Different speeds of "approving" overdubs


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
I've got the producer blues,

A good band I am working with are a slow as snails at approving the overdubs we are doing. Many feature 'new' parts because they came to the studio half baked on piano & bass parts and indeed overall arrangement.. (we did a lot of editing in prior rehearsal & with the session drummer I got in to put down the backing tracks) The bass is down (LOTS of work helping them with getting all the lines down is a cool format)

Now it looks like we may have to re-do all the keyboards on 2 songs because:

they aren't sure about them
they aren't used to them
they dont like them

I am aggressive in chasing down parts quickly that work, the band tend to chin scratch and keep asking me if they dont like it can they re-do it...

not good.. it's a clash of personal styles.

I am minded to make em a rough mix and send em off for a week to get it together, I don't think I can take producing my ass off on more keyboard parts - just to have them 'rejected' by the band...

I am not getting enough trust and their silence is dangerous as it leads to things having to be re done later...

I wouldn't say things are at crisis yet.. A basic plan is in the singers head, I made him write up some overdub 'plan' charts so I could be in on what he has in mind...

I think they are REALLY unused to the studio & the singer's head is hurting that someone else is getting his hands on his songs... (they were all too long and needed trimming down) I am not wholly unsympathetic to their new situation, but I usually work with cheerful young rock bands.. these guys are a little older and VERY suspicious about proceedings. I cant expect them all to be hopping up and down cheering I suppose......

This project is turning out to be VERY up-hill!


(BTW from a song point of view they are definitely worth sticking with :roll: )


Well-Known Member
Apr 22, 2001
Man, that's a tough one. Who's the band leader and songwriter? It sounds like it's the singer. If they're in love with the songs the way they are you might not be able to do much about changing them.

Do you think that they aren't used to the studio or that they aren't used to having an outside opinion on their songs with forced changes? There is a difference. Are you in a situation where you can record everything their way and then edit the songs with your changes to show them the difference?

What is the singers plan? You shouldn't keep working on it if things aren't going well and are constantly being redone. That's a waste of everyones time.


Well all that oohing and aahing is definitely is going to start eating into the 'vibe' very quickly. It sounds as though they're not really ready to record. Either the guy should be fiercely defensive of the tracks and know exactly how he wants them to sound, and be totally unwilling to compromise, OR willing to press on however he can and see what happens. The problem is perhaps that these guys have built this recording up in their minds to be some incredible culmination of all their hard work, and they're bloody nervous about finishing any of it in case it's not what they thought it would be. It's really quite understandable. Find someone to play good cop bad cop with you. You tell them how great the stuff is sounding and how excited you are about it, and get someone else to point out how much time effort and money they're wasting. The balance of carrot and stick might just push them to get on with it. In all honesty though, the chances are this is just going to be a nightmare. :)



I think you're probably right that it's just a style matter -the speed which you all work at is different. If you're fed up (you seem to be) I'd say you're right to give them the rough mix and let them work at their own pace away from you.
I think if you want to work with them in the future, don't come across as critical of the time they need. If you're not enjoying it because you're used to a different process or don't enjoy their process have a break, try again!

It needn't be a nightmare at all!!

Maybe getting clearer on the aims of the session too-and the timescale-if there are deadlines and results that must be done I'd say as producer you need to assert the schedule and commit to decision making over the worries of the band, be less hand wringing.

If it's demos and development work then rough mix - break -reappraise approach. Shorter successful chunks of time are always best in life!!!



My post sounded a bit more tongue in cheek in my head! I'm not seriously suggesting that anyone should be 'nasty' to them. I think that they need to feel a bit of pressure to move forward though. Urgency if you like. If you can combine this with a sense that it's all going incredibly well, it could be a good incentive. Your idea of giving them something to go away and work with may be a better approach, but I would worry that if it is a case of them being insecure about the success of the project, it may just create more insecurity. Jules, you're the only one who's met them, so only you can judge how they will react. Hope it gets sorted. :) Producing is so political at times.



You say you are working with a band. Are you officially producing, or engineering? Sounds like the first.

Are they paying as they go, or is it a spec deal?

If it is the latter, are you fully convinced that they are headed for stardom? Or is is it just filler time during a slow period?

