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#61
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
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Really cool read Eric, thanks so much for taking the time to write that!
#62
4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
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
WOW! Thanks so much Eric. You just described what I'm listening to when I play my favorite song on my favorite album. Not that I could ever try to recreate it in a dinky room like mine. I so love this forum.
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#63
4th January 2010
Old 4th 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.

"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
great info thx!

hey what did you do as far as comps or limiting on the drums? did you do any parallel comping or other techniques? Any other artificial reverb other than snare?

thx again
#64
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
great info thx!

hey what did you do as far as comps or limiting on the drums? did you do any parallel comping or other techniques? Any other artificial reverb other than snare?

thx again
I'd like to know too. Did you mix at your place? Can we ask about Smashmouth in this thread, cuz I hear a very similar sonic imprint on the drums on their first album too. Fat-splat transients instead of pokey-ice-pick transients.

In true-useless-gearslutz-guessing about what I know nothing about-fashion, it sounds more Neve than SSL. Which is probably why when I'm mixing on an SSL and I put up one of your mixes for reference, I can't get that "fat splat". Something I only seem to get when I have a 2254 or something like it at hand.

This may be divulging more than you're comfortable with...
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#65
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
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Wow, thanx for coming out and sharing this with us, Eric!

It is one of my alltime favs.

A question that has been nagging at me for ages that I know you can answer.

Why does "Jumper" sound completely different than most of the other tracks on the record? The drums and vocals especially sound a tad thicker and tubbier than the sparkle of say "Graduate" and "Semi Charmed".

Was it a mix thing or was it a song that was tracked completely seperate of the others?

Cheers and thanx. Huge fan of your work!
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4th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Never1 View Post
Wow, thanx for coming out and sharing this with us, Eric!

It is one of my alltime favs.

A question that has been nagging at me for ages that I know you can answer.

Why does "Jumper" sound completely different than most of the other tracks on the record? The drums and vocals especially sound a tad thicker and tubbier than the sparkle of say "Graduate" and "Semi Charmed".

Was it a mix thing or was it a song that was tracked completely seperate of the others?

Cheers and thanx. Huge fan of your work!
I've noticed that too. I always thought it was mixed that way purposely to make the track more rockin than the others. Guitars are way fatter too.
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#67
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
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I think the SONGWRITING on the first TEB album is just incredible...It's just great, some chick really screwed him up, or so it sounds like to me.....I wish I could write like that!!
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#68
4th January 2010
Old 4th 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....
Thanks for listening!!

Eric Valentine


Happy to see you here Eric! Love your work!!!

There's so few interviews with you. I was talking to a record exec about you many years ago, and he said that when you started out, you were actually in a hip-hop band with Stephan Jenkins, and you started as a DJ. Is that right? Also that you work so hard that there was a time you just slept under your SSL!!!
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#69
4th January 2010
Old 4th January 2010
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I just was reading that the first 3EB album is certified 6x platinum by the RIAA so congratulations on that. Could you loan a few points to a starving engineer? I'm kidding! I pulled out my old cd and notice that the band thanked you and called you The Super! Just wondering if you could say how that became your nick name.

One thing that I notice with this album is the amount of depth in it. There's so much depth and separation of elements compared to most other albums that I hear. Also, as others have stated there's also a ton of mojo and vibe in this album. With the Smash Mouth album Ultra Lounge I notice that it sounds very good for a Pro Tools album that was also, (pun intended) smashed in mastering. Although it sounds good sonically I personally don't think it holds a candle to Third Eye Blinds eponymous album. Do you attribute that to the fact that 3EB was tracked to tape and mixed on Neve consoles?. Obviously your skills as an engineer are a big factor in the sound with both albums. In fact, I've got to tell you Eric, based on your work especially on this album I consider you to be one of the better engineers of the modern era, and I don't say that lightly.
#70
5th January 2010
Old 5th January 2010
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Quote:
This got a bit long, but hopefully you will find the details interesting.
Yes, very interesting.
Kudos, Eric and thanks a lot.

Quote:
notice that the band thanked you and called you The Super! Just wondering if you could say how that became your nick name.
I guess that means he runs a pretty clean shop ...
Quote:
Now its time for me to get back to cleaning my sound room!
Or they were refering to the best maintained low-mids in the business!

