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Parables from the Arcade

Posted by A. Mclernon-Smith | Found in: Secondary

Just two short years ago, we didn't exist. But now we’re a collaboration of four great musical minds, formed into a singular harmony.

Hi, I’m Ashton, the drummer from Shraders Arcade, in this article I’ll be telling our story.

It all started in the summer of ‘17 or ’18, the band can’t decide if it was December or January, but it was during a hot Perth summer.

Isaac (The bassist) made a group chat on iMessage called ‘band’ which had me, Jonathan (The guitarist) and Isaac himself. He asked us if we wanted to start up a band, to which Jonathan and I replied, “yes of course!”. Isaac offered to host the jam sessions and on Saturday and from that point onwards the rest was history.

We share many memories together, we are closer to each other as friends than anyone else. Our experiences in the band differ ever so slightly in the way we play, we talk about new song ideas, performance locations and were even considering getting some of our songs featured on a local radio station. When you play in a band you get exposed to a lot of different stuff that’s going to be new to you. For example, the first time I played live was at the Artisan Markets; it went awful but it made me better and motivated to continue. There was no doubt in my mind that my first live performance was going to be perfect *SPOILER ALERT* it never ever goes the way we plan it and the real experience is how you adapt to it.

I can’t remember much before the birth of Shraders Arcade but from what I do remember, I felt empty. Like there was a part of me that was incomplete, but I could never comprehend what it was. I would never have guessed that starting a band would have filled my empty mind, let's keep in mind here I never knew how to play drums before being in a band and playing with those other people helped me stay motivated and excited to learn something different.

The second stage of the band I feel we’ve achieved is the production and execution of original songs, within the last year we have managed to create 8 original songs. Once you’ve made 8 songs that’s usually enough to start recording them. A lot of money and time goes into recording a song, the hardest part to record is the drumkit.

Trust me, I have had many problems with it.

You need to buy drum microphones  specifically built for each component of the kit, a microphone built for the kick drum, another for the snare, the toms and overhead options that pick up the cymbals and reverb. Every other component of recording is easy, the guitar, bass and vocals need only 1 mic.

Mixing what you have recorded is the second hardest thing to do in a song, you must have knowledge of the software you use and the time to master the art of panning and volume of each track. All in all, recording is no easy feat but the result when you have a song to listen to is the most rewarding thing about it all.

If you want to record a rock song yourself you must know how to do it, there are some major steps you need to take to execute the recording phase. Its common knowledge that you start a rock song with the drums, your drummer must know the song from start to finish and he must do it perfectly to keep it in the recording. The second thing you must know is that after the drums comes the bass. What the bass does is help the guitarist keep track of where the song Is at and provide rhythm to it. Once the bass is down you add the guitar and then you add the vocals. These are the 4 major steps needed to have a track down, afterwards you may add sounds effects and percussion such as tambourines or harmonies. These are the solid foundations of recording a rock song.

Compared to a live performance for me personally, the crowd looking at you from below can be extremely daunting, the pressure to do well and not screw up is immense and the constant thought of people judging you always lingers. When you record there is no fear of messing up as you can always start from the top and nobody would give a second thought about it, but when you makes mistakes live everybody notices and there are people recording on their phones for the world to see; then you can never forget about it. However, when you record in a quiet there is no cheer or applause after you finish a song whereas compared to a live performance you get a certain sense of satisfaction from people who enjoy what you do.

Some tips and tricks for recording that’s helped us is get the drummer to play to a metronome or click track while recording, this helps avoid frustration further down the line when the guitarist notices a mistake you made at one point in the song that would have been out of time. Get the guitarist not to record his tunes through an amp but get him to play it straight into the interface that goes into the computer then add distortion later. Playing live is a whole different game though, get the singer to bring a bottle of water just in case his/her voice goes halfway though a set. Get the drummer to bring a second snare and pair of sticks, I’ve learned from past mistakes that its not fun when your sticks break halfway through a song and everything stops. You are not going to make anyone happy when you kill their vibe by stopping their song.

All in all, if you want to start a band; there are some things your going to have to deal with. Your first few gigs are going to be horrific and sometimes the people you invite to play in the band might not be the best people to work with. You are going to have to accept that you may need to kick your friends from the band if they don’t put in the hard work and inadequately practicing.

To accept challenges than being in a band will be one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of a lifetime, it can open career paths in the music industry, and you could make something out of doing what you love.

I would like to leave you a thought to contemplate: You start a band now or look back on this moment in the future when you have desktop job, awful pay, regretting the choices you never made.