Back Row review...

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Back Row review...

Postby tat-tong » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:40 am

... was awesome! Congratulations Back Row! I'd like to point out however that my contribution to the album was only in mixing and sequencing percussion for Only You - Bill mixed that track as a whole, and so the credit for "best hip hop producer yada yada" should be all his... :)
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Postby dekesharon » Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:41 am

Indeed. Congrats, guys!

One thing I should mention: whereas Bill and I were involved in this album, these guys really did it themselves. Bill and I initailly taught them how to record an album (at our seminar), but then they did 95% of the recording and production themselves (note that I helped on the album, and yet at my most involved I'd consider myself only a "co-producer" on any track - I was really more of a consultant). And sequencing, cleaning of tracks, tuning and alignment, etc.

Honestly, working with these guys, I was floored. Their level of commitment was absolutely top shelf, which I expected having worked with them before, but there was no guarantee the quality would be this high. A stunning debut all around.

Generally speaking, the lower scored songs are the ones the group tackeled first. That's right, a new group doing their very first song recording themselves, and even the earliest tracks pulling in 3's and 4's.

And as they learned and perfected their craft, you got tunes like "Feel Good Inc." Soup to nuts, the creative ownership belongs to The Back Row, especially Ian and Ford.

This is the new direction for collegiate a cappella: the group members themselves do all/most of the recording and pre-mix, in addition to the arranging, rehearsing, directing, producing.

In other words, the gauntlet has been thrown. If they can do it, so can you!

- Deke Sharon • 800.579.9305 • http://www.dekesharon.com

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Re: Back Row review...

Postby billhare » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:51 pm

Tat wrote:... was awesome! Congratulations Back Row! I'd like to point out however that my contribution to the album was only in mixing and sequencing percussion for Only You - Bill mixed that track as a whole, and so the credit for "best hip hop producer yada yada" should be all his... :)


Well, much of HipHop is about the beats, so back at ya, Tat!

And before the "producers" get all the credit - a lot of these choices were made by this young group themselves - great ideas already laid down before they got to us!

Deke wrote:One thing I should mention: whereas Bill and I were involved in this album, these guys really did it themselves. Bill and I initailly taught them how to record an album (at our seminar), but then they did 95% of the recording and production themselves


Since Deke brought the seminar up, I thought I'd jump in - as some of you know, we cancelled the seminar this year because we thought we didn't have enough people to make it worthwhile, project-wise. Even with a full class, financially this is only a break-even proposition for us, but the bigger reason is that we would want to put together a realistic group of singers to cover various voice parts and style (plus hopefully a vocal percussionist.) By the middle of June, we only had 3 confirmed reservations, so we decided to call it off. Subsequently, we started hearing from more people who wanted to come to the seminar, but had already told the 3 confirmed that it was cancelled and refunded deposits. Turns out we would have had enough people to do the seminar, but everyone came out of the woodwork way too late.

We'd love revive the seminar starting next summer, but keep in mind that we'll need to get reservations in earlier so proper preparations can be made.

Deke wrote:(note that I helped on the album, and yet at my most involved I'd consider myself only a "co-producer" on any track - I was really more of a consultant). And sequencing, cleaning of tracks, tuning and alignment, etc.


Just to clear things up, I think Deke was trying to say that the "sequencing, cleaning of tracks, tuning and alignment, etc." was done by the group itself, not by us. Very cost efficient, BTW!


Deke wrote:Generally speaking, the lower scored songs are the ones the group tackeled first. That's right, a new group doing their very first song recording themselves, and even the earliest tracks pulling in 3's and 4's.

And as they learned and perfected their craft, you got tunes like "Feel Good Inc." Soup to nuts, the creative ownership belongs to The Back Row, especially Ian and Ford.


A good anecdote to that; we worked with them in mix on 3 different occasions throughout the year, a few songs at a time - by the last sessions, Deke had noticed that progression and said "It feels and sounds like we're working on your 3rd album now. The first batch of songs were your first album, the second batch was your second album, and now these tracks sound that much more polished than the last batch. You made about 6 years of progress in one year doing it this way."

And that's just how if felt - you are hearing The Back Row's Debut, second and third albums in this one disc, though only done in the space of one school year. Maybe Ian can explain how and what they learned between each set of songs... I'd like to know myself.

Congrats again, guys!