Seriously, Eric, how do you do that?
- The bass (in all EV productions) is audible on all systems, behaves like it was limited to put it into its place but does not sound limited at all. Do you route it together with the kick to a bus to compress both or use sidechaining?
- Is the bass on 3EB just a miced amp or is there a DI, too?
- In these days of PT, do you compress the bass before A/D when recording to compensate for the missing tape saturation?
- Why do your guitars sound full and fat but not boomy and why the heck are they not masking the bass or vice versa? This is so not fair ... ;-)
- Are you involved in the arrangement and writing process? On most of your productions there are certain parts that always made me think "this could not have been done by (egocentric – most of them are) musicians"


Thanks again for all the info,


Clarence
#71
5th January 2010
Old 5th January 2010
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"hey what did you do as far as comps or limiting on the drums? did you do any parallel comping or other techniques? Any other artificial reverb other than snare?"

By far my favorite drum compressor is the Distressor. I had actually just discovered them not long before the 3EB record. I used them A LOT when mixing that album and still use them a lot today. I just finished a mix today and the drum mix went through a pair of Distressors. I don't recall any parallel compression going on the 3EB record. The NEVE console didn't lend it self to that type of bussing and I didn't really discover the benefits of that until later. There are a couple of tricks with the distressors. 1st - they tend to loose a little presence when they compress so I usually put an EQ after them either a GML ot NTI type eq to keep the high end open. The next thing is to have all three LEDs under the detector column lit (when using it for the drum mix). The Link, peak and HP. On the 3EB stuff I spent most of the energy getting the balance right between how much compression was happening on the individual mics and how much compression was happening on the drum mix. The goal is to have the close mics (Kick, snr, toms) have extra attack because they are being compressed both individually and in the drum mix compressor, while everything else (OH, Room mics etc.) get compressed only by the drm mix compressor. In the case of the 3EB record both were mostly Distressors (I was really excited about those things at that time). The only other reverb I was using for the drums was the sound room at The Site. They have a great sound room with a pair of Urei 813s hung from the wall. I would use an aux send to send drum mics out to the room and mic the room. Essentially a very big reverb chamber.

"I'd like to know too. Did you mix at your place? Can we ask about Smashmouth in this thread, cuz I hear a very similar sonic imprint on the drums on their first album too. Fat-splat transients instead of pokey-ice-pick transients.
In true-useless-gearslutz-guessing about what I know nothing about-fashion, it sounds more Neve than SSL. Which is probably why when I'm mixing on an SSL and I put up one of your mixes for reference, I can't get that "fat splat". Something I only seem to get when I have a 2254 or something like it at hand.
This may be divulging more than you're comfortable with..."

You're instincts about the whole SSL vs. Neve thing are spot on. Everything was tracked through Neve consoles or pres and Most of the 3EB record was mixed at The Site on their very large 8078 Neve console. One song "Burning Man" was mixed at my studio (H.O.S.) on the 8038 Neve I had at the time. It had 32 1081's in it. Three songs (Losing A Whole Year, Narcolepsy, and How's It Gonna Be) were mixed by Tom Lord Algae in Miami on an SSL. The "fat splat" sound that you refer to has been very important to me over the years. I really like to have the music not be punishing to listen to. IMO, the compression should give an apparent explosive and more focused quality to the sounds without adding that really unforgiving hard edged transient that makes it difficult to enjoy the mix when its turned up loud. The distressors are definitely really great for that. For a VCA based compressor, it is remarkably musical. The other compressor that has been really great for that is the Eclair engineering LA-LA compressor. It is essentially a stereo LA-2A. That thing distorts beautifully on the transients and really helps smooth it all together. I would frequently blend those with the distressors. The tape machines have a lot to do with it as well. They inherently do a lot of peak limiting and add a lot of harmonic distortion. Instantly the drums will sound less harsh but brighter at the same time and it makes all the sounds feel like they have more weight to them or be less transparent. It is very difficult for me to get that thick gushy sound without a tape machine involved. The "fat splat" characteristic has been harder to maintain in more recent years. The general concept of what a record is supposed to sound like has definitely been migrating towards the harder edged sound. It has been unavoidable to move in that direction when the band/label is wanting it. Ultimately, I work for them!

"Why does "Jumper" sound completely different than most of the other tracks on the record? The drums and vocals especially sound a tad thicker and tubbier than the sparkle of say "Graduate" and "Semi Charmed".
Was it a mix thing or was it a song that was tracked completely seperate of the others?"

