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QOTSA -- Songs for the Deaf -- details?
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#31
25th July 2011
Old 25th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lollygagger8 View Post
Man, thanks Eric for the info!! This is my favorite QOTSA album.....half because of the songs, and half because of the sound!

I too am interested in how the whole overdubbing cymbals "trick" played out. Did you guys just place pillows over the cymbals? Or how did you go about it?

Again, thanks so much for all your help!
Because the plan on this project was to do the cymbal overdub thing for the entire album, we used a special set up to help make the tracking of the basics a little more tolerable. We set up electronic V-drum cymbal pads for Dave to play while playing the main drum pass. This way every one could at least hear the sound of cymbals while the band was playing. It worked pretty good. It would have been to weird/disorientating to play all of those songs without hearing any cymbals.

After all the drums were tracked and comp'd (with a razor blade) for the whole album we set up to overdub all the cymbals. The cymbals were printed on the same 16 track master as the drums. They were on 4 tracks. There was a stereo pair that was either just the over heads (KM84s) or the overheads with some room mics (C37As) blended in. There was a close mic on the hihat (M582) and the ride cymbal (M582). I am not 100% sure about the mic choices... pretty sure though. We set up a dummy snare and toms for Dave to make it easier for him to duplicate the performances.

Dave has unlimited energy and endurance for playing drums and is pretty much always excited to play more drums. About half way through overdubbing these cymbal parts was the only time I have ever seen him get a little flustered. At one point he shouted "Who's f***ing idea was this anyway!!!". He quickly regained his composure and continued playing the shit out of the cymbals.

EV
#32
25th July 2011
Old 25th July 2011
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Eric,forgive me if this has already been discussed but what was the main motivation behind tracking cymbals by themselves? Simply to have more control and isolation over the individual components or was there more to it?

thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A!!

Ryan
#33
10th August 2011
Old 10th August 2011
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Thanks for taking time to respond, Eric. Could you talk a bit more about the drums? In particular, how did you dampen the drums - moongel, gaffers tape, etc?

How particular is Dave Grohl about drum sounds? Is he the play and forget about it type, or does fuss a lot over tuning and trying different drums?

Thanks!
Josh
#34
10th August 2011
Old 10th August 2011
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Hey Eric - how much of this record was done on 2"? And out of interest, when you use tape what formulations do you like?

Thanks for making some really awesome records.

Mark
#35
11th August 2011
Old 11th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rynugz007 View Post
Eric,forgive me if this has already been discussed but what was the main motivation behind tracking cymbals by themselves? Simply to have more control and isolation over the individual components or was there more to it?

thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A!!

Ryan
The benefit of overdubbing cymbals is that you have way more flexibility in how you can mic and mix the drums. There is no problem of the cymbals taking over the room mics, or getting into the snare mic too much etc. The downside is that it can be seriously disorientating for the drummer and make hard for him to feel the parts the way he/she normally would. I actually don't do it very often. The decision to do it on almost everything on this record was really more Josh's thing. He has a serious aversion to cymbals.

there are 2 songs that didn't do the separate cymbal thing 'Another Love Song' and 'Song For The Dead'

EV
#36
11th August 2011
Old 11th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruanddu View Post
Thanks for taking time to respond, Eric. Could you talk a bit more about the drums? In particular, how did you dampen the drums - moongel, gaffers tape, etc?

How particular is Dave Grohl about drum sounds? Is he the play and forget about it type, or does fuss a lot over tuning and trying different drums?

Thanks!
Josh
There are few things I use for damping drums. I use moon gel, tape/tissue and on snares I really like these levered damper type things (I've never had to describe this before so I am not sure what to call it). At some point I cut up a leather guitar strap. It has enough weight to it that it does a good job of dampening over tones on a snare drum if it is just sitting on the head. It is light enough that it would probably fly off of the drum after 10 hits or so. I take one piece of tape to secure the leather piece to the rim of the drum to prevent it from moving around but doesn't stop it from bouncing up a little when the drum is hit. It makes the drum sound almost gated without have a gate on it. When the drum is hit the damper bounces up and lets drum ring open for an instant and then it falls back down to keep it from ringing uncontrollably. I started doing this because I whenever I got the damping enough to control the ringing the drum hit itself was getting to muted sounding. this style of damping makes it so you get the full sound of the drum when you hit it and the dampening only affects the sustained ring.

