PropertyOfZack welcomes back JR Wasilewski for his second Contributor Blog! JR had some time while on the road with Less Than Jake to type up a fantastic blog regarding how working with producers and profesional songwriters to craft a band’s new song or record has become the norm and the kind of effects that this process can have on these individual bands. JR will keep sending posts in in the future as he gets the spark to, so always make sure to check back. Click “Read More” to read the full post, and be sure to enjoy it!
“So, are you writing with anyone?”
I have asked that question more in the last decade than I ever thought I would when I started playing in 1992. I listen back to songs now I recorded at that time and after the initial squeamishness, I can honestly say they aren’t that bad. They are no smash hits, mind you, but they are what they are: songs written by a bunch of 16 year olds. We wrote them in our drummer’s basement, we made a lot of “musical mistakes” and played a lot of wrong notes. It was recorded to 2-inch tape so there was no note replacement. We had to try to get it right and did a lot of punches. It cost a lot to be in the studio and we could only afford to pay for a week of tracking. We mixed everything in one day. It was an imperfect process that resulted in an imperfect product, which ended up being perfect for what it was.
A few years later I joined Spring Heeled Jack and we were signed to a label. Part of the recording process for our 1998 release, Songs From Suburbia, was to work with a producer. We had never done that before so it was new and exciting. Unfortunately it quickly turned stressful and annoying. Personally speaking, our producer was very pleasant to be around and genuinely seemed to like the music. It was distressing because here was this stranger the label hired to give us opinions on songs; some of which we had been working on and playing for well over a year. What did he know? Every suggestion he made we tried, hated and shot down. He felt the songs were “pretty close” so he didn’t push for too many changes. The end result is a record that I am very proud of but in retrospect I’m not sure our producer was much of a “producer”.
When I joined Less Than Jake, my first recording experience was in 2002 for Anthem. Our producer on that record was great. He never suggested form changes; his approach was very melodic and ornamental, meaning he’d add to what was already there. He had great ideas and was a great producer. The end results were songs, formulaically speaking, that were no different than the demos we made of them. Again, a record I am very proud of. But the producer never wrote any music with us. To me, a producer added to the song you already had or helped arrange it.
PropertyOfZack Contributor Blog : : JR Wasilewski