Jumper was tracked at Skywalker, although it was a different drum setup for that song. I put the drums out in the middle of the big room to emulate a Beatles/Abby Road type approach. The song Jumper was definitely influenced by the band Oasis. The Morning Glory album was out and dominating radio with Wonder Wall while we were working on the 3EB record. Jumper was written after we had started the record. originally it had an entirely different set of lyrics and title. Everyone told Stephan that it sounded to much like Oasis so he changed the lyrics and title of the song. I would have to check my notes for the original title. In addition, I was referencing mixes from Morning Glory while I mixed Jumper.

"I've noticed that too. I always thought it was mixed that way purposely to make the track more rockin than the others. Guitars are way fatter too."

As part of the Beatles/Oasis influence for that song it was the only song where we didn't use any Marshall amps for guitars. It is was all Vox AC30 and Matchless stuff. That must be the difference you are hearing.


"There's so few interviews with you."

The lack of visibility has been very intentional. I very much enjoy being a behind the scenes guy. I have avoided pictures and interviews as much as I can over the years. Sadly my days of anonymity have to end. Recently I have been cursed with an impostor. There is a person using my name/claiming to be me to get people to pay him money to start recording projects or production companies. He has stolen a lot of money from people and probably wouldn't have been able to do it if there was more information out there about me. I will be doing more interviews, getting more pictures of myself out there and participating more in forums in the future.



"I was talking to a record exec about you many years ago, and he said that when you started out, you were actually in a hip-hop band with Stephan Jenkins, and you started as a DJ. Is that right? Also that you work so hard that there was a time you just slept under your SSL!!!"


I definitely did not play in a hip hop band with Jenkins, I have never been or ever intend to be a DJ, but I have spent many nights sleeping next to the warm radiant heat of a Class A Neve console. At the end of the day, I am simply a nerdy guy that is hopelessly obsessed with record making. I spent most of last week sleeping at my studio…. I’m 40 years old, that’s definitely not normal. I can easily spend 15 to 16 hours a day there and not even notice. I still maintain that I have not worked a single day in my life, because I just enjoy it way too much.

"I pulled out my old cd and notice that the band thanked you and called you The Super! Just wondering if you could say how that became your nick name."

That is an odd one. I had an assistant that worked for me for a period of time that was one of those people that just had a peculiar way about him and was extremely funny. He was assisting me when I was working on a Joe Satriani record and he noticed this change in the atmosphere whenever Joe was coming in to record. There was this scramble to make sure everything was “just so for Joe”. He started exaggerating the preparation by running around the studio saying "The super is coming! The super is Coming!" It was originally a reference to Joe. I don't want that story to give the impression that Joe Satriani is some sort of Diva-esque guitar god. He is a wonderfully friendly, down to earth guy. I think it was a reaction to my nervousness about not really having the experience necessary to take on that project when I was about a decade younger than all the musicians involved. I was ultimately replaced by Glenn Johns on that project. Anyway, after that the word "super" just became a part of the studio vernacular. I started working with 3EB months after that and the "super" era was still in full swing. Stephan just started calling me "The super".

"One thing that I notice with this album is the amount of depth in it. There's so much depth and separation of elements compared to most other albums that I hear. Also, as others have stated there's also a ton of mojo and vibe in this album. With the Smash Mouth album Ultra Lounge I notice that it sounds very good for a Pro Tools album that was also, (pun intended) smashed in mastering. Although it sounds good sonically I personally don't think it holds a candle to Third Eye Blinds eponymous album. Do you attribute that to the fact that 3EB was tracked to tape and mixed on Neve consoles?. Obviously your skills as an engineer are a big factor in the sound with both albums. In fact, I've got to tell you Eric, based on your work especially on this album I consider you to be one of the better engineers of the modern era, and I don't say that lightly."

I have put a lot of effort and thought into the issue of clarity and separation over the years. This is basically where I am at with it at this point:

Some of these are kind of obvious and overly simple, but it made a big difference for me when I identified this for myself and wasn't making recordings by just haphazardly trying to emulate the sound of one of my favorite Zeppelin songs. I think there are 4 main tools available to address the issue of clarity/separation: composition, timbre, distance and position.

