For me personally, the Stones are one of the most important bands to ever swagger (stagger?) on to a stage. They weren't my introduction to Rock n' Roll, but they gave birth to Aerosmith, who introduced me to Les Pauls, Telecasters, & gritty blues/rock. They are also the grandparents to Guns N' Roses, The Black Crows, & Buckcherry – all bands that have imprinted their music on me.
In fact, the night I first kissed my wife, I was wearing a Stones shirt. I know this because I have a picture from that night:
Yes, I still have that shirt...10 years later. I wore it yesterday. There's something about wearing that shirt that kind of makes me feel like a badass. You can't help but swagger a little when you're wearing a Voodoo Lounge shirt.
Years later, I made the recording that let me know I could make a living making music. A friend of mine & I had just started a new band & we started recording a song on my 12 track recorder. It wasn't the best gear around, but it got the job done. Compared to what we have today, it was a laughable set up, but at the time it was...fine.
We set up shop in a corner of my apartment & started cutting guitars, then vocals, then bass, then more guitars, then more vocals, then drums. After a few days of recording & a few more days of mixing we had a product that I was really happy with. When I played it side by side with the original version of the song we were covering, I felt like I was getting really close to a professional sounding recording. It wasn't quite as good as the original, but it was in the ballpark. That was something I had never achieved before. I realized that maybe, just maybe I was starting to get good at this music production thing.
I learned that gear & money aren't necessary to make great music. I learned that the only thing I needed were good songs & the drive to work on making them sound great. When I listen to my favorite Stones records, they aren't slick or perfect. They're raw & centered around great songs. Gear is not what you need to make records like that, vibe, feel, & dedication to being the best you can be is what you need.
This has become the template for how I work. Nothing is over produced when I make my records. At the end of the day I just need my guitar & a song to sing. That was all the Stones needed when they cut Brown Sugar. Legend has it that Keith & Mick sang into the same microphone, something that many producers would NEVER let happen today. I have upgraded my gear since cutting that song. I have more mics, a computer based set up, more guitars, but I know those aren't the things that make a record sound good. The song, the passion, that's what makes music sound good.
What was the song that turned it around for me? When I cut a cover of Sympathy for the Devil on a cheap 12 track recorder in my apartment. Listening back to that song, I notice some of the flaws in how it was recorded, but those flaws hold the charm of lessons learned.
What music has soundtracked the most important moments of your life? Let me know on twitter @Zak_Sloan or in the comments below.