Let's talk drums on Semi-Charmed Life
#31
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben_allison View Post
The Background, Motorcycle Drive By, and God of Wine are the three best songs of the 90's, period. Just masterpieces.

That album, more than most, has a "sound." It just sounds like an album. Like, the acoustic on Motorcycle Driveby... I know it's just an acoustic, into a mic, into a pre, with some compression and EQ... but it's transcendent somehow. And I don't know why.
Yeah, there's just a ton of vibe all over that album. There's not a single song from that record that when it comes on my iPod I don't enjoy listening to. It's one of those albums that draws you completely into its little world. Seal's first album is a lot like that for me as well, another masterpiece.

..."and I've never been so alone, and I've never been so alive."
#32
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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I feel like this is a support group for 3EB fans. I don't think I've ever mentioned to ANYONE how much I listened to that first album. It was during a beautiful yet turbulent time in my life. The depth and atmosphere created on some of the songs is pretty unreal. "Motorcycle Drive By" "God of Wine" "How's it going to be" "The Background"

I bought Blue and.... eh. Definitely pro-tooled and not in a good way. Those late 90s TDM days could be pretty flat and harsh. Still are, listening back to that first album.
#33
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingUgly View Post
I feel like this is a support group for 3EB fans. I don't think I've ever mentioned to ANYONE how much I listened to that first album. It was during a beautiful yet turbulent time in my life. The depth and atmosphere created on some of the songs is pretty unreal. "Motorcycle Drive By" "God of Wine" "How's it going to be" "The Background"

I bought Blue and.... eh. Definitely pro-tooled and not in a good way. Those late 90s TDM days could be pretty flat and harsh. Still are, listening back to that first album.
I dunno. I think Blue sounds pretty fat and ballsy.
#34
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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I just listened to it on itunes and, you're right, it sounds much better than I remembered. Must have just been the songs I didn't care for.
#35
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
  #35
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drummer

I think the drummer was Michael Urbano who is awesome. I think Jason Karmer was doing a lot of engineering for them around the time of that album. They might have done some drums at Skywalker but I think they were working at Toast as well.
#36
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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Brad has such a nice feel to his playing. In fact, a lot of the drum sound is from his style and I gotta think that recording at Skywalker couldn't have hurt. The force was strong with them.
#37
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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One of my favorite moments on that album was a little obscure, but amazing clip.

Right after the song "the background", there is this little clip of Kevin playing this little jangly riff for about 15 seconds, and it goes straight into motorcycle drive by. I LOVE that riff.

That moment summed up why that album was amazing. When you are listening to it from start to finish, it has a flow and feel that are absolutely breath taking.

You can FEEL the vibe that the guys had in the studio.
#38
21st August 2009
Old 21st August 2009
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Cool to see so many guys digging that record. It's one of my favorite albums of all time as well. Their follow up "Blue" was definitely my least favorite 3EB. Methinks Kevin and Stephan were sick of each other at that point and wanted out. There was some chemistry when those two first got together though. That first album covered so much territory and did it all well with so much conviction, you couldn't help, but love it. The first track to blow my mind was "Graduate". So ballsy, so honest and such great and unique riffs. "Motorcycle Drive By" - man, that change in the middle of the song, instant goosebumps. That's probably the most memorable change I've ever heard in a song. Every single time I hear that song it gets me. It never fails. There was a lot of soul in that record and that's what made it stand out for me. When Stephan sang, he wasn't faking it.
#39
22nd August 2009
Old 22nd August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zboy2854 View Post
Yeah, there's just a ton of vibe all over that album. There's not a single song from that record that when it comes on my iPod I don't enjoy listening to. It's one of those albums that draws you completely into its little world. Seal's first album is a lot like that for me as well, another masterpiece.

..."and I've never been so alone, and I've never been so alive."
That's a great way to describe it because that's what happens to me whenever I put it on. Track 1 (Losing a whole year) starts playing...and that's it for me, I'm drawn in already. I can't turn it off until I listen to every single song on the CD. I very rarely even skip a song except maybe semi charmed cuz it's so freakin played out. But i know that I'm gonna hear a great song all the way through to God of wine. It can make a 50 minute drive go by in what seems like 5 minutes. How many albums can do that to you?
#40
22nd August 2009
Old 22nd August 2009
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Very well put Iggy. It's funny because of this thread I've been blasting it in my Toyota Tacoma while driving around town. Such a killer album and it just sounds so good it's ridiculous.
#41
23rd August 2009
Old 23rd August 2009
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Nice to see so many of us haven't really been alone in this for all this time

Would love more info on the recording of that first record!!!
#42
23rd August 2009
Old 23rd August 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nadumr View Post
Nice to see so many of us haven't really been alone in this for all this time

