(I'm good... just takin' a quick 5.)
Normally in June, July, or August, I have a good 2-3 week period of downtime… half "way she goes", half "way I like it". My family has a cottage and after years of not going up there (mainly because of my work schedule), I've tried to head up there at least once a month during the summer. I haven't been the type to take vacations in the past, but I eventually saw the value in it. People need to recharge… and the older you get, sometimes you don't get the choice or the chance. Mentally and/or physically, it takes time to recharge… and you have to build it into your routine, weekly, monthly, yearly… whatever works for you.
I'm going somewhere with this… I'm used to a heavy workload, but June was f'n busy. Normally during the winter months I'll spend a night or two at the studio… usually due to a snow storm or bad weather in general. The studio is cozy, so I might as well just hang there and work… plus taking public transit home after midnight during a blizzard is about as fun as wearing liner-less swim trunks to a chilli festival.
(I'm good... just takin' a break... face... you start.)
This past month I've managed to rack up 5, 24hr+ work days. I've taken breaks and naps but there's been some long days going on. Why? Commitments and deadlines.
If you been in this line of work long enough, it's rarely wise to turn down (good) work. Combine that with the (let's be honest here) "musician-ness" of musicians... even if you book something 3 months in advance, there's always a chance it may not start on time or start at all. So in my books, if something comes up on short notice, and it's something I'd like to work on, I do my best to shuffle around the schedule and make it work.
... so here's how June went in a nutshell… try and follow along... just a heads up, I'm currently sleep deprived and sitting in the back of a van.
A band called Left Turn City asked if I was interested in doing a couple new songs with them… I've been a fan for a while having seen them around town a few times over the past year.
It's crazy how long it takes sometimes to finally work with a band. I think it took almost 18 months to finally work with Down In Ashes… but once they were ready, it was like we've been friends for years. Same with Left Turn City… I'd reached out to them a few times but until they were ready, that's when the ball actually gets rolling.
... that's another thing I've thought about a lot lately… bands... artists… you should be the biggest bottle neck in your career… as far as the decision making process goes. If you want to do something, start moving your feet.
If you run your band like a business, it's your business, and you have to call the shots. There's still a lot of patience involved, but the amount of times I've seen bands/artists wait around for their management/label/parents/yoko/etc. to declare the perfect timing or God knows what to make choices... that shit drives me insane.
(I'm gonna get so much shit done... tomorrow.)
Here's the deal these days… seeing results takes time. The less you do and the more time you take waiting to do something means the longer it takes to see any real progress or results. It's that simple. The real engine of running a business isn't money or time in my books… running a business is about making decisions, big or small, efficiently. Everything falls under that one simple principle.
K… back to scheduling… so I started with Left Turn City at the beginning of month… 2 songs… a song takes me roughly 30-40 hours from time spent on pre-production right up to the end of mixing/touchups.
I'm in the middle of the Parabelle album… I'd say at that point I was still 200hrs from finishing that album since I spent the rest of May finishing the 20 Amp Soundchild EP.
I'd said yes to doing a 10 day tour with Age of Days at the beginning of July which meant rehearsals this month… 2 evenings a week.
My brain vacation (mens league hockey)… 2 evenings a week gone.
I'd also agreed to do 3 songs with a band called Thirdrite I'd met a couple months prior which had crept up on me. They're a 3 piece rock band with some blues overtones... great guys who hadn't done a pro recording before so I was excited to help get them something solid. Considering the genre, it's a slightly different approach to my usual production, but still time needed… so that's another weekend (plus) taken up.
So basically… Monday work/rehearsal, Tuesday work/hockey, Wednesday work/rehearsal, Thursday work/hockey, Friday-Sunday work or possibly have a band in for the weekend.
(… the things we do to make things work.).
I'm far from complaining about being busy… it's all busy "good". It's crazy how quick the days go by though when you already know what you're doing everyday. I'm very hands on with production work but it's at the point now where I could really use a solid assistant to help with some of the workload. It's not rocket science what needs to be done but its tough to find others who see the big picture, are up and comers, and not "know-it-alls"… or jaded. It's easy to get used and abused in this industry but I've been lucky to have met some great people early on… so it is possible... and I work everyday to be one of them.
So back to Parabelle for a minute. I picked up, almost on autopilot, a new laptop so I could work while on the road with Age of Days. It's just down to odds and ends but its still time needed. I could've just finished up the mixes and been done with it but that's not how I roll... close doesn't mean done... and I'm not about to rush it. I care a lot about what my name is on, what I'm a part of, and who I associate with. Money is one thing but I love being a part of something that means something to everyone involved.
... just to touch on another topic for a minute... there's been tons of talk about how tech is the new rockstar and basically, making money through tech right now is better then wasting your time trying to make a living through the arts.
Originally, my plan after high school was to go through school for computer programming/systems, move to California, work in tech, and let the chips fall from there.
… here's the thing though. Tech is disposable. I don't care how you present it to me… tech is a disposable industry… if you come up with something great in tech, it will be topped one day... or I should say days... and made obsolete. The greatest tech even, has a shelf life. Tech is the medium. Art is the content... and the content is the real attempt at a permanent piece. To create, grow, and maintain are the bare necessities of the soul.
(... I love cheesy poofs... you love cheesy poofs. Art.)
One of the reasons I got into, or should I say "stayed", in music and production in general is… I want to be part of a "Blue Album". It's a classic album in my books. It strikes a chord with so many people from my generation. It's long term vs short term… and I'm always thinking long term.
Don't get me wrong... I do think there are many in tech who are "lifers" and their passion is the marriage of art and science. They do love it… but it's not about the money. I wish more people would ask themselves, and be truly honest with themselves, "what are my motivations?" We can still live in an honest world full of saints and assholes... it'd just be quicker if some people would say up front "me first" instead of "it's just business"... and then we'd have a much more efficient way of weeding out the assholes... since it just wouldn't pay off.
... I'm getting a little sidetracked here… but I know what my motivations are... and I'm writing this in the van heading to Boonstock today… 30,000 tickets sold… Korn headlining tonight… first time ever going to a festival show (of this kind)... no big deal.
I guess this past month has been a reminder in time management and fulfilling commitments. Luckily, I have friends and family who are supportive when I disappear for days or weeks on end. For the others who've lost patience over the years… well sometimes we cross paths, if not, all good, we all should prune things out of our lives at times… all the better when someone else takes the initiative… it saves me time.
There are only so many hours in a day, how you spend them is important. It's not even a matter of time actually now that I think about it... the bigger issue is energy.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!