Today is the day! My band Collage is releasing its second, self-produced single ‘No More’. Here it is: https://soundcloud.com/collage-3/no-more
It has been a wonderful journey so far. One that started in 2007 and continues, in spite of the thousands of miles between us band members. On the occasion of the release, I thought it would be fun to ‘interview’ my very talented bandmates. And thankfully, all of them obliged. So here goes!
Special shoutout and thanks to the very talented Kamakshi Rai, who was our vocalist back then and was involved in the composition of the song.
A Blues-ey song?
Yashodhan: We didn’t really start off with a Blues-ish composition in mind. As far as I remember, we came up with the first chord riff and Kamakshi came up with a vocal line, with Omkar adding the lyrics. From there, we just kept building on the song, and it turned out the way it is today.
Kaustubh: Yes, we didn’t really know what Blues music was back then! The song was mainly composed and built around a guitar riff by Yasho and Kamakshi, which was canned because it was sounding remarkably similar to another song by a well known band! We decided to go for a shuffle-swing kinda feel for this song which (according to us) gave it that Blues-ish feel.
Uma: Collage has never limited itself genre-wise, but our previous two singles had a similar feel to them. While I personally was not involved in the composition of any of the singles, I had the honor of witnessing the revamp of these songs. And I saw No More grow into the peppy, jazzy number that it is now. And with that in mind, performing this song always came with a different set of expectations that I had to try and live up to.
Nikhil: We used to come up with random riffs and tracks in our jam sessions. Some of them were good, many were bad. ‘No More’ was one of the good ones. So we decided to go ahead and develop the track.
Uma: And besides just how I felt performing this song, the response from the crowd was always great. It’s a song that you can tap your foot to, and just really get into the groove with, and you could always see that in the audience. Personally, I’ve always loved doing this song.
Into The Studio
Yashodhan: It was great fun recording guitars! I had anticipated the guitar recording process would be challenging and complicated. The tracking of the acoustic guitar involved experimenting with different mikes and mike positions to get a balanced and full sound of the acoustic guitar. We also experimented with the lead guitar sound, especially with the wah effect.
Nikhil: In fact it was way too much fun to record each and every part of the song and then praise yourself for the effort :P. Also it didn’t take us that much time as Kaustubh and Yashodhan had a good understanding of the recording process.
Kaustubh: Yasho and I have recorded a lot of our music before. We had a basic idea about recording songs but we still had to learn a lot of fundamental stuff; about sound, capturing, mixing amongst other things. He did a certificate course in audio recording and I have been to a lot of recording sessions in big studios and live concerts and sound checks in Mumbai and Pune where I got to learn a lot of tips and tricks just by observing (or by asking foolish questions :P) some top sound engineers and musicians!
Uma: Typically, we record all the instruments first, and use that track to record vocals. Studio recordings have always been an adrenaline-filled experience for me (who needs skydiving?!). I was always a nervous wreck, but so excited that I’d have this ridiculous grin on my face the entire time. Being in the studio always felt surreal, with my bandmates in a separate room, watching; definitely not like the comfortable shoulder-rubbing of a good old jam session. But the nerves always made me push myself a little more and with the guidance of my bandmates it’s always been a learning experience.
Kaustubh: The process has helped us a lot. All this experience gave me a good starting point. Eventually, I decided to build a recording studio and transformed two rooms at my home into one. Fortunately it’s big enough to record live drums! And that’s what we did: our first ever drum recording session, that too at my own home studio!
We started by recording some acoustic guitar strumming as a trial track, and the same “trial” track was used on No More later! 😀 Then, on the same track we recorded the strumming, guitar lead, bass, drums and organ lead. We programmed a pilot track to record Uma’s vocals before she left for the U.S., to pursue her Masters.
Nikhil: I was also really excited about our new studio at Kaustubh’s place, and was looking forward to our first ever attempt at drum recording, all by ourselves. It took me a while to understand the recording process like the cue in the headphones and miking on the drum heads; how to make the best use of the limited number of mikes. After I got the hang of it, it wasn’t that complicated. The recording process was great fun. I learned quite a few things and cherish each and every moment.
