As a drummer, one of the first things I noticed was this song is mixed in drummer’s perspective. I wouldn’t say it’s rare, but I think the overwhelming majority of producers mix in audience perspective. Is this your normal panning preference, and why did you choose to mix this way?
Ya, I love drums and I love air drumming. I want to be able to listen along and have the whole kit surround me like I’m sitting at the kit in a great room…… Unless it’s a left handed drummer. Then I’d be in a bit of a pickle.
Your snare drum in this song is perhaps one of the fattest snares I’ve ever heard. While I would love a detailed diagram of exactly which microphones you used at their exact distances and angles, I’d settle for just mic choices.
It’s my craviotto solid ash snare drum. It’s 14″ x 7″ tuned fairly low with an emperor x head on there for some extra thump. I think I used a beyer 201 on the top and a sehnheiser 441 on the bottom. But a lot of the time comes from Glenn, the drummer. He has such a great touch. It’s such a treat to listen to him play drums. The only down side is that he is so good, it’s usually over pretty quickly. I could listen to him play drums all day.
Again with the snare drum, (I can’t get over it), would you happen to remember the depth of the snare you were working with? And did you record a house kit or the band’s own gear?
Yes. See above. But it’s my kit. It’s actually the kit I used to record the original Saosin TTN ep, The Bled-Pass The Flask and a bunch of other records. I loved the kit so much I bought it from the studio. It’s a 90s Noble and Cooley. It sounds incredible. Last record, we used my same snare, but a different kick and toms. SJC at a different studio.
Moving on to bass guitar. If it’s not too revealing, do you record DI and re-amp or go straight to the amp? Any insight on which amp/cab and/or microphones you used? The low end on this song is fantastic.
I will always take a DI of everything in addition to whatever amps we are recording. I might not use it, but I like to have it, just in case. I’ve got an ash down head with a 70s Ampeg 8x10 I really like to use. I like the Yamaha sub kick or a blue kiwi or a fet 47 for the low end blended with a [Shure SM] 57 or something else to capture the mid / top end.
When recording guitar, do you typically spend most of you time finding the tone before you hit the record button, or do you do a lot of experimenting during the recording process? I guess that boils down to do you record DI or through an amp?
I generally record one song at a time, to completion. So we treat each song as its own thing. I also treat each part separately, so if we feel like the part needs a thicker sound or a twangy sound, we get it before we hit record. I want the songs to sound pretty much finished at the end of each day. I always take a DI and amp.
What is your go to microphone or pair of microphones for recording guitar amps? And why?
What hit me the hardest on my first and every subsequent listen of this track was the chorus. I think it’s fair to say that’s the goal of most modern music, but this one blew me away. I noticed the impact came from the expansion of the stereo image width. Do you physically pan the guitars harder left and right? Is it volume automation? Is there a trick with vocals? In certain listening situations I seemed to think it was the only time in the song the harmonies are double tracked and panned hard L and R, rather than center.
I don’t really do any tricks. I try to keep the arrangements as simple as possible. I’ll have a different guitar sound for the choruses. Probably layered with some extra guitars, leads and arpeggios, but I don’t do any stereo widening plugin tricks or anything. That always sounds weird and distracting to me. Ya depending on how sparse the verses are, I might pan the verse guitars in a bit if I feel like there is a hole in the middle.
Do you always single track vocals, rather than doubling or tripling?
I usually triple all the vocals. L C R. Then I can pick and choose what we need. Generally the double comes in for a pre chorus and the wide doubles come in for the chorus.
When mastering, do you EQ to a certain curve or do you just go with what sounds good?
I usually don’t master my own records. I like to get an outside opinion as a second set of ears. I think it’s really important because as the mixer and producer, it’s easy to get so deep into the mix that you miss something.
But I generally try to make my mixes so they are finished sounding and the mastering engineer just needs to turn up the volume.
Is there any plugin or piece of hardware that was critical to the sound of this song/record?
I’d say it’s all in the band. I used neve, API, focus rite and rca tube mic pres with vintage mics, vintage compression all over the record. So I don’t think I could really narrow it down to one thing besides the actual songs and the guys in the band. They are so talented.
And to finish it up, I’ll ask 2 questions that will be the same for every producer I interview.
If you used reference tracks for the mixing/mastering of this song, what were they, are how did you decide on them?
I generally listen to blindside-silence, something corporate-hurricane, beck-sea change. But I just listen to over all impact. I don’t try to copy or match things from a reference stand point. I want each record to be different that I do. I want them to have their own identity in a world of copy cats.
What plugin or outboard processor could you not live without?
Probably my adr compex. It’s so incredible on drums.
A huge thank you to Beau Burchell for taking some time to speak with me. You can find out more about what he’s up to on his Instagram (@BeauBurchell), Twitter (@BeauBeef) and follow his band Saosin on Facebook and Twitter for updates on their upcoming album, “Along The Shadow” coming out May 17, 2016.