Recording vocals can be pretty nerve wracking for even the most seasoned veterans in the industry. Now try to imagine how nervous you would be if it was your first time recording vocals. Woah! Ryan Stack of the Pennsylvania pop-rock band Paper States shares his tale from the studio after the jump!
Paper States released their EP “Be Alone” back in December 2012 and you can buy a CD here.
You can read all previous “My First Time” stories here.
When we started Paper States, I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t, but I especially didn’t then. The first thing we did as a band was write some songs and pick two to record. We took them to Kory Gable, a very good producer, in Lancaster, PA.
At this point, I had no experience being in a band besides a few short-lived attempts in high school. I was about to record for the first time, and I wasn’t sure if I even knew how to sing. It was nerve-wracking because recording vocals was last on the agenda, so I was just waiting around every day, doing warm-ups and freaking out. At first I planned on not smoking cigarettes, but Kory said quitting right then would be a bad idea because I’d start coughing up lung gunk. So I passed the time with smoking in between doing push ups and jogging around the block to ease my anxiety.
The day before I had to sing, I woke up sick. It was a throat thing. Kory joked that it was “singer’s sickness.” I felt like a butt. Whether or not it was the nerves, it was too late, it happened, I got sick. I nervously drank cup after cup of hot tea and coated my throat with loads of “Vocal Eze” spray.
I recorded our song, “Aim To Please” first. It worked out, but by the time I started tracking the other, I sounded like a drunk sea lion. I tried to push through it, but Kory stopped me from annihilating my voice before it was too late. We got some alright takes, it turned out pretty OK, but we never released that one. “Aim To Please” probably wouldn’t be our first single if I had recorded it second.
The best part about working with Kory was how he helped me get comfortable in the vocal booth. Even being sick, my nerves were calmed once we began recording. I didn’t have to pretend I was an experienced singer or like I knew what I was doing. He walked me through it, like a guided meditation, and I went back to record our EP a few months later with more confidence.
I’m a little less nervous in studios now, but I’m thinking maybe “singer’s sickness” is a real thing, and I’m prone to it. Last year we recorded some songs in Chicago, and I got the worst food poisoning from a bad bagel with lox. I spent one day throwing up and the next singing. My new secret weapon for singing under the weather: a fuck-ton of coconut water.
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