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Young Agent Jones

Rob:  So what happened when you first got in there? 

Mike:  Like when I first walked in the door? 

Rob:  Yeah. 

Mike:  I just went...I walked...I think I went straight into the main room and was just like, “OK.  This is cool."  Yeah, we were actually working on drums before I even met Butch.  And then...because Mike was like, “Oh, yeah!  I guess you want to meet Butch!"  I was like, “Well, yeah.  It might be nice."  Because he had come into the main room, so I walked over there and talked to him for a minute. 

Then I went back to fiddling with drums. 
 

And once we got the drums pretty much set up...you know, we still hadn't picked the snare yet.  We kind of got everything set up where they get the mics... 

Rob:  What kind of drums were they? 

Mike:  DW. 

Rob:  So were they new or were they like...? 

Mike:  They were relatively new.  That was the set...I believe he said they were custom built for Matt Sorum [sp]. 

Rob:  OK.  Who's that? 

Ben:  The Cult, and then Guns N Roses after...Steven Adler, was that the first drummer?   

Mike:  I don't know. 

Ben:  Anyway, he was the second drummer for Guns N Roses. 

Mike:  But he didn't like...he told them he wanted black sparkle...And the shells are a custom thickness on that set, and it is custom finish.  But DW makes this custom one of a kind drum set for him, and it was like, “OK.  Here you go!"  And he set it up and the rest of the band saw it, and it had kind of a multicolor sparkle in it.  And they were like, “OK, that's lame." 

Rob:  They were making fun of him? 

Mike:  Yeah, so he returned it and said, “Nevermind.  I don't want it."  And so, they had this one of a kind kit sitting there.  And basically, Mike the drum tech bought it at cost.  He paid like two grand and it is like an 8 piece kit or something.  Yeah, it had like a 24 and a 26 inch kick drum, six toms or something.  He was like, “But I just wanted like a 22 kick and like a 10 inch tom or something, you know, one other tom size it didn't have."  So he wanted to use smaller toms instead of the bigger ones.  And just the two additional toms were like $1,700-almost what he paid for the whole set, because they had to custom tool it and the shells were a custom thickness. 

And the finish was custom, so they had to go back and retool for all that. 
 

Rob:  So they looked at pictures of you playing online, and from that they could kind of figure out that you played a five piece? 

Mike:  Yeah.  That was why they did a four piece, because most of the photos...Because for a long time, I did just play a four piece. 

Rob:  But I mean you ride cymbals on the other side... 

Mike:  Yeah, they had that set up correctly.  They had the ride already on the left side.  Of course, I told Butch that on the phone, too.  He was like, “Oh, OK.  Cool!"   

Rob:  So when he called you at Gun Dog, beside the fact that we lost contact with him four or five times or whatever, what all did you tell him about....What did ya'll talk about?  

Mike:  Well, you know, we talked about what song we were going to be doing.  And he told me, “I would kind of like to make this change," and, you know, just a couple minor things, like he drums in the middle and a couple guitar bits.  As he put it, everything we will do on the fly.  Those were his words.   

But honestly, it is hard to remember at this point after, like, the whole week doing all that stuff, because it wasn't, like, you know, anything crazy.  It was just kind of like... 

Rob:  About the song and that kind of thing.   

Mike:  Yeah, pretty much. 

Rob:  Well what about like with the drum tech.  I mean he got you...he had that, like, huge case of different snares that he brought in, right?   

Mike:  Right. 

Rob:  And you used your own pedals? 

Mike:  Yeah, I used my own kick drum pedal.  That was all...I just brought the stick bag and the kick drum pedal.  That's all I brought.  Didn't get to use the finger cymbals.   

Rob:  Yeah, well, only 13 hours, you know? 

Mike:  Yeah, we will do that when we do the dig-redo... 

Rob:  Yeah, for the Australian version. 

Mike:  Right.   

Rob:  All right. 

So where is the doughnut gas station?
 

Ben:  Um, it's on the right. 

Rob:  It may be that Texaco.   

Mike:  There are only a couple more before we are out of town. 

Rob:  I think it's that Texaco.  Is it? 

Ben:  It might be. 

Rob:  I think it is. 

Mike:  Well, that is where we are headed! 

Ben:  That would make sense.  They have got to have something to compete with the Dairy Queen. 

Rob:  Yes.   

Mike:  It's not a Dairy Queen; it's a DQ.  Get it right! 

Ben:  Oh, sorry. 

Rob:  They changed their name?  Or is that a movie thing that I don't get? 

Mike:  No.  Well, you know, it is like KFC.  Most...actually, there are a few that have signs... 

Rob:  All right. 

Can we not do music for the...
 

Mike:  For the exclusive? 

Rob:  Yeah, this is for Westwood One.  You are listening to Behind the Music...Inside the Music...In Between the Music... 

Mike:  In the Backseat of the Music? 

Rob:  Yeah, exactly.  All right.  So, Mr. Hodge, what did you do when you first came in? 

Ben:  Let' see.  I just kind of started looking around trying to get comfortable.  I was like, “All right.  Looks nice." 

Rob:  Funky lights? 

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  Walking in the big tracking room was awesome.  I was like, “Oh, this place is awesome."   

Rob:  And you didn't really have like...I mean there wasn't a bass tech, so Billy... 

Ben:  Yeah, Billy was handling...Like, he was kind of hanging around by the bass amp kind of waiting for me to come over there.   

