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QOTSA -- Songs for the Deaf -- details?
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manofsong
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29th September 2007
Old 29th September 2007
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QOTSA -- Songs for the Deaf -- details?

Hello fellow Slutz:

When the Queens Of The Stoneage album "Songs for the Deaf" pops up, its production sound and quality always draws me in. Particularly the drums, and I'm talking about compressors etc, not just Dave Grohl. Does anybody have any details/links on how this album was recorded?

Thanks in advance,
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29th September 2007
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A big part of the drum sound is that (other then Dave Grohl) the drums were tracked seperate from the cymbals. It sounds to me like the drum mics were backed a little further off the drums then usual so theres a little more 'space' around the drums. Plus theres a ton of compression on the drum shells but the cymbals stay clear and focused.

I'm pretty sure Eric Valentine did that record and he always gets pretty unique sounds.
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29th September 2007
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30th September 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red View Post
A big part of the drum sound is that (other then Dave Grohl) the drums were tracked seperate from the cymbals.
That is very very cool, and would help explain the dead-yet-huge sound that they got. Sometimes on the record it sounds like instruments were tracked in a small room surrounded by 2' deep shag carpet.

Keep that info coming!
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30th September 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planet red View Post
A big part of the drum sound is that (other then Dave Grohl) the drums were tracked seperate from the cymbals.
I don't really know why they do it like that- it SOUNDS like they did it that way- very unnatural how the cymbals have an entirely different sonic signature to them, imho.
They float over the rest of the kit- don't mesh at all- well that is how it sounds to me.

I'm a huge fan of QOTSA and the Ginger Elvis but this is one thing that I just don't get.
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30th September 2007
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I love songs for the deaf and I enjoy the sounds of the record but I admit it is one of those albums where I pay attention to the sounds of things equally and sometimes MORE than the actual songs. Which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Id say MOST of the time my goal is to get the right sound for the song so people can focus on the music rather than the sounds.
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30th September 2007
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that joe baressi article is pretty sweet

it's a damn shame he didn't engineer SFTD...god knows how much more awesome it would've been if he had. i still jizz myself when i hear kyuss and the 1st QOTSA album
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30th September 2007
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For me, that overcompress then squish it some more thing ruins it. But I do like the songs a lot.
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30th September 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octatonic View Post
I'm a huge fan of QOTSA and the Ginger Elvis but this is one thing that I just don't get.
Ha! Ginger Elvis...that's hilarious.
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30th September 2007
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Mr.Baressi used to hang around here and answer questions until a few older regulars on this site started to slag him indirectly and ticked him off. accusations about the new Tool being sound replaced and so on.

He would have been an awesome guest mod but..........

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1st October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikecorwin View Post
Ha! Ginger Elvis...that's hilarious.
I can't take credit for it....
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2nd October 2007
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barressi

Quote:
Originally Posted by demel View Post
Mr.Baressi used to hang around here and answer questions until a few older regulars on this site started to slag him indirectly and ticked him off. accusations about the new Tool being sound replaced and so on.

He would have been an awesome guest mod but..........


R u for real... everyone freakin sound replacers now.. cant believe whoever it was gave Baressi shit about it...

He's one of the great engineers of our time...

if anyone has the link to any of Baressi's input on SLUTZ i'd love to read em..
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2nd October 2007
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Hey, let's ask him to guest mod... and have a intense moderator if this happens...
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2nd October 2007
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A good friend of mine is friends with Eric Valentine and offered to find a few details about the recording of Songs for the Deaf. he did mention API mic pres, but nothing definite.
I was mixing an older project off of 2" for another friend and that CD became our "model" or inspiration. I was mainly digging the overall EQ of the CD(mastering?)
Specifically, the guy liked the drum sound.
By the time my friend in Hollywood offered to ask Eric about any details I had already finished mixing the project, so it was moot point.

The dry characteristic of the CD was a strange point of reference because eleven of the tracks I was mixing were recorded at A&M Studios and had a gorgeous room sound on the drums.
The other five were cut at my room in Texas in '92 and the band played live in the room.
My room was copy of one at Devonshire in L.A. and sounded good.
I was gonna' use that room sound!

I guess everyone goes through a phase of wanting to cut drums w/o cymbals and ODing them later.
I tried it back in about '88, but never liked the result.
I just like the drums mics and kit as whole to work together.
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2nd October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampegfreak View Post
R u for real... everyone freakin sound replacers now.. cant believe whoever it was gave Baressi shit about it...

