Smash Mouth - Astro Lounge
Old 19th July 2011
  #1
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Smash Mouth - Astro Lounge

I think this album is amazing on terms of tone, arrangement, and production -- I've always wondered, how did the songs change from when you heard them in pre-production to how they sound on the final record?
Old 20th July 2011
  #2
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+1! This was a great album and very unique for what was going on at the time. Very well done Mr Valentine.
Old 20th July 2011
  #3
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Originally Posted by rhythmic5 View Post
I think this album is amazing on terms of tone, arrangement, and production -- I've always wondered, how did the songs change from when you heard them in pre-production to how they sound on the final record?
The trick with Astro Lounge was figuring out how to expand Greg Camp's home demos without screwing them up. Greg makes incredibly well realized home recordings where the vibe and feel was amazing but the fidelity wasn't quite there. The challenge was rebuilding the tracks with more fidelity while including the band members and not loosing the vibe and feel. It was very tricky at times. The band wasn't really rehearsing the songs together as a band at that point. The songs really only existed as Greg's demos. I would have the drummer play live drum performances that would emulate the sound and vibe of the loop in greg's demo. I would then find loops and samples that would help expand the sound or increase the fidelity. Sometimes that meant chasing down the original source of the loop greg was using and just getting a more hi fidelity version of it. Ultimately, my part of it was mostly making suggestions along the way. Choosing to feature one part or another. Deciding to push a particular sound further in one direction or another. There were some arrangement things, I suggested introducing a key change for the bridge of "Then The Morning Comes" and helped figure out how to do it. Smash Mouth and I had reached a high level of trust by that time and they were pretty comfortable with me fiddling around with the tracks. I would add little keyboard sounds and ear candy type stuff to help the arrangements move along.

I would say that of all the various folks I have worked with over the years, My creative collaborative relationship with Greg Camp was by far the most effortless. We share a lot of the same influences. He would always show up with songs that blew me away and I could play him final mixes that he had no changes on.

EV
Old 20th July 2011
  #4
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Thanks for coming on and talking with us!

Astro Lounge was the first album I ever bought. Bought it from my neighbor for $4, it was the best $4 I ever spent Still listen to it all the time
Old 21st July 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torea View Post
Thanks for coming on and talking with us!

Astro Lounge was the first album I ever bought. Bought it from my neighbor for $4, it was the best $4 I ever spent Still listen to it all the time
+1...its a nice mix with interesting sounds and some very underrated melodic tunes. I like the song "Waste" possibly best on that album. Before reading this thread, I didnt know that the guitar player Greg Camp was primarily responsible for their music. I had assumed it was the lead singer guy who was always so prominently featured in their videos. Listening to the sound though, it makes sense that it couldnt have been done without a lot of guitar knowledge.
Old 21st July 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Thomas View Post
+1...its a nice mix with interesting sounds and some very underrated melodic tunes. I like the song "Waste" possibly best on that album. Before reading this thread, I didnt know that the guitar player Greg Camp was primarily responsible for their music. I had assumed it was the lead singer guy who was always so prominently featured in their videos. Listening to the sound though, it makes sense that it couldnt have been done without a lot of guitar knowledge.
I had the same reaction when I discovered Greg wrote most of the material. "Waste" is a brilliant song - Eric and Greg together seem to have a great sense of vintage-modern.
Old 23rd July 2011
  #7
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Roadman is my favorite song on that record. Incredible feel, great flow and a funny story us working musicians can relate to. You can crank the tune up and it sounds great. aaannndddd, it's got a trombone solo!
Great job Eric
Old 13th August 2011
  #8
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I been listening through most of your discography and to me it seems like it was during this album you developed your "signature drum sound" that we all been enjoying for several years. The kick and snare has a certain knock to them with a very focused midrange. The best way I can describe it is that is sounds like anti CLA but has the same huge impact. It's especially apparent in the songs "Who's there" and "Radio". Was there a technique you discovered on this record or a piece of gear that led to that sound??

Would also like to know what you used for the intro guitar on "Diggin' your scene"??

If you have some other stories you'd like to share about your work with Smash Mouth, feel free to say them here. They were the first band I fell in love with during my trip to Florida in 98 and they played "Why can't we be friends" all the time on the radio. They were also the first live act I saw in a small club here in Sweden. I remember that they played a cover of Beastie Boys "Fight for your right" (which I hadn't heard before and I instatnly bought Licence to ill the next day)

Thanks for taking your time Eric!
Old 14th August 2011
  #9
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Hey EV...really enjoyed the Pensado's Place interview and studio tour... certainly you have some unique recording techniques going on

I just listened to Walking on the Sun... would you be open to sharing the chain for that great "snotty" sounding mid rangy..."lead" rth guitar on the right channel in the intro and later? was that all done with EQ or was there a particular pedal or effect involved?
Old 14th August 2011
  #10
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Originally Posted by Erik Thomas View Post
Hey EV...really enjoyed the Pensado's Place interview and studio tour... certainly you have some unique recording techniques going on

I just listened to Walking on the Sun... would you be open to sharing the chain for that great "snotty" sounding mid rangy..."lead" rth guitar on the right channel in the intro and later? was that all done with EQ or was there a particular pedal or effect involved?
Sure! the walking on the sun guitar sound I remember very clearly, mostly because I was really happy with the way it came out at the time and I wanted to be sure I didn't forget how it was done. It was an original Dallas Arbiter 70s Fuzz pedal into a Silvertone Twin Twelve. The mic was one of my AKG C12As and it was compressed with a distressor on the 10:1 (opto) ratio. We also did what I call a reverb only double on the part. The Silvertone Twin twelve has really cool feature in that when you turn down the volume on the amp it only turns down the volume of the dry signal. You are left with all spring reverb. I had Greg play an entire pass of the part with the volume turned down on the amp so we were only recording the spring reverb. That is panned in the left speaker. You can hear it if you listen to only the left side.

