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Interviewing - The Wanted

Brian Toye
July 26, 2011

A project close to my own heart, involving past band members of mine, named The Wanted have been in pre-production for their first album for the past 9 months. I was lucky enough to help them out recently during the final stages of a mix for a cover of Black Velvet. The phone call went a bit like this… we have recorded an arrangement of Black velvet…we need to mix it and shoot a video in the next two days to submit it for a CBC Cover Me Canada contest”. Wow…is that possible lol. I think they did a great job in the extremely small time frame. It was great fun to work on a project with these guys again. I decided to find out a bit more about The Wanted and the direction they are moving in:

Brian – After FYI (most of thier realeased/unreleaseddemos can be heard here, you guys continued writing a variety of styles. There was a rock radio vibe followed by an auto tune pop vibe followed by a number of pure acoustic songs. This latest cover of Black Velvet seems to be moving back towards the “rock” feel. What can fans expect for upcoming original releases form The Wanted?

Charbonneau - Well that is a hard question to answer. Our song writing takes us in various directions with each idea. We (Kevin McGowan and I) have such a wide range of taste that we never limit ourselves to one style. Depending on the message, and mood we shape it accordingly. Sometimes it takes on a hip hop vibe, sometimes folk etc.

Brian - When it comes to writing, do you tend to bring ideas to the table and work on them together and having them evolve over time? Or do you bring finished products to each others attention?

Charbonneau - In most cases one of us will bring forth a hook, concept, riff or progression. Generally the basic shell of the song, and the two of us shape and mold it together. It’s like a painting for the ears. We each keep adding to it, until the canvass is complete.

Brian - When you demo your arrangements, what is your vocal signal path? What is your Guitar signal path? What is your Bass signal path?

Charbonneau - We are still in the process of finalizing all of the above. We have recently upgraded some of our gear and will continue to do so. For vocals we rock a Neumann TLM-103 through a great river 1mv mic pre into Pro Tools 9 where we do most of our tweaking. Guitars in most cases get two mics, one condenser through the great river and one dynamic through an onboard pre on our RME Fireface 800. Bass usually direct through a pre or from the back of the amp head. We will eventually add some compression to that chain before signal is swallowed up by pro tools.

Brian - I know that you are both involved heavily in video production, from shooting to editing. How do you balance being a director/film producer with the music production and writing? Which takes the priority?

Charbonneau - Video has become such a big part in presenting audio. It is almost expected by consumers to see a video along with their favourite songs. I have been working in video production since college and like the audio field video technology constantly evolves, and is becoming more accessible for the amateur consumer. You can shell out a few thousand dollars and be shooting high quality video immediately. Much like people and their home audio studios, video is going that way as well. It is hard to say which takes priority for us because they both complement each other so well, and they both try to convey a message in their own way. In music I think the audience has more freedom to interpret a song however they want. In video this can be achieved also but you have to be more creative and abstract in order fro the viewers to pull something different from it.

Brian - What advice do you have for young musicians starting out in their first serious band? How should they balance writing, shows/touring and demoing or album production?

Charbonneau - Being in a band is like adopting a few brothers and/ or sisters. They become closer to you than your immediate family. It’s the best experience you can share with another person. Being creative with them, sharing ideas, there is nothing like it. You have to be patient and dedicated. Trying to juggle several lives and coordinate rehearsals, gigs, writing etc. is a full time job. So be prepared to work on your band full time alongside your "money" job. 80 hour work weeks are not uncommon when in a band. However, the band is more like a not-for-profit organization out of the gates. I worked a 9-5 job when I was in FYI. On top of work, I was writing, recording, promoting, rehearsing, organizing etc. playing as many gigs as possible. The band is like your little corporation. The amount of work you put into to it, the more results you will see.

These days bands can promote themselves easier through you tube and the internet. This also means the amount of bands, and the amount of people trying to do the same things has increased as well. It is important to stand out and be creative when it comes to putting your music out into the public.

The best advice I can give is learning how to fail properly. Not every idea will be epic. Not every song will be a hit. Not every gig will be a success. Learn from these failures, and build on them. Failing is a good thing. If everything we did was successful we would never learn.
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