Dave is definitely not picky about drums, tuning or setups. I usually recommend to drummers to bring their own kick pedal and drum sticks. He didn't care about any of that shit. He will sit down on what ever is set up with whatever drum sticks and play the shit out of it.

I have been very lucky to have had opportunities to record many really really talented drummers from Dave Grohl to Dennis Chambers. It is my experience that the really really gifted players are not picky about what they play. This is a generalization and there are exceptions, but it seems like the pickier the drummer, the less confident they are about their ability to play.

EV
#37
11th August 2011
Old 11th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecrashfactory View Post
Hey Eric - how much of this record was done on 2"? And out of interest, when you use tape what formulations do you like?

Thanks for making some really awesome records.

Mark
Pretty much all of it. The couple of exceptions are: some of the cymbal overdubs and the segue bits in between the songs.

There was a point when doing the cymbal overdubs when Dave was getting a little frustrated about half way through. It was tedious. There was a lot of punching and trying things over and over to make sure the cymbals matched the drum parts accurately and were really tight. I switched over to tracking directly to the computer about half way through because I could feel that it needed move faster. i also felt like this was one place where human looseness was not benefiting things (human looseness being a quality that is highly regarded in the QOTSA camp). It is not normal to have a drummer break up the kit that way and when the cymbals are out of sync with the drums it causes a disconnect in the feel. I did do a quite a bit of editing on the cymbals simply to make them sound like the same performance as the drums.

My favorite tape formulations in the past were 3M 996 (for high level) and Ampex 456 (for a more vintage sound). We used Ampex 456 on the QOTSA record. There are only 2 choices at this point either ATR Magnetics or RMG. ATR only has one formulation which is a high level style tape. RMG has 900 (high level) and 911 (vintage style) formulations. They all have some issues for some reason and don't seem to be as reliable as the old stuff. I have been using the ATR tape for mixing and it has been doing pretty good. I am going to try the ATR tape for multitrack this fall. We will see how it does!

EV
#38
11th August 2011
Old 11th August 2011
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Eric.

Thanks for taking the time to post about this record.

This is one of my favorite records. And I absolutely love the tones you have achieved.
Im curious if you could go into more detail about the drums LCR technique you used on the drums.
Also do you remember what preamps you used on the drums as well?

Many thanks.
#39
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Eric, did you ever had the chance to record Mr. Colaiuta?

Being such a fan of his work, would love to hear some stories of the man in the studio!
#40
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegatsby View Post
Eric.

Thanks for taking the time to post about this record.

This is one of my favorite records. And I absolutely love the tones you have achieved.
Im curious if you could go into more detail about the drums LCR technique you used on the drums.
Also do you remember what preamps you used on the drums as well?

Many thanks.
The LCR technique is more possible on this record because of the cymbals being overdubbed. There are basically no close mics on the recording. There is no need for it because I am not battling cymbal bleed. The L and R mics were my C12As and the C mic was a Neumann CMV-3. I did have a close mic on the snare but I wasn't using it in any of the rough mixes working on the record. The L mic hovers over the left side of the kit and gets more of the rack tom. The C is pointed directly at the snare and the R hovers over the right side of the kit and gets more of the Floor Tom. They are all placed to be equal distances from the snare, about 3 feet away.

The entire record was recorded with Quad 8 mic pres. I had bought a vintage Quad 8 console that had come from Oral Roberts tv studio. It also had Quad 8 444 EQs as well. I decided to use those pres and EQs for pretty much everything through out to give the record a distinct sound.

EV
#41
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulianFernandez View Post
Eric, did you ever had the chance to record Mr. Colaiuta?

Being such a fan of his work, would love to hear some stories of the man in the studio!
Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to record Vinnie! Would love to though!

EV
#42
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Station View Post
+1, a super interesting read Eric...SFTD is a totally unique and classic record. Nice to hear someone else uses peavey musician heads out there too! Eric, are those Ampeg speaker cabinets? If so do you know what they are loaded with? I have an original Peavey musician 4x12 speaker cabinet here and it is loaded with square magnet (eminence?) which I believe are in the old Ampeg cabinets too.

Drum wise I've read you recorded the cymbal/hi-hats seperately as overdubs..true? If so any tips with doing it that way?

I love the lovely dry tone you got there, I was definitely inspired by this and the drums on 17 seconds by The Cure..(recorded with c-ducers + cymbal overdubs)..refreshing to hear when everyone else is going for massive room sounds.

Thanks, Phil.
Unfortunately, I do not now what speakers were the 4x12 cab. It Josh's cab and he tends to remove all of the markings from his gear.

