Gearslutz

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-   Q+A with Butch Vig (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-with-butch-vig/)
-   -   Garbage (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-with-butch-vig/398209-garbage.html)

rectifier 15th June 2009 08:37 PM

The future of Garbage
 
Senior Vig,

from wikipedia:

"Vig stated that Garbage was considering mid-2008 to begin making a fifth album, saying, "We're thinking about it...I think we're more interested in making something that's much more primal and stripped down. Absolute Garbage is the postscript to chapter one. Whatever we do next will definitely be chapter two."

Lot of 90s bands are reuniting at the moment and I'm sure many feel Garbage disbanded way too early in their short yet accomplished career - would you consider spilling the beans to us GS folk? Any truth to the rumours Garbage will make another record? :) Or tour?

Thanks sir!

rodrigo 15th June 2009 08:50 PM

Beautiful Garbage drum production
 
Hi Butch!

First of all, I'm a big fan of your work (both as a producer and musician). I think it's incredibly cool that you're doing this. Welcome to Gearslutz!

I love the overall production of that record. It has a perfect balance of synths and heavy guitars; acoustic drums and samples, etc. Everything from the reverse pizz. on "Androgyny" to the RetroFunk break on "Cherry Lips", all the bits work perfectly together.

Any tips you can offer as to what to look for when designing electronic drum sounds? How to achieve the low fi washy sounds you get for instance at the break just before the first chorus of Androgyny? Do you reamp a programmed beat? There are several layers of hihats, some are clean (played live?) others are syncopated and dirty. How do you get those dirty hihat sounds? In which ways do you tweak samples (drum machines) in order to bring them to life?

I hope my questions aren't too specific. I would love to hear any details about the overall production for that record. Like the wall of guitars in "Shut your Mouth", the percussive (synth?) stuff at the background on "Untouchable" etc.. The whole record is amazing. Thanks Butch. Cheers!

Chris Lago 15th June 2009 09:23 PM

Recording Shirley Manson
 
Hi,

First of all, I have to say that I am a die-hard Garbage fan (I have every album) and Nirvana fan (Nevermind). You are the main reason why I started producing music in the first place, I thank you for that!

I'm really curious to know the signal chain for Shirley's vocals. Did she use the same mic/preamp combo for all 4 albums? How much time does she spend in the studio to perfect her vocals? Do you record every part separately (Verse/Chorus bridge etc)? I'd really like to know.

Thanks again for being able to answer our questions on Gearslutz, means a lot!

-Chris-

alexamk 15th June 2009 09:51 PM

Garbage
 
Butch,
I am a huge fan of your band Garbage, as a matter of fact when I got version 2.0 it made me pull the trigger on a Protools TDM system. I had that cd in my car for a year straight studying it. I was curious if you guys were planning on making any new records in the future and also what was your track count for the last few records.

doug hazelrigg 15th June 2009 10:46 PM

I'd like to know how you came to meet and work with Shirley Manson... she's like a he quintessential alt-rock goddess

rhythmtech 15th June 2009 11:12 PM

whenever i record a female fronted rock band "garbage"the album is the first thing i reach for when in need of inspiration. in my all time top 5 albums!

ButchVig 16th June 2009 07:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rectifier (Post 4285066)
Senior Vig,

from wikipedia:

"Vig stated that Garbage was considering mid-2008 to begin making a fifth album, saying, "We're thinking about it...I think we're more interested in making something that's much more primal and stripped down. Absolute Garbage is the postscript to chapter one. Whatever we do next will definitely be chapter two."

Lot of 90s bands are reuniting at the moment and I'm sure many feel Garbage disbanded way too early in their short yet accomplished career - would you consider spilling the beans to us GS folk? Any truth to the rumours Garbage will make another record? :) Or tour?

Thanks sir!

