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On Recording Albums Prematurely
by Noctir (Nov. 2011)

In the modern era, it is quite common for bands to rush themselves and skip over critical parts of their natural development. While, in the past, musicians would rehearse a lot, record demos, play gigs and hone their skills throughout this process. Not only would they become more proficient with their instruments, but their songwriting would get stronger as well. It is no coincidence that, long ago, most bands put out their best material early on. Part of the reason for that is that they had a lot of time to work on their initial releases, crafting the songs to better suit their vision and being ready by the time they were able to record their debut album. Unfortunately, this is no longer how things are done, much of the time.

Rehearsing and recording demos seems to be a lost art, presently. A lot of times, a group of people come together and go straight for making a full-length album. They do not bother to rehearse much, rather they begin the songwriting process before they are even sure of what direction they want to go in. Playing gigs is something that many are unfamiliar with, and perhaps even impossible since so many 'bands' are simply solo projects of some guy working out of his mother's bedroom. As soon as these projects have produced a handful of songs, whether they are good or not, everyone rushes off to the studio –in other words, back to the bedroom-- to record the music with great haste. Songs are then uploaded online before the band even has a chance to think twice about what they have created, and they simply focus on making their second album. After a handful of atrocious releases, they may finally develop as musicians and learn how to make decent tunes. That is why so many bands do not sound worthwhile until their third of fourth record, since they skipped the previous stages and marched forward, unprepared. This has a few detrimental effects.

Think of the impression that the band makes. Instead of being truly ready and putting their best foot forward, they burst onto the scene with horrible music and lose all credibility right out of the gate. Even if the band, eventually, manages to improve it will not matter since most will have written them off. Imagine if Metallica had released an early garage demo as a full-length album. No one would have paid them any attention by the time they finally mastered their instruments and found their style. Hetfield's vocals, for one, would have been enough to turn a lot of people away. It took a couple years of playing and getting comfortable before the band found their own identity. Once they released Kill 'Em All, they had a strong following and made a great impact by offering up an excellent record that had been worked on for a long time. The do-it-yourself ethic of making and releasing your own music is fine and prevents bands from having to be slaves of the music industry, yet those years toiling away in obscurity while trying to secure a recording contract often worked to the benefit of many bands. Things have gotten too easy and too few see the logic of actually learning how to play, developing an identity and writing high-quality songs before presenting your work to the public. Just because you can form a band and release an album one week later does not mean that it is a good idea. There is no reason to rush things, making your band look like amateurs and flooding the scene with awful music, at the same time.

Copyright 2006-2021, Noctir