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#31
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
Hey Butch,

I am dying to know how you got the strings on Disarm. That song was what put me over the edge to buy the album back in '93, which I've loved ever since. I think strings can do a lot in a song like this, so I'm eager to learn how it was done.


- If live, how many players were used (ie. violin, viola, cello)?
- Were they all tracked at once or separate?
- How many overdubs each, if any?
- What mic setup?
- If synthetic components are there as well, what were they?


Thanks a bunch. Awesome to have you here.
We had 1 violin and 1 cello player. We stacked them about 15 or 20 times and had to record to a "C" and bounce stereo pairs back to the "B" reel. I think we used a tube 47 or a Neumann fet 47 for the Cello and maybe a Sony C37A for the violin.
Nothing synthetic though, just many, many stacks.
#32
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Originally Posted by darryl2112 View Post
I am almost positive that the reason they even chose Tryclops was that it was all analog/tube(at least says billy). in a sound on sound article it stated that "billy would sometimes spend up to 8 hours on 1 song trying to get the vocals pitch perfect." The article also suggests that Mellancollie.......was the first record the band used protools (partially).
Triclops studio was used because of 2 main reasons, it was not LA and they had a beautiful sounding Neve 8068. I believe Butch sought the studio for the board and wanted to keep the band away from distractions like there would be in LA.
#33
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Originally Posted by ButchVig View Post
The albums was recorded to 48 track, using two Studers. There was one song Mayonaise, that had so many tape edits, we found a digital multitrack (mitsubishi?) and transferred the song to it as our new master, cuz we were afraid the tape would break!
No auto tuning...Billy would sing until he got it right. I would usually do comps with Jeff, old school style, punching the best bits onto a new master track. It was time consuming!

I think Alan Moulder used some triggers when we mixed to add ambience to some of the songs...but we never replaced anything, and if we did use a trigger on the snare, it was probably a 70/30 % blend.
I went through a few razor blades on Mayonaise.
#34
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Jimmy's Snare(s)

Hey Butch,

I absolutely love the delicate yet aggressive snare sound you had going on Siamese Dream. Do you remember which snare(s) Jimmy used?

Thanks!
Josh
#35
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
We had 1 violin and 1 cello player. We stacked them about 15 or 20 times and had to record to a "C" and bounce stereo pairs back to the "B" reel. I think we used a tube 47 or a Neumann fet 47 for the Cello and maybe a Sony C37A for the violin.
Nothing synthetic though, just many, many stacks.
Fantastic info. I've often considered doing this to create an orchestral effect on a budget - glad to know it can be done so well.

Two follow ups re Disarm if you can:

1) How was the acoustic tracked? Was it doubled or just one layer? Stereo/mono miced and what mics?

2) When bouncing down the strings, how did you pan? My instinct would be to have the staccato cellos all down the center since there's no bass guitar, or did you hardpan doubles for width? For the two violin melody parts I could imagine hardpanning one melody to each side, or alternatively spreading the copies evenly across the field to emulate having two full violin sections side by side.

Any further clarification would be appreciated.

Thanks yet again.
#36
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rectifier View Post
Siamese Dreams - one of the all time great rock records. I read once that Billy Corgan said it was a miracle that the record was ever completed as it was a struggle at some points.

Was this a fun record to make? Any standout memories? I will never get sick of this record. Those guitars and drums sound so amazing.

Thanks
Making Siamese Dream was really hard, because we felt a ton of pressure, and the band was pretty fragile. But Billy and I made a clear decision to swing for the stars, and make an ambitious statement, and I think we nailed it.
There we days were it was fun, days were it was tedious, and days where it was crazy!
I think the album still sounds good today, it holds up really well!
#37
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzy View Post
Butch,

First off, thankyou so much for doing this! I know Im not alone in being thrilled your here answering questions about your work!

Ive heard Jimmy Chamberlin has quite light touch when he plays. Did this cause you any problems when getting the drum tones/tracking etc?

Also, did you and the band have a predetermined sound you were trying to achieve, or was it a case of experimenting until it felt right?

Many thanks for your time and knowledge.