I just saw Shirl last weekend, she's been working on a solo album that got sidetracked because of her TV show, but she's starting to write again. We're going to get together in a few weeks to work on a new song, so we'll see what happens. As far as a NEW Garbage album, at the moment we've all been doing our own thing, BUT in the back of our minds we've always left open the possibility of doing another album and tour.
Some of my favorite songs Garbage recorded were the slow, dark songs...and I've mentioned before that I'd like to do a "Bummer" record...Leonard Cohen meets Mazzy Star...and then do a tour that's stripped down, almost "unplugged". I don't want to speak for the rest of the band, because once we get in a room together, there's no telling which way the muse will blow us!

ButchVig 16th June 2009 07:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rodrigo (Post 4285103)
Hi Butch!

First of all, I'm a big fan of your work (both as a producer and musician). I think it's incredibly cool that you're doing this. Welcome to Gearslutz!

I love the overall production of that record. It has a perfect balance of synths and heavy guitars; acoustic drums and samples, etc. Everything from the reverse pizz. on "Androgyny" to the RetroFunk break on "Cherry Lips", all the bits work perfectly together.


Any tips you can offer as to what to look for when designing electronic drum sounds? How to achieve the low fi washy sounds you get for instance at the break just before the first chorus of Androgyny? Do you reamp a programmed beat? There are several layers of hihats, some are clean (played live?) others are syncopated and dirty. How do you get those dirty hihat sounds? In which ways do you tweak samples (drum machines) in order to bring them to life?


I hope my questions aren't too specific. I would love to hear any details about the overall production for that record. Like the wall of guitars in "Shut your Mouth", the percussive (synth?) stuff at the background on "Untouchable" etc.. The whole record is amazing. Thanks Butch. Cheers!

Cherry Lips is a funny song, we slowed the track down so it gave Shirley's voice a crazy "helium" effect at normal speed. I recorded the verses through a wah wah that I pushed up and down by hand, cuz I couldn't get the timing down with my foot.
And it's not a guitar, the primary sound is a sped up tuba sample. I think we added a guitar underneath it...can't remember exactly...
A lot of the Garbage songs had multiple drum sounds...live drums (usually looped and mixed down to stereo, sometimes mono), programmed beats (usually run through an amp or stomp box) and sometimes we would make our own "record"...which means taking a beat, maybe with a bass line, guitar line, or some sound effect, and running all of them through the same stereo effect to give it a "mastered" feel...almost like we were sampling off an old album.
Programmed hi hats from a sampler or drum machine ALWAYS sound better with some dirt on them!

ButchVig 16th June 2009 07:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chrislago (Post 4285224)
Hi,

First of all, I have to say that I am a die-hard Garbage fan (I have every album) and Nirvana fan (Nevermind). You are the main reason why I started producing music in the first place, I thank you for that!

I'm really curious to know the signal chain for Shirley's vocals. Did she use the same mic/preamp combo for all 4 albums? How much time does she spend in the studio to perfect her vocals? Do you record every part separately (Verse/Chorus bridge etc)? I'd really like to know.

Thanks again for being able to answer our questions on Gearslutz, means a lot!

-Chris-

I have a 1959 ELAM that sounds pretty amazing (I bought after renting it for recording Freedy Johnston's This Perfect World)...and that is probably the main mic we used on the first two albums. Usually the pre was an API, into the Summit TLA 100
(my favorite voc comp). Sometimes we would be recording things on the fly and just use a hand held 58. MilK (from the 1st album) was done that way. In fact, the whole song Milk was recorded in about 2 hours, in the control room.
On the 3rd and 4th album, Billy Bush had a Brauner that sounds really sweet, and we used that, maybe 60% of the time on vocals.

Billy will know! (Weigh in when you can, hombre!)

As far as takes, some songs were quick (like the above mentioned Milk) and some took longer. Once we felt like we had an arrangement, and Shirl had the lyrics, I think we would record around 10 takes, sometimes the full song, or sometimes focusing on just verses or choruses. The cool thing about working with Shirl is that every take was different, so I would have a lot to choose from when making a master comp.

thenoiseflower 16th June 2009 08:42 AM

Version 2.0 is WAY up on my list, for sonics and songs, cheers to you!
was that record, version 2.0. all 16 bit digital? how did it come together technicly.