[police siren] 

Ben: Where is that coming from?   

Mike:  I don't know. 

Ben:  Oh, over there.   

Rob:  They found us.  “I didn't mean to download that!"  So you got your bass out and got it all tuned up and everything. 

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. 

It didn't take long.  Once they got the drums kinda going a little bit, we just started playing, working on bass tones.  I don't know if they got it dialed in...
 

Rob:  So was that the SVT? 

Ben:  Yeah, it was an Ampeg SVT running an 810 Ampeg cabinet.   

Rob:  And that was in another room, like a separate room for the... 

Ben:  Yeah, to keep the sound from bleeding into all the drum mics.  And then that was miced with the $40,000 microphone.   

[laughter] 

Rob:  That was awesome! 

 
Ben:  Yes it was. 
 

Rob:  And here it is right here in my... 

Ben:  I was afraid to look at it too closely.  I was like, “I am just going to glance at it." 

Rob:  Yeah.  Peripheral vision only. 

Ben:  It was like the mic of God. 

Rob:  How could you hear your tone?  Was it like through the headphones? 

Ben:  Yeah.  You could actually hear pretty good.  At first it was just kind of crappy.  But after they tweaked it for a little while, it got to where it was pretty accurate. 

Rob:  OK.  They had like a 412 underneath the amp, didn't they? 

Ben:  It was just sitting there.  Yeah, it was just a table.  Because at first I thought that is what it was, too.  I was like, “Ah, well.  All right. 

This will work." 
 

Rob:  Won't be too bad. 

Ben:  Still had a squeaky head. 

Rob:  Yeah.  So Mike, could you hear the bass amp at all?  I mean did it bleed at all through the room? 

Mike : I could hear it through the wall just a little bit. 

Rob:  So he had it cranked up pretty loud? 

Mike:  You know, it is kind of hard to say, because I walked through the room where the actual amp was to get to the bathroom at one point, when Boom was playing, and it really didn't seem all that loud.  And I was kind of wondering, especially given the microphone that they had it miced with...I didn't think they were going to have it, you know, blowing the walls down loud.  But, like I say, it was loud enough...I could hear it a little bit through the wall.   

Ben:  They managed to make it sound loud, because he still had, like, a little bit of that overdriven kind of gravel to it.  I like that sound a whole lot.   

Mike:  But since I didn't stand in the room while we were actually doing a take, I am not exactly sure.   

Ben:  And they had a direct out running, too. 

Rob:  OK.  So they were micing it and they had it... 

Ben:  Yeah. 

Rob:  Was it going to like a special kind of direct box?   

Mike:  It was a tube one... 

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.  It wasn't just like one of those little black DI boxes like everybody has... 

Mike:  Were they using that one that was sitting right by the... 

Ben:  Yeah, the blue one? 

Mike:  OK.  That was an Evil Twin to DI.  That was what it said on the front. 

I don't know who makes it or anything. 

 
Ben:  I don't know either.
 

Mike:  I happened to look at that and I was like, “Ooh, what is this thing?" 

Rob:  “I need to get me one of those!" 

Ben:  Yeah.  But yeah, that was what threw me...After I got done tuning one time and I came back over, I got my bass on, put the headphones on, and I was about to reach back and turn the standby off, and then I hit my strings and it made a noise I could hear in the headphones.  And I am like, “Oh..." 

Rob:  “I guess I'm on!" 

Ben:  “I guess I'm on."  But no, I was not.   

Rob:  So once they got the overall drum sound done, is that when they came back in and started doing snares? 

Mike:  Yeah, because we actually tracked just a little bit of stuff...I think that was when you and I were both playing... 

Ben:  Yeah, it was. 

Mike:  And just kind of goofing off... 

Rob:  Just rhythm section, kinda?   

Mike:  Yeah, just bass and drums, not to a click or anything, just off the cuff, just to check the tones... 

Ben:  Yeah, we do like a verse and a chorus. 

Mike:  Yeah.  And that was after...I mean they had me sit there just with the drums by myself playing... 

Rob: Individual drums? 

Mike:  Well, sitting there playing a groove for a long time, just kind of like a “Boom, kick, boom, boom, kick" kind of thing.  Throw in a little fill here and there just to kind of balance it all out.  And then they had Ben play along with me.  And that was when Butch came in and said, “The snare is not quite doing what I want it to do."  And then we tried...I think, all together, we tried four different snare drums.   

Rob:  What were they?  Do you remember? 

Mike:  Let's see.  You had a... 

Ben:  A Mel Gibson... 

Mike:  Well, there was a ‘70s engraved Ludwig Black Baby snare, which is the one I wanted to steal and take home.  Then there was the...What was it, a Craviotto DW snare, I think was one of them.  Then we had a Tama which was made out a of cymbal brass shell. 

Rob:  Oh, wow. 

Mike:  Yeah, it weighed a ton.  And then there was...I guess it was just the DW snare, or maybe...I am getting a little confused.  The Craviotto, I think, was the one that matched the kit.  That was the one we ended up using, I think. It was the one that...But, yeah... 

Rob:  Was that the Mel Gibson or was that not the Mel Gibson? 

Mike:  The Mel Gibson was the Ludwig.  We did not get to use...I know we did not use the Ludwig.  We did not use the cymbal brass.  And there was another metal one that we tried that we did not use.   

Rob:  And then, like, how was he micing the snare?  He had like a mic on the top and on the bottom? 

