The process of recording and mixing is, by itself, mind-numbing. It’s not as simple as hooking a microphone to your computer. And when you add in the promotion and distribution of the album, things can get overwhelming. With those kinds of pressures and problems to maneuver around on a daily basis, why would a band try to do it all themselves?
“The simple and ugly answer,” says James, “is a lack of money in our early days. We knew that we needed to do some recording to get our music out there, but there was no way we could afford studio time or a producer or anything like that. I had a lot of equipment and a tiny bit of experience, so we went with that because we didn’t really have any other options that would not put us into serious debt.”
There are quite a few computer programs available that a person could use to record some instruments and create a song. There seems to be a bit of a presumption that recording and mixing songs is a pretty straightforward process and relatively simple. I, for one, thought the same thing many years ago when I first started experimenting with recording music. The reality of recording and mixing, however, is much more harsh.
“That job was on my shoulders,” explains James, “and at the time I didn’t realize just how far in over my head I was. Inexperience coupled with a quest for perfection meant that things ended up taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. I spent a lot of time just researching things and figuring out how sound really works and I sat down with some of the classic albums that I loved growing up and analyzed how everything had been layered and balanced.”
When a band has fans who are eagerly awaiting new music or a new album, it is very easy to try to rush your product out the door and put yourself into a situation where you make promises or obligations without thinking things through. This is where the absence of a manager and booking agent then reared its ugly head for No Island.
“Much of our audience at the time was made up of college students and as students ourselves, we were racing against the clock to make sure our album was released before exams began and before Andy went back to his home town for a summer job,” said James.
“We boxed ourselves in with a deadline by booking the date for the release show before the CD was even done,” he continued, “I know now that this was not a wise decision. Everything turned out fine in the end, but the extra stress was not worth it. My advice to any band would be to make sure you’ve got the final product in your hand and that you’re happy with it before you even think of setting a release date, even if it means sitting on top of a finished album for a while.”
Despite the growing pains, No Island is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. And in the end, the “do-it-yourself” approach taught them more than any recording studio ever could. It taught them how valuable their talents are, both musically and managerially.
The members of No Island can always look back and say, “been there, done that”. Experience isn’t something that can be learned in a book or taught in school. And it’s that reason why in many ways, No Island is leaps and bounds ahead of their Independent competitors. For No Island, the sky’s the limit.