Getting ready to ROCK (or, how I’m approaching recording my first album :) )

So, yeah, I’ve decided to write and record an album 🙂

There are a few reasons why, and I’ll talk about them more over the course of the next few weeks and months, as the album progresses.

But, for now, I simply want to keep an ongoing record of it, of my process – good or bad!

So, I’m going to be posting here on my blog throughout the process.

Sometimes it might be a short post, sometimes something more in depth.

The idea is both to give me a personal record of it, and to share the story and journey of its creation with you.

Perhaps that will, when looking back in future, give it more context and, hopefully, heighten the enjoyment of listening to it, when it’s done.

Want to Keep up with the Album Project?

So that I don’t bombard those on my mailing list with an email every time I post an update about my Album Project on here (which may be as often as daily, or as irregular as weekly) there are three ways that, for those truly interested in following this project, you can keep up to date with it:

  1. Subscribe to my “Push Notifications”. In the bottom left corner of my website, you may see a red “bell” icon. Click it to receive push notifications every time I publish a new blog post, regardless of what that post is about (if you don’t see it, I’m afraid it doesn’t work on all operating systems).
  2. Join my Private Facebook Group. I’ll be posting update videos on there whenever I’m working on the Album Project – sort of a video journal – which will be more ad-hoc (and probably more regular) than posts on here. To be able to join that Group, you first need to be on my email mailing list (see the next point below).
  3. Get added to my email Group for this Project. If you’re on my email list, I will be sending an email to you shortly which will have a link on it. Click that link to be added to emails specifically related to this Album Project. Or, if you want to select it now – or aren’t already on my mailing list – you can join it here (and select to join both the Album Project and my Private Facebook Group too!).

Day One

So, yesterday was the first day of working on it…

…and I realised I didn’t know where to start 🙂

(mild panic!)

Do I write a whole bunch of songs first, just acoustic guitar and vocal, then decide which are going to “make the cut” and be recorded properly?

Or do I just plough ahead, and see where I get to?

I chose the latter 🙂


How to Choose the Songs

Because I felt that “batching” the songwriting into the first process would allow me to procrastinate a little – it might be months before I actually start recording the album (if at all…)

Plus, it becomes too much pressure all at once; I MUST write songs, I MUST choose between them, etc.

So, I decided to simply focus on one song at a time.

Great, but how do I know if that song is good enough for the album?

How will I make sure the album is “consistent”?

Well, simply put; I’ll trust that, by the time I’ve finished a bunch of songs, at least enough of them will be good enough for the album!

And, hopefully, they’ll have some consistency to them.

The flip side, i.e. waiting until I’ve got all the songs sorted first, is just another bottleneck in the process, something to slow me down and put off completing anything.

So, I’ll write and record a basic (bass, drums, guitar and vocals) version of each song, one at a time.

Then, when I’ve got enough songs, I’ll see if they make a good album.

If yes, great, I’ll move on to fleshing them out and mixing and mastering them.

If not, great, I’ll write and record more songs!

That way, at least the ones that “don’t make the cut” will still be done and “in the bag”.

(perhaps making their way onto a “special edition” of the album?!)

The main thing is; I’ll be progressing forward!

How Will I Record the Songs?

Superb, so I worked out how I’m going to select the songs and work.

Next was getting more granular:

How am I actually going to record the songs?

The drums are always the part that gives me the most grief, and there are three ways to get drums:

  • Drum loops. These are pre-recorded drum parts that you “import” into your audio project and mess with until they sound good with your song. I have neither the skill, nor the patience, to find, cut, splice and “mess” with these, so it’s not ideal.
  • Have a live drummer. This would be ideal, but I don’t have a band, nor the money to pay / practice with live musicians. Nor do I have the skill to play the drums myself.
  • Pay to have a bespoke drum part written for the song. This can be great (if I had the money!) but requires the song to be completed without drums first, so that the drummer can listen to it and play their own part. But I want the drums to be integral in the original recording, so I can have something that already has a bit of groove to it to start with.

However, there is now a fourth way, that I was eager to try:

Enter the Trio Plus

Band in a Stomp Box

Last month, in anticipation of both trying to record with it and playing live, I invested in a new guitar pedal, called the Trio Plus.

In short, it generates a drum and bass part to your guitar input (i.e. I play it some chords and it makes up a drum and bass part for me).

So, my last bit of work yesterday as looking into how viable it would be to use, both in terms of the drum part generated and getting that analogue signal (i.e. what you hear in its headphones) into the digital realm of my computer (i.e. so I can mix it properly into the song).

Well, I’m thoroughly pleased to say that it worked (more or less!).

Of course, it’s not as good as having a real drummer, but it does allow me to get things done myself, more quickly, at no additional cost and, crucially, I can embed a drum groove at the beginning of the writing and recording process.

The Result?

Which, hopefully, means the songs will sound more natural; will sound better.

And that was only Day One – Phew!

Thanks for reading this far, I hope you found it at least a little interesting 🙂

I look forward to sharing the rest of this Album creation with you as it evolves!

What do YOU think?! Please do share your thoughts: