In a few weeks I am going to do an LP for a punk band. They have expressly asked me to make it as LoFi as possible; originally asking me to do everything entirely analog in one session directly to a 4 track tape machine being pushed as hard as possible. While I, as a young punk appreciate rawness in music, I'm also trying to build my reputation as an engineer because I just got my first professional studio job. Does anyone have advice on how to create something that appeases their desire for LoFi but still sounds good?
Thus far I am thinking that I might use multiple room mics and be very heavy handed with parallel drum compression. I have also considered using additive high-end eq on the vocals, snare and cymbals, but using more traditional eq on toms, kick, and bass.
thats a far better reflection of your abilities than recording the record they dont want for the benefit of your aesthetic sensibilities. alternately, if you can't find good middle ground w the band don't take on the project.
i guess what i am getting at is, you're providing a service, unless they've asked you to produce the record do as they ask. (:
I'm 100% with Chase here. If I'm paying you to make my album sound like it was recorded at the bottom of a well with a kid's tape recorder then that's what you're getting paid to do. You're welcome to make your album sound like whatever you like but my album is mine. If you don't do everything you can to get that sound for me or just politely turn down my project then you've just become That Guy, and fuck That Guy right in his face.
The other side of that coin is that the customer is almost never right, otherwise they wouldn't be a customer, they'd just do it themselves. They know what they want, but unlike Mr. Lydon, they may not know how to get it. Get reference material and listen hard to it. Understand what the band's going for, but when they start telling you which mics to use or how to EQ, I'd probably stop listening. There's a whole continuum of sounds and quality from bottom of the well/tape recorder all the way to overproduced Fleetwood Mac bullshit. There are plenty of ways to get raw and live sounds that don't require shitty equipment or poor techniques. You can have loud, aggressive, raw music that's well recorded and mixed. Try to find a happy medium that both showcases your skills and brings out the best qualities of the band.
Thank you guys for the advice! It was all very helpful, but unfortunately the band has asked me to hardpan all of the drums to the left and all of the bass to the right, and they won't budge on the matter. (funny since supposedly the human ear percieves most low frequencies as mono, although I've heard some differing viewpoints on bass panning recently). I've given up on having something relatively nice sounding. At this point, I'm going to make everything sound as good as possible before all of the panning and just call it an experiment and not tell anyone that I engineered for them. Thanks anyway, everybody!
All the people here that want to "make it sound good" or "hi-fi" are idiots. If the client wants it to sound like someone puking off-brand bleach into a plastic bucket, make it so. People are not going to discover you because of your work, or even if they are, they will contact people you have worked with. If the punk band is not happy with the sound because it is too clean and you fuzzied about placing your mics precisely for 2 hours, they are going to have an experience they did not enjoy, and are going to pass that word along.
Either go into it willing to do what they are paying you to do or tell them that you are not interested in working with them.
FWIW, my father and I run into this with visual design and copy writing for websites for his clients all the time.
The clients are almost always wrong about wording and/or design. Sometimes they take our advice, they like our ideas. Other times I write outrageously horrid copy and my father and his programmer make ugly as fvck websites.