If you are the producer, you think they have talent and you are not scared of loosing them, then tell them they have to let go of the "this is my song" syndrome, and they should pull their fingers out.

The working in the background solution that someone suggested is dangerous. What I have done in the past, is take an awfull track, told the singer what I was going to do, and then completely redid the song. Luckily he liked it, and the subject has never come back again. But I was lucky. I certainly would not do that all the time.

If you think it going to be an ongoing problem, I would walk away. Of course, I don't know how much time you have spent on this project already. But the reluctance on the part of the band is worrying. You would at least hope they had enthusiasm. Perhaps it's not as coming close to their fantasy as they had hoped. But remember, it's their fantasy, and you are the professional they have engaged to see them through this. Either they understand that, or they don't. If they don't, their loss. Not your's.

However, if it's pay as go, sod it. Do what you do, send them away for a week, and interview some interns.

Hope this helps,



Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
"You say you are working with a band. Are you officially producing, or engineering? Sounds like the first."


"Are they paying as they go, or is it a spec deal?"

Heavy duty spec deal with terms very much in my favour.

"If it is the latter, are you fully convinced that they are headed for stardom?"


"If you are the producer, you think they have talent"

Yes I do..

"and you are not scared of loosing them"

Hang on, that doesn’t make sense! I have offered them a spec deal BECAUSE I think they are worth something...


I have discovered that a quiet and seemingly morose artist / band, with a very PRIVATE vision - unsettles me greatly. I have stumbled on previous sessions like this. I need to be more tolerant and have work-arounds for MY OWN personality ..er 'quirks' :)

on the other hand ^#$% em!



Sounds like a plan!

That's the working on yourself bit. Best of luck with the project. But you still have to somehow resolve the issue of a "producer as a filter" for steering an idiosyncratic (or idiotic) artist's vision to a commercially viable resolution.

I have no doubt that you will find the way.




A tough problem, by all sounds. What is your gut instinct? You haven't gotten to where you are in life by accident, and you should respect your own judgement. Making a decision would help to fill that void and give your leadership role credibility.
Will giving them some time to spend alone working out the parts mean an end to the whole project? I would hope not, for THEIR sakes. If these fellows aren't smart enough to stick with someone who is by any measure an elite producer, one dedicated to supporting their vision (in strong evidence above), then they should have their heads dunked. Also, if merely having some time off is going to kill the whole deal I would suggest that no matter how much you try to hold it together it's going to fall apart. Better to find out now than down the road.
I guess the weight of my argument is leaning towards giving them some time to themselves. Perhaps letting them off the leash will be the kind of show of faith that could improve the trust issue. The trust issue is the main problem in my assessment.
Another possible solution may lie in bringing another person in to help them along, perhaps even in a role as simple as fixing the keyboard parts. Anybody owe you any favors?
In the end you truly need to do what is right for you, and I would trust that if you take a long and honest view of it you will arrive on a solution that is the best for all parties involved.
I hope I haven't been presumptuous in offering my thoughts here, as I haven't eased my way into contributing to your forum and this is obviously a somewhat personal thread. I have found myself compelled to contribute, as you appear to be on the horns of a dilemma. Hope it all works out. Cheers, Doc.


Sounds like a good time to rent a 2" 16 track.
"We're going to have to bounce down these keyboard tracks to make room for the vocals. Decide now."
Think what a maverick producer you'd be - tracked straight to ProTools, transferred to 2" for overdubs and editing!

Tom Cram

Mar 5, 2001
salt lake city, utah
Things like this were much easier when I used to smoke pot. I would just take them out back, we'd spark up a bowl and everyone would soon be on the same page. Then we'd go to Taco Time and we would stuff our faces with grease.

Now that I am drug free it's a little more difficult. Nowadays I usually take them out to lunch/dinner/coffee and let them know what is bugging me, what I am capable of, what is holding things up etc. The usual "You guys are tracking some great stuff but, somebody needs to make a ^#$%ing decision here," usually gets things going. Or "I know we are working on spec but, I'm feeling like you guys are getting a little carried away." "Please don't take advantage of me doing this for free, we are approaching the point of diminishing returns."

