Blue and green record exploding into shards

Demo EP

I have a dream that I want to talk about. It’s a recurring dream/nightmare scenario. I’m in a recording studio, tied to a chair in the corner, gagged and blindfolded.

Some polite young white kids are there with me talking to the engineer about the tracks they are about to record. These tracks will become their first demo. See, the plan they have is to sell it at gigs and to their friends, the disc will then ultimately end up in the hands of some enthusiastic young A&R man who will transform them into chart goosing megastars quicker than you say “vanilla”.

The conversation goes a bit like this…

Engineer: “So what kind of sound are you going for?”

Band: “Well, anything really that’s bland and 90s.”

Engineer: “Anything in particular?”

Band: “Not really, as long as it blends in with a hundred other bands were happy.”

Engineer: “Excellent. Okay then how are we going to record this?”

Band: “Well, you see we’re not all that tight so we’re thinking we’ll multitrack everything – that way it will all sound slightly out of time with everything around it.”

Engineer: “Is that not going to sound ever so slightly piss poor?”

Band: “Yes. Next question.”

Engineer: “Er… ok, have you got any pointers on the sounds you’re using?”

Band: “Yes! We found a baby’s first drum kit in the shed at home, its really tinny and thin and the tom-toms sound like the bottom of biscuit tins – we’ve got used to that kind of sound now so if you could please make your shiny expensive drum kit in there sound like that that would be great.”

Engineer (wearily): “And the guitars and bass?”

Bassist: “Flat as a pancake for me please, no top, no bottom – remove all personality please and make my uber funky bass lines squelch with mids.”

Guitarist: “I used all the money mummy and daddy gave me for guitar lessons on this new Zoom guitar beehive processor – it makes everything buzz like a swarm of bees.”

Engineer: “Treat. Shall we get on with it?”

The dream continues through the recording process as I desperately struggle to get out of the chair/room/building/country (I’ve woken up chewing the pillow before).

Engineer: “Okay, that’s the instruments done do you have vocals?”

Singer: “Yes! Yes! That’s me.”

Engineer: “Okay, cool. (making chit-chat whilst rigging up a microphone) so what are these songs about then?”

Singer: “Nothing really – see I went through all my favourite record sleeves and made a list of things that sounded cool and then rewrote them, oh and I found a great book in the library called ‘Empty Rhetoric for dummies’ that helped too.”

Engineer: “Have you been singing long?”

Singer: “Not really, to be honest. We just didn’t have one and mummy always said that my voice was the best in the cub scout choir, so I did it.”

At this point the door to the recording studio bursts open, Kiera Knightly runs in, in full “domino” mode (although occasionally she is interchangeable in the dream with Papa Smurf, Samuel L Jackson, and, just once, Fred Elliot from Coronation Street) and lays waste to the room with shotgun fire. While the band cower behind their copy of the NME under the mixing desk, her eyes fix on me and with an enormous grin on my face she lines up the gun and puts me out of my misery.

And then it’s over.

I am awake and scurrying downstairs to listen to some of that nice Regina Spektor girl to make me feel better. I’ve been getting this dream a lot lately. In fact, I just put this demo into my CD player and before I knew it I was back in the chair… scary stuff.

Seriously, guys, it doesn’t matter how good your songs are (and in all fairness, these aren’t horrendous songs and with some work on the arrangements I’m sure you could be a competent indie band for sure). It’s just that not many people are going to listen to this too closely, which would be a shame. Why do the Yankees always win the World Series? Cos everyone’s too busy looking at the stripes (as quoted from Catch Me If You Can) and it’s true. If your demo sounds like a quality tune, people will agree that it is. It’s all about the power of suggestion.

Print this review off. Familiarise yourself with the scenario and if you ever find yourself in it, or can hear it happening you have a duty to stop it. I’ll repeat that YOU HAVE A DUTY TO STOP IT.

You have your orders – don’t make me assume the Kiera Knightly role in this dream. I wouldn’t look half as good and would be twice as deadly.

Toodle pip.

Guest article from Ben M.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

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