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Sophmore album ....feels different

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Runnerman, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Hey guys. My band is in the process of writing for our second album. Even though we seem to have a lot of great ideas and several songs already sorted out, there just doesn't seem to be the same level of energy and enthusiasm to push through and get them done. I'm wondering if others have seen this same phenomenon. Is it normal?

    With our first CD we pushed out and recorded 11 songs in 6 months which I thought was a very strong effort. Through the whole thing everybody was stoked and ready to spend whatever time was needed. I think the material for the second album is stronger and more defining for us as a band. But we just can't seem to drive it forward.

    As an aside...our gigging schedule has dropped off in Sept and Oct and we have had a great opportunity to complete these songs...so it's not like the schedule is too full.

  2. As a music blogger I can tell you that sophomore albums are always the most difficult, especially if there was decent buzz on the debut. Some people want to move forward and try different things, others want to stay with what worked, and there's always a bit of a let-down emotionally from the debut.

    So no I don't think that's anything new. You just need someone driving you forward to finish it off. Maybe someone outside the regular band to help listen to things and brainstorm some ideas ???
  3. SoLongJake

    SoLongJake Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Des Moines, Iowa
    I blame this on what I call song writer's perfection. Often times you'll have a songwriter has has been working on the same 12-15 songs for the last 30 years. Well it shouldn't surprise you one bit that their new songs don't have quite the same feel as the old stock roster they've been perfecting for the last 30 years. YMMV.
  4. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Good point Jake. Most of the current ideas are from the lead guitar player. Maybe he is not as confident with them.
  5. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Yep, I think that will be a good idea when we actually get some decent scratch recordings down. Most of them are just accoustic guitar with vox and even though we have an idea of our parts we have not put it together on the Zoom yet. We will definitely get outside opinions though.
  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I've never recorded one, but my impression is that the 2nd album is often the weakest in most artists' catalogs. I think the reason is that they spend years building up material, tweaking it, playing it out, perfecting it, and pick the best they have to go on the first album. Then it makes a big splash and they turn around to make a second one, and what they have are the B list songs that they didn't use on the first album and whatever new ideas they're able to come up with in a shorter time frame. If they survive the second album, experience and professionalism kick in to make the 3rd one better and then they're off.
  7. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I think the first album has you wide eyed going in and excited to hit the ground running so to speak.
    For the second album in my case we all knew the road ahead, what to watch for and knew we had allot of work to do.

    This might come across as lack of interest or desire , it can be the band has learned and knows what faces them ahead so they are walking not running into
    the project.

    My past originals band first album was 5 songs (EP) and took about 4 months to complete. We blew thru it since we were a new band and were hungry.
    The second album (are best) was a full one year ordeal with graphic artist , production ,studio etc. We knew what we were facing and just slowed down to make it right.
  8. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Very true, I had not thought of this....maybe some good advice. I'm not sure I can stand a one year grind though.
  9. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I hated the one year deal since I had laid down all 12 tracks of bass and finished backing vocals about 2 months into the project.
    I kept coming to the studio to help on production etc but in truth it got boring and I could not wait til it was done.
  10. My band has been working on our 18 song second album and it has been a hard road. 7 months so far. The first one was easier.
  11. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Tampa, FL.
    18 songs for a second album?! :eek:

    Any reason why you didn't just stop around 10? lol

  12. It's good to have a long album. I hate when it's just like "here's thirty minutes, suck on this". How many times do you like to change CDs on a trip?
  13. DaDrew2112


    Apr 7, 2011
    Nah man I'm gonna flat out disagree with you here.

    I think that long albums kind of suck.

    40 minutes is a solid album. give or take 5 minutes.
  14. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    The sophomore album is definitely a difficult project, for all of the reasons above. Your debut release has a ton of adrenaline behind it, and you can't tap into that naive energy the same way the second time around. With a debut, you're trying to show the world "this is who we are". With a sophomore, you're trying to show them "we're still that band" and then add to it. What you decide to add can be really difficult to figure out. You have to find that balance between impressing your audience by bringing something new to the table, without losing them because they don't like the choices you made. So it's definitely a head game.

