Echo, host of The Free For All, is in Asheville, NC this week watching the recording of bass player Sav Sankaran’s first studio album. She’ll be (finally) getting the answers to the many questions she’s had about the recording process and finding out just how much work goes into the music she loves to listen to. Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a lifelong music lover, I’ve often wondered exactly what goes into the finished product of the music I listen to. I get a shiny cellophane wrapped jewel case, with cover art and liner note inserts, and a disc containing the actual music product, but there’s so much more to the story of an album. There’s more than the photo sessions and the lyrics, the listings of musicians that added their talents, the industry professionals that say kind words about the project… There’s more even than my favorite part of the liner notes: the ‘thank yous’. The thank yous are the ‘sneak peek’ into all of the work and the people and the components that come together to create the sum total of the listening experience.
I’ve always loved liner notes. When I was a kid, cassettes were the medium, and their perforated sections of liner notes were putty in my hands. Within weeks (sometimes days), every new album would succumb to the same fate: 6 or seven single shiny cardstock pages containing only a minute glimpse into the music. I’d read and reread, memorize the names of the musicians and studios and publishing companies, the songwriters and producers and the managers and the labels. And then I’d compare: the bands from each album, the songwriters, the industry people mentioned from one album to the next. As much as I was fascinated with the music, I was enthralled by the mystery of the industry…
This past January, I was talking to Sav Sankaran, the bass player for The Dixie Bee-Liners, and when he mentioned that he was recording a solo album and started talking about some of the process of the pre-production (song selection, finding a studio, selecting and hiring musicians to play on the album), I began to pepper him with questions, especially about what goes on in the studio part of the process. After a few minutes of my Spanish Inquisition, he laughed and said, “well why don’t you just come and sit in at the studio and find out?” I’m not sure that he expected me to take him up on the offer, but here I am. Instrumental tracking on his album, Back to Bass-ics, starts tomorrow, followed by a second instrumental tracking day, and then 2 days of vocal tracking. 10 songs, 4 days, and one fly-on-the-wall blogger who’ll be trying to take it all in and write a crash course intro to what goes on within the walls of a studio.
This week, I get more than just the liner notes. And you get to come, too.