On Recording Albums Prematurely
by Noctir (Nov. 2011)
In the modern era, it is quite common for bands to rush themselves and
skip over critical parts of their natural development. While, in the past, musicians would rehearse a lot, record demos, play
gigs and hone their skills throughout this process. Not only would they become more proficient with their instruments, but
their songwriting would get stronger as well. It is no coincidence that, long ago, most bands put out their best material
early on. Part of the reason for that is that they had a lot of time to work on their initial releases, crafting the songs
to better suit their vision and being ready by the time they were able to record their debut album. Unfortunately, this is
no longer how things are done, much of the time.
Rehearsing and recording demos seems to be a lost art, presently.
A lot of times, a group of people come together and go straight for making a full-length album. They do not bother to rehearse
much, rather they begin the songwriting process before they are even sure of what direction they want to go in. Playing gigs
is something that many are unfamiliar with, and perhaps even impossible since so many 'bands' are simply solo projects of
some guy working out of his mother's bedroom. As soon as these projects have produced a handful of songs, whether they are
good or not, everyone rushes off to the studio –in other words, back to the bedroom-- to record the music with great
haste. Songs are then uploaded online before the band even has a chance to think twice about what they have created, and they
simply focus on making their second album. After a handful of atrocious releases, they may finally develop as musicians and
learn how to make decent tunes. That is why so many bands do not sound worthwhile until their third of fourth record, since
they skipped the previous stages and marched forward, unprepared. This has a few detrimental effects.
Think of the
impression that the band makes. Instead of being truly ready and putting their best foot forward, they burst onto the scene
with horrible music and lose all credibility right out of the gate. Even if the band, eventually, manages to improve it will
not matter since most will have written them off. Imagine if Metallica had released an early garage demo as a full-length
album. No one would have paid them any attention by the time they finally mastered their instruments and found their style.
Hetfield's vocals, for one, would have been enough to turn a lot of people away. It took a couple years of playing and getting
comfortable before the band found their own identity. Once they released Kill 'Em All, they had a strong following and made
a great impact by offering up an excellent record that had been worked on for a long time. The do-it-yourself ethic of making
and releasing your own music is fine and prevents bands from having to be slaves of the music industry, yet those years toiling
away in obscurity while trying to secure a recording contract often worked to the benefit of many bands. Things have gotten
too easy and too few see the logic of actually learning how to play, developing an identity and writing high-quality songs
before presenting your work to the public. Just because you can form a band and release an album one week later does not mean
that it is a good idea. There is no reason to rush things, making your band look like amateurs and flooding the scene with
awful music, at the same time.