He's one of the great engineers of our time...

if anyone has the link to any of Baressi's input on SLUTZ i'd love to read em..
Indeed he is talented. I met him in the Fox and Hounds, studio city about 4 years ago and still have occasional email contact. Very nice chap. Those who've slagged him are doing a disservice to themselves more than anything. He's made some great records.... Lullabies is my fave by the way.....
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3rd October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
A good friend of mine is friends with Eric Valentine and offered to find a few details about the recording of Songs for the Deaf.
O yes, that would be lovely, I shall be re-visiting this thread to watch out for any info...
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3rd October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
A good friend of mine is friends with Eric Valentine and offered to find a few details about the recording of Songs for the Deaf. he did mention API mic pres, but nothing definite.
I was mixing an older project off of 2" for another friend and that CD became our "model" or inspiration. I was mainly digging the overall EQ of the CD(mastering?)
Specifically, the guy liked the drum sound.
By the time my friend in Hollywood offered to ask Eric about any details I had already finished mixing the project, so it was moot point.

The dry characteristic of the CD was a strange point of reference because eleven of the tracks I was mixing were recorded at A&M Studios and had a gorgeous room sound on the drums.
The other five were cut at my room in Texas in '92 and the band played live in the room.
My room was copy of one at Devonshire in L.A. and sounded good.
I was gonna' use that room sound!

I guess everyone goes through a phase of wanting to cut drums w/o cymbals and ODing them later.
I tried it back in about '88, but never liked the result.
I just like the drums mics and kit as whole to work together.
ahhh devonshire....i went to school at soundmaster.....buster and shivone and all that....devonshire brings back fond memories....wasnt full moon fever done there, not at rumbo?
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3rd October 2007
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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.
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3rd October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilio View Post
ahhh devonshire....i went to school at soundmaster.....buster and shivone and all that....devonshire brings back fond memories....wasnt full moon fever done there, not at rumbo?
Yeah, there was a guy here in Dallas named Glenn Pace (he lives in Nashville now) but he started at Valentine in L.A. in the late '50s.
He connected up with the guys who built/owned Devonshire in it's original location on Devonshire Blvd. in Granada Hills or somewhere in the N/W Valley.
They eventually built the studios in (what was it?) Burbank? Studio City? I forget... too long ago!

The guy left L.A. and moved to the Denver/Colorado Springs area in the early '70s and built a room there that used the EXACT plans as the mid sized room at Devonshire.

Eventually, his inlaws bought a building for him here in Dallas (Garland) and enticed him to move the family here.
He built a THIRD version of the Devonshire room here in 1974/75.
That room was called Autumn Sound and did things like Willy Nelson's Red Headed Stranger and other stuff. Red Headed Stranger was the first project they did!

I took over the room in 1990 and then sold my part of the partnership in 1993.
I was there only three years, but during that time I went to L.A. and tracked a record with some friends at the 2nd Devonshire location.
The Devobshire #2 location, mid-sized room was almost identical to my room!
I used to know the stuff they did there, but all I can recall now is Weather Report's Heavy Weather.

Interestingly enough, the guy that bought the building here in Texas has recently asked me to move back into the front control room.
I am tempted, but having everything at my house is handy!
Moving into a commercial facilty is like going back into the biz again.... don't really wanna'
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3rd October 2007
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Hey, let's ask him to guest mod... and have a intense moderator if this happens...
Forget it. Won't happen. Ever.

And BTW, it is spelled B-a-r-r-e-s-i

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampegfreak View Post
R u for real... everyone freakin sound replacers now.. cant believe whoever it was gave Baressi shit about it...

He's one of the great engineers of our time...

if anyone has the link to any of Baressi's input on SLUTZ i'd love to read em..
err uhh NO it's against my religion
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20th July 2011
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I would be very interested to hear your insight on this thread, this is an amazing album, and it have a unique sound!
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20th July 2011
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Song For The Deaf

Aside from the Slash album, Song For the Deaf is an album I listen to a lot, especially in my car. I have so many questions about it...

Guitar Tone. How did you achieve some of the gritty guitar tones? Fuzz Tones? Guitar amp chosen? Very interested in this.

I really like the usage of dry drums throughout the album. Which drumkit and setup did you use to record the album, and how did you manage to get everything to sound so dry? Did you trigger anything or is it exactly what it sounded like in the room?

When it comes to Queens of the Stone Age, how much guidance do you need to give them? Do you just let them do their own thing or do you give them some direction on the sound? Is that how they sound, so raw like this? I have never seen them live so I wouldn't know.

All I can say is that this album, along with others that you've produced, are truly incredible! Keep up the good work, I look up to these artists, and to you as a producer.
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20th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lago View Post
Aside from the Slash album, Song For the Deaf is an album I listen to a lot, especially in my car. I have so many questions about it...

