Iron Thrones Posts "No Label Needed" Album Recording Recap
Minnesota's Iron Thrones, who recently won the "No Labeled Needed" contest, has checked in with the following update about recording their new album:
"Well ladies and gentlemen, Iron Thrones is officially back in Minnesota. With tracking for the album complete, and mixing underway, I feel like I can finally decompress and start to reflect on what the hell just happened. So much of the last month has been so far out of the realm of possibility, I’m still not completely convinced that the whole thing wasn’t just some crazy dream. Granted, as a guy that generally walks, bikes, or drives wherever I need to go, the fact that I flew across the country at hundreds of miles per hour is enough to boggle the mind in and of itself, as common as it might be to some. But even aside from the time zone change and significantly different scenery, the experiences we had on this trip changed a lot of things, both personally and in terms of how the band operates. Even the way we express ourselves through our music has likely changed, although not in a dishonest or completely unnatural fashion.
"Of course, as a band who touts themselves as 'striv[ing] to express ourselves honestly and completely through our music, so that we may deeply connect with people all over the world,' it’s important for me to say that our goal hasn’t changed. Everything on the record we made came from us, and was performed by ourselves. That said, we did essentially have a fifth member of the band on this record, acting as a sort of sagely guide to help us along our path, personified by one Will Putney (our producer). Because of his influence, parts of the songs on this record are very likely different than they would have been had he not been there. I realize that this is likely tripping some rather prickly triggers in some peoples’ minds, and so I will elaborate and explain this apparent contradiction in philosophies.
"Music, much like any other form of communication, is by its nature an imperfect medium when it comes to expressing the emotions/mindset of the communicator. This might depend on the goal of the one doing the communicating, but I can speak at least for myself in saying that when I write music, I’m attempting to communicate my thoughts/ideas/emotions with those willing to listen. As a relatively young musician, I’m still very much learning my craft: striving to express myself honestly and completely through my music. It’s an interesting and important contradiction to realize that on the one hand, nobody can ever be a 'perfect' musician, because there’s always something else to learn; yet on the other hand, it could be argued that anybody who is constantly striving for honesty is by definition a 'perfect' musician. The constant struggle to perfect one’s craft and learn more about music itself, is in my mind what makes a great musician.
"Some might argue that the purest music is that without outside influence, but I think that’s an incomplete and impossible (and thus irrelevant) argument. If one has senses, then one has outside influences. The ability to analyze and interpret things we experience is the very thing that makes us human, and indeed is expressing such is the definition of music. As such, it is not whether or not we’re open to outside influences, but our reasoning behind incorporating said outside influences into our music that determines our honesty.
"If a musician makes a musical decision based on another’s advice with perceived monetary or social gain in mind, then that musician has sold out. Put in layman’s terms, if you change anything about your music in order to appeal to a wider audience, with money in mind, then you’ve sold out. However, if someone whose opinion you respect, feels the thoughts/ideas/emotions you’re trying to convey might not be coming through the way you had intended, and that if you work on it a little bit, you could come up with something truly awesome, then you’d be cheating yourself not to at least entertain the idea. It’s not dishonest to re-think something: every song I’ve ever written or co-written has gone through many, many revisions before the final revision is put to ‘tape’, and even then many times it changes even after that, when playing it live!
"And so, when making this record, Will mentioned several points in our songs that in his mind could be improved, and if we agreed, we set to work on improving it ourselves. There were some parts that he suggested changing, that we disagreed with and they ended up staying the same as they originally were. The point of having a producer is to bring a respected and experienced opinion to the table, with the goal of improving our song-writing and performance skills. I can safely say that every significant change you hear between Visions of Light and the new record, is stuff we’d planned ourselves before ever meeting Will.
"There are some new elements that will throw some people off, maybe even lose us some fans. Fortunately, as we’ve said before, we’re somewhat of a selfish band: we make music for ourselves. The reason we love our fans isn’t because they validate our love for our own stuff (we’d love it regardless of if we had any fans), but because they love what we’re doing as much as we do. If we all wanted to throw some bagpipes into the mix, we’d fucking do it, and if it was expressing what we were trying to express, we could give two shits if some producer doesn’t like it. We’d find a different producer. Fortunately, by some strange fate, the producer we happened to be set up with in this contest was a huge fan of a lot of the same music we were into (it turns out he was already a big fan of one of my old bands!), and so much like the contest itself, things just sort of magically worked out. Most of the suggestions Will made, were of things we already knew were weak points in our songs. He was more of a sort of Yoda character, pinpointing our weaknesses and not allowing them to end up on the record, and while I was honestly quite resistant to it at first as it was quite foreign to me, I ended up thanking him for it.
"I’m a much stronger musician, guitarist, songwriter, and producer because of this experience, and I’m proud to say that regardless of whether or not our new material and how it was produced rubs some people the wrong way, I know it’s completely honest and 100% pure. If you dislike this record, you’d have disliked it anyway even if we’d have produced it ourselves. If you love it, you’d have loved it regardless as well. The only difference is that we had some much-appreciated help along the way, and have grown and matured as a band and songwriters as a result of it."
The band also has the series of blogs online chronicling their involvement in the contest and time in the studio, which can be found here.
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