How To Produce Punk/Hardcore Vocals

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Producing punk and hardcore vocals is much different than producing many other genres of vocals. It is also what I have been doing for much of the last decade. After the prompting of a good friend, I decided to write up some tips that aren’t common Internet knowledge. Follow me to the jump and learn how you can most effectively get across your message of how painful it was to be stabbed in the back.

  1. Beware Of Rogue Vowels – One of the ultimate calling cards of a amateur vocal on a punk track is that the words will stare with all sorts of weird vowels. The word I will become wwwwwwI, again will become rrrrrrragain, etc. It is a strange phenomenon and the singers rarely notice it. You need to correct this and make sure you have no weird mmmmms before your vocal starts.
  2. Enunciation Is The Name Of The Game – One of the strangest phenomenons in punk and hardcore is that the lyrics are one of the most important parts of the music, yet you can never understand them. With that said, one of the things that helps make many classic records is to make the lyrics understood in the vocal performance. Try to get as good enunciation out of your vocalist and you will be rewarded immensely.
  3. Performance Over Pitch – One of the funniest thing about punk vocals is you do not need pop perfection with pitch. As long as the vocal has energy and aggression, minor pitch flaws will be forgiven. Also avoid over using Auto-Tune since it will be perceived as robotic emotion, rather than genuine emotion.
  4. Don’t Cup It -For some reason singers think it is a good idea to cup the mic. This leads to a fake tone. If you want the larger tone that the cupping of the mic gives you, you may need to practice more, since the cupping will just give you a weak, fake tone.
  5. Distortion Can Be Your Friend – A little bit of mic pre distortion or even plug-in distortion can be your friend. Used in moderation it can immensely help your tone.
  6. Any Mic Can Work – The funny thing about punk and hardcore vocals is that a wide variety of mics work on vocalists, since often times you are just going for a character in a track. Don’t be afraid of odd choices and use your ears to judge the mics, not your logic.
  7. Break It Up – Punk songs tend to be fast and it is hard to spit out all the vocals. Capture some full takes for some energy and to hear how it sounds straight through, but then feel free to break the vocals up into one line at a time bits.

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.