Would love more info on the recording of that first record!!!
It was hard to explain to people for a long time that 3EB was my FAVORITE band.
They aren't so much anymore, but they will always be on my list of top 5 influences. That takes a lot for a band to stay in that spot.
#43
23rd August 2009
Old 23rd August 2009
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The song Background has to be one of my favorite rock recordings of all time. I can't break away from the memories it conjures up. I think the song, performance and engineering are all at a very high level. I don't think the people involved even knew how good it was at the time.
#44
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
  #44
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Answers about Semi-Charmed Life Drums

Hey All,

I am relatively new to this Gearsluts forum and I stumbled on to this thread. It appears I am a bit late but I thought I would answer some of the questions if anyone is still interested.

"Have always loved the drum sound on this song, anybody know anything about the production, drumkit, producer/mixer etc..

Sounds like a drumbeat loop added to the drums in the chorus, heard it was recorded at Skywalker Studios and the drummer from Smash Mouth was playing on this song? At the end of the song you can hear a huge decay from the drums, in the chorus and intro it sounds like the room is heavily compressed while in the verse it sounds clean.
"


The semi-charmed drums, along with 4 other songs on the record, were actually recorded at my studio (H.O.S. recording) when it was in redwood city, CA. The drum set was D'amico for the kick and toms and the snare was a cheap 6" chrome Pearl export. The toms had Remo coated Emperor heads on top and clear diplomats on the bottom. That snare drum had a pretty incredible run. It came with a drum kit I bought a year earlier and it fell into a tuning that was really exceptional. When drums I own do that I basically just leave them until the head breaks or it stops sounding good. That cheap Pearl snare drum has been on a lot of records. The head finally broke during QOTSA sessions in 2002 at the hands Dave Grohl. It was honorable way to go. The head was some sort of Remo powerstroke thing with a black dot in the middle and a pin stripe around the edge. I tried to put the same head back on but it was never the same. It doesn't get used any more. The kick had standard Remo white coated Bass Drum heads on it. Brad Hardgraves played the drums on semi-charmed. I would agree that his playing is a huge part of the sound. Brad was mostly playing Jazz before he started playing in 3EB. He plays with extraordinary finesse. most importantly he doesn't hit the drums too hard (A mistake a lot of drummers make).

Microphones:

Kick - 47fet blended with an ATM25
Snare Top- SM57
Snare Btm - Neumann U64A
Mono Kit - Coles 4038
OH's - AKG C12s
Rack Tom - C12A
Floor Tom - C12A (top) 47fet (btm)
Room mics - U87s
Mono Rm - 47tube (mostly to enhance kick sound)

The mics pres were Neve 1081s. I had a rack of 10 that I brought with me where ever we were recording. I rented these somewhat ridiculous Audiophile mic cables made by Wire World Gold. I would always put the mic pres right next to the drummer so most of the mic cable runs were about 10' or less to the pres. Things like that are just little drops in the bucket that start to add up through the whole process and help give the sound a musicality and immediacy that tend to slip away when using lower quality electronics and long cable runs. The drums, bass and 1st Ryth Gtr were recorded to an Ampex MM-1200 16 track 2". All the overdubs were done on a Studer A800 mkIII. Both at 30ips no noise reduction on 996 tape.

That record in general was an exercise in trying every theoretical trick in the book to get the best possible sounds. We had a healthy budget and I did everything I could think of to try and make the whole record sound as big and expansive as possible.

Semi-Charmed was mixed at The Site in Marin, CA on a large vintage Neve 8078. The change in the ambiance on the drums is mostly automation of the room mics. There is also a Fairchild spring reverb on the snare mic. That is the explosive reverb sound that gets turned up on the last hit of the song. There is a drum loop that runs through the whole song.

"i could be wrong, but i think that they had room mics that were literally submersed in water ( fishbowls) and those are automated up at the end of the song."

The microphones in the water was done for the song The Background. The drums for that song were recorded at Skywalker Ranch along with (God Of Wine, Good For You, London and Jumper). I actually used Large plastic Garbage cans. put SM57s inside condoms and lowered them about 6" into the water. I definitely used the under water mics in the final drum mix.

The "drummer from Smash Mouth" (Michael Urbano) plays on 4 songs on the debut album- Losing A Whole Year, Motorcycle Drive By (which he played in one take 1st try), How's It Gonna Be and Narcolepsy.

I only recorded the debut record.

Well, there it is.. a pretty good stream of consciousness about recording the drums on Semi-Charmed Life.

Thanks for listening!!

Eric Valentine
#45
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
  #45
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy Poop View Post
That's a great way to describe it because that's what happens to me whenever I put it on. Track 1 (Losing a whole year) starts playing...and that's it for me, I'm drawn in already. ...[snip]
.

wow, forgot about that song...great fukking song...

yeah, definitely went through a bunch of different life stages with that record...it rocks, no doubt.