Composition - is obviously the arrangement of the instruments/vocals. It is very difficult to separate parts that are playing or singing the exact same pitch. I pay careful attention to what instruments are playing what notes in what registers. I like to treat the band like a miniature orchestra. I pay particular attention to the lead vocals territory and try to avoid having instruments play those exact pitches.

Timbre - if there are instruments playing in the same range that need to be defined it helps to do things like, make one of them very narrow and mid rangy and one of them very big an airy with a lot of overtones/harmonics.

Distance - Parts can be separated by using the human ability to identify spatial depth in recorded sound ala put the mic 2" away for one part and 20' away for the other part.

Position - If all else fails I can always resort to the brute force method of hard panning parts that need top be defined.

On the technical side, IMO it is much easier to keep things clearer and more 3 dimensional with tape machines and consoles. There is an inherent phase/time shift in the frequency spectrum with digital recordings that tends to smear the sound and make things sound more 2D. Tom Schultz makes reference to that in this interview:

http://www.gibson.com/absolutenm/templates/FeatureTemplate.aspx?articleid=175&zoneid=2#digital I agree with most everything Tom says in that interview.

3EB was well rehearsed by the time I got involved in that project. I only went to one rehearsal before starting the recording. Stephan and the band had the parts well mapped out before we started. Once in the studio, I would make suggestions and small adjustments to parts to help enhance the clarity and punch of the songs. The vibe and mojo is entirely a result of the chemistry of that (Kevin Cadogen) version of 3EB. As to the difference between 3EB and Smash Mouth, the motivation behind those 2 projects was very different. 3EB was a completely unapologetic attempt to make a no compromises, super hi fidelity, epic “modern rock” record. Smash Mouth is intended to sound more retro, quirky and inexpensive to suit the kitschy character of the band. 3EB was entirely analog, while Astro Lounge had all of the drums recorded to pro tools for editing (except for All Star and Then The Morning Comes, which were played by Micahel Urbano. He agreed to do it un-credited, before he later became an actual member of the band).


Despite my reclusive tendencies this has really been a lot of fun for me. I have always enjoyed discussing record making with folks that are passionate about it. I sincerely appreciate the interest in the recordings and hope this information is interesting or maybe even useful.

Eric Valentine (The Real One)
#72
5th January 2010
Old 5th January 2010
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Great stuff Eric. Again, thank you so much for indulging us. We're all real excited and appreciative to have you here. You may not be a household name in most other places, but around here you're royalty. Anyone who sleeps under a Neve console will fit in just fine on Gearslutz.
#73
6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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Epic. Thanks for the great info, Eric!
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6th January 2010
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Thanks for coming out into the light Eric!

I'd love to hear about some of your experience working with Nickel Creek... which would officially be WAY off topic.
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6th January 2010
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This has been most helpful! Thank you Eric
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6th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
"hey what did you do as far as comps or limiting on the drums? did you do any parallel comping or other techniques? Any other artificial reverb other than snare?"

By far my favorite drum compressor is the Distressor. I had actually just discovered them not long before the 3EB record. I used them A LOT when mixing that album and still use them a lot today. I just finished a mix today and the drum mix went through a pair of Distressors. I don't recall any parallel compression going on the 3EB record. The NEVE console didn't lend it self to that type of bussing and I didn't really discover the benefits of that until later. There are a couple of tricks with the distressors. 1st - they tend to loose a little presence when they compress so I usually put an EQ after them either a GML ot NTI type eq to keep the high end open. The next thing is to have all three LEDs under the detector column lit (when using it for the drum mix). The Link, peak and HP. On the 3EB stuff I spent most of the energy getting the balance right between how much compression was happening on the individual mics and how much compression was happening on the drum mix. The goal is to have the close mics (Kick, snr, toms) have extra attack because they are being compressed both individually and in the drum mix compressor, while everything else (OH, Room mics etc.) get compressed only by the drm mix compressor. In the case of the 3EB record both were mostly Distressors (I was really excited about those things at that time). The only other reverb I was using for the drums was the sound room at The Site. They have a great sound room with a pair of Urei 813s hung from the wall. I would use an aux send to send drum mics out to the room and mic the room. Essentially a very big reverb chamber.