Oz
Jimmy is a GREAT drummer, he has some amazing chops. He does not hit the drums really hard, but he has excellent dynamic control over the whole kit, and sort of mixes himself. We probably could have used 4 mics and he would have sounded amazing.
#38
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
We had 1 violin and 1 cello player. We stacked them about 15 or 20 times and had to record to a "C" and bounce stereo pairs back to the "B" reel. I think we used a tube 47 or a Neumann fet 47 for the Cello and maybe a Sony C37A for the violin.
Nothing synthetic though, just many, many stacks.
Thank Jeff!
The funny thing is, we origianlly wanted to make the strings sound like a quartet, so we should have only needed a couple takes. But after listening to them double the first part, we realized the song was going to sound much bigger and dynamic with a LOT of strings.
In hindsight, we probably could have got a 16 piece or 20 piece string section and done it live, but hey, what did we know...we were making it up on the fly!
#39
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
I went through a few razor blades on Mayonaise.
HA! I'm sure anyone who walked through the control rom would have thought Jeff had a bad coke habit!

I can explain why we did so many edits. I rehearsals, I was timing the band around 145 bpm (as far as can remember). When we tracked it, we used a click, and Billy though it sounded too fast. So we slowed it down to around 141 or so. After we recorded what I thought was the master take, I started to notice certain snare hits that dragged.
So I measured where the kick landed with a china marker on tape, then measured where the snare landed. The bars that felt good to me, were in fact around 145 bpm.
So Jeff and I went through and starting shaving any snare that dragged forward.
And we went in kinda deep! There were probably 200 edits when we were finished!
The song was recorded at 141 but ended up at 145!

After 200 edits I looked at Jeff and said "Is it Sweet?
#40
17th June 2009
Old 17th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
Triclops studio was used because of 2 main reasons, it was not LA and they had a beautiful sounding Neve 8068. I believe Butch sought the studio for the board and wanted to keep the band away from distractions like there would be in LA.
Exactly, that's why we chose the studio...that Neve was a kickass sounding, and we thought we would be isolated enough to keep the distractions low.

However, within 24 hours Jimmy new every drug dealer, hooker, bookie, and nut case in Atlanta...so that part of the plan didn't work!
#41
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Wow! This is seriously one of the coolest threads ever. Siamese Dream had a big influence on me, personally and musically.

Thank you for doing this Butch!
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#42
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButchVig View Post
Oh yes, there were a LOT of guitars!

I remember some songs like Hummer and Soma had so many parts, I had to make "guitar maps" for us to remember how to approach the mix.
When you are layering this many guitars, do you use lots of different guitar amps? I guess I figure there are three or four but I can imagine with 40 tracks you could have 12 or more amp sounds on one song.

thanks for coming here...

Anthony
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#43
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Siamese/Guitar recording and methodology questions...

Hi Butch and Jeff, I have to join the chorus here and say that Siamese Dream is an absolute all time favorite of mine. Everything's perfect and the sound is something me and my bandmates have been chasing for years now.

A couple of questions here I'd really love if you'd have time to answer:

How much you'd say the guitar sounds come from Billy's playing per se and how much you'd account that to gear, recording techniques and technology itself? I know this might be a bit tough question to answer, but I was just wondering if Billy always sounds so damn good regardless of amps and mikes and stuff.

It's obvious he's totally obsessed with guitar playing and gear, but if you'd care to give some insight on the process it would be great. Was he patient with finding sounds or was he wanting to move along?

How much he had planned ahead concerning those guitar maps and armies or did you create it as you went along?

Could you also describe the recording process in general with Billy, was everything in general regarding arrangements etc planned out by him or by him and you or was there also happy accidents coming along? How open was he to experiment in the studio at that time?

I've read Billy is a extremely fast worker when laying down guitar tracks and makes decisions very quickly. Is that so?

You and Jeff have stated that the vocal recordings could be time consuming. I was wondering who was the main "****" in the studio at that time, when recording vocals. Was Billy always ready to commit the 8 hour sessions to getting it right or was there some tension when things got difficult when recording vocals? Who was the most critical concerning the takes and who you'd say was the "main producer" when recording vocals? I love how they're done and I love Billy's vocals.

