How to record an album in six hours, according to Doby Watson (MP3 enhanced)

In the course of making a record, most musicians (myself included) consider it a productive day if a couple guitar parts and a vocal are completed. Then there’s people like Doby Watson, who make us all jealous by knocking out a whole record in six hours.

Mr. Watson and collaborators A.P. Swearengin and Matt Dill went into The Punch studio in Lenexa with engineer Ross Brown at 10 a.m. and were home in time for dinner with an eight-song album in tow. They recorded each song two or three times and picked the one they messed up the least on.

Watson says that the idea to cut an album live was inspired by the lively-yet-erratic early recordings of Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy).

”Some of favorite records of his are the ones that are the sloppiest,” Watson says. “You can tell that they’re in a room playing and having fun and they’re not fretting about it.”

The concept seemed particularly enticing to Watson given his recent frustrations with recording. He ditched numerous songs in recent years that he felt were too stale or flat. As a result, his recorded catalog thus far — formerly under the alias Boo Hiss — only amounts to handmade CDR splits and EPs. But there’s some really good stuff there that recalls slowcore masters like Mark Kozelek and Idaho.


Yesterday’s session will hopefully result in Watson’s first proper album with singing and stuff (he released an instrumental, textural-drone record last summer and a collection of guitar duets this winter).

“We had a lot of fun doing it, and we didn’t agonize at all,” Watson says. “The emotion and the power of the music was there. It was like a perfectly captured show.”

The album, titled 22, will now be mixed in Chicago and mastered by a Daytrotter engineer whom Watson befriended. It should be out towards the end of May or at least by the time Watson hits the road for his summer tour of house shows and DIY art spaces.

Categories: Music