Exiting The Fall studio update.
Always check out <40hz on your individual tracks. Shave this stuff correctly and you’ll get more headroom out of your masters. A lot of times it is the frequencies your monitors can’t reproduce that will get your limiters and compressors pumping too early. You’ll likely be surprised how many places you find things building up in that area. #nerdtalk
Salad Days Magazine based out of Italy asked me for 5 of my favorite songs for this months Mix tape. It was hard, but I went with:
- Russian Circles
- Jets to Brazil
- The Felix Culpa
Apparently I like indie rock hahaha.
PunkNews: We’ve happy to premiere (most of a) brand new song from No Trigger’s upcoming album, Tycoon. The record is due out February 21, 2012 and is their first since 2006’s Canyoneer.
The new song accompanies a teaser video with footage from recording and other band-related shenanigans.
Yesterday Defeater was invited into the BBC studio to record four songs for them. On every level imaginable, this experience was a dream come true for me. Every band from The Cure, and The Smiths to Hot Snakes, and American Nightmare has been recorded behind those walls. It’s nothing but an honor and a treat to now be included on that list.
We tracked live versions of But Breathing, Brothers, Warm Blood Rush, and Empty Glass. After being on tour this long, our set has grown to be airtight, enabling us to breeze through all the tracks in no more than a couple of takes. I’ve only heard the pre-mixes, but they already sound fantastic. BBC will be using them on the radio for a show called “The Punk Show on Radio One,” hosted by Mike Davies.
The studio was absolutely gorgeous. It had 20-foot ceilings, great acoustic treatment, a built-in glass vocal booth, and a lounge loft, all contained in the live room. There was a full 48-track SSL board, three silver-faced 1176ln compressors, an E.A.R. Fairchild replica, and hand built near field monitors, which sounded unreal, in the control room.
It was a gear nut’s fantasy, and while I love playing in Defeater, being there made me very home sick and eager to get back to the states to start working on some records. At a certain point engineering starts being less about science and more art. It’s about the choices you make in the moment, being a part of an organic process with the artist; finding creative methods to meet your goals, and letting go enough to just see what happens when you take a risk that is outside of your comfort zone.
BBC, you have inspired me. 2012 is going to be a great year for both Getaway and Defeater. More to come on that very soon.
There is a certain uncertainty, if you will, in the first few moments you meet a new band. I’ve found that the first 20 minutes are often very telling of how the rest of the three weeks are going to be. Working on the Counterparts record was a ton of fun, first 20 minutes and all. The guys all have their heads wrapped around music in a way I that wouldn’t expect from such a young band.
We spent a ton of time on the drums. The band wanted to get away from the sound of their last release, which relied very heavily on triggers. This pleased me to no end, because I’m not a huge fan of fake sounding records. However, this means the drum takes have to be awesome, which takes time. The drummer, Ryan, was cool about me digging into the drum compositions and was really patient while we toiled over every little detail for 80 hours. At times, he and I reworked things from the ground up, but it really paid off.
He was, however, very happy once we finally finished.
Believe it or not, my Peavey 5150 was made specifically for and belonged to Aerosmith. It’s a first year model and is one of, if not the, best sounding 5150 I have ever heard. It even has a special metal serial tag on the bottom of it that says, “Aerosmith,” followed by a serial number. This was our go to amp for the session.
I auditioned a bunch of mics and pres for guitar tracking but settled (as I often will) on my Royer 121 into a thermionic culture rooster into an Empirical Labs Fatso. I adore the Fatso on guitars; the transformers roll off of the sub-bassstuff that you don’t really want on guitars, and the warming circuit can help tame the annoying presence build up. Since I was using a Ribbon mic, the top-end stuff wasn’t an issue, but being able to roll those subs is great; I also used a little compression to keep the chugs from getting out of hand, which was necessary because Orange cabs have huge bass response.
When it came time for vocals we were starting to get a little low on time, but Brendan assured me that he “doesn’t lose his voice.” I’m thinking, “suuuuure you don’t,” but he was awesome. I love it when a band actually has something to say and can deliver it quickly and confidently.
It really was an exercise in things going right. They trusted and listened to my suggestions, and I think I was able to wrap my head around what they were looking for: raw, real, and listenable, but powerful. The kind of mix you want to crank because there is a three-dimensional aspect to it all.
They just posted this music video for one of the songs (Jumping Ship), and the reviews have been really good. They will be doing quite a bit of touring, so go see them if you get the chance!
Yesterday I had the pleasure recording a new Bane song. It always feels a little bit special when they come in because they rarely release new material and they are, clearly, an institution in hardcore.
The track is going to be used for a compilation coming out on Triple B Records later this spring. Pat Flynn from Have Heart and Sweet Pete from In My Eyes came down to help us with some of the gang vocals — I even got in there myself!
Everything went very smoothly from a production standpoint. Recording a great band makes an amazing difference in every step of the recording process. We tried out a few different tempos early on in the day to get the feel right and then time totally flew by.
I didn’t use any post-EQ on the guitars or bass. I’m writing this about 10 minutes after completing the master and I have to say, I’m really happy with the outcome.
It was great to get to hang for a day since we (Defeater) are leaving for a full U.S. tour with Bane in a week. Come to some shows and find me if you like nerding out about gear or recording!
Someone on GearSlutz recently asked me how I recorded Have Heart’s live show, so I thought I would include my response here.
Have Heart Live was nothing short of a giant cluster fuck. The sound people did NOT want to deal with me. We knew the show was going to be pure madness, so getting near the band was pretty much not going to happen.
I had to hang out near the front of house board, but they didn’t have any way to split me off the mic signal before it hit the board. I got something after the gain adjustments, but before his effects. The tricky part was when the FoH engineer wanted to pull something down or push something up in the live mix – it affected my signal, too, so I had to monitor like a madman.
Another problem? It was Have Heart’s last show. Complete carnage. So on top of all the other difficulties, there were a couple hundred kids on stage, pushing mics over and causing, what we will call, a “less than ideal recording situation.”
Anyway, I took it back to the studio and started digging in. As I suspected, it was a mess. Even though the crowd was crazy loud in that room, I still didn’t have enough of it. Pat, god love him, didn’t sing into the mic that much. It would have been fine for the DVD because you’d be able to see him pointing it out into the crowd but for the vinyl? Not going to cut it.
Bridge 9 toyed with the idea of having Pat come back into the studio to fill things in, but I pushed against the idea because it is, after all, a live record. I think it was about that moment in time, vocals or no vocals. It would be weird for the vinyl to have vocals in spots where you could clearly see he wasn’t singing on the DVD, never mind the impossible task of trying to “tone / vibe” match.
What we were able to get our hands on, however, were audio rips of some people who had been filming the show. I had to be really careful with phase and exactly where I lined these up with my original recording. I did some high and low passing to help tuck these into mix better. This REALLY helped crowd volume and gave the whole thing a more three-dimensional feel.
With a live recording, some of your usual “go-to” techniques are going to fall flat on their face because of the excessive amount of bleed and phase problems you’re going to have. The trick is to be smart and conservative. There is a good chance your guitars are going to have a ton of cymbal and vocal in them, EVERYTHING is going to have a crazy amount of sub-bass, and your vocals will be inconsistently sung into a painfully beat up old sm58 or something.
It’s not about completely eliminating these elements though — you just want to sort of massage them together, bringing the better elements forward a little bit more than you normally would. The elements that hurt will get pushed back a little further as well.
My FATSO and my dbx162 both made an appearance. They are both adept at taking off that “digital” edge, if you will. The transformer in the FATSO was crucial for rounding off that crazy sub-bass in a real musical way.