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Producing a band: from the start
Old 24th March 2008
Lives for gear
Saudade's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Producing a band: from the start

Mr Lanois

I would like to have your insight of how you "work" with a band, particularly in the preproduction and songwriting stage, focusing on the practical methods and tactics.

I imagine that a large part of the work of a producer starts even before the band steps into the studio to record. I reckon working on any record requires a producer to have the ability to perform deep interpretation of the material, musical and engineering knowledge, 3rd party perspective, marketing/A&R sensibilities and motivational (people) skills.

But I think working with a band would be even more challenging. Every component has different temperaments, musical tastes, viewpoints. And yet the end product has to reflect their collective identity.

Do you have any sequenced/structured "training programme" that you typically run a band through in the songwriting/preproduction stage? Like exercises/games/practices/ routines that not only help them to realise their strengths/weakness, highlight what is "them", see their own roles and the roles of others, get them to play like a cohesive musical unit, heighten their awareness towards the intricacies of the entire production process, challenge them to step out of their comfort zone?

How much of "you" do you allow to imprint onto their record, how do you keep from making the record too much of what you want their music to be, versus what they want for themselves?

Most importantly, how do you know when they are ready to step into the studio to track (the next step)?

Let's say the given scenario (not likely I know for a big shot like you heh) : a 5 pc band, late 20s to late 30s, all got day jobs, 5-7 yrs in existence but have been in a hiatus for at least 2 years, mainly due to family commitments. They got some material, but very few recent ones, and are all too disparate in genre/style/mood to fit into an album. Each one is a musician of certain standard, but just rusty and haven't been listening to new stuff to develop themselves. They are all still excited about making music, but they are only willing to commit time when they are excited

If they approach you to produce a record of new material (given you already have good rapport with them), how would you "whip them to shape"? How would you get them excited all over again? How would you start their own engines instead of having to drag them like a sleigh dog all the way

(Sorry I know these are very vague and broad ended questions)

Thanks for your time
Old 26th March 2008
Gear Head
Daniel Lanois's Avatar
🎧 10 years
First things first, find out what's in the hearts of people. If it's a band situation I try to maximize the skills of the band members. Even if there are limitations. If the limitations are too great I won't do the record. Once we're in the arena together, that's where the dynamics begin. One idea feeds another and before you know it, if things are going well, you have the power of momentum. That's what I like about team spirit. Regarding song selection, I look for melody in song. A fresh lyrical angle is always good. Any component that will help us do something original is always welcome.

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