.
#46
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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this thread is blowing my mind. i guess i grew up "too cool" for 3EB the band. punk rock, for better or worse, sent me down a side track and I ignored a lot of current bands at the time. i will check out these albums now. good day, everyone.
#47
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
Hey All,

I am relatively new to this Gearsluts forum and I stumbled on to this thread. It appears I am a bit late but I thought I would answer some of the questions if anyone is still interested...

Thanks for listening!!

Eric Valentine
Thanks for hanging out. Several of the records you've done are in my reference folder I take with me wherever I work. Golly, too many questions...
#48
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
  #48
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That first album by 3EB is epic man. Eric could you tell us more about the recording of that album?
#49
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
That record in general was an exercise in trying every theoretical trick in the book to get the best possible sounds. We had a healthy budget and I did everything I could think of to try and make the whole record sound as big and expansive as possible.
Welcome Eric, and consider it mission accomplished! You made a modern day masterpiece.
#50
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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Freaking great album.
#51
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
That record in general was an exercise in trying every theoretical trick in the book to get the best possible sounds. We had a healthy budget and I did everything I could think of to try and make the whole record sound as big and expansive as possible.
Eric Valentine
Mission accomplished. You recorded one of the greatest albums of all time. 12 years later it's still in heavy rotation on many major radio stations not to mention my ipod. I rate it right up there with any one of my favorite Beatles albums. Thanks for taking the time to indulge us.
#52
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC Blind View Post
That first album by 3EB is epic man. Eric could you tell us more about the recording of that album?
I would be happy to offer any info about it and this is a good time for me to do it. I am currently taking time off to clean and re-organize my studio.

I'm not really sure where to start. It would be easiest for me if there were more questions to get it going.

EV
#53
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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How about guitar and bass tracking, what were the setups/miking on those? I hear on some songs the bass is overdriven or outright distorted. Was that done during tracking, or in the mix?
#54
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
  #54
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Quote:
I'm not really sure where to start.
Oh I know: guitars! Sounds like lots of multi-amping was going on.
Details, please. Pretty please.

And btw: thanks for this incredible piece of work. TEB is stuck in my personal top 5 reference cd's since day one and still in there.


Clarence
#55
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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Wow, Sir Valentine that post made me sooooo happy. That is my favorite album from my favorite band, good job. Can you tell us about those guitars? That sound is the one I've always wanted.
#56
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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Wow,,great info Mr. Valentine! Great job on your part and a great record all around 1081's rule
#57
3rd January 2010
Old 3rd January 2010
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ribbon mic techinique....

Hello Eric,
i was wondering if you could speak of your ribbon mics-on-drum kit technique mentioned back in your tape op interview....perhaps a pic to help in visualization?
-kevin
#58
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
  #58
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3EB guitar info

This got a bit long, but hopefully you will find the details interesting. The first part is an overview of the general approach through out the making of the record. The second part is a detailed account of a specific song.

When tracking the basics for each song we typically had 2 amps setup. Kevin's modified marshall. It was some sort of SUPER LEAD early 70's era 100W head plugged into his vintage Marshall 4x12 that had a salt and pepper grill cloth. The other amp was this little Ampeg J-12T Jet re-issue that I had recently discovered sounds huge when you put it through a 4x12 cab. At that time I was really into 3 particular mics for close micing distorted guitar. The old standby SM57, a Sennheiser 441, and a Beyer M201. I would put all 3 mics on both 4x12 cabs for a total of 6 mics showing up on the desk. I would find a blend of the mics I was happy with and either print a blend of each amp on its own track or do a stereo spread of all the mics. Kevin was still trying to reassure himself that the money he had invested in his modified Marshall was worth it. So on every setup he would ask to come into the control room to hear how the amps were translating through the mics. I would do a blindfold A/B and ask him which amp he liked better. A good number of times he picked the little $300 Ampeg and would end up walking back to his recording spot grumbling about the expensive Marshall.

Once basics were tracked, I would cut together (yes with a razor blade) a 16 track master of Drums, Bass and the one rythm guitar pass. We would typically do a few punches for the bass and guitar and have the foundation of the song done. I would then make a 24 track slave reel. I would put a stereo drum mix on 1&2, bass on 3, and guitar on 4&5. I then would have tracks 6 - 23 available for all the additional overdubs.

