Bad Pony’s top five tips for getting the best out of any recording session

If you’ve not yet heard Deficiency, the new EP from Sydney’s Bad Pony, stop what you’re doing – hit the Spotify link below and enjoy some of the freshest rock sounds out of the east coast in recent months.

For the band, the first few months of 2018 have proved to be quite fruitful, with their SXSW appearance earning them much acclaim and then returning to Australia, capitalising on the momentum with flair.

The release of Deficiency will have Bad Pony on the road through June but in the meantime, the guys have given us a little insight into their recording process with these tidbits of knowledge. How to do it up right, according to Bad Pony…

Treat That Room

When recording, especially vocals, it is essential to do it in a room that has some form of sound absorption/treatment in it. Early reflections from walls and other surfaces can be really irritating come mixing time. Even if it sounds fine recorded dry, once you crank the compression up to get the vocals nice and present, reflections previously unheard can read their ugly head. At the same time singing into a closet or  a corner with insufficient absorption could cause weird mid humps and frequency spikes that you don’t want to leave to someone else to deal with when mixing.

You Don’t Need a $2000+ Microphone to Sound Good

The performance will always trump the gear you use. Nowadays you can get a perfectly workable vocal mic for $250 -$300. We once decided to record vocals in a “big studio” and they had a Neumann U47 that was chosen for the track in question. In the end it did not sound much better than the cheaper mics we use in our home studios… at least not on that voice on that particular song.

Use Different Mics to Take Snapshots of Instruments

Take a drum kit for example: The traditional close mics, overheads and room mics give a good representation of a drum kit but sometimes that’s not enough. Adding a few extra mics here and there could help you complete that picture. For instance try mic-ing the kick drum (in addition to a close mic) with a spare mic between 30cm and a meter away from the front skin, or put a spare condenser mic up down the hall for some extra roominess. Just be mindful of phase issues when adding these “character” mics, especially when they are close to the instrument. Move around and listen, if something has a nice sound where you are, put a mic up. At worst, the mixing engineer can just decide to not use it later on. It’s important to give him/her options.

Don’t Lust After Expensive Analogue Gear

Related to Point 2; yes, there is a good case for decent microphones and maybe a good outboard preamp or two but a lot of times you are paying 70% extra for a 10% improvement in sound. Until that 10% really really matters to you, your money might be better spent elsewhere. Consumer gear and preamps in interfaces are improving all the time and once you get to the mid tier of products you can be 100% sure that your skill and not your gear will be holding you back. I recently sold a Distressor (one of the most famous modern hardware compressors) because a software version of it sounded close enough for me and suited my workflow much better.

Nothing Beats 1st Hand Experience

You can read as many tutorials and “top tips” as you like but nothing is a substitute for your own experience and developing your ear. Sometimes following someone else’s approach too closely can slow down your own progress. Don’t be afraid to try something. You’ll probably learn more from failing than succeeding.

BAD PONY TOUR DATES

June 15th | Yah Yah’s, MELBOURNE
June 16th | Republic Bar, HOBART
June 21st | Waywards, SYDNEY
June 22nd | Cambridge Hotel, NEWCASTLE
June 23rd | Rad Bar, WOLLONGONG
June 29th | Byron Brewery, BYRON BAY
June 30th | Black Bear Lodge,  BRISBANE

Photo by Ashley Mar.