Additionally, I'm usually in work mode in the studio and very focused on the job at hand. The band is usually a little stressed and not quite sure what is going on, feeling a little vulnerable and overwhelmed. Going to neutral territory helps ease the tension a tad.

You're an eloquent and intelligent guy Julian, I know you'll figure it out. Besides those Brits just love to talk :) Just get 'em going and blah, blah, blah.... :D


Being a spec deal, the artists may have the false illusion that it isn't costing anything. I think this is a bit dangerous. It means they don't have respect for your time. I reckon you should send them back to pre-production. It's disrespectful for them to have you to sit there while they faff about. Yeah it's risky cuz you could piss them off and lose a great opportunity, but at this point if they don't have the proper respect for you, your time and your studio, what good can come of it?


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
I've never done a pure spec deal. There's always some sort of hourly rate, even if drastically reduced. That weeds out a lot of these kind problems right from the start - most musicians don't want to throw away money, even if it's only $30/hr.

But speaking to the production debate... when I reach an impasse with a client I usually ask them to come back with some sort of reference CD - something already released that has the kind of sound they are going for - even if it's only the way the background vocals sound, or the keyboard parts. That way you have something more solid to reference than the band's verbal complaints - and often you can show them what they are asking for is contradictory to the finished sound they think they are going for. I had this problem with a drummer who seemed to think that the only way to get the sound he wanted was to add heaps of bass to every part of the kit. Once I was able to hear a reference CD of what he was hearing in his head, the problem was solveable.


I dunno Jules. If it was me I'd let them know where I'm at in the best way possible. If they're not able to engage you, then I'd definitely give 'em the rough & tell them to get their shee-it together and make some decisions.

In my mind a producer has to be VERY flexible to deal with people at that crossroads of creativity, indecision, vulnerablility, intel property, cash expenditure (not in this case) & just big fat plain old ego. You'd almost be a masochist to desire to be in that position :eek:

So you have to examine yourself as much as them, as you're already onto. You can only do so much, it's half up to them.

Just me 2 pesos

Ted Nightshade

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2001
My personal take-
Anything "iffy" gets nixed!
If it doesn't induce bliss, why would you want it on your album?
I find it very important for credibility with the audience that everyone in the band believes in what they're putting out- not always possible, and credibility with the audience doesn't always happen either.

Why not "erase the keys tracks by mistake" or pretend to erase them? If they miss them, maybe they want them after all! If they're relieved, that should tell you something too.

I agree that the vibe is going down the drain when the players are playing Hamlet...
Just my thoughts.


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
I let them know how I felt about things, I said the overriding 'vibe' I was taking away with me from the sessions so far was one of;

& worry

(which is ironic because the tracks are 'kicking!")

I asked for more back up and some trust. The way I left it was amicable but the overriding vibe was, either decide to 'chin scratch' for eternity, (because this was AGAIN brought up, "but what if we DONT like it?") or decide over the weekend to return with a more positive attitude. The have (mono, vocals on one side / music on the other) rough mixes to experiment with the 'hard to agree on' parts back at their own baby studio / HQ. They have plenty of homework.. Return to recording is conditional on improved attitude and that includes mine as well!
I do happen to know, they have been a little overwhelmed with the experience, a little time off, will help enormously I am sure.. Oh and while packing up for the weekend off, I realized I had started this 7 day project, with no time off, so I have just ended a 14 day stretch! THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY!



Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2001
It occurs to me that the problem is solved if you double or triple your rates. People will automatically assume if you're charging THAT much, they can trust you really know what the hell you're doing! :D


Originally posted by littledog:
It occurs to me that the problem is solved if you double or triple your rates.
As long as you aren't talking about triple spec... heheh
You are on to something here littledog.
In my experience, ones opinion is worth what they are paying for it. If they are paying you bongo bucks, your tamborine on 2&4 idea is pure genius.
If you are doing it on spec, the tamb idea becomes 'uhhh, like why would you want to put that on the beat where the snare drum plays'.
You get less respect in direct proportion to your fee.
And if this band breaks out... look out for the fight over the deal you did make. They will try to renegotiate it (the managers and lawyers will actually). Wankers.