Mike:  Yeah, the top and the bottom.  I didn't get a look at what kind of mic was on the bottom.  The top one was some kind of a...I think it was a Telefunken of some sort.  Something a little more expensive than your run of the mill SN57.   

Rob:  So the next thing was like getting the rhythm tracks, or did they get the guitars dialed in at that point?  

Mike:  Well after they got it where they were happy with the snare sound, yeah, they told us to take a break for 5 or 10 minutes and they started dialing in the guitar sounds. 

Rob:  So Todd had his...what was that, an orange Chet Atkins?   

Mike:  Yeah. It is a Gibson Tennessean.  And then Jason had that American Tele.   

Rob:  Todd was going into what amp?  He was in the Marshall? 

Ben:  Yeah, it was the Marshall. 

Rob: And it was an older Marshall? 

Mike:  I think it was kind of a reissue Plexi, is what it looked like.  I didn't get a really good look at the guitar amps. 

Ben:  And then they had Jones in the crazy Diesel amp.  

Rob:  Yeah, the Vin Diesel, the $5,000 four channel.... 

Ben:  Those whacky Germans! 

Rob:  Yeah.  Oh, it was awesome.   

Ben:  It sounded great. 

Rob:  And then, that didn't take too long for them to get the guitar sounds. 

Mike:  Not too long.  I don't know, we were...I was outside just kind of hanging out... 

Rob:  Hang on just a second. 

Mike:  Ah, man.  If we had driven out here we could have saved 10 cents a gallon!  Oh, that reminds me.  You want this, don't you? 

Rob:  Oh, I might.  Yeah.   

Mike:  [laughs] 

Rob:  It's doing it again.  I wonder what that means.   

Mike:  It means hang on to your pants!   

Rob:  And we are back.  All right.  Sorry about that.  So where were we?   

Ben:  Uh, guitar tone? 

Rob:  You got the guitars dialed in.  And at that point, did ya'll do like a basic take? 

Mike:  Well, we did a run-through with everything just so you get to hear it again and just kind of check everything.  Once again, just an off the cuff, once all the way through the song... 

Ben:  Well, then we did several all the way through just to kind of get the drums down, or the drum part that he was happy with. 

Mike:  Yeah.  Well, you are jumping ahead, though.  We actually made the changes to the songs. 

 
Ben:  Oh, that's right. 
 

Rob:  So what were they? 

He changed the bridge, the note that the bridge came in on? 
 

Mike:  Yeah.  After we played through it that first time, he said we needed...the bridge needed to have a little more... 

Rob:  Definition?   

Mike:  Yeah, or, you know, just something that really establishes it and differentiates it from the verse proceeding it or the chorus preceding it, or whatever; the part that precedes it. 

And so what he suggested that was we add, I guess it was four bars to the front of the bridge and bring it on the... 

Ben:  On the D instead of on the A.   

Mike:  Thank you. 

Ben:  Yeah, no problem.   

Mike:  And, you know, but not have the words start until it gets to the A.  So it just added a little instrumental section, almost kind of like a little pad, a little buffer zone... 

Ben:  Which kind of makes the bridge hit a little harder.   

Rob:  Before you started singing? 

Mike:  Right.  Before I started singing.  So you have that, and then the vocals come in.  And it really completely changed the whole feel of it. 

Rob:  Yeah, it really did.  It kind of...I don't know. 

Ben:  Well it made the bridge pop a lot more. 

Mike:  Well, it's that, and then we also changed the drum part in the bridge from the way we had originally done it.  And this was one of the things he and I talked about on the phone, on that drum part.  And he said, “Yeah, you know, maybe try to come up with something..."  He said he liked the half-time I did on the outro.  “Maybe come up with something not exactly like that, but something with, maybe, that kind of a feel." 

And so that was also what we were doing.  We kind of practiced it to get that change, and then I was kind of feeling out...trying to find a drum part that worked and sounded good.  

Rob:  That went really quick, though.  I mean I was kind of like... 

Ben:  And we moved the bass up an octave. 

Mike:  Yeah, we did that also.   

Rob:  And you said, like, you didn't do the pumping until a certain point? 

Ben:  Yeah, well that was...We were just trying different stuff with it, because we knew we wanted to do something different with the bass.  We thought moving it up an octave and driving instead of just hitting the long notes might sound good.  But then when we tried it, it made it a little too busy, so we decided to stay with moving it up. 

Rob:  Oh, OK.  So I caught the second half, I guess.  And then once you kind of got the form of that song right...I mean that was probably...That was an hour or two into it, you think? 

Mike:  Honestly, I didn't have a watch. 

Ben:  Yeah, I have no idea. 

Mike:  There was no timeframe at all that whole day, really, except for when I would go outside and go, “OK.  The sun is here now."  That was really about it.  You know, it was just kind of... 

Rob:  But then at that point, it was like, “OK, well let's get the drums right."  And so everybody played and he recorded everything... 

Mike:  Yeah, that was doing the drum takes for keeps, for real. 

Rob:  Playing to a click? 

Mike:  Yeah, with the click track, but with the full band playing and Todd doing the scratch vocal just to kind of help keep everybody together. 

Rob:  But he wasn't singing the whole time.  He was just kind of giving like slight audio cues. 

Ben:  Yeah, just so we always knew where we were. 

 
Rob:  Because he would stop...if there as like a break, he wouldn't say anything so it wouldn't bleed into the drums, right?
 