Guitar Tone. How did you achieve some of the gritty guitar tones? Fuzz Tones? Guitar amp chosen? Very interested in this.
Josh has a very specific approach to guitar tones. It is basically use anything no one else is using. If it said Marshall, Vox, Fender or Gibson on it... it was strictly of limits. He had been using mostly Ampeg bass amps (V4B) for guitar leading up to the making of this record. He wanted to add a new element to this record and was excited about trying some solid state amps. I suggested that we go to Black Market music because they always had stacks of crappy cheap solid state guitar amps sitting around there. We went there and bought several old Peavy solid state amps (various versions of the 'Musician' series). Those amps got incorporated into the setups. His thinking was if everyone is using these expensive vintage tube amps than I will use cheap shitty solid state amps. The main guitar sound on "No One Knows" was a combination of 3 amps. It was one of the Peavy solid state amps, an Ampeg VT40 and this crazy Tube Works amp that he pulled out of storage. The guitar sounds were challenging. Sometimes the sound coming out of the amps was not particularly musical and at the very least intensely unconventional. I would put a lot of mics in front of the amps and in the room so there would be a lot to choose from in the control room. I would just start playing with combinations of mics and amps until something would fall into place. One thing that was pretty consistent with micing is that we tended to use off axis positions for the mics. The amps were so scratchy and gritty sounding that it just didn't work to put a mic anywhere near the cone of the speaker. His main guitar at the time was an Ovation electric guitar. It had a somewhat dull sound that worked well for the tuned down fuzzy sound. The only fuzz pedal used was a Foxx octave fuzz of some sort. It belonged to Alain Johannes. I have to say the guitar sounds were difficult. It took a lot of patience and experimentation to get the sounds that ended up on the record. Here is a pic from one of the guitar tracking setups. you can see one of my over zealous efforts to find a mic that would compliment the sound coming out of the Ampeg V4B.




Quote:
I really like the usage of dry drums throughout the album. Which drumkit and setup did you use to record the album, and how did you manage to get everything to sound so dry? Did you trigger anything or is it exactly what it sounded like in the room?
For all of the heavier dry stuff we used my Sonor Phonic Plus kit. The snare was either the Tama Bell Brass or the Pearl Export I mentioned in another thread. All these really dry sounding drums were recorded in the iso booth at my studio. The booth is somewhat unique because it is a small room but with a high ceiling. I didn't want the drums to just sound like close mics but it still needed to sound really dry. That drum booth has a really great boxy claustrophobic sound to it. On the SFTD album you can really hear that the drums are in an identifiable acoustic space but still dry. The drum micing was pretty minimal. There was a kick mic RE20, an NS10, a Left Kit mic (C12A), Center mic CMV-3, Right Kit Mic (C12A), snare close mic (633A salt shaker), a small speaker set up as a mic on the snr, a pair of C37As for room mics. There were other setups for different songs. some of the stuff had more room sound that we recorded out in the big room. Although, the big room at that time still had carpet on the floor and was quite dead. there were no samples used on the drums. The sample-esque quality is most likely due to the super human consistency of Dave Grohl's playing.

Quote:
When it comes to Queens of the Stone Age, how much guidance do you need to give them? Do you just let them do their own thing or do you give them some direction on the sound? Is that how they sound, so raw like this? I have never seen them live so I wouldn't know.
The vision for QOTSA/SFTD was definitely driven by Josh. He had a very strong sense of what he wanted to do with the music and the sound. I think the biggest difference on the record I did was that I was more willing to indulge any and all of the very contrarian approaches that Josh loves. I think the SFTD album was the closest Josh ever got to exactly what he was hearing in his head. The challenge was interpreting some of the very abstract ideas and descriptions and getting them to come out of the speakers. The main thing I pushed for on the production side of things was to keep the arrangements concise. I wanted this record to be a bit more distilled than some of the previous stuff. QOTSA has never been short on cool ideas, I just wanted to get straight to the cool stuff and not linger on the in between stuff.

EV
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20th July 2011
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Thanks a lot for the info, it's much much appreciated! This is an album I will listen to for years to come. It's a heavier album than people would even imagine, especially if they only know the singles. There's some screamo in there, different singers, it's a great album from start to finish. It's great that the label would let the band experiment like this.
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21st July 2011
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+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.
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22nd July 2011
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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!
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22nd July 2011
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When you say left kit mic , center mic and right kit mic , where exactly are these placed , how far from the drums ?


What type of verb did you use on the snare ?

How did you dampen the snare ?

Thanks !
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23rd July 2011
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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!
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