"I'd like to know too. Did you mix at your place? Can we ask about Smashmouth in this thread, cuz I hear a very similar sonic imprint on the drums on their first album too. Fat-splat transients instead of pokey-ice-pick transients.
In true-useless-gearslutz-guessing about what I know nothing about-fashion, it sounds more Neve than SSL. Which is probably why when I'm mixing on an SSL and I put up one of your mixes for reference, I can't get that "fat splat". Something I only seem to get when I have a 2254 or something like it at hand.
This may be divulging more than you're comfortable with..."

You're instincts about the whole SSL vs. Neve thing are spot on. Everything was tracked through Neve consoles or pres and Most of the 3EB record was mixed at The Site on their very large 8078 Neve console. One song "Burning Man" was mixed at my studio (H.O.S.) on the 8038 Neve I had at the time. It had 32 1081's in it. Three songs (Losing A Whole Year, Narcolepsy, and How's It Gonna Be) were mixed by Tom Lord Algae in Miami on an SSL. The "fat splat" sound that you refer to has been very important to me over the years. I really like to have the music not be punishing to listen to. IMO, the compression should give an apparent explosive and more focused quality to the sounds without adding that really unforgiving hard edged transient that makes it difficult to enjoy the mix when its turned up loud. The distressors are definitely really great for that. For a VCA based compressor, it is remarkably musical. The other compressor that has been really great for that is the Eclair engineering LA-LA compressor. It is essentially a stereo LA-2A. That thing distorts beautifully on the transients and really helps smooth it all together. I would frequently blend those with the distressors. The tape machines have a lot to do with it as well. They inherently do a lot of peak limiting and add a lot of harmonic distortion. Instantly the drums will sound less harsh but brighter at the same time and it makes all the sounds feel like they have more weight to them or be less transparent. It is very difficult for me to get that thick gushy sound without a tape machine involved. The "fat splat" characteristic has been harder to maintain in more recent years. The general concept of what a record is supposed to sound like has definitely been migrating towards the harder edged sound. It has been unavoidable to move in that direction when the band/label is wanting it. Ultimately, I work for them!

"Why does "Jumper" sound completely different than most of the other tracks on the record? The drums and vocals especially sound a tad thicker and tubbier than the sparkle of say "Graduate" and "Semi Charmed".
Was it a mix thing or was it a song that was tracked completely seperate of the others?"

Jumper was tracked at Skywalker, although it was a different drum setup for that song. I put the drums out in the middle of the big room to emulate a Beatles/Abby Road type approach. The song Jumper was definitely influenced by the band Oasis. The Morning Glory album was out and dominating radio with Wonder Wall while we were working on the 3EB record. Jumper was written after we had started the record. originally it had an entirely different set of lyrics and title. Everyone told Stephan that it sounded to much like Oasis so he changed the lyrics and title of the song. I would have to check my notes for the original title. In addition, I was referencing mixes from Morning Glory while I mixed Jumper.

"I've noticed that too. I always thought it was mixed that way purposely to make the track more rockin than the others. Guitars are way fatter too."

As part of the Beatles/Oasis influence for that song it was the only song where we didn't use any Marshall amps for guitars. It is was all Vox AC30 and Matchless stuff. That must be the difference you are hearing.


"There's so few interviews with you."

The lack of visibility has been very intentional. I very much enjoy being a behind the scenes guy. I have avoided pictures and interviews as much as I can over the years. Sadly my days of anonymity have to end. Recently I have been cursed with an impostor. There is a person using my name/claiming to be me to get people to pay him money to start recording projects or production companies. He has stolen a lot of money from people and probably wouldn't have been able to do it if there was more information out there about me. I will be doing more interviews, getting more pictures of myself out there and participating more in forums in the future.



"I was talking to a record exec about you many years ago, and he said that when you started out, you were actually in a hip-hop band with Stephan Jenkins, and you started as a DJ. Is that right? Also that you work so hard that there was a time you just slept under your SSL!!!"


I definitely did not play in a hip hop band with Jenkins, I have never been or ever intend to be a DJ, but I have spent many nights sleeping next to the warm radiant heat of a Class A Neve console. At the end of the day, I am simply a nerdy guy that is hopelessly obsessed with record making. I spent most of last week sleeping at my studio…. I’m 40 years old, that’s definitely not normal. I can easily spend 15 to 16 hours a day there and not even notice. I still maintain that I have not worked a single day in my life, because I just enjoy it way too much.

