By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
The live aspect of this proposition coaxes more of a performance from musicians thanperhaps the tranquil atmosphere of a recording studio usually allows. Jenny Jarnagin, who has recorded numerous album projects already at Chaton Studios with D'Agnolo producing, suddenly had to deal with that new reality that people would be watching and video would be recorded.
"I no longer had the mindset of 'Oh, well, we can take as many passes as I want to get it right.' Sucking was not an option," she says. "I had planned on recording a cute little quasi-mellow song. Then I watched the other acts and decided that I'd better write something more biting and exciting. That was the birth of [a new song] 'I Tossed the Keys to Your Heart.'"
Many of The Recording Artist's initial sessions featured singer-songwriters and jazz-oriented ensembles. Tempe power trio The Black Moods were the first hard-rock band to do the show, and that change in musical dynamic led to more reality than usual.
It was high-tension stuff: There was singer Joshua Michael Kennedy's near spit take after sipping a drink he assured the home audience was iced tea. There was the F-bomb that tested D'Agnolo's "mute" button reflexes in the crowded control room. There was the extended entourage of people in the studio that every rock band seems to command. And there was Kennedy's constant good-natured ribbing of drummer Chico Diaz, all contributing to a looser-than-loose atmosphere that still yielded a tight-sounding radio-friendly track "Sick in Bed," a song the Moods have been kicking around for a few years.
"The main difference in approach," Kennedy says, "is that we didn't do as many takes as you normally would. If it was done different, yeah, we would have just taken more time with it. It's definitely more of a live performance recording than an album cut, which I like a lot. We've never done it that way, really."
D'Agnolo didn't create this show to combat the rise of home studios — that's never going away, he says. But it does give people, even bands like Sugahbeat and The Black Moods, who have home-recording facilities, a reminder of what working with a professional brings to a project. Even for the musicians involved, it can sometimes be difficult to hear the same song for three hours straight without wanting to kill someone. The professional can hear that song new every time — and has the ear to tell you what listeners are going to be looking for.
Members of bluesy rock band The Regretting Man — despite a name that might suggest unavoidable disappointment and self-criticism — wouldn't change much about their time at TRA.
"Maybe I got a little carried away in the dancing bit while cutting lead vocals," vocalist Jenny Jarnagin laughs.