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Old 9th August 2011
Q & A Guest
ev33's Avatar
Originally Posted by Monsieur_R View Post
Dear Eric Valentine,

Third Eye Blind's debut album was one of those albums that just had a SOUND throughout the album. There are so many perfect things about the album including:

1. You can crank it real high and it still sounds tight with the drums but spacious with the guitars
2. The snare sounds are all very snappy with no annoying tones
3. The vocal is a little low in the mix (which lets you crank the tune better) and there's always a bit of space around it (most vocals these days are right in front)
4. The judicious and somewhat over the top usage of guitar feedback

If I could shake your hand, it would be a supreme honour.

So let me ask you this, at what point during the recording process did you know that you'd found a sound for the album and how hard did you have to fight (or not) to keep that sound the rest of the way?
I don't think it really struck me that way at the time. I was using all of the techniques I had been using on other recordings I had done for years leading up to that. The one thing that was unique at that time was that the 3EB album was a cool opportunity for me to have a full on, no compromises, spare no expense, do everything the best possible theoretical way type experience. The only other time I had that opportunity previous to that was the T-Ride album. Stephan and I agreed that the overall approach should be a totally un apologetic super hifi as good as we can get everything to sound type approach. There was some records at the time that were starting to embrace a more intentional lofi approach and we wanted to do the opposite of that. I put together my dream setup for everything and figured out how to make it work with the budget. We recorded at 3 different studios HOS, Toast and Skywalker Ranch. I rented special Wire World Gold mic cables for all the drums. I had a rack of 10 Neve 1081s sitting right next to the drummer for all of the drum recordings. we rented C12s and 251s and anything else we might need to make the record as sonically spectacular as possible. All the drums, bass and main ryth guitar were recorded on my Ampex MM1200 2" 16 trk. We actually brought that machine with us every where we recorded. We used the best high level tape available 3M 996. The tape alone on that project probably cost close to $10K. It really was pretty extravagant. The band had a healthy budget so the opportunity was there and we went for it. It was really fun.

Sadly, I fear that kind of record making experience is becoming increasingly rare. It is one of the unintended consequences that I think music consumers haven't really thought about when they devalue music recordings by acquiring and sharing them for free. When music recordings lose their value, so do does the recording process and the opportunities to push it forward as an artform become difficult for record companies to justify. I can honestly say that if 3EB came to me today as a new band to make a record and I didn't have Barefoot Recording at my disposal, there is no way we could have the record making experience I just described. The resources just ain't there.

As well, did you have any discussions with yourself or the band on the exact reverb decays for the album to keep that same space throughout?
The reverb approach on the album was a reflection of how I was hearing things at that time. I was coming out of an era of trying to have everything sound dramatic and epic with big sweeping reverbs on them and starting to try and have the reverbs be more discrete and sound more like they are a natural part of the original sound. On that project I didn't want the reverb to sound like reverb patches as much as just natural spaces that sounded more organic to overall picture. I didn't want anyone to listen to the record and think "hey listen to that reverb patch". The reverbs should blend in and not draw attention to them selves, just make everything sound like it all fits together better. I tried to only put as much as I needed on the vocal to make the voice sound like it is part of the music and not just hanging out there in front of the band.