"I pulled out my old cd and notice that the band thanked you and called you The Super! Just wondering if you could say how that became your nick name."

That is an odd one. I had an assistant that worked for me for a period of time that was one of those people that just had a peculiar way about him and was extremely funny. He was assisting me when I was working on a Joe Satriani record and he noticed this change in the atmosphere whenever Joe was coming in to record. There was this scramble to make sure everything was “just so for Joe”. He started exaggerating the preparation by running around the studio saying "The super is coming! The super is Coming!" It was originally a reference to Joe. I don't want that story to give the impression that Joe Satriani is some sort of Diva-esque guitar god. He is a wonderfully friendly, down to earth guy. I think it was a reaction to my nervousness about not really having the experience necessary to take on that project when I was about a decade younger than all the musicians involved. I was ultimately replaced by Glenn Johns on that project. Anyway, after that the word "super" just became a part of the studio vernacular. I started working with 3EB months after that and the "super" era was still in full swing. Stephan just started calling me "The super".

"One thing that I notice with this album is the amount of depth in it. There's so much depth and separation of elements compared to most other albums that I hear. Also, as others have stated there's also a ton of mojo and vibe in this album. With the Smash Mouth album Ultra Lounge I notice that it sounds very good for a Pro Tools album that was also, (pun intended) smashed in mastering. Although it sounds good sonically I personally don't think it holds a candle to Third Eye Blinds eponymous album. Do you attribute that to the fact that 3EB was tracked to tape and mixed on Neve consoles?. Obviously your skills as an engineer are a big factor in the sound with both albums. In fact, I've got to tell you Eric, based on your work especially on this album I consider you to be one of the better engineers of the modern era, and I don't say that lightly."

I have put a lot of effort and thought into the issue of clarity and separation over the years. This is basically where I am at with it at this point:

Some of these are kind of obvious and overly simple, but it made a big difference for me when I identified this for myself and wasn't making recordings by just haphazardly trying to emulate the sound of one of my favorite Zeppelin songs. I think there are 4 main tools available to address the issue of clarity/separation: composition, timbre, distance and position.

Composition - is obviously the arrangement of the instruments/vocals. It is very difficult to separate parts that are playing or singing the exact same pitch. I pay careful attention to what instruments are playing what notes in what registers. I like to treat the band like a miniature orchestra. I pay particular attention to the lead vocals territory and try to avoid having instruments play those exact pitches.

Timbre - if there are instruments playing in the same range that need to be defined it helps to do things like, make one of them very narrow and mid rangy and one of them very big an airy with a lot of overtones/harmonics.

Distance - Parts can be separated by using the human ability to identify spatial depth in recorded sound ala put the mic 2" away for one part and 20' away for the other part.

Position - If all else fails I can always resort to the brute force method of hard panning parts that need top be defined.

On the technical side, IMO it is much easier to keep things clearer and more 3 dimensional with tape machines and consoles. There is an inherent phase/time shift in the frequency spectrum with digital recordings that tends to smear the sound and make things sound more 2D. Tom Schultz makes reference to that in this interview:

http://www.gibson.com/absolutenm/templates/FeatureTemplate.aspx?articleid=175&zoneid=2#digital I agree with most everything Tom says in that interview.

3EB was well rehearsed by the time I got involved in that project. I only went to one rehearsal before starting the recording. Stephan and the band had the parts well mapped out before we started. Once in the studio, I would make suggestions and small adjustments to parts to help enhance the clarity and punch of the songs. The vibe and mojo is entirely a result of the chemistry of that (Kevin Cadogen) version of 3EB. As to the difference between 3EB and Smash Mouth, the motivation behind those 2 projects was very different. 3EB was a completely unapologetic attempt to make a no compromises, super hi fidelity, epic “modern rock” record. Smash Mouth is intended to sound more retro, quirky and inexpensive to suit the kitschy character of the band. 3EB was entirely analog, while Astro Lounge had all of the drums recorded to pro tools for editing (except for All Star and Then The Morning Comes, which were played by Micahel Urbano. He agreed to do it un-credited, before he later became an actual member of the band).


Despite my reclusive tendencies this has really been a lot of fun for me. I have always enjoyed discussing record making with folks that are passionate about it. I sincerely appreciate the interest in the recordings and hope this information is interesting or maybe even useful.

