Do most rock bands record to a click track?

WholeLottaGlove

Silver Supporting Member
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1,384
This has been a much debated topic in my band. I've always read that you should, for timing and editing purposes. I tried to sell that idea to the guys and was met with concerns of losing the feel and energy. We tried it, anyways. Although recording to a click made the song in time and easier to edit/mix, it did seem we lost some of that chemistry. It sounded a bit sterile.

We play a blend of rock styles ranging from U2, Mars Volta, Mogwai, Police, Minus The Bear, etc. Do these bands and other rock bands religiously record to click tracks as a rule? Or is it a rule that's made to be broken?
 

loudboy

Member
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27,316
Use whatever works best for you, as an artist, to best express yourself.

Click tracks have nothing to do with artistic expression. They were solely developed to make engineering/production easier.

A lot of bands use a click, and have no problems, but there was a lot of great music done before the late '80s, that was click-free.
 

E_A

Member
Messages
7
Sometimes?

Have you practiced to a click? If not, the studio isn't really the best place to start. That's where the whole "it sucks the life out" idea comes from. It doesn't. You just don't know how to play to it yet. It takes practice! There are usually three stages to learning to play to the click. The first is, you can't. It just sucks and you stare into the face of your rhythmic instability. The second is you can, but you sound like a bad MIDI track rather than a living being. Finally, you reach the point where you can play WITH the click, rather than TO it or BY it or IN TOTAL AWFUL DISREGARD OF it. It's there, you listen to it like a bandmember, taking it into account but maintaining your feel and being able to ride a little ahead or behind the precise beat as needed. It's at that point that you (potentially) benefit from it.

I've had clients that don't need it and are steady as can be, clients that don't need it and swing all over the place and it's great, and I've had clients where learning to play to a click is what made things stop sounding like demos. It's totally situational. The only thing that isn't is that you really need to prepare yourself for it if you want it to be a comfortable thing at recording time.
 

germanicus

Member
Messages
2,192
Theres no hard and fast rules. I recommend practicing to a click well before hand. Some drummers have issues with it and the persistent click changes what they play. Once you get comfortable with it, its presence becomes second nature and you can play around it if desired.
 

Bassomatic

Member
Messages
12,336
Use whatever works best for you, as an artist, to best express yourself.

Click tracks have nothing to do with artistic expression. They were solely developed to make engineering/production easier.

A lot of bands use a click, and have no problems, but there was a lot of great music done before the late '80s, that was click-free.
And lots of great stuff since the '80s sans click, as well.

I'd always cut to a click until a recent sideman project, and I ended up really liking the results. Inspired me to go clickless and live off the floor with another project.
 

WholeLottaGlove

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,384
Thanks guys for the info! I'm probably more used to recording to a click than the others. Our drummer recorded to one for the first time and took to it like a fish to water. It's funny because it's the others who the most resistant.
 

jman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
732
Norm has been and still is to use a click,but sure there always have been exceptions...playing to one is a skill that some don't do as well as others.
-usually the drummer is the only one hearing it,at least in my sphere...if you do multiple takes of tunes,having the ability to quickly comp sections/lines/riffs/solos,etc is handy.
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,500
Do you mean click-track or metronome?

I don't do click tracks..

With metronomes though.. I used to hate them and refuse to play to them.
Not sure why. I think I thought I knew better than the metronome?

But then I tried to record stuff that wasn't solely acoustic guitar + my vocals and I was way out of time, so I had to use a metronome and everything sounded way, way better.
I still use metronomes for songs that might have multiple acoustic layers or vocal layers.

But if I'm just one-shotting something, like a cover song, then no metronome ever.

Check out the link in my sig, there's some covers in there down the list that don't have metronome and don't sound toooo out of time (Impossible sounds almost in time??).

I think if your drummer has taken to a click/metronome, then that's ****ing awesome and will make your bands life sooo much easier in the studio.
 

RocksOff

Member
Messages
7,457
Click is good. Some drummers don't take to it, but many could use the help.
It is especially helpful if everyone is overdubbing and you have starts/stops... removes the guesswork and helps to tighten everything up.
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,500
I've been led to believe a click-track is when someone records an acoustic guitar to a metronome.

Then the rest of the band use that acoustic track to record everything else to.

Maybe I've been lied to.
 
Messages
7,045
There's a website that allows you to enter a song title and it gives an analysis of the ebb/flow in the tempo. Therefore, obvious when a click is used.
 

WholeLottaGlove

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,384
I've been led to believe a click-track is when someone records an acoustic guitar to a metronome.

Then the rest of the band use that acoustic track to record everything else to.

Maybe I've been lied to.

That's the method we used. I recorded a "scratch" guitar track to a 110 bpm click. Then the drummer laid his, then bass, then the guitars, then vocals. I thought that was the way to do it.
 

-alex

Member
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1,112

pale fire

Silver Supporting Member
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1,811
Don't assume that playing to a click has to be mechanical sounding.....I have purposefully played just a bit behind or ahead of the click to match the feel of the song. I have had two experiences of being in a studio with a drummer who couldn't play to the click. The first time, we went without and it made some overdubbing pretty difficult later on. The second time, we went with one of the above mentioned fixes...played a guitar track to the click and then the drummer played to that. The downside was losing that great first pass with guitar / bass / drums playing "live" together in the studio....I always feel that is the base of the song and try to keep those tracks whenever possible. On a related note - why can't we expect a drummer to be able to play to a click? Isn't that part of their development as a musician?
 

Pietro

2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy
Messages
16,443
I know a couple of prominent mix engineers.

They say there's a click track on literally every track they mix.

I know that U2 (one of the bands mentioned) have not recorded without a click track or some such in probably 2 decades. And they don't perform without them either.
 

Unnecessary

Senior Member
Messages
2,667
If you don't practice to it, you'll never be able to record to it. For me any solid drummer "should" be able to play to click track. If a guy can't stay on beat for two full bars, he's probably not a great drummer, unless he's doing it intentionally, but then he'd be able to tell you ahead of time he was going to lay back a little or something through a section. I suggest working on arrangements ahead of time and figure out if you want slow-downs and speed ups in places, and set them into your DAW. Reaper allows you to transition between tempos at a steady increase/decrease over a measure/series of measures, so you can even have your transitions in-time. Recording to a click certainly does make the engineers life easier when it comes to editing, and it SHOULD make everyone in the band have an easier time of it, because you don't have to worry about whether or not the bassist/keyboardist/vocalist are coming in at the same time and whatnot, because you all have the EXACT SAME reference point. I think in something like jammy blues rock, probably not necessary, but most other genres, IMHO, can only benefit from being tighter.
 






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