Friday, November 24, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
BE SOBER FOR MUSIC WORK
Originally Posted: 03-15-2013 7:25 PM
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Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. That’s what making music is all about right? It’s all wild, all-night parties, contraband and excess, no? In the recording studios I’ve worked in, I haven’t seen it much at all, thankfully. That’s not to say that the producers, musicians, and other creative types I’ve worked with don’t like to tie one on, carouse, or partake in activities that they’d prefer that I not detail for you here; but with pros, it rarely happens in the studios. When it’s time to work, it’s time to work—plain and simple.

Artists that show up to the studio or set that are unable to be sharp and alert—hindering productions by wasting other people’s time or the investor’s money—are not respected. Know this: if you get a shot to work with pros, keep the work and the partying strictly sequestered or you may not get the chance again.

Once, on a session in a major recording studio, an artist I was recording was so slowed down on pills that they couldn’t even lock to beat. This was one of the only big “Jim Morrison” type of artist/drug experiences in my engineering career and it was nothing short of pathetic. I found myself getting resentful very quickly that the artist in question was screwing up the great opportunity they had had to make music at that level.

After hearing the shape they were in, I stalled for close to half an hour, claiming there was a technical problem, to allow the pills to wear off a bit. My idea worked, and we got the vocal eventually, but I decided I would never work with that person again, and I haven’t. Life’s too short to put my creative energies behind people who clearly thumb their noses to some modicum of professional determination to do their job well. All of us were counting on that person’s performance for success.

A polar opposite experience: Eric Clapton’s session came with a mandate that all alcohol be removed from the studio fridge and grounds. A recovering alcoholic, Eric had been there and done that, and after surviving, was wise enough to resolve to not do it again. He was an incredible player, humble, and ready to do as many takes as we asked. He understood the team process and played his part actively and exceedingly well. He allowed the producer to produce the tracks and when we were finished, Eric chalked up a cue and proceeded to beat my friend Scott Otto in a game of 8-ball, though I really thought Scott had him for a while.

Hip-hop sessions in LA were regularly smoked-out sessions, so I rarely took them. However, working with producer Armando Colon (Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Shaggy) and engineer Keston Wright (Dr. Dre, 2Pac, Michael Jackson) on an unreleased hip-hop project for Shaquille O’Neal was drug free. On that session, the most shocking thing was what Shaq pulled out of a gigantic bag his posse delivered him during a break: four Big Macs. And still, what an athlete!

Through the many years I worked with Tim Armstrong, he told me that his success with Rancid was due to his reverse of the typical “VH-1 Behind The Music artist’s career trajectory”: only after he stopped drinking did his band become successful.

One of the only times you can catch me being Mr. Serious is when I’m making a record with an artist, writing songs, or directing a music video. And at those times, I insist my collaborators be sober and be ready to bring their best abilities and flexibilities so we can forge our combined talents into real capabilities. When they do, I find everything else works itself out. There is no solution that can’t be found.

The rush of being present, connecting with each other and the akashic, and creating something together that connects with strangers is greater than any other experience imaginable. The idea we can do so at such a great level is a gift. I want my artists to be present and able to feel it the very moment we find and create something that makes the hair on our arms stand up.

It reminds me of something one of my substitute teachers in high school told us once. In his Spanish accent, much like the one shared by “The Most Interesting Man In The World” in the Dos Equis commercials, he told us: “when I was in college and it was time to work or study, I worked or studied… intensely. And in the same way, when it was time to party, I partied… intensely”.

So remember that music work is still work, and we’re honored to be able to do it, so show up straight so you can create… intensely. We’re counting on you. And when we complete a job well done, let us always take the sub’s advice, as I join you to celebrate… INTENSELY. Amen.

FIND A WAY MY FRIENDS
Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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