Ben:  Yeah.  And on that song, since there are only two chords that keep coming over and over and over again, the scratch vocals really help with something like that.

 
Rob:  Yeah, I was about to say.  It is easy to get lost. 
 

Mike:  And so, the bass and the guitars that he recorded during those takes...I think he kept them maybe just for kind of emergency backup.  But those were never going to really be the serious tracks.  They were all replaced later. 

Rob:  How many takes did it take to get the drums? 

Ben:  Four or five, maybe? 

Mike:  Once we fired up the click track and we were doing them for real, after we had gotten all the changes done, we only did three takes and we kept...it was takes two, three, and four, because take one was before we changed it, and it was the sound check take.  I don't think it had a click on it either, so that one was set aside. 

Yeah, we just used...we had takes two, three, and four.  And if I remember right, it was take four that he used for most of the song.  And then we took a couple of drum fills from like takes two and three, a couple things that I liked.  I was like, “Hey, I really like what I did here. 

Let's put that on there."
 

Rob:  Yeah, I saw the song map, and it was really interesting to see kinda how he would... 

Mike:  He was checking off, like, which was the best... 

Rob:  Yeah. 

Mike:  Yeah, the full map of the song.  It was like, “I am going to have to steal that. 

I really like that."
 

Rob:  Yeah, he had a column for each take, and he had checkmarks.  And to me it was like the darker the checkmark was, the better the take was.   

Mike:  Well there were some where he would just draw a line.  It is like not even...And t hen there were some where he would put two checkmarks, because he had one that was his favorite, and then it was like, “OK.  Now here is my double favorite."   

Rob:  Right.  And then, the other thing, from that, did he comp a rhythm track together?   

Mike:  He did a...what did he call it? 

Rob:  Speed comp? 

Mike:  Speed comp, yes.  But it was mostly take four, as I recall.  Most of the rhythm, just the groove, I think almost all of that was take four.  And then, like I said, there were a couple fills.  I think a little bit of the stuff from the bridge, we used from take three, just because he and I both agreed that was the... 

Rob:  The looser... 

Mike:  Well, it was the best performance.  It was the most confident.  The most interesting, too.  By the time I got to the fourth one, I kinda got stuck in a rut on that one and kept repeating fills and stuff. 

Rob:  From that, he made a speed comp, but he still used the bass, and the guitar, and the vocals for placement? 

Mike:  Yeah, he had them in there for reference, because then when Ben went in to track bass, he could still put that guitar in there, or the scratch vocal, or whatever. 

Rob:  So in your headphones, Ben, what were you hearing, like, when you went in there?   

Ben:  Guitar, drums, and what I was playing.  Later, I got them to add the scratch vocals, because it helped out a lot on the bridge.   

Rob:  Did he make any changes like to the micing or the tone of the bass or anything while they were...? 

Ben:  Once we got it established originally, no.  They kept it pretty solid. 

Mike:  Because remember, weren't they...I think they had some trouble with some hum or something... 

Rob:  Oh no, that was Jason... 

Ben:  Yeah, that was Jason playing with his... 

Mike:  Well no, I could hear the amp buzzing back in the room, though. 

Rob:  Yeah, there was definitely... 

Mike:  There was some 60 cycle hum going on. 

Rob:  Yeah, somewhere.  But that was funny.  Jason's Theremin app for iPhone was going off, and they could not find where it was.  I mean Butch was walking around the control room putting his ear up to things, and he finally put his ear up to Jason's chest, and he was like, :"It is coming from Jason."   

[laughter] 

Rob:  That was so funny.  Because, I mean, Mike the studio guy, tattoo Mike was like freaking out, because they could not...they thought it was like a speaker feeding back inside the studio.  They were listening to the wall.  They were listening to behind Jason.  And Jason would move and the sound would move.  It went on for about three or four minutes! 

It turns out he had his Theremin app on.  And it was just really quiet, really, really quiet, but enough to make...
 

Mike:  [makes weird humming noise] 

Rob:  Yes!  Made you really, like, cock an eyebrow.  And tattoo Mike was running around like a chicken with his head cut off going, “What's that?" 

And then it wasn't his fault, and he was like, “Ah, man." 
 

Ben:  So when did I blow the speaker?  I missed that. 

Rob:  That was after...I think it was after we got all the bass stuff done and he was playing it back through the big speakers.  And he cranked it up really loud...Well, I think you were still in the big room. 

Ben:  Yeah, I wasn't in there for that.  You guys told me about it later.   

Rob:  It was kind of like...We were like listening to the track...Like, you would record something and then he would play it back so that you could hear it, but also so that we could hear it.  At that point, he cranked it all the way up, you know, like that Maxell cassette commercial. 

Mike:  Martini glass blowing back... 

Rob:  Yeah, yeah.  And there was a loud ripping sound... 

Mike:  [laughs] 

Rob:  Because he had the bass...He had the bass turned all the way up, you know?  And tattoo Mike jumped in, too.  That was interesting.  But then he just started to back down.  He was using the reference monitors, the one that were sitting up on that...George Martin's desk, the Barefoot monitors.  He was running it through those most of the time. 

But every once in a while, I think just to kinda clean his ears out, he would swap it to the big honking speakers that were in the wall.
 

So, like, how many tracks was it to get, like, the bass track?   

Mike:  You only did like, what, two takes? 

Ben:  I think it was three, because there was one where the amp wasn't on.   

Rob:  Oh, OK, the standby?   

