Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Candor Is King (End Of The World Edition)

It's been a while since my last blog, so I have some catching up to do.

Since we last spoke, I have been producing recordings for Sarah Burton, Krista Hartman, Bryce Jardine and Young Running. I've also played on records by Andy Kim and Sean Burns. Plus a live video at Catherine North with Whitehorse. Not to mention, I am nearing the completion of my own record.

I have also played on stage with James Burton (Elvis' guitarist), Albert Lee, Nels Cline (Wilco), Sloan, Divine Brown, Ron Sexsmith, Serena Ryder, Kevin Drew, Cindy Cashdollar, Dan Mangan, Madison Violet, Colin Linden and a pantload more. Not bad for a few months' work.

I try to give a little advice with these blogs. Often, people ask me how I get to play with so many great players. I get calls almost every day for gigs.

"Do you search them out?" Not really.
I have worked hard on my playing from day one. Focus on playing to a click (or, metronome) to the point where you can't hear it while you are playing. They call that "burying the click". Your relationship with a metronome should be a life-long relationship. Once you start burying it, people will start noticing.

Let it be known, not every recording should be done to a click. The Beauties record wasn't working with a click because I was a click player, but the rest of the band wasn't. So we ditched the click and drank some tequila. Perfect.

But technical fortitude and choppery aside, there is one word that will always land you the gig.

Candor. (Or, candour, as the brits spell it.)

The mark of a true pro is someone who can get along with everyone. I am still nurturing my own candor. I'm not perfect, that's for certain. There is something to be said for humbleness and humility. I have confidence with my talents. However, I am open to suggestion, always.

Sometimes it's the least schooled musician that will teach you the most valuable lessons.

I always say, 80% of the game is getting along with the people you play with. The other 20% is your application of skills.

Also, leave your baggage at the door when in a session. At least wait until the session over before you cry, get angry, or punch a clown. Take deep breaths. The Buddhists have this technique down pat. Believe me, this will earn you a call back.

You don't want to bring stress to an already intense situation. Time is money in the studio, but being patient and zen-like is crucial. My friend and engineer John Dinsmore (of The Lincoln Country Social Club studio, bassist for Kathleen Edwards and NQ Arbuckle) carries this quality. That's why he gets the gig.

I hope this sheds some insight into "the game". Being a polite and fun to be around person are traits I strive for. Playing and technique, while of course important, will always come in a shy second place. How can you expect to make inspiring music if there is a storm cloud in the room? There can be inspiration therein, but it's tougher to find.

Tell your friends you love them, today.