Performing Live Vs Recording
Uma: Our biggest focus when we’re performing live is coordinating with each other and really getting our music out there to the audience; to give out the joy we feel when performing. And you only get that one shot, and we practice as hard as we can to make the best of that one shot.
Kaustubh: You have to get your notes, sound, tightness, dynamics right in that one chance on stage. When you are recording in the studio you can take your own time to do these things. There’s only one thing common between a live performance and a recording: your musicianship, which is the most important thing.
Nikhil: While recording you are with your band mates whom you know, so there’s always that comfort level and you know you’re not being judged on that performance.
Yashodhan: Live performance is more about the ‘performance’, the chemistry between the band members, the overall set list, how you manage to keep the crowd interested, etc. Recordings are more focussed on the song itself. Of course, playing your parts to perfection is a part of both, there is no escape from that 🙂
It’s Been A Long Road
Yashodhan: Releasing the song online does justice to all the hard work the band has put in, right from composing the song with Kamakshi, to practicing it over and over again and performing it so many times, changing little things here and there (change from A to D scale, the chromatic chords at the end of the stanza), and finally working hard to record it in the best way we can. It feels great to have your music online and get feedback from people.
Nikhil: You always feel good when you create something, whether it’s a painting, a dish you’ve cooked or a song. I always feel proud to say ‘This is my band’s song!’ and to be a part of Collage.
Kaustubh: This song is special because it’s one of our first few compositions and also because it was produced at my home studio. The first production at my studio :).
Uma: By the time we were ready to record this song, all of our lives were being hit by major changes, a result of which, the band hadn’t performed in quite some time. Our bassist had been in the United States for a year already, I was gearing up to do the same, our guitarist was busy applying to schools in the USA, our keyboardist was really beginning to make it big as a photographer, our drummer was stepping up to take over his family business. You can only imagine what these changes did to the band.
But, we rallied and decided that we absolutely had to record our singles. And so we hit our first roadblock. I was due to leave in about 2 months. There was no way we could record the final track in time, especially with the bassist away! So we recorded vocals to the pilot track! After that came the drums recording, followed by the bass recording, when our bassist returned on vacation. By this point, our guitarist was due to leave for the States and they managed to get all of his work recorded just before he left. Kaustubh worked on the mix after that, something that Yashodhan and I managed to contribute to when we visited home on vacation recently.
And so, after two years of squishing in work where and when they could, the band has come to this point where we can release this song. It really is a happy moment for us.
A Few Thoughts Of My Own
So many things have changed since this track was composed; I wasn’t even playing the bass back then! Hats-off to Kaustubh for managing the lower frequencies on the keyboard during our live performances at the time. And then there’s the evolution of the bass-line as I started learning more about the bass. The bass-line in this recorded single is drastically different from the one that used to be played even as late as 2011!
Recording at Kaustubh’s place was a great experience. Especially because we didn’t have the thought ‘We’re paying a lot per hour/day just to be here!’ at the back of our mind. And it was a new experience for us as we had never recorded bass in a studio before. So quite a lot of things were unknown. But we did it anyways. Whenever we used to perform ‘No More’ in our live shows, people would often say ‘hey, I really liked that foot-tapping number’. Comments like these used to (and still) make us smile like crazy 🙂
Personally, it is a wonderful moment sharing our creation with everyone outside of live performances. The journey from creating the track way back in 2007, to performing it live in shows and competitions, to finally releasing it has been a great, emotional one.
Looking forward to recording and sharing more of our music with you! Do checkout and like our Facebook page!
Hope you guys liked No More and a glimpse into how it was made. If you liked it, please spread the word and the share the link to the track – https://soundcloud.com/collage-3/no-more – on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, (Ello, anyone?) and/or any other social network. Any support would be much appreciated 🙂
As always, thanks a ton for reading! Stay tuned for an exciting travelogue, coming up next!