When Garbage works do steve and duke and shirl heh take over a song, or are you or steve or billy always the guys editing and carving away at stuff,.. to ask, are you always the producer?
is there a division of power? I've always been interested in how you guys flesh out a tune, the finished song is always so complete, compelling and perfectly executed.

you rockstike

Barish 16th June 2009 09:45 AM

Hi Butch,

Many thanks for taking the time for this Q&A.

Would you mind telling us about the loops in "Stupid Girl"?

Every magazine and online source focuses on the drum tracks taken from the Clash song, but I am more curious about the loads of stuff that went in the background there. Such as the weird loop on the right channel in the bridge section, gelled with a dark sticky pad etc.

That record was out about the time when I had moved to Glasgow Scotland from Istanbul Turkey and it was on my CD player on a permanent basis for quite some time back then. Fantastic memories of a dark sticky sound of music before a dark sticky weather in a dark sticky town at the back.

Thanks again.

B.

ButchVig 16th June 2009 06:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rodrigo (Post 4285103)
Hi Butch!

First of all, I'm a big fan of your work (both as a producer and musician). I think it's incredibly cool that you're doing this. Welcome to Gearslutz!

I love the overall production of that record. It has a perfect balance of synths and heavy guitars; acoustic drums and samples, etc. Everything from the reverse pizz. on "Androgyny" to the RetroFunk break on "Cherry Lips", all the bits work perfectly together.

Any tips you can offer as to what to look for when designing electronic drum sounds? How to achieve the low fi washy sounds you get for instance at the break just before the first chorus of Androgyny? Do you reamp a programmed beat? There are several layers of hihats, some are clean (played live?) others are syncopated and dirty. How do you get those dirty hihat sounds? In which ways do you tweak samples (drum machines) in order to bring them to life?

I hope my questions aren't too specific. I would love to hear any details about the overall production for that record. Like the wall of guitars in "Shut your Mouth", the percussive (synth?) stuff at the background on "Untouchable" etc.. The whole record is amazing. Thanks Butch. Cheers!

Shut Your Mouth is one of the songs that had a lot of the Roger Meyer RM 58 on it...it has a certain dirt it adds that sounds really cool.

We also used that on Sex Is Not The Enemy, on the drum buss, and if you took it off the mix, I think the track would sound pretty flat.

Billy Bush 16th June 2009 08:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ButchVig (Post 4286735)
I have a 1959 ELAM that sounds pretty amazing (I bought after renting it for recording Freedy Johnston's This Perfect World)...and that is probably the main mic we used on the first two albums. Usually the pre was an API, into the Summit TLA 100
(my favorite voc comp). Sometimes we would be recording things on the fly and just use a hand held 58. MilK (from the 1st album) was done that way. In fact, the whole song Milk was recorded in about 2 hours, in the control room.
On the 3rd and 4th album, Billy Bush had a Brauner that sounds really sweet, and we used that, maybe 60% of the time on vocals.

Billy will know! (Weigh in when you can, hombre!)

As far as takes, some songs were quick (like the above mentioned Milk) and some took longer. Once we felt like we had an arrangement, and Shirl had the lyrics, I think we would record around 10 takes, sometimes the full song, or sometimes focusing on just verses or choruses. The cool thing about working with Shirl is that every take was different, so I would have a lot to choose from when making a master comp.


Hey BV..

We got a Brauner VM-1 halfway through V2.0 and ended up using it along with a Blue Bottle whenever we were doing background vocals.. same API 512c, 550a, TLA100a chain. We found that Shirley's vocals would phase out when we were stacking 12 or 16 vocal parts so we switched up the microphone to try to keep that from happening. It's also the mic we used on the Bond theme "The World Is Not Enough".

On Beautiful Garbage we used the VM-1, a VM1-KHE and your Elam at different times depending on the vibe.. same chain. On Bleed Like Me, i think we used the KHE and Elam but it was through the chandler limited LTD-1 and a TLA100 compressor. Most of those vocals were recorded in your living room using Real Traps Microtraps if i recall!

