REM has a unique feel to their music. A listener never gets the impression they're interested in doing anything a certain way because it's the standard approach, or it's something they anticipate listeners will want or expect to hear.
What is their general approach to capturing their material? Do they have preexisting ideas of methods they do or don't want to use?
Do they have preset ideas about how perfect or how raw they want a recording to turn out, or are these things they figure out as the recording progresses.
Their music is great, but unlike some artists, it's difficult to figure out what their mindset was for many of their records.
I engineered and mixed "Lifes Rich Pageant"
it was their 3rd record and the first gold/platinum record and they were very young still then
Bill Berry was still their drummer before he had to leave the band because of a brain aneurism that almost killed him
they were and are a real band but back then they were the band that was still a college audience band and not widely popular
Don Gehman was the producer (back then his fame was Mellencamps records)
and we made the record in Belmont Mall, John Mellencamps studio in Indiana
we had finished Scarecrow , and John was out on tour
and the studio I/we had built for John Mellecamp was empty so Don called me and said we were going back to do REM's next record
The songs were prepro'd in Athens,Ga where they live so by the time we reconvened in Bloomington (Belmont Mall)
they played live to our one 24 track and we made a record like you do
live takes off the floor
rarely an edit from take to take
then overdubs and vocals
the record took 7 weeks to record
we came back and mixed it in LA
Stipe of course is the lyricist and the deep dark brooding genius
but the secret weapon of the band is Mike Mills
He played organ and other key instruments
sang all the crazy off beat harmonies
and is a very colorful and rich character
Peter is still in my book one of the great rhythm guitar players in alternative music
and they make a sound together that is very identifiable
I love that record and the experience in that point in my life with those guys
I think musically it still holds up for me
Thanks for that Ross! That is one of my all time favorite records.
The tunes were my college soundtrack, and to many many road trips thereafter!
I would love to ask you about the final curve of the record. It's quite bright!
The record has a unique sound in that it has a nice light grit to it and is very articulate in the top end. Were you adding lots of highs in mixing in that time period? Was it mastered bright? Was the final response an artistic decision from you or the producer related to the times of vinyl or the alt genre?
It certainly came across beautifully at the time Ross. It's nice to be able to thank you for it!
One of my favorite tracks from that record is "Fall On Me". Could you explain the mixing process behind the song, specifically Bill's drums and Peter's guitar? What mics/amps did you use, compression/eq?