A couple weeks back, we got together with our friend Jon Devoto and did a special kind of practice. This wasn’t to rehearse our songs. It was to adjust our tones and dynamics. It was to makes sure that what we were playing was coming out clean and clear, not muffled and muddy. We assembled at Jon’s home studio and had him listen to songs, and then had him give us feedback on tonal and sonic changes.
This was part of a series of practices we were doing at the behest of our manager, Zen. We always mine Zen for live show feedback after sets, and we set about doing some practices that would address aspects of a live show that most bands (in my experience) wouldn’t put much focus on.
We made sure that our tones blended well, so that no one was too muffled underneath the rest of the band. We adjusted volume levels. We gave each other feedback on different aspects of our tone and effects.
It didn’t end there though. At our own personal practices, we set about playing songs meticulously. If there was a section of a verse in a song that wasn’t as locked in or poppin’ as we wanted, we would loop that one part over, and over, and over, and over until we felt that the problem was sounding fixed (a little). Most practices lately, we have only played two or three songs, instead of our usual 9-12.
This is really a very new concept for us as a band. Practice always facilitated us playing a set of songs back to back a couple times and then going on our merry way. This whole process has been really eye opening for me when it comes to what it means to get better at what you do. So often I get caught up in the idea that getting better is a simple session of repetition. While this concept is certainly true to an extent, I forgot that so much about getting better is taking that time to truly polish every part of your art after you have become familiar with your particular piece of work.
Being good at what you do, seems to me, to be about never settling. Always searching. Always improving. Always finding new ways to do an old trick. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The journey has really just started for me in this way. And somehow that feels exciting.