Billy Bush 16th June 2009 08:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ButchVig (Post 4288129)
Shut Your Mouth is one of the songs that had a lot of the Roger Meyer RM 58 on it...it has a certain dirt it adds that sounds really cool.

We also used that on Sex Is Not The Enemy, on the drum buss, and if you took it off the mix, I think the track would sound pretty flat.

There was so much processing of the drums on that record.. you played a lot, we had Matt Chamberlain play a lot and then cut and sampled and tweaked and destroyed all of it. The drums and percussion really went through many changes and permutations during the process!

Some of the songs had 60-70 tracks of just drums and percussion.

rty5150 16th June 2009 11:08 PM

i must commend both of you. 2.0 is just a STELLAR album imo. i always liked garbage, but my wife is a huge fan and got me listening to more. the production is humbling and your work is a great influence on me. you guys brought a heaping degree of credibilty to a genre that for the most part, people regarded as amateurish. thanks for kicking ass.


rich

triez 17th June 2009 02:45 AM

I have to jump in here also and say that from the first time that I heard a Garbage song way back on a Mushroom Records promo CD here in Australia in the mid 90's I have never failed to be impressed and inspired by everything that you guys have released. The songwriting, the musicianship, production and performances.

Garbage is a real "engineers and producers" band - for those if us that work in the industry, the production on your albums is something that I am sure every one of us has pondered over, discussed and likely tried to imitate at some point.

Big thanks.

Chris Lago 17th June 2009 05:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Billy Bush (Post 4288549)
Hey BV..

We got a Brauner VM-1 halfway through V2.0 and ended up using it along with a Blue Bottle whenever we were doing background vocals.. same API 512c, 550a, TLA100a chain. We found that Shirley's vocals would phase out when we were stacking 12 or 16 vocal parts so we switched up the microphone to try to keep that from happening. It's also the mic we used on the Bond theme "The World Is Not Enough".

On Beautiful Garbage we used the VM-1, a VM1-KHE and your Elam at different times depending on the vibe.. same chain. On Bleed Like Me, i think we used the KHE and Elam but it was through the chandler limited LTD-1 and a TLA100 compressor. Most of those vocals were recorded in your living room using Real Traps Microtraps if i recall!

Wow, you guys only use the best of the best! VM1 on Shirley is a match made in heaven, no wonder those vocals are so good, because there are no weak links. Great Tone of the singer+Kickass mic+ Kickass pres+ Kickass Rooms= Kickass recordings!

And last but not least, you guys being incredible engineers and BV being an incredible producer too.

I just bought the last Subways album, it sounds incredible, a little bit of grunge revival I must say.

ButchVig 17th June 2009 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thenoiseflower (Post 4286881)
Version 2.0 is WAY up on my list, for sonics and songs, cheers to you!
was that record, version 2.0. all 16 bit digital? how did it come together technicly.

When Garbage works do steve and duke and shirl heh take over a song, or are you or steve or billy always the guys editing and carving away at stuff,.. to ask, are you always the producer?
is there a division of power? I've always been interested in how you guys flesh out a tune, the finished song is always so complete, compelling and perfectly executed.

you rockstike

Garbage are a dysfunctional democracy. All 4 of us have opinions (not just about the songs, everything, what to order for dinner!) So there were many, many times we would butt heads in the studio.
Hard to explain how a song comes together cuz there is no set way we record. Some songs start from jamming, and then Billy Bush would edit a rough arrangement that we would continue to add parts and build it.
Sometimes someone would bring in a demo, and we would deconstruct it and redo it so we could all add our own ideas.
On the first album, I mostly did beats and loops, and Duke and Steve did the guitars and keyboards, From V.2 on, everybody played everything...and on Bleed Like Me I played way more guitars than drums. That is the one thing of being in Garbage that was fun, that you could play any instrument or part, and did not have to fit into a certain role.
In such a free for all situation, it was good to have our engineer Billy Bush there for quality control.

Mixing was tough, becasue I would put a song up, and discover lots of parts I'd never heard before! So part of the mixing process is also arranging, which is why some mixes took 3 or 4 days!

