By Obed Manuel
Opinion and Copy Editor
A behind–the–scenes look at music production was available during the 35 Denton panel discussion titled “Gear and Tape,” March 10 at Dan’s Silverleaf.
Thirty audience members faced a table onstage, set up with microphones and cans of Miller Lite for the panel.
As panel members slowly made their way to the stage, Baptist Generals frontman and 35 Denton founder Chris Flemmons unintentionally entertained the crowd of approximately 30 people by constantly jumping on and off the stage for trips to the bar or loudly greeting attendees.
The members of the “Gear and Tape” panel were Grammy-winning music producer, Stuart Sikes; Slobberbone frontman Brent Best; producer and drummer Justin Collins; and Flemmons.
The panel discussed the difference between music production and music engineering.
Sikes offered his view on the difference between a music engineer and music producer. “One gets paid more,” Sikes said. “I recommend doing both jobs.”
Sikes said one of the technical factors distinguishing engineers from producers is that engineers spend a lot more time deciding what kind of equipment to use.
Engineers look at minute details, like how many microphones are placed around the instruments a band is using and how many inches the microphones are placed from the drums or guitars.
Best said the job a producer does is along the same lines as a movie producer, because music producers worry about the overall product and leave smaller details to those working under them.
As the panel discussed their experiences working with bands that tried rushing studio time, Flemmons recalled the time his band worked with Sikes in the studio.
“I heard [the song], and I knew that wasn’t it,” Flemmons said. “It wasn’t the sound I wanted to hear.”
Sikes said he believes band members have an obligation to themselves and their bandmates to actively take part in the production process.
“Bands can’t just run through their songs,” Sikes said. “They must listen to what a producer has done to their songs.”
Best joked with Flemmons by saying, “You were bringing the negative.”
In response to an audience member’s question about the panel members’ individual production styles, the panel discussed what they each try bringing to the studio.
“I try to make the band sound live,” Collins said. “Live is better.”
Sikes said he prefers for a band’s album to sound entirely different than the previous album.
He said making an album that sounds similar to a previous one is not fair to the band. “It’s fun to try different techniques,” Sikes said.
Flemmons provided a musician’s perspective. “I really like the idea of the record being divorced from the live show,” he said. “They’re similarly constructed, but the way they live, they’re two different animals.”