December 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm #51928
New to this forum, and curious if there’s been much discussion about the difference between J’s singing style live vs. recorded. I love them live but it’s as if the quality of live vocals are pretty unimportant. The live show is more about the energy and the band’s sound. But at the same time he obviously puts a ton of care into sounding great on record. Not sure I’ve seen another band with that big of a difference live vs record.December 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm #139865
I’ll take a stab at this. Other long-time fans can fill in what I forget. J has generally always said that lyrics are almost always an afterthought for him when writing songs. The music- drums and guitar, are first, Lou takes care of bass parts, and lyrics are “ehh”, whatever seems to fit. Now, he’s got a great sense of melody and that’s why his songs are as good as they are. Clearly, making a record the vocals will stand out more because it’s recorded in a studio and the sound is different, not as big, roaring, massive as their live shows. During live shows, the volume is enormous and the vocals generally get buried, you have to know the songs to catch them, which long-term fans get. I can see how at a show (if you like the music but don’t know all the songs) that would be difficult or challenging to get into. When you know their songs, it all just works because the music is so strong and carries the songs.December 5, 2012 at 10:11 pm #139866
The post “Interview: J Mascis on Fender Jazzmasters…” actually is a good interview, and he describes his lyric writing process. He says the melody is already there, and the lyrics have to fit in and not sound stupid, basically.
I hope my rambling in my first answer above made sense…December 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm #139867
When he’s performing live it’s incredibly loud, his hands are busy playing guitar, he has two pairs of ear plugs in his ears, he only has one take to do it right. It’s hard to hear yourself in that environment. I think he’s less concerned with hitting all the notes or the nuances in his singing. Personally I like the live vocals, there’s more force behind them.December 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm #139868
I think the biggest difference of live vs recorded vocals I’ve heard from a band was a TV appearance by the Mighty Might Bosstones. The guy was so horse and quiet you could barely hear him.December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm #139869
Bob your description about the volume and earplugs and complexity of the guitar playing makes a ton of sense. It’s about as difficult a situation as I could imagine for a vocalist to concentrate on sounding like the record. When I think of all those factors I can see how his vocal approach would change. I love their live sound too and I’m a huge fan in general. J’s music has been a big part of my life for 20 years. I’ve just always wanted to ask some other fans their view on that, so thanks for sharing some thoughts.
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