EV
#43
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laperlestudio View Post
I'm really curious about the overhead thing too are they recorded separetly? For the guitar,except the fuzz box, did you use a lot of pedal? Or you where driving the solid state amp hard?

Did you work on the project until the end? I heard that you did not finish the album? Why?
Thanks
Big fan of you work!
There were not a lot of pedals being used. The only other pedal I remember Josh using occasionally was a Super Hard On pedal to push the amps harder.

I did not work on the whole record. That was part of the plan from the beginning. Josh had some specific people he had in mind for mixing. The project took an unexpectedly long time. There was a point towards the end of the process when Josh decided he wanted to do a month of playing shows in Europe with Masters Of Reality. That month long break pushed the schedule back far enough for it to run into other things for me. They went to Conway to mix the record with Adam Kasper. They ended up adding another song "The SKy Is Falling" and rerecorded "Do It Again". The rerecord of Do It Again was unfortunate. I think the version we had of that song had the same kind of magic as "No One Knows", "Go For The Flow", "Millionaire" etc.

Overall Adam did a brilliant job of mixing the record. He took some approaches that were different than what I would have done that were a cool surprise when I heard the final thing.

EV
#44
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
The rerecord of Do It Again was unfortunate. I think the version we had of that song had the same kind of magic as "No One Knows", "Go For The Flow", "Millionaire" etc.
would love to hear that.
#45
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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I second that. "Millionare" was by far my favorite track on the record, but that's just my punk rock roots coming out haha.
#46
14th August 2011
Old 14th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post

The entire record was recorded with Quad 8 mic pres.

EV
I think that's awesome! I've always been of the mind to just use console pre's and eq's, and get any sonic variations from my mic and compressor selections.

Also, just want to say thanks for having a hand in the creation of, what is for me, one of the most influential and important records i've ever had the pleasure of listening to! This is how much I love this record:

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Btw, I went to this RJR website and I see a lot of compressors in all sorts of colors with multiple knobs, I'm wondering if this guy wants to be a pop artist.
#47
15th August 2011
Old 15th August 2011
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goatsound View Post
i really love the drum sound on the queens album sftd, its my fave of all of their albums.

i love that it doesn't sound like a traditional drum sound, its got its own thing going on, its produced. not mearly engineered. AND its perfect for the album and its one of the things thats helped them sound like no one else.

i think mr. barressi and mr. valentine are two of the best dudes producing right now.

my 2 cents.
+1

Agree 100%

Criticizing people for artistic decisions made during the production process is whack!

Is the album cool or is it shit? its either one or the other.
mtl
#48
15th August 2011
Old 15th August 2011
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
There were not a lot of pedals being used. The only other pedal I remember Josh using occasionally was a Super Hard On pedal to push the amps harder.
If no dirt pedals were being used did you have the Ampegs run at full volume?!?
I've been using an Ampeg V4 for a few years and it is a very clean amp, unlike the dirty tones on SFTD. It does have a great EQ though which is perfect for getting a good grip on your mids.

Can you remember which mics you ended up prefering for the guitars? From your photo you seemed to have them backed up a fair way from the cabs and in a fairly large room, was that the case?


(Eric, incidentally I noticed you posted a reply about Chandler Tube Drivers... they sound very good as a preamp for an Ampeg. I have always used one for my guitar sound)

I think SFTD is one of my favourite albums ever. I hear something new in it every time I listen and I never grow tired of it
Thanks again for replying to everyone's questions, it's very interesting to hear about it all
#49
16th August 2011
Old 16th August 2011
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtl View Post
If no dirt pedals were being used did you have the Ampegs run at full volume?!?
I've been using an Ampeg V4 for a few years and it is a very clean amp, unlike the dirty tones on SFTD. It does have a great EQ though which is perfect for getting a good grip on your mids.
We started out using the V4B while we were tracking basics but ultimately didn't use it much on the record. There was an Ampeg VT-40 that was used much more. For example the guitar on 'First It Giveth' was all VT40. The VT-40 had more gain in the amp and yes the volume was typically all the way up. He also used a Super Hard On pedal for extra gain when it was needed.