Ben:  Yeah, there was one where the amp was on standby and it was just the direct.  But yeah, there was one...Yeah, I guess two real takes.  And I think they punched me one time on the beginning and one time on the end.   

Rob:  And that went really quickly. 

Mike:  That is our Ben! 

Ben:  Ha, ha. 

Rob:  That was great. 

 
Ben:  I felt like I should have messed up a little more just so I could have more time doing stuff.  It was like, “What, I am done?  Ah, man!"
 

Rob:  Yeah, “Here is your plane ticket back home!  See ya!" 

Ben:  “I guess I'll just go drink a..." 

Rob:  Like 12 beers. 

Ben:  Barley Pop. 

Rob:  How much beer did we drink? 

Ben:  Well, we started off with that 12 pack and we went through that in about an hour... 

Mike:  See, I didn't even drink any of those.  The first round of beer was gone before I had my first one. 

Rob:  So they had to make a...ya'll were spelling out a beer run, I guess. 

Mike:  There were two beer runs.  I know that. 

Rob:  Yeah, didn't he send Alyssa to go get beer or something? 

Ben:  Yeah, Alyssa went, and then he and Todd went.  There might have been three. 

I think Mike went on one, too.
 

Mike:  Yeah, I think so. 

Rob:  Geez.  That was great. 

Mike:  I don't know. 

It was a lot of beer. 
 

Rob:  Yeah, he's a big fan. 

Ben:  Whack. 

Rob:  OK.  So the bass track was done.  And then what was the...it was the guitar tracks? 

Ben:  Yeah.  Todd went first, I think.  Well, I think we took...We took a break before we did the bass.   

Rob:  OK.  Was that the lunch break or whatever, kind of like where we were standing around...? 

Ben:  Well, it was kind of like a 25 minute, everyone kind of relax, stretch your legs... 

Rob:  That was around 3:30 or four o'clock, because I remember it was like...it was either four or 4:30 we were going to be back...we were going to be done with our lunch break. 

Ben:  Oh, that was a different one.  That might have been after tracking some of the guitars, because I think the bass one, we were starting at...Actually, hold on.  I might have it on my phone because I think I texted somebody.  Let me see. 

Rob:  But I think from the pictures we will be able to put a timeline together.   

Mike:  See, I never caught anything about starting at any particular time for anything.  It was just like, “OK.  We are taking five..." 

Rob:  Yeah, people were rotating out.  Like if somebody wasn't doing something, they would be hanging out in the alley, or in the kitchen, or in that little... 

Mike:  Hallway, or sitting in the control room. 

Rob:  The control room, yeah, because everybody seemed to kinda wind up there.   

Mike:  Where the action is. 

Rob:  Man, it sounded great.  I had the best seat in the house up there in the captain's nest, you know? 

Mike:  In the center of the stereo field. 

Rob:  Yes.  Right behind Butch Vig's head.  And every time he would turn around, I would be like, “What?  What did I do wrong?  What did I do wrong?"  You know, he was just getting his notes off the desk that was like right in front of me.  But I swear, every time he did it, I would jump, you know?   

But he was really grooving on it.  I was excited. 

Ben:  Yeah.  Actually, that would have been right.  We started the bass about four.   

Mike:  Wow.  See, it doesn't seem like it was that late. 

Ben:  No, not at all. 

Mike:  I thought it was like one or two. 

Ben:  Yeah, that is what it felt like.   

Mike:  Yeah, because I guess like, while we were doing drums, everybody was wanting to play it over, and over, and over again. 

Ben:  Which was nice, because it got us all good and warmed up. 

Mike:  So yeah, I guess we did take a fairly decent little break after that, I think. 

Ben:  Yeah, about 30 minutes. 

Rob:  I think I ate my weight in cheese off that cheese tray. 

Ben:  Man, that salsa was awesome!  I gotta get some more of that. 

Mike:  I didn't try the salsa. 

 
Ben:  It was spicy and tasty and delicious.
 

Mike:  I had some turkey and some potato chips. 

Ben:  I had many a turkey sandwich this week.   

Rob:  Yep. 

Ben:  Good thing I like turkey. 

Rob:  And so after tracking the guitars, didn't Jason come back in?  Was that the arpeggiated part?  Was that the...where was the...? 

Mike:  Well, the first arpeggiated part was in the song originally.  And Butch decided he wanted to get a little bit different tone on it so it kind of cut through better.  Todd did his part, and then Jason went in and did the riff part, and then they went back and did a separate track with the arpeggiated part that was in the middle of the song.   

And that was all they did initially, because didn't we do...We did vocals before Jason did the second part, right? 

Ben:  Yeah, that was late in the evening. 

Mike:  So we did all that guitar stuff and then that was when Todd started singing.   

Rob:  Man, I mean how many takes did he do to get the vocals the way he wanted them? 

Ben:  A lot!  

Rob:  I mean it was like 12 or 13, wasn't it?   

Ben:  Yeah, watching it, especially on the end of it when it is so high and it has got to be like loud and rocking... 

Rob:  But it is funny. 

You could tell that Todd's voice was like warming up.
 

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  Yeah. 

Rob: You know?  Because at first, like the first take, I was like, “OK.  Well there is something in there we can use."  And then the second take, it was like, “OK, well..."  But man, by like the fifth or sixth take, it really was kind of like an amp warming up, you know?

 
Ben:  Oh yeah, completely.
 