-B

Bill Hare Some dude who records and mixes people who can't play instruments. http://www.dyz.com

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Postby backrowjoe » Sun Jul 30, 2006 6:31 pm

I think I speak for our entire group when I say that we are flattered by this praise, and hope we can continue to produce quality albums as our group grows and matures.
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Re: Back Row review...

Postby mattootb » Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:05 am

Deke wrote:One thing I should mention: whereas Bill and I were involved in this album, these guys really did it themselves. Bill and I initailly taught them how to record an album (at our seminar), but then they did 95% of the recording and production themselves


Since Deke brought the seminar up, I thought I'd jump in - as some of you know, we cancelled the seminar this year because we thought we didn't have enough people to make it worthwhile, project-wise. Even with a full class, financially this is only a break-even proposition for us, but the bigger reason is that we would want to put together a realistic group of singers to cover various voice parts and style (plus hopefully a vocal percussionist.) By the middle of June, we only had 3 confirmed reservations, so we decided to call it off. Subsequently, we started hearing from more people who wanted to come to the seminar, but had already told the 3 confirmed that it was cancelled and refunded deposits. Turns out we would have had enough people to do the seminar, but everyone came out of the woodwork way too late.

We'd love revive the seminar starting next summer, but keep in mind that we'll need to get reservations in earlier so proper preparations can be made.


-B[/quote]

I really hope I can make it over for next year!
Out of the Blue (Oxford) 2004-2006
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Postby IanG » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:41 am

First off, thanks to everyone who has given us great feedback on the album. Being isolated at Colorado College, we love hearing what people in the broader community have to say about the music we love and slave over.

To clarify some points made thus far: the do-it-yourself process was the perfect way for us to record a debut album (I might be wrong with this, but I think this is one of the first if not the first DIY self-tracked debut album from a collegiate group). And while Bill worked wonders for us at the mixing board, and Deke helped us as a mentor the whole way through, ultimately it was our self-tracking that allowed us to remove the intimidation of going into a studio and instead focus on feeling comfortable in our own personal setting and take our time to get things sounding exactly how we wanted. I was surprised at all 3 reviewers comments that Feel Good Inc. was teched out -- I would say that that sound comes from a maxed-out Pro Tools session that we spent 50+ hours on perfecting every detail in our studio, and to my ears has a distinctly vocal sound.

I appreciated all reviewer's comments that they thought Unleash the Periscope had a lot of energy. The biggest piece of wisdom I ever took from Bill is that you can tell by the way an album sounds what the mood of the group was when they recorded it. You can tell when a group is just having fun recording and singing and making an album, and paying attention to Bill's wisdom in that regard helped us generate good energy throughout the album by just having fun with it.

Corey Slutsky wrote:There were a few too many effects used on this album.


To me this is ironic because we originally set out with the goal of making this as pure as possible. Me and Ford listened to Off the Beat and Code Red and wanted to stay as far away from that style as we could.

Tom Czerwinski wrote:The first two tracks manage to convey an excellent sense of vocal energy despite the fact you can barely tell it's voices, a stunning and rare feat. I also liked the juxtaposition of the more hyper-produced tracks with tracks of a more traditional glee-club sound.


This was ultimately our goal: depict a wide range of production styles from pure to progressive, while having all tracks maintain a distinct sense of vocal quality.

Deke Sharon wrote:This is the new direction for collegiate a cappella: the group members themselves do all/most of the recording and pre-mix, in addition to the arranging, rehearsing, directing, producing.


It's also just a lot cheaper this way. Our studio was in an off-campus, one bedroom apartment with nasty stains all over the walls, a toilet that always smelled no matter how much Roto Rooter you put in, and $100 worth of fifty cent pillows and blankets from our local thrift store stapled to the walls. Our next door neighbor loved to blast death metal at any time of day, but you make it work.

Corey Slutsky wrote:For once, a group was able to translate that drive in the studio.


Again we really appreciate everyone’s praise of our hard work. As a plug for Deke and Bill's seminar, it was an amazing launching pad to get us up and running. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Investing a very reasonable amount of money into top notch acappella experts did wonders for us.

Hope you go pick up a copy.
Ian G.
The Back Row ('03-'07), Colorado College all-male acappella, Founder
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Postby RnBMrE » Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:18 pm

Back Row, I LOVE what I've heard from this album. Congratulations! "Feel Good, Inc." is great!!! Had thought about arranging that one. Was glad to hear a cover that captures and builds off, even increases, the energy of the original.

