Japanese Tongue Sisters Tracking Drums In Portland

Japanese Tongue Sisters Tracking Drums In Portland

Do you have a dream producer you just wish your band could record with? You may have a particular producer in mind whose previous work on some of your favourite albums potentially helped inspire you to be in a band in the first place?!

Now what if I told you that your bands ability to land that dream producer is better than ever before. True story!

A strong Aussie dollar, plummeting recording costs and increased competition for recording dollars has created the perfect storm for bands all over the world.

We found this out on the 2nd Gyroscope album ‘Are You Involved’ when we threw a hail mary out there and sent producer Mark Trombino our demo’s. We absolutely loved the job he had done a few years prior with Jimmy Eat World and their album Bleed American. Much to our surprise he got back to us about how much he loved the demo’s and wanted to make the album happen.

Our next issue was our small budget. Even though we had a label backing us our budget was much smaller than he was accustomed too, but because he loved the demo’s he made some financial concessions and we recorded the album in a very basic, very cheap studio in North Hollywood. The cheap studio time coupled with the shrinking budgets of the US Major Labels had forced Mark to rethink the studios he used and the time frames he recorded albums in. Since 2005 this has only increased and now more than ever there are incredible producers all over the world looking for bands to record.

Other Perth bands have done a similar thing and landed amazing producers whilst turning the trip into a holiday at the same time. Who needs Contiki!?!

The guys from Avastera took this route and recorded their last E.P ‘Breathing Hope’ over in Baltimore with respected Producer Paul Leavitt (The Dangerous Summer, Circa Survive). I asked guitarist Chris Hanssen if the price was a lot more expensive or comparable when considering the producer they used?

CHRIS: When you take out the cost of flights out of this equation – The production/recording costs actually works out to be much cheaper than recording costs over here. The average ‘cost per day’ in most studios around Perth is generally around $600 per day for unsigned bands (this of course varies from studio & producer). 

For a 2 week session (14 days), that works out to be around $8400 JUST for tracking/studio time. This is before Mixing and Mastering duties have been paid for.

I won’t say exactly what we were charged by Paul (only because I’m sure producers would prefer us not to discuss their prices on a public forum), but I can tell you that we paid a lot less than that, and that was for everything! The whole package from raw tracking to finished products, that being – Tracking, Mixing, Mastering and producer costs.

ROB: Of course Avastera had to then spend an extra $15K on flights overseas but they made the most of it and also turned the trip into a holiday.

CHRIS: Outside of the hours we spent locked in the studio working on the new record – We managed to; Get All Access passes to Warped Tour (hanging out with some of our childhood heroes backstage at warped tour was unreal!), we met so many amazing people, made plenty of new friends and spontaneously spent 1 crazy night in New York City before flying home.

Gyroscope’s experience was very similar; We spent 3 nights in Las Vegas partying and took a day trip to San Diego. Dan and Brad made it to the baseball and I even  got to spend a day riding roller coasters at Magic Mountain. You never know where music will take you?!

More importantly we created an album that to this day, we are all still really proud of. Mark’s input into the album was extremely valuable and the skills we learnt from using a world class producer helped us a lot when writing our 3rd and 4th albums. The overall experience of living in L.A for a period of time is one of the highlights of my time in Gyroscope.

But is it for everyone? Sophie Rodgers from We Are The Emergency (R.I.P) and Japanese Tongue Sistersrecently recorded the new JTS album in Portland, U.S.A with acclaimed producer Kris Crummett. She really brought up some excellent points when I asked here weather she would recommend recording oversea’s to other bands?

“There are a couple of points to this question. There are a number of great producers in Perth that will help you get a great product out of your band. It’s not that you “need” to go overseas to get a decent recording, but if there is someone you want to work with, you are serious about the long term commitment, and you can afford it, then I think bands should absolutely go for it. I firmly believe you should go 100% in music and try not to settle for anything less than exactly what you want, so if the producer you want lives in USA, UK, or Estonia, then you should jump on the plane. I think it is also important to be pragmatic about how you go about it. If you’ve just started a band and you’ve got 3 songs that you want to record to get some gigs, it’s probably better to bash ‘em out without the air travel.” 

Sophie absolutely nails this point home.

Recording overseas isn’t going to be for everyone. The costs associated with the travel aspect are just too large to ignore. At the same time if music is your life, then why not go all in on one of the most important facets of your band and record with an amazing producer.

Using a great producer is a bit like gaining a high powered mentor or coach. You’ll fast track your musical education, end up with a great product, meet some new people along the way and have a ball being exposed to a new country and culture.

Of course once you decide on the Producer you may also need a recording studio. Here are a few places for inspiration (especially if money is no object)

Black Rock Studios – Greece; Take a look at that amazing view! Looks $$$

Atrium Studios – L.A; Tommy Lee’s Recording Studio. Looks like a lot of fun.

Rockfield Studios – Wales; Converted horse stables in the Welsh country side. Where Gyro recorded our 4th album

El Mirador Studios – Spain; Owned by the famed producer Youth (The Verve) – Beautiful residential studio in the Spanish countryside.

Good Luck and as always if there is any advice you need or questions you have. Im here to help.

Rob Nassif

The Hen House Rehearsal Studios