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Great Big Sea takes advantage of technology to make new album

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Recording music is all about capturing ideas, feelings and moments. And these days, there’s really no need to panic if inspiration strikes outside of the studio.

The members of Great Big Sea, like other artists, have regularly used laptops for demo purposes. But the Canadian roots-rock band recently took things one step further, recording straight to singer/guitarist Alan Doyle‘s laptop and including those tracks on Great Big Sea’s latest album, Safe Upon the Shore.

“The quality of the recording technology has gotten so good that we can now make good quality recordings wherever we want, whenever we want,” singer/instrumentalist Bob Hallett says. “Recording used to be the preserve of either the rich or the patient, and now good music can be made by anyone.”

Convenience, as well as the ability to get ideas “on tape” while they were fresh and exciting, were the chief reasons Great Big Sea made much of the album with a laptop, according to Hallett.

“While our first ideas are not always the best, sometimes they are, and this methodology allowed those moments of inspiration to be captured right away,” he adds.

Inspiration struck Great Big Sea in a variety of locations, with dressing rooms, hotel rooms and a basement among the places where the band recorded its new album.

“The back lounge of the [band’s tour] bus was probably the weirdest – [it was] small and noisy,” recalls Hallett. “It also is about as close to the heart of rock ’n’ roll as you are going to get.”

Not all of Safe Upon the Shore was recorded on the run: The band also used its own studio, as well as The Music Shed in New Orleans.

“The environment of the city definitely helped us. It was good to get away from the domestic pressures of home life and just concentrate on the music,” Hallett says.

— By Chris M. Junior

Great Big Sea on tour (schedule subject to change):

Aug. 12: Big Top Chautauqua – Bayfield, Wis.
Aug. 13-14: Minnesota Irish Festival – St. Paul, Minn.
Aug. 21: Suicide Six Ski Resort – South Pomfret, Vt.
Aug. 22: Wolf Trap Filene Center – Vienna, Va.
Sept. 14: Waterville Opera House – Waterville, Maine
Sept. 15: Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel – Providence, R.I.
Sept. 16: Flynn Center for the Performing Arts – Burlington, Vt.
Sept. 17: The Orpheum – Boston
Sept. 18: Irish 2000 Fest – Ballston Spa, N.Y.
Sept. 19: Infinity Music Hall – Norfolk, Conn.
Sept. 21: The Westcott Theater – Syracuse, N.Y.
Sept. 22: State Theater – State College, Pa.
Sept. 23: Byham Theater – Pittsburgh
Sept. 24: Webster Hall – New York