Eric Valentine (The Real One)

good stuff. Monster drums on that record. thank you again!
#77
6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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Thanks for all the info Eric!

The snare ending to Jumper is my favorite song outro ever. Could you fill us in on what reverb you were using on it?
Thanks!
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#78
6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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Eric, thank you! Those responses were exactly what I was looking for. That whole thing on composition, timbre, space, distance, and position was the best advice I had ever heard. Welcome to Gearslutz, you're my new favorite member
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6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
  #79
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Thank you so much Eric. It is truly great to read about recording that album and your way of approaching and thinking about recording is inspiring. It's funny my old copy of 3EBs 1st album had a lot of scratches on it so yesterday I went to the local record store and I found a used copy and bought it. I've been blasting it while driving around. I'm amazed by the fact that no matter where I play that album, it sounds awesome. So much clarity, punch and separation of elements, and the songs... they lift me up until I break!

It's really cool that you've come out into the light. Whoever that poser is that is trying to act like you needs to get a life. Hey, Jules we need an expert Q&A with Mr. Eric Valentine aka, The (REAL) Super!
#80
6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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Wow, what a great thread. One of my all time favourite albums too. I periodically purge my CD collection and this one has definitely stood test of time and still gets frequent play in the car. My kids love it too.

So I'm revisiting the album again on my JBL LS6328Ps right now and it sounds so much better than any of the hypercompressed stuff that's coming out at the moment. At 85dB it sounds perfect, lots of separation and mid range clarity, and a hot band at their absolute peak.

Eric, if you'd be so kind, would you please tell us about that wonderful growling bass tone on Losing a Whole Year?
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6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ev33 View Post
while Astro Lounge had all of the drums recorded to pro tools for editing (except for All Star and Then The Morning Comes, which were played by Micahel Urbano. He agreed to do it un-credited, before he later became an actual member of the band).
Thanks Eric - great stuff!

I guess I was referring to Fush Yu Mang. Astro Lounge is a totally different (and great) sound. I just mixed a song with Michael on drums - great groove.

Is that "Lust For Life" I hear tucked under "Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous"? . I love how it seems like you sneak double-headed kick sounds underneath modern punchy kick sounds. Inspiring!
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6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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best thread ever

thanks for the detailed breakdowns eric. I think your work really shines arrangement wise. On the 3Eb record and the Taking Back Sunday record I love the left and right speaker difference meaning you seem to make great decisions consistantly as to what is going on in the left and right speakers as opposed to just to the big modern double. My question is how many of those decisions are made in pre preproduction and how many are made during overdubs? The left and right compliment each other so well that i can only imagine you have a pretty strong road map before beginning to cut tracks.
My other question is about the distressors which i also love...What kind of ratios and gain reduction are you using on the drum buss work? Are you banging it or just touching it for some control? Do you like the distortion circuits? i guess same questions apply to your use of them on close mics...thanks man for answering here. I really respect your work

Dwight Baker
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6th January 2010
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this info kind of affirms some of my findings regarding parallel compression on drums and othe instruments..eric said he did not use it on the drums on 3EB's 1st record and it sounds big and natural...I have found that my mixes when approached in a more simple manner come together more easily and end up haveing better "clarity"

just goes to shoe there are no hard fast rules in record making
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#84
6th January 2010
Old 6th January 2010
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All Star

Hi Eric,

Big big fan of your work, and couldn't agree more about your wanting the sound to be smooth and easy to listen to at higher volumes. No "spikey" bits!

Facinating to hear some of your approaches, and like the prvious poster - very interested that you didn't parallel compress the drums on Semi-Charmed.

While we have you here, could you tell us a little bit about the recording/mixing of Smash Mouth's "All Star"? (Maybe I should start a new thread for that? Don't wanna hijack the thread) Fantastic palette of sounds/timbres on that one as well, and great energy/groove. Love the reverb on the guitar strikes in the verses.


Great Stuff.

Gary.
#85
22nd January 2010
Old 22nd January 2010
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Eric, thanks for taking the time to come on here and talk. That first 3EB record is one of my favorite sounding records. It's one of the records that made me want to become an engineer.

