For many of us, the iconic black and white image of George Martin and the Beatles huddled together at Abbey Road Studios in London will forever represent the high-water mark in recording history. A group a young men sitting together, making magic.
Much has changed within the recording industry in the decades since the Beatles went their separate ways. Stereophonic hi-fi was a catchy little phrase in the sixties, like an old motel sign, quaintly advertising color television. Blink twice, and the sign now reads “high speed internet“, making it entirely possible for musicians to record new music from their hotel rooms, or perhaps even tour bus. It also enables the musicians to come together creatively, even when the members are on opposite ends of the country.
The Gin Blossoms, known for such hits as “Hey Jealousy“, and “Til I Hear It From You” are prime examples, having recorded their fifth release “No Chocolate Cake”, in such a manner. Gin Blossoms lead vocalist Robin Wilson recently relocated to Manhattan with his wife, while the other members of the band continue to live near Phoenix. The first single from “No Chocolate Cake”, a tune called “Miss Disarray”, has received significant airplay in Adult Contemporary radio, marking a return to the charts for the band.
Skate the Razor, of Western New York, have adopted a similar method for their new CD. Two members of the band, brothers David and Michael Moran reside in the sleepy village of Delevan, New York, an hour south of Buffalo. Vocalist Brad Cooper lives in Phoenix, while guitarist Ryan Hansgen has settled in rural Tennessee.
“The whole process has changed”, states Ryan, a veteran of the recording industry. “The digital age has arrived. We can now record a project in multiple locations. All one has to do is send a digital capture of the work to the next person, open it up on their computer and record their tracks. Most of the out-board goodies such as effects are included with the software, making the whole process cleaner, and more robust.”
Legendary record producer, and designer of the world renown Power Station Studios in Manhattan spoke of having mixed feelings on the subject when interviewed for this article, but fully embraces the new technology, comparing the old system to a buggy whip… a “lost and useless craft“.
Tony Bongiovi recently appeared at CES 2010, the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, where he spoke about the success of his latest technological innovations, the iHome, the iP1 and the iP2. “Almost all urban music is recorded on computers”, he emphasized. Bongiovi, best known for his work with artists like Areosmith and his second cousin Jon Bon Jovi has watched the industry shift in recent years. Mr. Bongiovi, who has over a hundred gold and platinum albums to his name, anticipated the change, moving to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the late nineties when the studio industry began to feel the push of progress.
“It‘s simply more practical“. Hansgen added. “It's actually much quicker than having to hop a plane or drive for hundreds of miles to some studio somewhere to get work accomplished. Just press a button and there it goes, on to the next person.“