Any special ambience/reverb treatments to get that special sound or is just Billy's unique voice that's working there?

Oops, I got carried away.. Anyway, I'm loving this Q&A and especially this thread!
#44
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by razmigootioun View Post
Was each one of those tracks actually played? Or were they different channels of the same take? (with different mics?)
All the tracks were played individually!
#45
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonySpinali View Post
When you are layering this many guitars, do you use lots of different guitar amps? I guess I figure there are three or four but I can imagine with 40 tracks you could have 12 or more amp sounds on one song.

thanks for coming here...

Anthony
We didn't change amps a lot, most of the time we would change the mic for a different part. Billy also used a lot of pedals which would give each part a different tone.
#46
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToneRanger View Post
Hi Butch and Jeff, I have to join the chorus here and say that Siamese Dream is an absolute all time favorite of mine. Everything's perfect and the sound is something me and my bandmates have been chasing for years now.

A couple of questions here I'd really love if you'd have time to answer:

How much you'd say the guitar sounds come from Billy's playing per se and how much you'd account that to gear, recording techniques and technology itself? I know this might be a bit tough question to answer, but I was just wondering if Billy always sounds so damn good regardless of amps and mikes and stuff.

It's obvious he's totally obsessed with guitar playing and gear, but if you'd care to give some insight on the process it would be great. Was he patient with finding sounds or was he wanting to move along?

How much he had planned ahead concerning those guitar maps and armies or did you create it as you went along?

Could you also describe the recording process in general with Billy, was everything in general regarding arrangements etc planned out by him or by him and you or was there also happy accidents coming along? How open was he to experiment in the studio at that time?

I've read Billy is a extremely fast worker when laying down guitar tracks and makes decisions very quickly. Is that so?

You and Jeff have stated that the vocal recordings could be time consuming. I was wondering who was the main "****" in the studio at that time, when recording vocals. Was Billy always ready to commit the 8 hour sessions to getting it right or was there some tension when things got difficult when recording vocals? Who was the most critical concerning the takes and who you'd say was the "main producer" when recording vocals? I love how they're done and I love Billy's vocals.

Any special ambience/reverb treatments to get that special sound or is just Billy's unique voice that's working there?

Oops, I got carried away.. Anyway, I'm loving this Q&A and especially this thread!
Billy has a really good ear, and he was just as opinionated about the sound as I was. Most of the time, he knew what he wanted, but sometimes it took a while to get the sound. A lot of experimenting. Sometimes I would suggest and idea, and it would take hours to get the right sound.
Billy is a GREAT guitarist....some of the parts came really fast, others were a struggle: the intro for Today took a LOT of takes to get the perfect sound and feel. Remember, this is before Pro Tools, and that guitar is naked at the start of the song...I think we worked on that 4 bar intro for about 12 hours!!!!

Vocals were time consuming. Billy would do a lot of of takes, I would give him feedback and keep notes until I was satisfied we had the right performance.
Then Jeff and I woud do a vocal comp, bouncing the best bits to another track. We didn't use autotune (it didn't exist!) so I just went for what I thought had the best feel.
There are spots on the album where the vocal is not pitch perfect, but that's not the point...I was looking for an emotional quality in his singing....Billy has this ability to open his heart, so to speak, and sing with a vulnerabilty that draws you into the song.
That was more important to me than technical perfection.

Siamese Dream is a very dry record, very little reverb used on guitars and vocals.
And we seldom used ambient mics on the guitars.

The one efx we used a lot on Billy's voice was the Eventide harmonizer, to add a slight double effect. Usually 20 or 30 ms delay, with about a 10 cent pitch offset.
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#47
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Butch this record influenced me more then almost any rock record I have ever heard. It was out right when I was learning guitar and bass as a kid and I had never heard distortion that big before.

Can you talk more about how you got the distortion so huge. Was it mainly big muffs, or just combos of pedals and amp gain? Obviously tracking each take seperately is a must, but how did you pan all those takes? I am talking mainly about any heavily disorted parts on the record here. Also, how did you make sure that the bass didn't get buried?
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#48
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
Fantastic info. I've often considered doing this to create an orchestral effect on a budget - glad to know it can be done so well.