Rob:  And then by like the seventh or eighth or ninth take, man, he was just nailing it. 

Mike:  Yeah, because once we was doing it kind of phrase by phrase, or verse by verse, you know, wasn't he trying...I think he was trying to get something like five or six really good...

 
Ben:  from each...
 

Mike:  From each section; each verse, each chorus... 

Rob:  OK.  Now, he didn't track like from zero to the end of the song.  He would do it like a verse at a time.  He did like 12 on the first verse, and then he did the chorus, right? 

Ben:  Yeah.   

Rob:  And then he did 12 choruses... 

Mike:  Yeah, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, ending... 

Rob:  So like five or six chunks...OK. 

Ben:  It makes a lot of sense to do it that way.   

Mike:  He did my vocal the same way.  I did a verse and an “Ooh part", and then the next verse and an “Ooh" part, and then my little middle section, and then the ending.  And I did four times of each. 

Rob:  But from that, he would take the best ones and build like a comp.  But he was also using them to double up, right? 

Mike:  On some of it. 

But like Todd's vocal, he kept a single track except, I think, in a couple of spots, just for some...If I remember right, just from listening to it...Yeah, just for a little emphasis.  But he had all my vocals and all of Jason's doubled.  So he was taking like the best, at least in the case of mine, like the best two out of the four.
 

Rob:  And he told me he liked to pan like hard left and hard right when he would double something up.   

Mike:  Yeah, it gives it a really wide sound, especially like on “Oohs" and “Ah's".  You know, it sounds really neat on that kind of thing.   

Rob:  And then, OK.  After he got all the vocals tracked, then that is when he came back in and started putting on the extra stuff?   

Mike:  Yeah, that was when we...Yeah, because the idea was that the vocals, obviously, are crucial.  They have to be there, so we went ahead and did those.  So the vocals were done...All the...

 
Rob:  All the meat was on there?
 

Mike:  All the essentials were in the can. 

Ben:  Yeah, “Let's see what else we can add in the time that we have got left."   

Rob:  We had about two and a half or three hours left, and that is when ya'll went it...like, Jason was doing different things with the chords.   

Ben:  Yeah, we put an arppeggiated part on the end.  

Mike:  Yeah, that was the first thing, doing that.

 
Ben:  Yeah, and that was the fingers. 
 

Mike: Yeah, the up and down... 

Ben:  Actually, no.  That wasn't.

 
Mike:  Yeah, up and down was in the bridge...
 

Rob:  It was different? 

Mike:  Well, he was adding just another part which was kind of high.... 

Ben:  But you know what?  He always played only the riff on that song.  He never had to put chords into that before.   

Rob:  And they were weird chords or something?   

Ben:  Well, it was the chords we had just changed.   

Mike:  But yeah, he was always just playing the riffs and he was oblivious to what was going on around him.  Normally, as far as...

 
Ben:  Yeah, even when we changed it, like when we added in the extra four bars, it didn't effect what he was doing at all, because he just kept plowing straight through with the riff. 
 

Mike:  So that is what the up and down was.   

Rob:  But then somebody turned it into flipping Jason off?  I missed that little part of it. 

Mike:  Yeah, I think Butch was actually the first one to do that... 

[laughter] 

Rob:  He said something rather obscene to one of ya'll.  I can't remember what it was.  Maybe it was Todd when he was tracking his vocals.   

Mike:  I don't know. 

Rob: But we won't go into that.   

Mike:  And Todd kept getting it wrong.  That was funny. 

 
Rob:  OK.  What, the vocals? 
 

Mike:  Well, no. 

The up and down.
 

Ben:  The up and down point.  “All right.  Up for D, down for A.  No, wait.  It is up for A, right?"   

Mike:  “D is down, right?"   

Rob:  Yeah, we got some pictures of both pointing in different directions, and that was funny.   

Ben: Yeah, and that first one where Jason was like, “You have to point before!  You can't just do it as I am making the chords!"   

Mike:  Yeah, Todd was very diligently pointing on the downbeat of each measure.  You know, waiting and....up, two, three, four, down... 

Ben:  It is hard not to do that because you are so used to doing everything on the beat, because I was doing it, too.  I was trying to point along.   

Rob:  So then after that, that is when the feedback and stuff was added, and the tambourine part was added?   

Mike:  Yeah, the tambourine was the very last thing that we did for the night. 

Rob:  And then he went and made another speed comp... 

Mike:  Well, by that point, there wasn't really much left to comp... 

Ben:  He did a couple of speed comps here and there...

 
Rob: He did a mix, though.  He did a really, really rough mix. 
 

Mike:  We had a rough mix, yeah. 

Ben:  But I guess the speed comps were like once we got the drums done, speed comp.  Once we got the bass done, speed comp.  Once we got the guitar part, you take the best of each and make one guitar part.   

Rob:  Billy's fingers were flying over that keyboard.   

Mike:  That was one thing I noticed as kind of the day was going on, like when we were doing bass stuff or something.  Whenever there was a moment of downtime, like, he was going back into the drums... 

Rob:  Cleaning them up? 

Mike:  And like going ahead and edit, edit, edit, edit, you know, whatever, cleaning up fades, just like constantly...He was always doing something. 

Rob:  I remember he said he took samples.... 


Ben:  Oh, yeah.  I forgot about that. 

Rob:  What he meant by that, though, is he was just recording a clean, you hitting like the tom... 

Mike:  He took a single hit... 

