It’s often said that a band is like a marriage — so perhaps it should come as no surprise that more and more bands are moving in together.
Yes, on top of living with one another in tour buses for months at a time, some musicians are now opting to sleep under the same roof while recording too. It’s a trend that stems from modern technology. As recording equipment has become smaller and more portable, musicians are taking advantage by getting out of the often-stale environment of recording studios and saving rent money in the process.
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers famously recorded 1991′s Blood Sugar Sex Magik while living together in a Hollywood mansion (nicknamed the Houdini Mansion after the magician who once lived there) owned by producer Rick Rubin (see “Peppers Say Return To Sex Scene Yielded Different Magik“ ), bands like Incubus and Papa Roach have popularized that type of recording in recent years.
“None of us had a place to live, and we had a recording budget, so [guitarist] Michael [Einziger] had the bright idea,” Incubus singer Brandon Boyd said of making 2001′s Morning View, named after the street they recorded on in Malibu, California. “He was like, ‘Dude, we should rent a mansion and we’ll all go live there. That way we don’t have to pay rent.’ Nobody in our camp — the record label, management — thought it was a good idea. They thought we were gonna, like, piss off and surf all day and play in the beach and stuff like that, which we did, but we happened to write a record too.”
The experience brought the band closer together, and it also had an impact on the sound of the album. “I think it affected the songwriting too,” Boyd said. “We had never rented a house on the beach the middle of nowhere, and in my opinion when you listen to Morning View you can hear that, you can pick up on this vibe. It sounds like a bunch of dudes squatting in a mansion.”
As with Incubus, recording in a mansion left such an impression on Papa Roach that the band named their 2006 album The Paramour Sessions after the estate where it was recorded (see “Papa Roach Clip A Freak Show; LP Inspired By Oil Heiress’ Ghost” ) — which TV viewers might recognize as the “Rock Star: Supernova” or “Rock Star: INXS” house.
“Back home, we’d go to our rehearsal studio from noon to 6, and we’d be trying to juggle our family lives and our rock and roll lifestyle,” said P-Roach singer Jacoby Shaddix. “To move into this house and fully immerse ourselves in our music and our creativity and being artistic, we grew by leaps and bounds. We just disconnected ourselves from the world outside of us, and that was what really pushed things forward.”
There are no private rooms in most recording studios, but in the Paramour, Shaddix found dozens of intimate places to write music and work songs out. And with engineers also living there, the band was never tied down to a schedule.
“Anytime you wanted to pick up a guitar you could just go for it,” Shaddix said. “We were waking up and making music. And being so close in proximity to each other and seeing what was going on in each other’s personal lives [definitely influenced the songwriting].”
Bands can spend thousands of dollars a day renting studio space, so mansions are often more cost-effective, especially when an out-of-town band like Papa Roach are also living there.
“It makes the writing easier when you can take your time and not be wasting tons of money in the studio,” said Evanescence singer Amy Lee. “And it creates the vibe of just being able to be an artist. You wake up at 4 [p.m.], have a glass of wine and write some music if you feel like it that day and not worry that you just spent five-grand.”
My Chemical Romance wrote most of 2006′s The Black Parade at the Paramour but chose not to live there. “I like separation,” singer Gerard Way said. “I like being able to leave the studio. We would have gone extra crazy if we would have lived there.”
And My Chem are not alone in their thinking. Most of the bands that have used the Houdini Mansion in recent years, like Linkin Park and System of a Down (both from Los Angeles, where members already have homes), have not lived there at the same time.
“It’s not that we wouldn’t be able to live with each other, but we all have families,” LP singer Chester Bennington said. “And we’ve been working on this since January ! Also, there’s six guys in our band. To move us all into one house would just be stupid.”
“We already live in the same house — it’s called a tour bus,” added 30 Seconds to Mars singer Jared Leto. “So there’s no need for that one.”
Perhaps the best solution is to follow the typical recording method of British rockers Muse. “It’s great to do a bit of an album that way,” singer Matthew Bellamy said. “Every album we’ve done, we’ve done at least three or four weeks in a residential studio. It’s great to write in, but with [studios] in New York or L.A. or whatever, you can call upon weird instruments when you need them or weird amps and all that kind of stuff.”
Incubus recorded both Morning View follow-ups in a studio (see “Incubus Want Change Of Scenery For Morning View Follow-Up” ), but the band is open to going back to living together in a mansion.
“We’ve talked about trying to get like an old, haunted castle somewhere,” Boyd said. “We’ll write our goth record there.”