For many producers and artists, it’s difficult to balance feel versus perfection in performances. This story from my good friend engineer Dennis Moody (an excerpt from my Music Business Advice handbook) illustrates why one is sometimes preferred over the other.
By the way, Dennis has become the “drummer’s engineer,” with all-star drummers Dave Weckl, Steve Gadd, and Michael White as regular clients. In addition, he has worked with most of the industries top session drummers, and also as a live concert engineer in most of the major concert venues throughout the United States and Europe. Dennis has been a frequent guest on my Inner Circle Podcast, where you can hear him on Episodes #1, #50, #100, #151, #200 and #300 (Dennis has been my most frequent guest as he appears on all the anniversary shows).
Dennis: I remember very early on doing a session with Charles Wright (from the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band). Sonny Burke, an awesome piano player, was producing it and he had just started to take off as a producer. The band came in for a playback and Sonny said, “I just need you to fix this note.” They got into a huge debate about fixing stuff with feeling. Charles said, “That’s the way I played it. That’s the way I felt it. I want to keep it. It doesn’t bother me.”
I thought, “Wow, he’s working with such a great producer. I wonder why he’s questioning him? He should just go do it again.” Then I thought, “That’s really an interesting thing he’s doing there.” After that I started noticing that it’s more about feel, and you can let some things go. They’re not mistakes, it’s interpretation. There could be bad notes or bad timing, but if it feels right, it’s okay.
They’re not mistakes, it’s interpretation. There could be bad notes or bad timing, but if it feels right, it’s okay.
I just did a record with Steve Gadd and it’s a total feel record. If you put it up on a click you’d go, “He’s not playing in time.” But it’s perfect the way it is. You couldn’t make it any better. So what I picked up is that the feel and the vibe of the performance supersedes anything technically.
You can read more from The Music Business Advice Book and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com. Also, check out the excellent guest interviews and more on the 300+ episodes of my Inner Circle Podcast.