Rob:  And letting it resonate...And then later on, if he needed to, he could cut that out and paste that one top of a mis-hit or something that sounded a little wonky, or... 

Mike:  Well, not so much a mis-hit.  Primarily, it was there for....For example, I play the high hats really low, so they were real close to the snare mic.  And when I go into the open high hat, if it bleeds into the snare mic too much, he can replace that top snare sound with the sample one, keep it clean so that high-hat is not...You know, if it is a backwards reverb on the snare, you are not getting backwards high hat also.   

Rob:  Well, I noticed one time he came over to the drums and was tightening up the snare drum a little bit.  That was after he picked the...? 

Ben:  Is that a deer? 

Rob:  Yeah.  That's a big buck, too.   

Ben:  Yeah! 

Rob:  So, like he was saying that the snare is a little doinky and he went over there with a drum key or whatever... 

Mike:  Well, the one he was tuning, that was actually the brass snare that we didn't use.  But it was actually really loose when we first set it up.  It was floppy, kind of loose.  So he was tightening it up. 

 


But yeah, like the Ludwig, I think, was the one he was saying was a little doingy.  It just had a little too much ring in it.  He was going for something that was kind of in between; something that had a good woody, full sound but still had a little bit of ring to it. 
 

Rob:  I remember him saying something about, because he was using compression on the drums, that was causing an over ring or something like that to get emphasized that normally wouldn't.  He said he counted eight of them in the track that he was going to replace with one of the samples, which I thought that was pretty cool. 

Mike:  Oh, OK.  I wasn't there for that conversation, so... 

Rob:  Yeah, that is some of the stuff I wish ya'll would have got to hear.  I wish I would have had this recorder in there recording, but I didn't want to push it too much, you know?   

And the other part, he was like, “Hey, does Ben play with a pick?"  And Butch Vig said to Billy Bush, “You are just being lazy."   

Ben:  I remember him asking me.   

Mike:  Yeah, he came on the headphones and he was like, “Well, that is what compressors are for!"   

Rob:  I was like, “I bet he could!"  But he was like, “Well, look at the blood blisters on his fingers.  You tell me: does he use a pick or not?"   

Ben:  I was hoping the blood blisters were going to come up in conversation just around him sometime. 

Rob:  Yeah.  I think he noticed.  I think he noticed. 

Ben:  Sweet.   

Rob:  You bleed for your art, you know?  So he had separate tracks in Pro Tools for each of the drums channels.  I mean he had like overheads...there were overheads in the room... 

Mike:  You had stereo overheads, you had stereo room mics, you had snare top and bottom, each rack tom, and two kick drum mics, and a high-hat mic.  So actually, with the exception of the high-hat mic, he actually miced it the exact same way I did in my house.  I didn't have a high-hat mic.  He did have that.  Yeah, otherwise... 

Obviously, his mics were a little nicer and little more expensive than mine, but... 

Rob:  Same idea. 

Mike:  Yeah.  And he even had, like the overheads, he had set up in a spaced cardioid patter, which is also exactly what I did.  I was like, “Wow!  Maybe I do know what I am doing." 

Rob:  Well they were running HD3, so it was in a...at 192 kilohertz, right?   

Mike:  Well, that is the highest setting.  I don't know what they had it set on.

 
Rob:  I think that was what they were running.  And then he said something about, like, it was at 40...
 

Mike:  44.1? 

 
Rob:  Yeah.  They had it set to that.  I remember that.
 

Mike:  Well, if it was 44.1, then it wouldn't be at 192.   

Rob:  What is 48? 

Mike:  Well, 48 is just another sample rate.  Those are all different options.  You can do 44.1, which is CD.  48 was old VAT; you used 48.  And ADAT's...was it ADAT's also, maybe, that could run on 48?  I don't know.  And then you have got like 96... 

Rob:  Multiples of 48... 

Mike:  And then you get into multiples, because there is like 88.2, or you can get into, yeah, 96, which is double 48, then 192...it is all multiples. 

Rob:  But I think there is something where he set what the target resolution is going to be at the end of the song...I think that is what he was setting, not the sample rate... 

Mike:  That was probably for the mix, then.  What he was doing, he had the stereo two track, that would have had to have been at 44.1.  And also, dropping [xx]. 

I am sure he was tracking 24 bit and had to drop it down to 16 bit. 
 

Rob:  All right.  So that is the technicalism for the night.   

Mike:  Thanks Mr. Science! 

Rob:  When ya'll went out in the alley and were talking about stuff, do you remember what he was talking about? 

Mike:  Like outside? 

Rob:  Yeah, just talking about different bands... 

Ben:  Just whatever. 

Mike:  I honestly don't really...Unless somebody says something that like jogs my memory...There wasn't any...Like literally, it was just kind of goofing off.   

Rob:  My favorite moment, though, when I was asking him about what Garbage was going to do next, and he said they were going to get together in studio and do some songwriting, that is when I got up in his face and said, you know, “Where is my album?"  No pressure.  That was awesome. 

Ben:  Nice.   

Rob:  But he was really digging on ya'll.  I mean I remember like him...I mean, you know, nobody is paying attention to him.  Nobody is recording.  Nobody is looking at him and he is playing the drum part and whistling the melody while he is kind of bopping around the studio.  That was really cool seeing him get into it like that.   

Mike:  Yeah.  Hell, yeah.  I did talk to him about gear just a little bit.  I asked him, at one point, if like the old vintage stuff compared to like the... 

