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Sonic Youth - 'Dirty'
Old 16th June 2009
  #1
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Sonic Youth - 'Dirty'

Hi Butch,

thanks for doing this and my sincerest compliments on your impressive body of work.

I would like to ask you about your production of Sonic Youth's 'Dirty', the now classic 1992 album that gained them a lot of new fans, including me.

I can imagine the band (and specifically Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore) having some very strong ideas about music production, and I wondered how you were able to find the middle ground between their experimental aesthetic and your result-oriented work methods that led to the full-bodied sound of 'Dirty'.
Old 17th June 2009
  #2
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On this album the guitars sound incredibly warm, and although they play chaotic riffs are pretty defined in the mix. There is no apparent spiky top end although sometimes Thurston is making hell on his guitar. How did you create that (incredible) signature guitar sound?
Old 18th June 2009
  #3
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ButchVig's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Shadow View Post
Hi Butch,

thanks for doing this and my sincerest compliments on your impressive body of work.

I would like to ask you about your production of Sonic Youth's 'Dirty', the now classic 1992 album that gained them a lot of new fans, including me.

I can imagine the band (and specifically Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore) having some very strong ideas about music production, and I wondered how you were able to find the middle ground between their experimental aesthetic and your result-oriented work methods that led to the full-bodied sound of 'Dirty'.
I recorded Dirty at the Magic Shop in NYC, it has a great old broadcast Neve console.
I must admit, i was a bit intimidated when I first went to meet the band in NYC. I had seen them live before and really admired their approach to music, and for some reason I thought they were going to be all snobby and arty...but in fact they completely disarmed me with their humour and wit. I went straight to Thurston and Kim's appartment on the lower east side, and when I walked in the door, Thurston yelled "we need to make the album sound like THIS"...and played a 7" single I had recorded by a band from the Twin Cities, Mecht Mensch! It sounded like crap!!!
I was completely blown that he had such an obscure single, as well as almost every other obscure band I had ever produced!

When we started recording, my goal was to capture the sound of Sonic Youth with a bit more 3D, full spectrum glory, yet still retain the quality of what makes them unique. We tracked all the songs live, then went back and overdubbed a lot of the guitar parts, so i could spend more time with them on the sound and performance.
It's probably the most "produced" album they ever made, but still sounds like the Sonics.
I LOVE some of the songs: Sugarkane, 100%, Youth Against Fascism.
And Teresa's Soundworld...I remember he night we recorded that song, the hair on the back of my neck went up in the middle of the take, it sounded so greatl...and I remember thinking man oh man do I have the coolest job in the world!
Old 22nd June 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Also, it is the most "produced" SY record, nearly "crossover" by SY standards, it's a great album, and it does sound amazing.
I loved 1992.
Thanks Butch for this Q&A sessions.
Old 25th June 2009
  #5
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Butch - thanks for doing this Q&A! I'm enjoying digging through the threads

Do you remember what amps, axes and stompboxes were used on Dirty - there's some lush tones on that album!!

/megl
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