    From the nuts and bolts point of view, a lot of second albums tend to be considerably more ambitious. We recorded our debut EP as a live rhythm section, isolated as much as possible, and solos and voice went over top later. Our next album is going to be individual tracking, and there are going to be a lot more tracks. Two of us are singing backing vocals that weren't on the first album, we have a couple of tunes that we have guest musicians in mind for, and a couple where we're planning on layering some instruments for harmony etc. Our budget is going to be a lot bigger this time around too, and we are definitely a lot more focused on what we want out of it. The first one was a pretty straight ahead "let's show the world what we do" where this one is more of a "let's show the world how big our ideas are" because we can realize some things in the studio that aren't possible live in our current configuration.

    You know the first time around wasn't a walk in the park, and now you've got higher expectations. I don't think it's about losing hope, it's about losing momentum a lot of the time. Whatever you need to do to get that back, be it bring someone else in, set a (flexible) timeline, or just get in your band's face a bit about it, that's the real challenge.
  15. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Just curious, did people buy your first album?
    How successful was it?
    (This is just for my own knowledge, being a cover band guy)
  16. Usually you have years to perfect the songs that eventually end up on your first album, and you live and die by those songs. Usually, you're young during this phase, and that youthful enthusiasm fuels the music and the band members. There's a certain element of excitement brought on by the unknown. Will we get signed? Will people like us and our tunes? This creates a focused urgency.

    When you go to write and record your second album, the only thing you know is that you don't want to repeat yourself and write a straight up sequel to your first one. You want to be fresh, to expound upon what you have achieved so far. This can be an overwhelming responsibility, and can temper the creative spirit. For our first album, the singer and guitarist wrote all the music/words, and the drummer/bassist more or less just put their stamp on it. But after playing those songs for years, we found a groove together as a band.

    We brought that to the writing sessions for the 2nd album. We more or less jammed on various pieces of music, and eventually songs came out of them. We recorded all of our jam sessions, and it's interesting to look back now and hear the songs slowly take shake. Like sifting through hours of **** to find that one brilliant minute that you can build a song off of. Everybody was bringing ideas to the table, and it came together in a very organic way. I feel that we wrote our best stuff during this time. My advice would be to try it that way.

    Our 3rd album was ultimately the one that ended it all for us. The singer would say "let's play this song that I wrote... it goes like this... (band plays)." Then after that, the rhythm guitarist would say "well here's a song that I wrote, play this, this, this, and this part in the bridge". People started to favor other people's songs, and it eventually lead to the demise of our band. I don't even like to listen to that record.

    We tried to go back to the old ways and work on a 4th album, but by then bad habits/alliances had been cemented, and it was no longer possible to be functional.
  17. Milk


    Sep 16, 2013
    Montreal, Canada

    Yeah. I can count the bands that have a record with 18 or more good songs on it on the fingers of...........no hands. Because there isn't any.

    10 to 12 songs should be the goal. Having 10 to 12 good to solid songs is possible.

    And yeah im working on my first record and have the benefit that i had about 4 good songs already fully written and 4 others more or less written when i've started, some i've been dragging around for 5 years. So far i've only written one compeltely new one (to prove to myself i could still do it...) the newest one in the rest was otherwise maybe 2 years old. So yeah, first record is easy, you have a bunch of songs, you can pick the best ones you,ve written in the past years, if i had to write a second one from scratch right now, i think i'd feel very pressured.
  18. Yeah, you need to learn to kill your babies and choose only the best 10/12 songs. Then workshop the ever-loving s*** out of them, trying out various stuff. The album will likely feel much tighter after this.
  19. cleary


    Apr 19, 2013
    NSW, Australia
  20. With my band were working on writing our 4th full length and we've given up writing and went back to focusing on shows or went on hiatus several times. I think a lot of it is high expectations. When a band forms and puts together that first album there really aren't any expectations. With us our first album was pretty bad, second one was significant step up, and third one was another step up. Now we sorta feel like if its not the best thing ever Its. unworthy or something.

    Other things have changed as well. For example when we formed we were a one guitar band. We did our first album with basically a one guitar type sound. On our second and third albums our singer did some acoustic guitar stuff on a couple songs. Now our singer is basically playing electric on all the new stuff. While most of our music isn't that complicated it does change the writing process. Its kinda like there are to many musical ideas. When less ideas of higher quality would be better. I think that our singer hasn't even playing as long as everyone else in the band might have some part in it but be plays a lot so its really not an issue of him being behind everyone else skill wise. But also not that i play really flashy but with our band the bass parts tend to be more complicated than the guitar parts. With some of the ideas i find it kinda boring being put in the meat and potatoes type of bass type of vibe