Originally Posted by Richard Salino
Hey Eric, thanks for taking the time to do this. Your records always sound great and remain interesting after many listens. I'm curious about the Third Eye Blind and Deathray self-titled records.
The song 'Good For You' pumps heavily with the drums. Is that something you did or did that happen as a result of mastering?
Although I didn't attend the mastering (done by Ted Jensen) I remember listening to the mastering and thinking it didn't really sound significantly different than the final mixes dynamically, which is what I am usually looking for. He did subtle but very flattering EQ moves to even things out a little. Of course, that was in the days when a mastering would come back and the mixes could actually sound better. Now with the level idiocy going on with mastering, they always come back sounding worse. It is unavoidable when everything is expected to hover around -10 or -9 RMS. Things will just sound worse. I plan on starting to master my own stuff so I can be hearing the stupid limiting while I'm mixing and adjust for it. I am also developing a plug in that will get level without limiting. So far the results have been really good.
I was using mix buss compression on those mixes. There were only 2 possibilities for that batch of mixes. It was either an Alan Smart C1 (rented from Stephan Jarvis) or my DCL-200. It sounds more like the DCL-200 to me when I listen to it now. I don't have any mix notes available on that so I am not absolutely certain. I think that low end pumping happens for me when I mix into a buss compressor. The buss compressor is always stealing low end. I have to be pushing more low end into the mix to balance it out. Good For You is by far my personal favorite of the mixes from that record. If I ever reference a mix from that album it is almost always that one.
I hear a similar sound on some tracks on the Deathray album. The drums in general on that album sound really cool. Could you please talk a little bit about that record?
I am going to assume we are talking about the 1st Deathray record (lunatic friends, only lies, what would you do etc.) That record was recorded immediately after the Smash Mouth 'Astro Lounge' record. Michael Urbano was hired to play drums. The idea was to have the rythm section sound very angular and machine like but played by human beings. The hihat was a big deal on that record... When it came in, how hard it was played, how open it was and almost always very deliberately without any dynamics. The beginning of Only Lies is a good example of that. We would create dynamic shifts in the arrangement by just having Michael play the hihat 50% harder. Urbano is that kind of a studio drummer. You can almost program him like a drum machine. We could map out on paper where the hihat would get harder or more open and he would just sit down and do it. he plays with extraordinary control while still maintaining an energy and fire in the performance. There was a couple of other tricks I was using a lot on these drums. I was doing the gated pink noise on the snare trick. Basically you have a pink noise generator (in my case it was my Gold Line Spectrum Analyzer) it goes through a gate that is keyed from the snare track. You can use EQ to shape it into whatever... a clap type sounds, a whispy high end. In this case I was just trying to simulate the sound of a simmons analog drum sound. I was also using chandler tube drivers on the kick and snare a lot on this record. It just makes things sound very dry and dense. We wanted everything to sound very in your face on the record so the drums used a lot of gates and distortion. The compression on the drums is very much the same as a lot of other stuff. A lot of distressors. I remember using more 1176 on some of the songs. The song 'This Time" I can recall being very excited about the results I got from crushing the kick/snare mic (a U87 on the batter side of the kick drum under the snr) with an 1176 and blending that in with the other cose mics. It is responsile for the sustain on the kick drum and the trashy quality of the snare. That song definitely also has the gated pink noise on it. The song Happy New Year was kind of unique. I wanted to experiment with having the drummer play really soft and get all of the aggression in the sound from compressors. The drums on that song were a result of that. Michael was a bit skeptical when we first started trying it. It felt weird for him to play so soft against all of these loud guitars. It was one of those "just trust me... its gonna work" type moments. On that song Michael is actually playing incredibly soft on the drums and the sound is coming from massive amounts of compression.
Greg Brown is really fun to record. He is a very musical guitar player. He uses a Guild starfire III, a proco rat and a Silvertone Twin Twelve on pretty much everything. He is just constantly playing with his volume and tone knobs on the guitar, playing harder or softer, picking closer or further from the bridge to pull the sound out of the setup... Its really amazing to watch. We used that setup for pretty much everything and I just played with tons of micing variations to get different qualities through out the record. On the beginning of Lunatic Friends I put a mic inside a metal can in front of the amp. There was a lot of back cab micing and or combinations of close mics and room mics to get peculiar mid range qualities.
Sadly that record never really got its chance. The band was signed to Capricorn Records (same label as Cake). The label was imploding right as we were finishing the album and it got zero support when it was released. Basically, what was left of capricorn records had to release the record as a contractual obligation but there wasn't really a record company left to promote it when it came out.
There is a song that was left off of that record that I think was really cool. I'll see if I can dig it up and post it. It might be fun to hear for anyone that enjoys that record. I also have some drums only mixes from that record. I'll put one of those up.