ButchVig 17th June 2009 05:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Billy Bush (Post 4288549)
Hey BV..

We got a Brauner VM-1 halfway through V2.0 and ended up using it along with a Blue Bottle whenever we were doing background vocals.. same API 512c, 550a, TLA100a chain. We found that Shirley's vocals would phase out when we were stacking 12 or 16 vocal parts so we switched up the microphone to try to keep that from happening. It's also the mic we used on the Bond theme "The World Is Not Enough".

On Beautiful Garbage we used the VM-1, a VM1-KHE and your Elam at different times depending on the vibe.. same chain. On Bleed Like Me, i think we used the KHE and Elam but it was through the chandler limited LTD-1 and a TLA100 compressor. Most of those vocals were recorded in your living room using Real Traps Microtraps if i recall!

Thanx for the mic info BB!

That Brauner Billy has is really sweet sounding!

Jules 17th June 2009 05:51 PM

Can I just point out that traditionally the working arrangement described is pretty rare!

At least to me, it's a very well known phenomenon for people involved in the production of a project to dislike almost everything that was recorded when they weren't in the studio.

So hats off to the success of your dysfunctional working unit! kfhkh

Was it often a case of "its pretty good but.... Just needs a tweak here and there" (and then the absent members would mangle the audio to their satisfaction? Or get a re record for a section / all of it)

ButchVig 17th June 2009 05:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Barish (Post 4286993)
Hi Butch,

Many thanks for taking the time for this Q&A.

Would you mind telling us about the loops in "Stupid Girl"?

Every magazine and online source focuses on the drum tracks taken from the Clash song, but I am more curious about the loads of stuff that went in the background there. Such as the weird loop on the right channel in the bridge section, gelled with a dark sticky pad etc.

That record was out about the time when I had moved to Glasgow Scotland from Istanbul Turkey and it was on my CD player on a permanent basis for quite some time back then. Fantastic memories of a dark sticky sound of music before a dark sticky weather in a dark sticky town at the back.

Thanks again.

B.

Stupid Girl is one of the most simple songs we recorded, and the whole song was written over the bass groove and Clash sample. We decided to add textures, guitars, and keys to make the song dynamic rather that write a lot of complicated chord changes. Steve and I added a lot of ambient sound efx that float in and out of the mix, and there is a "glitchy" sound that comes in during the pre-chorus that was taken from one of our DAT players that had broken and started emitting bizarre noises.

We recorded the basic tracks on ADATs in Steve's basement while drinking lots of gin and tonics.

When Shirl tried to sing on it the first time, we realized the key was too low, so instead of re-recording the guitars (too lazy maybe? too many G & T's?) I just re- printed them though a pitch change patch on a Yamaha SPX 90. Definitely lofi, but it sounded OK to our ears, so we left them that way.

Mike Kashou, a friend of ours from Milwaukee, played bass.

Shirl's vox are amazing on the track, one of my favorites!

Barish 17th June 2009 11:07 PM

Many thanks for this very inspirational insight Butch. It really is an amazing track that has all the right ingredients in the right places.

Thanks for the great music. Rock on!

Best regards.

B.

Billy Bush 17th June 2009 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thenoiseflower (Post 4286881)
Version 2.0 is WAY up on my list, for sonics and songs, cheers to you!
was that record, version 2.0. all 16 bit digital? how did it come together technicly.

When Garbage works do steve and duke and shirl heh take over a song, or are you or steve or billy always the guys editing and carving away at stuff,.. to ask, are you always the producer?
is there a division of power? I've always been interested in how you guys flesh out a tune, the finished song is always so complete, compelling and perfectly executed.

you rockstike

We started at 16bit 44.1k with the original 888's. About halfway through Digi came out with the Mix Plus system and the 888|24's . We upgraded and started recording at 24bit so about 1/4 of the album was recorded at 16bit and the rest at 24bit. For awhile we had two pro tools rigs running in sync as we ran out of tracks.

