One thing I've noticed about the music industry in the perpetual struggle that Tamas and I deal with is the lack of hard workers. This is an industry that more than any other relies on motivation and self discipline to succeed. In fact this is a general theme throughout the arts. It's something that drives us crazy, be it in a new partnership that isn't working out, an entitled artist giving us a hard time, or simply the fact that we so often set up cool opportunities only to never hear back from the person who contacted us asking for help in the first place. So I wanted to look at what it takes to be legitimately helpful in this industry and the sort of approach that you need to have if you want to have the long term success that you deserve and specifically how this is going to relate to your time in the studio. After all, the lessons that we learn there are ones that are going to help us grow as people in the long run, whether or not we stick with music.
First and foremost I think it's important to emphasize that anything good takes time. Now a lot of bands like to say things like “Oh well Black Sabbath recorded their debut in twelve hours!” or “Led Zeppelin recorded their first record live in the studio and everyone agrees that's way better than In Through The Out Door!” but those arguments are kind of fundamentally missing the point. Sure Black Sabbath recorded their debut in twelve hours, but that was after months of playing five sets a night and working as a band who had some of the best guitar tone ever. The same goes for Led Zeppelin, they cut their teeth on the road, so when the time came to go to the studio everything just came out naturally. Don't think for a second though that the masterminds behind those bands didn't spend countless hours at home or during sets fiddling with their amps to get the perfect sound. Nowadays people try to just do that digitally and while it's technically possible it rarely works for the better.
Furthermore, not a lot of people seem to understand that along with this time is a sense of discipline. There can never be a 'good enough' when you are trying to record a great album. You need to be striving for perfection or at least have a specific tone in mind when you hit the studio. If you just back out and think that whatever you rig together with AXE-FX is good enough then you are only hurting yourself in the long term. Even if most people can't call it by listening people tend not to connect at much with a purely digital and modded setup. It doesn't have the unique twists and turns a real amplifier can have and it doesn't reflect the breadth that a room can have on the music. I know that a lot of that just sounds like pretentious bullshit, but generally speaking people still record music with real amps for a reason, even if they are running it through a digital rig they know that doing everything on a computer program isn't going to have the same feel that it needs to have.
Beyond that a lot of bands in the studio don't take the initiative that they need to. When it comes down to it, your engineer is working his ass off and has fairly limited time on his hands. He's not going to constantly be looking out for you and he has so many projects under his belt at any given moment that it's going\ to be hard for him to prioritize all the time. So you need to step up and take the initiative You're not going to get everything handed to you, even with the nicest engineer in the world you need to come in with something. If you don't have that vision and that ability to say”I need this, that and the other” then your producer isn't going to take you seriously and just try to get you in and out of the studio as quickly as possible. However if you take the time to do something special then you are much more likely to get the studio staff's best work and turn that into something far greater.
So many bands walk up to the studio with no clue of what they want and they are cartoonishly under rehearsed. This sense of entitlement only serves to hurt bands not only in the studio but in their careers as a whole. They expect people to be constantly looking out for them and it means that people don't trust them and lack the incentive to work them. The bands who can't get their shit together for the studio are the same people who struggle constantly with touring, getting good shows and developing over the long term. It's the bands who sit down and take the time to respect every opportunity offered to them who are able to win peoples hearts over and who understand that by grinding away like this they are going to end up on top of the world because they will have captured the hearts and minds of many of their peers who will then turn around and help them out.
At the end of the day going into the studio with a good attitude and an understanding of what it means to be a hard working band is only going to help you. You need to expend a lot of energy fighting the negative view of bands that a lot of industry people have because they have been burned so many times. Don't be afraid to sit down, take a lot of time to make sure that things work out and then refuse to settle. Don't be an asshole obviously but if you grind hard enough then you are going to assure that you have a future in this and you're not just spinning your wheels until the next hobby happens to take your fancy.