Two follow ups re Disarm if you can:

1) How was the acoustic tracked? Was it doubled or just one layer? Stereo/mono miced and what mics?

2) When bouncing down the strings, how did you pan? My instinct would be to have the staccato cellos all down the center since there's no bass guitar, or did you hardpan doubles for width? For the two violin melody parts I could imagine hardpanning one melody to each side, or alternatively spreading the copies evenly across the field to emulate having two full violin sections side by side.

Any further clarification would be appreciated.

Thanks yet again.
The Acoustic was Billy's Ovation (not my favorite to record). I really don't remember the mic, it may have been the tube 47 or even an AKG 414. I know we spent a long time getting the sound because Ovations just don't record well for me. Billy actually got tired/frustrated because of the time issue that he had James Iha play for a bit. When we finally were set on the sound, Billy went back in the booth and the guitar sounded totally different. The thing I learned with that was because Billy is a big guy and James was not, the guitar resonated more with James. By Billy hunkering down over the gtr, it made it darker and less resonant. We had dialed the sound in for James' playing style. Very frustrating in the end and I still don't like the sound of that acoustic on the record.

I can't really help you out with the string bouncing...I really don't remember. There were probably 2 stereo pairs and 2 mono but I'm not sure. Though the record came out in '93, we tracked it in '92, so 17 years later, my memory of all details fails me.
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#49
18th June 2009
Old 18th June 2009
  #49
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I love the guitars on rocket..Still my favorite after all these years, and brings back memories..ahh that long trip to the hash bash
#50
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButchVig View Post
the intro for Today took a LOT of takes to get the perfect sound and feel. Remember, this is before Pro Tools, and that guitar is naked at the start of the song...I think we worked on that 4 bar intro for about 12 hours!!!!

But those 4 bars still gives goosebumps just thinking about.. I still recall the first time I heard that intro... and when the everything kicks in ... well... that's just magic...

Butch thanks for great Q&A....
#51
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Not liking the acoustics on the record blows my mind, because that sound is set in my mind. I don't even question them, they are just the 'perfect' sound for the songs. I guess it's just years and years of listening to the songs and enjoying them.

Anyways, how did you guys do the guitar solo special FX, like those bits that sounded like a plane was taking off in Soma and whatnot? haha Sorry if you don't know what I'm talking about, but those little bits of WHIIIIRRRZZZ guitar are so awesome!
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#52
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
I can't really help you out with the string bouncing...I really don't remember. There were probably 2 stereo pairs and 2 mono but I'm not sure. Though the record came out in '93, we tracked it in '92, so 17 years later, my memory of all details fails me.
No problem. To be honest I can't believe you guys have remembered as much as you have (and have been so willing to share it!).

This forum's already far exceeding my hopes. Thanks again for pitching in.
#53
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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thanks Jeff and Butch for all this great info - it really is very much appreciated

just finished reading the thread and it seems to answer all my questions about the production of the album and it really all boils down to hard work, good ears and great production decisions

i have one more question though

what do you guys think about using DAWs (NOT TAPE) and mixing using plugins versus Tape & Outboard? would the final product be lacking in your opinion?

thanks for your time
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#54
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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So I relistened to Siamese Dream yesterday the way God intended - loud on a vintage tube amp with UK monitors. What struck me is just how truly unique and psychedelic the record sounds.

I still remember going to the record store every Tuesday in 93' asking if it had been released yet (for about 4-5 months). The first couple times I went in the clerks stared at me like I was an imbecile..."Smashing who"??? At that pre-internet time few had heard of them, much less knew the music. To this day that is the most excited I have ever been anticipating a record coming out was this one (which the release of kept getting pushed back).

Thanks so much Butch and Jeff for answering these questions (as an aside, we have hung out a few times and talked recording Jeff - in about 95/96 or so).

