With anticipation and relief, Fellow Traveler has finally set a date to begin recording. On March 8th we’ll enter the studio – and shortly thereafter we shall emerge with a 5 song EP in hand, and ready to toss at anyone who’s willing to lend us their ears.
Up until this point (2 years) we’ve survived off of a few youtube videos from our second show, and outdated recordings from 4 months after the band formed to share with people. Often we’re asked by friends, fans, or bookers, “do you have a CD?”
“Um, no… but we have these videos from 2 years ago. That’s good enough right?” And, usually, it has been good enough. It’s been good enough to get shows, it’s been good enough to give people an idea of who we are (Side note: don’t ever let yourself believe a half-ass recording that you recorded in your basement, on a phone, while dogs ran around upstairs barking isn’t good enough to get a show). But it’s also been kind of embarrassing. We have pictures. We have a website. We even have this blog. But music merchandise… the actual product of a rock band? No. Meanwhile it seems like every band we talk to at shows is preparing to record, or preparing to record their second album even. It’s time.
So, Why Haven’t We Recorded Yet?
I think recording requires a lot of faith. It requires time, commitment, and cash. And even after you’ve spent all of those – you don’t know if you’re going to like what you hear. As a band we can play to ourselves every week, and perform shows to our friends then look around at each other and say “hey, we’re pretty good”. It’s fun. But it never really puts you face to face with your own music. There’s a chance you won’t like what you hear. And although there’s a lot that factors into a recording (the equipment, the engineer, the studio space, etc.), the most important aspect is your own performance. If you can’t play your music well, no amount of mixing, gear, or cowbells are going to make your song sound good.
Gigs – No Album required – I already touched on this above, so I won’t say much. Playing live is fun. I used to think no one would give you a chance to play a live show unless you had a good recording. Turns out they’re not that picky. You can get shows, and you can have fun. But, there comes a time when some legitimate form of recording is required. Otherwise, promotion is difficult. I don’t even think bookers listen to 85% of bands CDs, but the fact they have them says something. It’s like having a business card. To be a musician, you have to have music. Crazy how that works.
Songs change. I’m a fairly slow songwriter. Guitar riffs, progressions and melodies sometimes emerge together in the span of one night, but rarely. I more often tend to deliberate, and fumble around making gibberish. One thing I really value about our group dynamic in Fellow Traveler is that we tend to tinker with our songs a lot. There’s always something we’re looking to fine tune, or make a song more concise. That’s what makes playing the songs fun, is making them better and crafting the highs and lows out of each one. And the only way you can do that is with time.
I typically feel like songs evolve in 3-4 steps:
- The initial idea is presented and played with – this is where everyone fumbles around. There’s an idea, but little cohesion on the framework of the song. One person might have presented their idea… or a riff just
- The framework is established and understood – at this point all of the pieces of the song are stuck together like building blocks. The parts are there, but there’s no real connection between each part. It’s like a collage of related, but unfused items. There’s a vision, and direction, but the song still lacks feeling.
- The song comes together – After you’ve played through the framework enough, the parts eventually begin to flow into each other, and the song begins to take life.
- Cut and polish – All of a Sudden you realize that the epic outro you loved for so long, only sounds good to you. Otherwise, it’s too loud and boring. This is when a song get’s good. It’s usually long after you’ve said “this is a good song.” It’s when you realize “I like this song. But it’s not quite right.”
This isn’t about songs being perfect. But if I’m going to put my cash, commitment and time into recording my songs – and ask you to listen to them, I want to give the best I can. I want to be able to hand you a CD with 5 songs that I feel really good about. I don’t want to waste your time with 12 songs, 5 of which are really good, and 8 are okay. There’s plenty of good music in the world for you to listen to, so we’ll just start with 5 of our songs we’d like you to listen to. Those are coming soon.
Want to Get Notified When the EP is Available?