When we mixed, we printed some tracks to a pair of Studer A820's and had another 48 tracks playing along in Pro Tools.

polf 17th June 2009 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ButchVig (Post 4291684)
there is a "glitchy" sound that comes in during the pre-chorus that was taken from one of our DAT players that had broken and started emitting bizarre noises.

Hello Butch,

I love that sound! it really helps take the song off in another direction so I am glad that some of your equipment broke!

The first Garbage album is my personal favorite and I would enjoy any other little stories about its production?!

also, could you give me Shirley's mobile number? heh

thanks for your time!

Smart Studios 18th June 2009 12:14 AM

minor correction...
 
Hey BB -
actually, the tape machines were 2 Studer 827s.
Sorry, had to chime in!
Mike Zirkel

Billy Bush 18th June 2009 03:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smart Studios (Post 4293045)
Hey BB -
actually, the tape machines were 2 Studer 827s.
Sorry, had to chime in!
Mike Zirkel

I stand corrected! You got the second one before we mixed V2.0, right? I don't recall using the Sony..

ButchVig 18th June 2009 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chrislago (Post 4290094)
Wow, you guys only use the best of the best! VM1 on Shirley is a match made in heaven, no wonder those vocals are so good, because there are no weak links. Great Tone of the singer+Kickass mic+ Kickass pres+ Kickass Rooms= Kickass recordings!

And last but not least, you guys being incredible engineers and BV being an incredible producer too.

I just bought the last Subways album, it sounds incredible, a little bit of grunge revival I must say.

Glad you dig The Subways All Or Nothing!
Check 'em out live, they are really powerful, they ROCK!

ButchVig 18th June 2009 06:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Smart Studios (Post 4293045)
Hey BB -
actually, the tape machines were 2 Studer 827s.
Sorry, had to chime in!
Mike Zirkel

Hey Mike...good to see you're on Gearslutz!

You will probably remember a lot of the details of the Garbage albums better than me!!!!

thenoiseflower 19th June 2009 06:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Billy Bush (Post 4292809)
We started at 16bit 44.1k with the original 888's. About halfway through Digi came out with the Mix Plus system and the 888|24's . We upgraded and started recording at 24bit so about 1/4 of the album was recorded at 16bit and the rest at 24bit. For awhile we had two pro tools rigs running in sync as we ran out of tracks.

When we mixed, we printed some tracks to a pair of Studer A820's and had another 48 tracks playing along in Pro Tools.

I had heard something to that affect. was there a time were the camp weigh'd the options of continuing @ 16bit? or was the earlier work up-converted once you had the Mix+?

awesome work billy, really a record that has more impact on music today than it gets credit for.
even in its volume it was ahead of the curve, I remember that record being so much louder than the other stuff I was listening to at the time. Stephen Marcusen right? anyway Great songs, great production, great recording, and a GREAT mix.

Billy Bush 19th June 2009 10:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thenoiseflower (Post 4297322)
I had heard something to that affect. was there a time were the camp weigh'd the options of continuing @ 16bit? or was the earlier work up-converted once you had the Mix+?

awesome work billy, really a record that has more impact on music today than it gets credit for.
even in its volume it was ahead of the curve, I remember that record being so much louder than the other stuff I was listening to at the time. Stephen Marcusen right? anyway Great songs, great production, great recording, and a GREAT mix.

Thanks for the kind words - I feel that both the first two albums did have an impact on how pop music was made and neither really get the credit for it. If I'm correct, V2.0 was the first album recorded completely in Pro Tools that was nominated for Album of The Year. There were plenty of people along the way that told us we were insane to use PT to make a major label record at the time.

As for the 16bit/24bit question, I felt at the time that we would gain more by moving to 24bit as some of the more delicate and harmonically-rich instrumentation was yet to be recorded. After speaking with programmers at Digi I realized that going to 24bit just meant adding 8 empty bits to the 16bit audio files and the only downside was the tracks being 50% larger. It helped i think in many ways - not only with the sonic quality of what recorded after but it seemed the plugins and mixing sounded better overall.

It was mixed to 1/2" and was mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk.