The Creative Process: Be the Worst Person In The Room

by Will Dailey
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at 1:33am

Be the worst person in the room if you’re the songwriter.

It’s one rule I’ve tried to follow and succeeded with to some degree.

In the case of recording, if I’m the worst person in the room, then my recording is going to be all the better for it.

It takes a lot to get to that sacred place; the recording studio. Why be comfortable? Why be safe. I should be pushed and ushered to new heights by those around me. Put the songs in a place where magic can happen. That is what I am there for.

With National Throat I had Kimon Kirk (Aimee Mann, Grant Lee Philips) on bass and Dave Brophy (Rachel Price, Melissa Ferrick) on drums so the rule was being followed.

There would be no need for a grid or even a click track. The three of us should be reacting in the moment as much as possible.

It's not so much lightning in a bottle for songs in the studio for me. It's that moment that can never be repeated and only existed because those 3+ humans were interacting with a song in certain space one moment in time.

Dave had the best knowledge of the tunes because we would play at the Plough and Stars in Cambridge MA every Monday night under the name Iron Harvest.

I’D say 60 % of my writing happens on my acoustic parlor Kay or my Gibson advance Jumbo. I would mess around like that with my new ideas and songs at home before heading out to the bar. We’d eat dinner before hand and I’d play the cell phone recordings I had for Dave. We would then play those tunes for the first time on the spot.

Studio Guitars.jpg

If a bunch of strangers who were out drinking on at midnight on a Monday turned around for “Sunken Ship” on the 1st time we played it we knew we were onto something. But that was the extent of the planning.

Sunken Ship

At Applehead Studio in Upstate NY I wanted to surprise them. Get these amazing players in their natural wild environment and have us all make decisions in the moment and off each other.

We weren’t using clicks. I wanted the songs to breathe. One the first day Dave Brophy and I cut “Castle Of Pretending” and a Prince cover to work out kinks for fun before Kimon Kirk arrived. But by that evening and a couple bottles of wine I was showing the two of them “Sunken Ship” and "Once In A Century Storm" in the live room while our head engineer Pat DiCenso recorded the whole hang until 3AM.

In the morning (we slept in the studio) we listened back to our process without the glorious shine of the evening. One of the passes would always jump out at us, and we’d follow that direction and start doing full takes together.

Will and Band in the Studio.jpg

What you hear on “Sunken Ship” and “World Go Round” is one take on Bass and Drums. We would run a few and pick the one that felt the best. Do some guitar over dubs. We would cut three a day. "Sunken Ship" was two takes. The one you hear on album is the one we all felt grooved the best.

Will Dailey’s new album National Throat comes out worldwide on August 26th. Vinyl copies are available now at www.willdailey.com

Album Trailer

Will Dailey is an independent, Boston-based recording and performing artist. He is the 3 time winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Male Singer-Songwriter in 2006 and again on December 2, 2009 and December 2, 2012. He has released albums with Universal, CBS Records, Wheelkick Records and JS Music Group. Dailey is releasing his new album National Throat in 2014 on Wheelkick Records. The first single, "Sunken Ship," is a finalist in the 2013 International Songwriting Competition. On June 9, the album was released exclusively on vinyl for three months prior to official release date. Find out more at www.willdailey.com