Here is the problem with recreating that sound. That Fuzz Face pedal we used was partially broken. Some of the components had degraded to a point where it was not working "right". It caused this weird sort of gating effect that made it kind of unusable for most things but happened to be really cool for that part. A few years later it degraded to the point where it didn't work at all. I had Bob Dixon at Amphole fix it. He got it working again but the cool gating effect was gone.

The closest modern Fuzz pedal I have heard to that sound is the Zvex Fuzz Factory. Plug that thing into a Twin Twelve and I'm sure something very cool will come out of the speakers!

EV
Old 14th August 2011
  #11
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Awesome! Brilliant Combination of recording science and a happy accident (broken pedal). Its an amazing tone that I dont think Ive ever heard on a record before or since. Thanks very much for sharing that and for the tip on the Zvex Fuzz Factory...., I just checked that out on youtube and its close...not quite the same as what you got on the record, but very cool in its own way...have to pick one of those up.
Old 14th August 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Thomas View Post
Awesome! Brilliant Combination of recording science and a happy accident (broken pedal). Its an amazing tone that I dont think Ive ever heard on a record before or since. Thanks very much for sharing that and for the tip on the Zvex Fuzz Factory...., I just checked that out on youtube and its close...not quite the same as what you got on the record, but very cool in its own way...have to pick one of those up.
We didn't think we had heard on anything like it on a record before either. Oddly enough, after the song had been out for a few months and gained a decent amount of visibility around the world, A 60s french experimental music composer named Pierre Henry claimed that we sampled that part off of one of his recordings. He was not just saying that we copied the part, but that we actually SAMPLED the recording off of his record. Greg and I were shocked. Neither of us had ever heard of Pierre Henry before and certainly never heard or sampled the song that he was claiming we used. I had to sign a legal document stating that I did not sample that part. Pierre did provide us with a copy of his song (it was called 'Duck Walk' or something) and it was strikingly similar. It was just a total coincidence. The cool thing was that I discovered Pierre Henry's music through that and he is pretty awesome. His song 'Psyche Rock' later became the basis for the theme song for the show Futurama.

Here is the sad part. Most of the time when a song reaches a reasonable level popularity there will be lawsuits. When there is a lot money flying around with a big hit song people will just take their shot at trying to get some of it. I'm guessing that some of the time the lawsuits are justified but it think most of the they are not. My lawyer says that "the success of a song can be measured by how many lawsuits are chasing it."

EV
Old 14th August 2011
  #13
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In addition to the questions a few posts up i'd like to know how the amazing bass sound in "the fonz" was achieved?
Old 14th August 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LinusWendel View Post
I been listening through most of your discography and to me it seems like it was during this album you developed your "signature drum sound" that we all been enjoying for several years. The kick and snare has a certain knock to them with a very focused midrange. The best way I can describe it is that is sounds like anti CLA but has the same huge impact. It's especially apparent in the songs "Who's there" and "Radio". Was there a technique you discovered on this record or a piece of gear that led to that sound??

Would also like to know what you used for the intro guitar on "Diggin' your scene"??

If you have some other stories you'd like to share about your work with Smash Mouth, feel free to say them here. They were the first band I fell in love with during my trip to Florida in 98 and they played "Why can't we be friends" all the time on the radio. They were also the first live act I saw in a small club here in Sweden. I remember that they played a cover of Beastie Boys "Fight for your right" (which I hadn't heard before and I instatnly bought Licence to ill the next day)

Thanks for taking your time Eric!
I think the knocky quality in the kick drum on both the Fush yu Mang and Astro Lounge records is partly from the Kick/Snare mic I have described (A mic on the batter side of the kick drum typically a U87). I did start using the K/S mic on the first smash mouth record so maybe it just got more refined on the Astro Lounge record. Also, on the astro lounge record there is a lot of samples and loops being used. I specifically sought out drum samples and loops from old 60s recordings. A lot of those old recordings have a lot of mid rangy knock to them.

I am not absolutely sure about these details but I'm pretty confident this is right. The fuzz sound on Diggin' Your Scene used a Boss Hyper Fuzz pedal into an Ampeg Jet. Greg had been using the Hyper Fuzz for the entire tour following the first record. When he came in to work on the second record we used that pedal for some of the fuzz guitar stuff.

Quote:
In addition to the questions a few posts up i'd like to know how the amazing bass sound in "the fonz" was achieved?
The bass sound on The Fonz was a Jazz Bass (Paul's preferred bass) into a Big Muff II into an SVT. It was most likely mic'd with either a 47fet or a C12A (those were my favorites at that time).
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