The All American Rejects record you did, sounds equally amazing. I was blown away when I heard "Hope It Gives You Hell". I love how that song progressively builds sonically, and seems to get more and more "Hi-Fi" as it goes along without any of the previous sections sounding lo-fi or band-passed. If that makes any sense at all. Great work. You're an inspiration to a lot of people around here.
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8th May 2010
Old 8th May 2010
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Sorry thing bring this topic back up but I'm a huge fan of the sound of that album.

It's probably the reason why I work with so many different guitar tunings.

The open strings seem to make a guitar resonate differently to when it's in standard tuning. I think the mix of tight and loose strings also does something.

I will have to check out that Ampeg.

Thanks for all the info. Not sure if many of you follow T3B now but a lot has come out in the open about what happened with Kevin, Aaron and now Tony. Their new guitarist is an unknown guy from Ireland who is 21.

What I think is interesting about this album as well if that Stephen was in his early 30s when he wrote the lyrics. You could tell he'd experienced a lot, whereas with a lot of modern bands, they're in their early 20's when they peak and there's not much depth to the music, even if it's something I'd happily listen to.
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9th July 2011
Old 9th July 2011
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Eric, this is so epic and amazing. This thread made me want to sign up. I am curious, have you worked with Cadogan or Jenkins since the debut? If not would you? Its seems logical to want to create that magic again. Also, Its really nice to see Cadogan getting props from you:"The vibe and mojo is entirely a result of the chemistry of that (Kevin Cadogan) version of 3EB". Younger 3eb fans think that another guitarist did his work. I know Kevin was left off the credits of the greatest hits album and you seem to have done more work on the debut than what you are credited with. Why does 3eb have such an issue with album credits? That last one is more of a rhetorical question.

Last edited by neveupthesleeve; 9th July 2011 at 12:34 AM.. Reason: forgot qoute
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19th July 2011
Old 19th July 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deeewight View Post
What kind of ratios and gain reduction are you using on the drum buss work? Are you banging it or just touching it for some control? Do you like the distortion circuits? i guess same questions apply to your use of them on close mics...
I'd like to know more about this as well. What type of attack and release settings do you generally use as a starting point when using them on drums? Are these usually run in a parallel setup? Do you ever utilize the brit mode?

Thanks!
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#89
9th August 2011
Old 9th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neveupthesleeve View Post
Eric, this is so epic and amazing. This thread made me want to sign up. I am curious, have you worked with Cadogan or Jenkins since the debut? If not would you? Its seems logical to want to create that magic again. Also, Its really nice to see Cadogan getting props from you:"The vibe and mojo is entirely a result of the chemistry of that (Kevin Cadogan) version of 3EB". Younger 3eb fans think that another guitarist did his work. I know Kevin was left off the credits of the greatest hits album and you seem to have done more work on the debut than what you are credited with. Why does 3eb have such an issue with album credits? That last one is more of a rhetorical question.
I did have an opportunity to work with Kevin Cadogan a few years ago. He and Steve Harwell from Smash Mouth tried a collaboration on a song. I ended up mixing it for them. It was pretty cool. Harwell was trying to move in a more rock direction and they seemed to enjoy working together. I think Harwell ended up getting more interested in pursuing a rock meets country kind of thing and moved on. I really enjoyed working with Kevin again. He is a wonderfully talented guy and a lot fun to hang out with.

I have not worked with Stephan since the 96/97 era of stuff. He has reached out to me occasionally about mixing and very recently his new manager asked me if I would like to Produce a forth coming final 3EB record. I told them I would only be interested if Kevin Cadogan was back in the band. Sadly, I already new the answer to that, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway. I was just being honest about how I feel and how I think most 3EB fans would feel. I think we would all love to hear another collaboration of Stephan/Kevin. Unfortunately, Kevin's departure from the band was as acrimonious as they get. Some wounds do not heal.

EV
#90
12th August 2011
Old 12th August 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Russell View Post
Wow, what a great thread. One of my all time favourite albums too. I periodically purge my CD collection and this one has definitely stood test of time and still gets frequent play in the car. My kids love it too.

So I'm revisiting the album again on my JBL LS6328Ps right now and it sounds so much better than any of the hypercompressed stuff that's coming out at the moment. At 85dB it sounds perfect, lots of separation and mid range clarity, and a hot band at their absolute peak.

Eric, if you'd be so kind, would you please tell us about that wonderful growling bass tone on Losing a Whole Year?
I put all of the 3EB bass info here:

Third Eye Blind bass tone
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