IanG wrote:I was surprised at all 3 reviewers comments that Feel Good Inc. was teched out -- I would say that that sound comes from a maxed-out Pro Tools session that we spent 50+ hours on perfecting every detail in our studio, and to my ears has a distinctly vocal sound.


I will say, though, that I would agree with the reviewers' comments. "FGI" sounds teched out. Don't get me wrong, I love the effects on the song and its overall sound, but I think they were accurate in saying that.

IanG wrote:we originally set out with the goal of making this as pure as possible.


IanG wrote:This was ultimately our goal: depict a wide range of production styles from pure to progressive


Umm... explain? If this means that there was a *shift* to the latter (using more effects) over the course of making the album, then I don't think you can call Corey's comments ironic. Surprising, maybe. :-)

-----

Also, Ian, I have a number of questions. Did you guys buy equipment and software to record? Did you already own stuff? Was it expensive? More than $3000? Were people experienced with said equipment and software? About how long did you spend recording each song? Did you guys edit the tracks, too?

Matt Emery CASA Director of Communications Three-time Recipient of RARB "Post of the Year" Title

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Postby IanG » Fri Nov 10, 2006 8:41 am

RnBMrE wrote:Back Row, I LOVE what I've heard from this album. Congratulations! "Feel Good, Inc." is great!!! Had thought about arranging that one. Was glad to hear a cover that captures and builds off, even increases, the energy of the original.


Thanks! Feel Good is one of my favorite tracks on our album, I was surprised to see Peaches selected over Feel Good for BOCA this year.

RnBMrE wrote:I will say, though, that I would agree with the reviewers' comments. "FGI" sounds teched out. Don't get me wrong, I love the effects on the song and its overall sound, but I think they were accurate in saying that.


I see why people think it sounds teched out. But to my ears there is still a vocal feel to the song, and I think it comes from the fact that Feel Good is really unaffected in the mix. Yesterday I was listening to the pre-mix version we sent to Bill, and it sounds nearly identical to the final version. To my ears I understand why people say it sounds teched out -- but I think there is an organic quality to it as well. And I know many many other listeners will likely disagree with me!

RnBMrE wrote:Also, Ian, I have a number of questions. Did you guys buy equipment and software to record? Did you already own stuff? Was it expensive? More than $3000? Were people experienced with said equipment and software? About how long did you spend recording each song? Did you guys edit the tracks, too?


We didn't own any of the equipment beforehand and none of us had any knowledge on how to do anything with the equipment. We just learned as we went. Me and Ford (our old music director) edited all the tracks, and it took us about 7 months of nonstop work. Peaches (the first song we recorded) took over a month, Your Smiling Face (the last song we recorded) took under a week. In terms of equipment, we spent about $5,000, but in retrospect I wouldn't have spent that much money because I think we unnecessarily spent extra in areas we didn't need to. It's also nice because we keep the equipment -- we just started recording our second album and we can do that for free because we already have everything.

Matt if you want to know more in depth, shoot me an email at i_goldstein@coloradocollege.edu.
Ian G.
The Back Row ('03-'07), Colorado College all-male acappella, Founder
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Postby borski » Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:22 pm

On a similar note, we tracked and edited Left on Red all on our own and recorded in the Logs' studio.

For this next CD, we've built our own little studio and man, I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes. Sure, it's not soundproof, but we have as many hours as we want and can play forever. And it's a hell of a lot cheaper than using an actual studio.

I was telling Deke and Bill about it and heard about Back Row doing it as well. Props. Your CD, from what I've heard (which admittedly is only half the tracks), sounds awesome. Expect a purchase order from me soon :)

You really learn a lot when you have more time to track and edit. We even come up with our own (shitty, but existent) mixes now. :)

As for equipment, in reference to RnBMrE's question, the studio itself, for us, cost a total of 710 bucks. 650 for the mic (AKG C414) and 60 bucks for the wood/free ceiling tiles. Granted, we already had an MBox and Protools, but according to http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?lan ... temid=4962 thats only an extra $329.

If you want pictures, we have some up:
http://web.mit.edu/resonance/www/studio%20pics/

Anyway, the point is if Back Row and we can do it, you can too!
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