Rarefied Recording, a San Diego Recording Studio

Darrell Thorp at Rarefied!

Wow, I’m still coming down from a high of working with esteemed engineer, Darrell Thorp. He’s engineered for the likes of Radiohead, Beck, Foo Fighters, and Paul McCartney and has 9 Grammys to show for it. So he’s no joke! I got to assist him on a song for TJ based rock/reggae band, Nosis. Not only did he do an amazing job for the band, he was also a lot of fun and good guy to work with. We’ve got two more days booked by Nosis’ label, Rasta Records, so I’m looking forward to more.

Getting to assist engineers like Darrell not only opens my mind up to some new ways of doing things, but it also reinforces a lot of things that I’m already doing and let’s me know that I’m on the right path. The engineering side of things is actually probably the easiest part when you are in a good room, with good mics/mic pre’s, and good players with good instruments. What matters more is listening critically with an ear for what’s right for the song and not being afraid to reshape people’s parts on the fly. That’s obviously more production than engineering, but it definitely makes the biggest impact in my mind. So hats off to Darrell for a job well done and thanks to him, the band, and the label for bringing their project through Rarefied.

Rarefied Recording Session Prep Checklist

So you’re band is headed to the studio? Here are some tips I compiled to make the most of your session. Some of it will be applicable to you, some of it won’t. But I hope you find it useful whether you’re recording at Rarefied or elsewhere!


  • Are the songs ready to record?
    • Structure?
    • Arrangement?
    • Tempo?
    • Lyrics, sheet music, charts?
  • Have you practiced enough?
    • Does everyone know their parts?
    • If using a click, is everyone comfortable playing to one?
    • Have you memorized the lyrics or are you bringing a copy?
  • Are your instruments/gear ready?
    • Guitars recently setup/intonated?
    • New strings on (if desired)? Don’t forget an extra pack!
    • Any technical issues? (buzzes, hums, rattles, etc.)
    • New heads for drums?
    • Are you comfortable tuning drums or do you need help? (I can hook you up with a drum tech if needed)
    • Any need to rent an instrument or hire a session player?
    • Have singers been taking care of their vocal chords? (avoid smoking and drinking prior to your session)
  • Have you discussed “sonics” with your engineer?
    • Have you provided references?
    • Is there a clear sonic vision you can communicate?
  • Do you have a “day of” game plan?
    • Which musicians are recording initial basic tracks vs. overdubbing?
    • Which song will you record first, second, etc.?
    • Do you have a plan for snacks, drinks, and meals?
    • Does everyone know where and when to arrive?
    • Does anyone need to leave early and have you accounted for that?
    • Do you have a hard drive or USB stick to bring for your files?
  • Are your financials in order?
    • Do you have a budget for the various stages of the project (recording, mixing, mastering, release)?
    • Are all band members prepared to pay their share?
    • Are you paying by cash, check, Zelle, credit card, or PayPal?