No Harmony No Peace: Check Your Ego At The Door

No Harmony No Peace: Check Your Ego At The Door

Communication: the fundamental principle of a civilized society. But when it breaks down, it can lead to disaster. Since music is a language unto itself, it’s possible to communicate brilliantly on a musical level while despising the people with whom you’re making the music. Look at the Beatles. As incredible as their music was, a strong element of discord eventually led to the band’s demise. Who knows what might have happened if they had stayed together in harmony’.


Well, harmony wasn’t with me the night the Juice­ heads rolled into New York, and as luck would have it, I was chosen to work with them. The Juiceheads were two Canadian youths of European descent who composed, produced, and sang their own electro-pop music. They were to be the breakout band and the savior of a European label struggling for survival.


They also loathed each other and let everyone around them know it. They insisted on working separately and did everything they could to avoid each other in the studio. And to top it all off, they had completely different ideas of how they wanted the music to sound. From the beginning, I knew we would have problems.


For the sake of this story, let’s call our boys Terence and Phillip. They came into the studio together and immediately fought over what type of food to order, so we ended up calling two different Thai restaurants. When the first order came, Phillip said it was his, so he paid for it and ate it. When Terence’s order arrived half an hour later, he refused to pay, saying that there should be a food budget from the record company. With the deliveryman standing at the door, the studio decided to pick up the tab. Then Terence freaked out because it was really Phillip’s order, and Phillip had already eaten Terence’s order. And Phillip was angry because the studio paid for Terence’s order but not his.


Terence stormed out of the studio to get something to eat, so I began working with Phillip. He had the basic tracks programmed on his laptop, using Cubase. Though he liked the parts, he wanted to try to get new sounds from our synth modules and sample libraries.


We began to choose sounds and dump the audio into Pro Tools. Phillip was a pleasant guy to work with, and within a few hours, we were really rolling. The track sounded great. Then, three hours after the food incident, Terence came back. He listened to the track and said to Phillip, “Nice work.” I breathed a sigh of relief. He then instructed Phillip to go back to the hotel for a few hours while he laid down some vocals. Barely a second after Phillip had left the building, Terence started ripping the production apart. He hated it and wanted to replace every sound. I just made sure that I saved the existing file, under a different version number, before destroying Phillip’s production.


Terence definitely had issues, but after slowing the song down, changing the key, replacing the entire drum pattern, and laying down new keyboard parts, he was finally ready to do his vocals. I was actually quite impressed with him and could now understand why these guys were signed in the first place. Then, a few hours later, Phillip came back to the studio and replaced most of Terence’s vocals. It went on and on like this for days, until it finally exploded with each of them threatening to sue each other, the record company, the studio and the Thai restaurant. The record was never finished, the label folded, and Terence and Phillip were never heard from again. They squashed their careers because they couldn’t work out some ego problems.


There’s a saying: Wipe your feet before you come into the studio. Good advice.

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