In 2008, we started doing location recordings with some of our gear that wasn't bolted down into either of the two studios. This is something we'd been wanting to do more of ever since doing some drum tracking for Jackpot's Moonbreath album in the bands rehearsal space when the main studio was too booked up to get in there. I've always really liked the vibe of some home recordings and there are lots of classic records made outside of traditional studios like Music From Big Pink, Exile On Main Street and Led Zeppelin IV. But, I always feel like I'm hearing a missed opportunity when I hear a home recording that has a great vibe but was recorded poorly and just sounds kind of shitty. Sometimes 'shitty' can be really cool, but accidental distortion or poorly recorded out of phase drums are usually just shitty sounding, as are lots of cheap latency inducing plug-ins mixed 'in the box.'
When thinking about location recordings, several things started coming to mind:
-The 'classic' recordings mentioned above were done with spendy mobile recording trucks and some great engineers like Andy and Glynn Johns.
-What if we split the difference somewhere between recording the Rolling Stones in a mansion in Southern France and a band recording themselves at home with a cheap Chinese microphone, an MBox and a laptop? What if we brought in some good gear to augment a band's home recording rig, helped them set it up, made sure they knew how to work it all, and then left them alone for a week or two. I started thinking that this could be really cool. You could get all the great vibe and cool mistakes that make home recordings so vibrant but none of the errors made out of inexperience that just sound kinda' shitty. Then, those cool recordings full of atmosphere and vibe could be mixed properly in the studio and if needed, a few overdubs can get done too. This seemed like a 'best of both worlds' scenario.
To the right are a few case studies of records we made (The Stragglers, Devil Makes Three, Devendra Banhart) in 2008 as part of our Hangar To Go Location Recordings. As you read through them it should give you an idea of what to expect if you want to try and do a location recording. Keep in mind some of the following points however:
-We don't rent gear. We can refer you to places that do. This is a service in which we help you make a great recording using some of our gear. More than gear, you are paying us for our experience in making hundreds of records.
-Location recording is not cheap, nor a good way to make a good record for cheaper. It's actually usually cheaper to go into a studio as it's much more efficient and faster. For a long project, a location recording could potentially save some money, but at that point, you're looking at a sizable budget anyway. But for some projects and some musicians, getting outside of a traditional studio environment for part of the project can be a great way to go.
-A live recording of your band at a show is a very different thing from a location recording. We've done both and they both have their advantages. It's more in how you want to get your music across.
-Not all rooms will work for a location recording. There is no point trying to make a recording in a shitty sounding, uncomfortable space. Like most rehearsal rooms for instance. The key to a good location recording is a good sounding, comfortable space that's inspiring to make music in. We once loaned some gear to a band to track some drums with. When they brought it back, we asked them how it came out? "Oh not very good," they replied. "The room we were recording in had really low ceilings and sounded kinda crappy."