Quote:
Can you remember which mics you ended up prefering for the guitars? From your photo you seemed to have them backed up a fair way from the cabs and in a fairly large room, was that the case?
I tried about a billion different mics and positions through the course of that record. I definitely started to settle on the further back pointed at the center of the 4 speakers type approach. That mic position emphasizes a really cool part of the mid range. Josh likes a lot of 600hz in his guitar sound. This micing style made it so we didn't have to use EQ to get that mid range quality. I was having the best luck with condensers (U87, C37A). The picture in this thread was from the week or so we spent at a different studio (The Site) in Marin, CA. I moved the session to The Site because I felt there were too many distractions in LA. The Site is a live in studio out in the woods. There is very little to do there other than record music. They have a large sound room, but I believe the sounds that people seem to be the most fond of (No One Knows, First It Giveth, Go With The Flow) were recorded at my place in the same small iso booth that the drums were recorded in.

EV
#50
16th August 2011
Old 16th August 2011
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Hi Eric,

do you have any pictures of your iso booth? What are the dimensions of it?
After reading your posts I am really thinking about building one!
Greetings from Berlin

Sebastian
#51
16th August 2011
Old 16th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shapemod View Post
Hi Eric,

do you have any pictures of your iso booth? What are the dimensions of it?
After reading your posts I am really thinking about building one!
Greetings from Berlin

Sebastian
there a some pictures of it in this other thread. this is not from the QOTSA sessions but it is the same booth and the drums are setup in the same position in the room.

Eric Valentines Underhead issues

EV
#52
16th August 2011
Old 16th August 2011
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
there a some pictures of it in this other thread. this is not from the QOTSA sessions but it is the same booth and the drums are setup in the same position in the room.

Eric Valentines Underhead issues

EV
Sounds Great !

I've never used an Expander , can you explain why you used one on the Close Mono mic ? What sound were you trying to get from that mic with it ?
#53
17th August 2011
Old 17th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
We started out using the V4B while we were tracking basics but ultimately didn't use it much on the record. There was an Ampeg VT-40 that was used much more. For example the guitar on 'First It Giveth' was all VT40. The VT-40 had more gain in the amp and yes the volume was typically all the way up. He also used a Super Hard On pedal for extra gain when it was needed.



I tried about a billion different mics and positions through the course of that record. I definitely started to settle on the further back pointed at the center of the 4 speakers type approach. That mic position emphasizes a really cool part of the mid range. Josh likes a lot of 600hz in his guitar sound. This micing style made it so we didn't have to use EQ to get that mid range quality. I was having the best luck with condensers (U87, C37A). The picture in this thread was from the week or so we spent at a different studio (The Site) in Marin, CA. I moved the session to The Site because I felt there were too many distractions in LA. The Site is a live in studio out in the woods. There is very little to do there other than record music. They have a large sound room, but I believe the sounds that people seem to be the most fond of (No One Knows, First It Giveth, Go With The Flow) were recorded at my place in the same small iso booth that the drums were recorded in.

EV
Man this is an incredible read! I love the guitar tones of this record very beefy and clear but have a short of "hollow"sound that I love so much. Is that due to the center of all 4 speakers mic'ing with such a loud amp? I recently tracked a band that the guitar used a Vt-40 and I loved it a lot, but damn it was loud.
#54
17th August 2011
Old 17th August 2011
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Also, has anyone ever noticed that in "Song for the Dead" that the snare roll/first drum beat is almost identical to the one in Black Flag's "Slip it In?" It may just be me but I think they are pretty close to the same thing.. was this intentional or just merely a subconscious accident? Either way, it's probably my favorite part of the song.
#55
17th August 2011
Old 17th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattqualls View Post
Also, has anyone ever noticed that in "Song for the Dead" that the snare roll/first drum beat is almost identical to the one in Black Flag's "Slip it In?" It may just be me but I think they are pretty close to the same thing.. was this intentional or just merely a subconscious accident? Either way, it's probably my favorite part of the song.
That was definitely intentional. I remember Dave talking about it in between takes on that song. A nice nod to a very cool band. I also remember referencing Greg Ginn's guitar sounds when we were working on guitar. That was part of the inspiration of using solid state amps.

EV
#56
17th August 2011
Old 17th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
That was definitely intentional. I remember Dave talking about it in between takes on that song. A nice nod to a very cool band. I also remember referencing Greg Ginn's guitar sounds when we were working on guitar. That was part of the inspiration of using solid state amps.

EV
Haha hell yeah! I'll never forget when my buddy and I realized it, it definitely blew our drunken minds.

Thanks again for the Q&A!
#57
18th August 2011
Old 18th August 2011
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Eric, the details you've provided are stunning, many thanks.

I'm wondering about Josh's vocal treatments on this album ... ?
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