you to purchase brand new studio equipment, but considering that gear undergoes wear and tear from practicing and touring, a band needs to ensure that their equipment is as fully restored to new as possible. If that means spending a couple extra bucks bringing it back up to par, I assure you its worth it. Don't just trust me, trust your ears: you'll be able to hear the difference.

Continued next week...
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