What I wanted to know was how you guys got the snare to sound so freaking amazing on this record? I know that Jimmy used a lot of different snares and that samples were triggered when mixing, but what specific effects were used on the snare during mixdown? It seems like there is some kind of gated verb and some kind of modulation that happens occassionally, and sometimes the actual snare seems to change in different sections on the same song? The overall effect is hypnotizing. Its like one of the holy grail snare tones, beautifully loud and centered.

A truly humbling listening experience that has aged well.....
#55
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macleodgrant View Post
thanks Jeff and Butch for all this great info - it really is very much appreciated

just finished reading the thread and it seems to answer all my questions about the production of the album and it really all boils down to hard work, good ears and great production decisions

i have one more question though

what do you guys think about using DAWs (NOT TAPE) and mixing using plugins versus Tape & Outboard? would the final product be lacking in your opinion?

thanks for your time
The final product would be the same in my opinion. The songs and the energy we captured is what makes it special, not the recording format. I always say that the Beatles would have used the technology if it were available then, and that's good enough for me.
#56
19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skythemusic View Post
So I relistened to Siamese Dream yesterday the way God intended - loud on a vintage tube amp with UK monitors. What struck me is just how truly unique and psychedelic the record sounds.

I still remember going to the record store every Tuesday in 93' asking if it had been released yet (for about 4-5 months). The first couple times I went in the clerks stared at me like I was an imbecile..."Smashing who"??? At that pre-internet time few had heard of them, much less knew the music. To this day that is the most excited I have ever been anticipating a record coming out was this one (which the release of kept getting pushed back).

Thanks so much Butch and Jeff for answering these questions (as an aside, we have hung out a few times and talked recording Jeff - in about 95/96 or so).

What I wanted to know was how you guys got the snare to sound so freaking amazing on this record? I know that Jimmy used a lot of different snares and that samples were triggered when mixing, but what specific effects were used on the snare during mixdown? It seems like there is some kind of gated verb and some kind of modulation that happens occassionally, and sometimes the actual snare seems to change in different sections on the same song? The overall effect is hypnotizing. Its like one of the holy grail snare tones, beautifully loud and centered.

A truly humbling listening experience that has aged well.....
Thanks for the kind words!

Actually I remember we mostly used Jimmy's Radio King snare. The biggest thing to the sound was how well it and all of the drums were tuned. Butch was absolutely amazing at tuning the drums.
As far as the snare in the mixing, Butch can shed some light on that. I was not around for the mix.
#57
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apadua View Post
But those 4 bars still gives goosebumps just thinking about.. I still recall the first time I heard that intro... and when the everything kicks in ... well... that's just magic...

Butch thanks for great Q&A....
I remember the intro guitar that James played (and he played very little on the record) on Mayonaise took even longer. The main problem was the band was pretty insistent in playing their instruments. This guitar James had was a Kingston he got in a pawn shop. The intonation was terrible and we had to do a lot of tuning for the chords. The bridge was kind of like an old tele where each 2 strings share so you had to compromise on the intonation I seem to remember.

The feedback guitar the you hear in the pauses in the song was a Kimberely. The pickups were so microphonic and we had Billy play in front of the cab. As a side note, it is also the guitar we used as a drum room mic on the song "Pissant" from Pieces Escariot.
Let's see if the "Mayonaise" intro jogs a nightmare memory from Butch.
#58
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruanddu View Post
Hey Butch,

I absolutely love the delicate yet aggressive snare sound you had going on Siamese Dream. Do you remember which snare(s) Jimmy used?

Thanks!
Josh
It was a Radio King.
#59
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
As a side note, it is also the guitar we used as a drum room mic on the song "Pissant" from Pieces Escariot.
Nice!
#60
19th June 2009
Old 19th June 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefft View Post
I The feedback guitar the you hear in the pauses in the song was a Kimberely. The pickups were so microphonic and we had Billy play in front of the cab. As a side note, it is also the guitar we used as a drum room mic on the song "Pissant" from Pieces Escariot.
Thank you! You have just answered a question I have been wondering for the last 16 years. Awesome.

Any insights into or stories about Hello Kitty Kat? I assume that was tracked at the same time.

thanks,
Brad
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