Top five recording tips for indie bands

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Top five recording tips for indie bands

At the beginning of 2018 Hurst introduced audiences to their 90s nostalgia-meets-pop grit sound, teasing them with their latest anthems, ‘Rattle Kids’ and current single ‘Purple & Green’ – both of which have received airplay on Triple j.
The band have now returned from Sydney’s deep suburbia to share their Second EP ‘sadface,’ which was written, recorded and produced entirely by the band.
Initially starting out as a project to push their own limits with little to no budget, the experiment slowly warped into preparation for their second EP, “sadface.”. Drums were tracked in a huge thousand-seater church on NSW’s Central Coast, while the rest of the band laid down their parts in the bedrooms and pantry’s of their own homes.
Now they’ve let us in on their best tips for recording…
Do Your Research
Our drummer Nick spent hours and hours researching gear, and tutorials by producers, mixers and engineers in the industry to learn how to get his head around recording and mixing.
Listen and look into the gear of bands that you love or are influenced by, track down their producers and look at how they recorded things, and what type of rooms they tracked in. The internet is a treasure trove for this kind of stuff. And then make it work for you. We recorded in bedrooms, churches, even in my pantry.
We used a digital audio workstation called Reaper to record, it’s not as pretty as the more popular ones, but in the right hands, it gets the job done, and it’s free!
Write, write, and write some more
We probably had roughly 20 or so demos recorded that we siphoned through to get the final 6 tracks onto our EP. I’ve heard of some bands that write over 100 tracks to produce 1 album. Some of the songs you write will be trash, some may mean a lot on a personal level, but not translate well, some will be okay, but not great. But that’s all part of the process. Be intentional and aim to release your best work so far.
KISS – Keep It Simple (Stupid)
You’re an indie band, you’re not Beyonce, or Muse. You may not be able to afford the top of the line microphones, amps and synths so don’t worry about what you lack. You’d be surprised with how well a Shure SM57 or SM58 can record. Be creative with what you’ve got, think outside the box, experiment, be okay with failing and get better.
Some of the best advice I ever got was that a good song, regardless of the quality of the recording, is a good song. So don’t overthink production if that’s not what you’re geared towards.
Take your time, but set deadlines
The beauty of being an independent band is you don’t have labels barking at you to get things done and forcing you to release incomplete or half-assed music. This is a bit of a double edged sword that we learnt the hard way. Our first EP was released in 2014, and it took us 4 years to release “sadface.” because we didn’t feel we had the know-how to record it ourselves until now.
Setting deadlines is especially important if, like most indie artists, you have a day job, it sets your priorities straight. An example of our timeline is something like this: have songs picked by March, have everything recorded by April, have the mixes done by May. We took our time, but since we really only had weekends to really do this, it was achievable.
Seek good advice
Your mum is always going to tell you she’s proud of you, so she might not be the best person to ask for an opinion on the music you’re creating. We reached out to our PR + Consultant wizard John Zucco at The Right Profile, and he helped us navigate and find our edge with our latest tracks as well as pick the best winners we should release. It takes a lot of the stress out of releasing music by letting somebody you trust have a say.