The majority of the guitar overdubs were done at my studio H.O.S. A few were done at Skywalker to make use of the huge room. In either case the process was the same. We would set up pretty much every amp in a long line and just start playing with combinations until we had something that suited the part/song. Almost everything was recorded with Kevin's Music Man guitar. The guitar has active electronics and was setup to try and accommodate all of his alternate tunings. The alternate tunings are a huge part of the unique guitar sounds on the record. The main advantage of the tunings is that he is able to keep open strings going almost all the time and it helps create those chimey overtones that are usually not as prevalent in distorted guitars.

There are more setups and details than are really practical to try to cover here. I will give details on one of my favorite guitar events on the record.

God Of Wine:
These guitars were tracked entirely at Skywalker Sound. The pass that was recorded when the whole band played was not used. We wanted to make use of the truly cavernous room at skywalker for the guitars and we couldn’t do that while the drums were being recorded. We had been blending 2 or 3 amps at times on a lot of the sounds but this was the moment where I decided to take it as far as it could go. We had six amps going. All in pairs. 2 marshalls, 2 Ampeg Jets and 2 Fender Blues Devilles. The amps were setup in a symmetrical array at one end of the room. I couldn’t do my usual selection of mics on every amp because it would have gotten unmanageable. I committed to a mic on each amp and started blending. The idea was to set it up so Kevin could roll back his volume for the clean parts and simply turn up for the heavy parts. That didn’t quite work because of amp noise. We had to optimize the amp settings for the clean sounds with the guitar volume down a little, play all of those parts then change amp settings and punch in for the heavy parts. You can hear him turn up the volume leading into the heavy parts, but we actually had to punch on the downbeat. There is a particular level of focus that happens when you are punching in on a tape machine into a track that has performances and sounds that you just spent hours getting exactly the way you want. There’s no undo button, there’s no trimming regions, you are just totally screwed if you hit that button at the wrong time. I actually kind of miss how serious that made moments in the recording process.
Kevin was set up to play in the control room. Skywalker had these huge Alan Sides main monitors that were really fun to track with. It really felt like there was a band playing in the room when you cranked those things. It also made it possible for Kevin to get feedback with out being in front of the amps. I would ride the gain of the monitors in the room to help instigate feedback when he wanted it. The guitar feedback gods were definitely shining on Kevin that day. There is a moment towards the end of the song where the feedback plays a little 3 note melody. the root, then a major sixth, then the implied fifth as he starts to play a hammered trill between the fifth and the root. It was a moment when Kevin and I looked at each other thinking, “wow did that just happen?” That feedback with the accidental pick scrape at the beginning of the section is definitely my favorite guitar moment on the record. It highlights what is so special about Kevin. He is an endless supply of beautiful, chaotic, spontaneous, musical and ultimately very emotional guitar stuff. Moments that neither he, or anyone else could ever do twice.
Back to the technical stuff, there are only 2 passes of guitar on that song. Each pass consists of four tracks of audio, A stereo blend of the close mics and a stereo blend of the room mics. Room mics were recorded with Neumann M50s. They had been setup as a Decca tree style array when we did the drums and we left them up to use as room mics on other things. In this case I only used the Left and Right mics of the tree. Those room mics were sent to Lexicon Super Prime Time delays via aux sends on the console. Delays were set to an 1/8th note of the tempo and had a fair amount of modulation on them. You can really hear the modulation at the end of the song when Kevin stops playing the trill and the echoes are trailing off bending the pitch around. The song starts with a single guitar pass playing through the six amp extravaganza. About a minute in the second guitar joins as a double and I end up panning the main guitar mostly right and the double guitar mostly left by turning down the opposite fader of the stereo blend of each. The room mics remain fully stereo from both passes to help glue them together a little. In I guess what you would call the chorus, Kevin engages a morely wah pedal to play the little answering riffs. We used the morely wah to do the slow filter sweeps in the second verse, in an effort to have something new happen when the verse came back. The morely wah is used in the end of the song and is partly responsible for the beautiful feedback moment I mentioned earlier. In the mix of the song there is no additional reverb or delay on the guitars or any other instrument. The whole point of going to sky walker was to use the room and I really wanted the listener to get a sense of the space the song was recorded in. The only exception is the lead vocals. They were recorded dry and all the reverb on them was added in the mix.
Alright, there it is! What I hope are some of the important/interesting details about guitar stuff. I appreciate you all asking about it. It was fun for me to think about it again and try to put it in words.
Now its time for me to get back to cleaning my sound room!
Eric Valentine
#59
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
  #59
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Thank you so much Eric, I truly enjoyed reading that! Man, that makes me want to find my cd and put that song on. Just from memory I love how it builds and builds and finally ends with those to bass notes and the rest of the tones just fading into silence. I want to ask you more but I think you've typed enough for today. You rock Eric, thanks so much for being here.
Old 4th January 2010
  #60
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Always loved the production on that song "Burning Man" (same record). Especially the drums.
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