Alt Metal Prog Pop Rock band Alpha Brodega have recently released their debut album, “Solstice”. And while, yeah, one could go on about how it’s chock full of fun rock goodness and groovy songs, there’s something else that’s rather unique about the album. The band self-produced the whole thing in the drummer’s parent’s basement. That’s right, this album is so underground it was literally recorded, underground. Sound peculiar? Well here’s lead singer and guitarist, Brodega, here to answer some questions.
Q. What made you decide to self-produce?
A.Of course, everybody wants the dream of a full length LP done in a proper studio, with the sound-treated rooms, big mixing boards, and dozens of mics. But as newer artists, it’s difficult to find the resources to get your songs recorded. Either you don’t have the money or you don’t have the the gear and know how. Most bands will scrounge up some money and settle for recording just 2 or 3 songs in a studio and then work with the handful of singles. But I didn’t want to do that. When I write a song, I put a lot of energy and thought into it. And I didn’t want to have to pick only a couple out of all these songs I’d put so much effort into. I felt they all deserved my attention. So it had to be an album. Plus, there was all these people on youtube recording their own songs and the quality was pretty good. I figured if a bunch of dorks on youtube can do it, why can’t a fledgling band?
Q. How did you go about self-production?
A. We just kinda went for it. Again, the big deterrent to a studio was we were cheap. And the other side of it was the question of “could we actually do it?” Between us we had a smattering of gear: half a dozen various mics, a pre amp, a DAW on a laptop, and a small audio interface. It seemed enough for us to make a decent attempt at it. And I’d been recording my own demos on a 12 track recorder for years, so I figured I had at least a vague idea of mixing, mastering, and recording instruments.
Q. What sort of challenges did you face moving from recording personal demos to a band?
A. Well I had no challenge recording guitars and bass because I was used to them from the 12 track. They were very easy. Just direct input the bass and slap a mic right in front of the guitar amp. Boom. Vocals and drums though were the challenges. I’d experimented with recording vocals before, but never very seriously or successfully. After loads of research I ended making a blanket and towel vocal booth in my bedroom which seemed to work well enough. Drums somewhat scared me as I’d never recorded a kit before. And a drum kit is very dynamic, with lots of different pieces. And you have to find the balance for all of it. We actually didn’t do much reading about drum miking. We just kinda threw some mics up around the kit in places that made sense and tweaked their positions until we thought that was the best we could get. It didn’t help we had cheap microphones. I had to work rather hard to get a decent drum sound in post.
Q. You did all the mixing and mastering. Did you have any prior experience?
A. Not really. The 12 track had incredibly basic mixing capabilities. It had pan, volume, and 3 knobs on each track for EQ, low, mid, and high. It was very basic, but it had given me a rough idea of how to fit the pieces together. I know now if you do things right during recording, you shouldn’t need much more than those in mixing. But given the limitations of our circumstance, the tracks would need a lot of help in post. So I had to figure out how to doctor. It was my first time using a DAW and I had to read a lot of articles and watch a lot of video tutorials to figure it all out. Learning about the different frequencies of each instrument, and how compression works, and what’s a gate, and a limiter and etc. etc. Mastering was actually pretty straight forward.
Q. What was the biggest headache during mixing?
A. Getting the vocals to sit at the right volume. The human voice is really dynamic. You can go from a whisper to a shout in a second. And you have to make sure that you can hear the lyrics throughout the entire song.
Q. Why the basement?
A. It was the only place we could fit the drums. It was the drummer’s parents house, but Keiler [the drummer] actually had his own apartment. So once a week or so we’d get together and record drum takes. I always felt just a little sorry for his parents having to listen to hours of Keiler bashing on his drums. They were probably used to it I imagine.
Q. What was your thought on the finished album?
A. For what we knew and what we had to work with at the time, I think we did pretty good. I mean, objectively, the quality isn’t perfect. It’s definitely a bit rough. But I definitely think it ended better than it would have, had we gone to a studio to record one or two songs. Instead of some singles, we can hold it up and say “this is our LP. It’s got 13 songs on it.” It must’ve gone well because we’re already self-producing the next one, but this time we’ve invested in some serious equipment and I can say that quality has already improved drastically. Though with what we learned from this, should we ever decide to go into a studio we will be very efficient because we’ll know exactly what needs to be done.
Q. Where could someone listen to the album?
Well it’s on all the sites you’d expect to find music, amazon, itunes, spotify, googleplay, and so on. But if you go to our website, alphabrodega.com, we’re giving away 2 tracks for free right now. So just go there and get some free stuff, no illegal downloading necessary.