First experience of recording: pre-internet

I have a stack of very old analogue cassettes with scribbled song lists in black biro on the cardboard inlays, from around the mid-1990s. They are band rehearsal tapes from back in the day. They sound pretty awful and never quite captured our live sound.

Eventually we saved enough money to be able to afford to hire a professional engineer and studio for the weekend. I was unemployed at the time and had no money so we somehow pulled together to pay for it all.

In those days I couldn’t really afford much gear. My grandmother left me a little money after she passed and I bought a Marshall amplifier. But I have always been a less gear is more type of guitarist. I like technology but struggle with it, the less wires, foot switches and dials the better!

When we arrived at the studio we were like kids in a sweet shop and suddenly we could hear ourselves on tape as clearly as we did in the rehearsal room or at a gig. Quite an incredible buzz. I even had the luxury of hiring a 12 string acoustic guitar for a couple of tracks. We pretty much recorded the backing live with vocal overdubs.

Freakscene live at the Rainbow’s End, Essex 1990s

The studio we recorded in was by chance the same as The Enid had recorded their music so it felt like the big time! We slept on the floor in the studio over the weekend and drank far too much alcohol – which meant I was hugely hungover when it came to doing my guitar overdubs on the Sunday.

At the end of the weekend we departed with a large reel to reel master tape in our possession. Admittedly, we felt a hightened sense of our own importance but excited to at last be able to offer our fans something of decent quality to listen to. We had enough money left over to pay for the tracks to be mastered and distributed on CD, something we could now give to people at gigs.

Of course now, in 2017, we could have recorded half decent demos on an iPad or laptop. Then uploaded our stuff to SoundCloud, reaching a much wider audience.

We could have mixed and mastered our rehearsal recordings ourselves using Pro Tools or Apple Logic. Then we could have distributed the tracks as digital downloads via BandCamp. Getting gigs would have been much easier if more people can hear your music online.

Artists and group are now more empowered, especially smaller, independent musicians. I think it’s an exciting time to be an artist or musician because we have direct access to affordable technology and worldwide listeners. The big corporates are trying to wrest back some control but I think in the end, the music fan or musician has won and the only thing stopping us making it happen are our own endeavours.