Rob:  The reissues?   

Mike:  The reissues or some of the new recreations, if there is a noticeable difference to justify the huge price difference.  And he said, “Not really."  He said, “Occasionally...Usually the ones..." I was actually about to start spouting my opinion... 

Rob:  Were you talking about microphones or guitars, or...? 

Mike:  Like recording gear.  Like preamps, and microphones, and that kind of thing.  A good example is an LA2A compressor.  It is a tube compressor.  You can buy a brand new one that is a reissue that looks pretty much just like the old ones, made by the same company that made them...You know, it is like the son of the guy that invented it is still making them.  A new one is, I don't know, three grand, $2,500, and an old one, I don't know how many thousands of dollars you are looking at. 

Rob:  Did he say they are virtually the same?

Mike:  Yeah, pretty much.  You know, it is not a big difference.  He said it was a lot easier when not as many people knew about Ebay.  It was a lot easier to snap up vintage stuff.  And he said the vintage stuff is cool, but, really, when it comes down to it, from a utilitarian standpoint, that you can pretty much get the same effect with the reissue stuff.   

Rob:  What was he talking about the console?  Didn't he say it was like George Martin's console from Sky Studios or something like that?   

Mike:  Air Studios.  Yeah, that was on the website for The Boat.  It talked about it.  It was originally built, I think, in '69 for George Martin, Air Studios in England. 

Rob: Well that is cool.   

Mike:  And actually, I didn't get a chance to ask.  I was curious what all modifications had been made to that board over the years.   

Rob:  They need to fix the talkback button.   

Mike:  Well, at least they have the foot pedal, yeah. 

Rob:  Yeah, he did not like that.  And the headphone mix; when ya'll were tracking your parts, did ya'll have a bad headphone mix?   

Mike:  Mine was fine. 

Ben:  They never got the vocals in for me right. 

Mike:  I think a lot of it...I don't know if maybe they had some stuff patched wrong or what was going on.  I didn't really experience it until I was...I tracked drums and then I didn't do anything else until it was tambourine...Well, I guess vocals.  And it was a little...I couldn't quite figure out what was going on when I was doing vocals.  It was like, “OK, I got some guitar and I had bass."  There were no drums in it at all.  But I had enough to go on to sing to, so I didn't really worry about it. 

And Todd had it cranked as loud as it would go, just about, so I was turning all the volume way down, because I put the headphones on and it about blew my head up.  But when I went in to do the tambourine, it was like...It was just going [makes static noise].  You know, it was just distorted and all bass and nothing else... 

Ben:  So it was awesome. 

 
Rob:  Yeah!  What's wrong with that? 
 

Mike:  Anyway... 

Rob:  What else do you need? 

Mike:  Well, I don't know.  You know, when you are shaking a tambourine, drums would be awesome.  You know, a source of rhythm other than [makes distortion/static noise].   

Rob:  [sneezes] 

Ben:  Bless you. 

Rob:  Thank you. 

Mike:  Rob is dying in the back. 

Rob:  No, no.  I am multi-sneezegasmic.   

Mike:  But it turned out that what the problem was, tattoo Mike...I wish I knew his real name.  I hate having to use all the... 

Rob:  But there were three Mike's there.  There was drum tech Mike, the Mike Yeager, and tattoo Mike.   

Mike:  Right.  But anyway, he came in and he pointed at two of the knobs on the little mixer there.  He said, “OK.  This is your tambourine and this is everything else."  Well, that wasn't exactly the case.  The knob that said Bass still controlled the bass, and it was on 12 of 12 or whatever.   

Rob:  Right, like it should be! 

Ben:  Exactly! 

Rob:  Gosh, Mike.  You just don't appreciate us, you know? 

Mike:  And then the two knobs that said guitars still controlled the guitars.  And the one that he said was everything had the drums and the vocals on it, which was kind of weird.  I think I ended up having...I got the bass volume turned down enough where I could actually hear the rhythm in it, and that was still about all I had in my headphones to do tambourine, but I could hear the [simulates bass progression].  And it was so...Good old Mr. Hodge here was so solid that...that was all I needed. 

And I just played with that and it locked in.
 

Rob:  So you are admitting that bass is all you need.   

Mike:  Well, it certainly worked for Vic Bonham [sp] with Spinal Tap, although they did have drums on that.   

Rob:  OK.  Well, I guess maybe a little bit. 

Mike:  And a little bit of keyboard.   

Rob:  OK.  And he had, like, yall's names down from like the first 30 seconds.   

Ben:  Yeah, he did. 

Rob:  I mean because he had your names written by your instruments on the console. 

Ben: Yeah, I saw that. 

 
Mike:  So I guess he did have flash cards there, so...But, yeah, that certainly made it easy, when he is not just, you know, “Hey, um...uh, uh...you, guy..."  “OK, drummer, I need you to..."  You know. 
 

From the get go, it was almost like...I mean I felt as comfortable as I do in my home studio from the minute we got there.   

Ben:  Yeah.  The whole crew did a really good job of making us feel at home... 

Mike:  I was never nervous at all.  Now, I was serious about it.  While tracking drums to that click, I was concentrating.  I was serious.  I was focused, but I was never nervous.  I am more nervous playing at Dave's Dark Horse Tavern than I was being there recording with Butch Vig in a real studio in LA.  You know, recording with a guy that I would have to mortgage my house to afford to hire. 

Rob: Right.  He's got a hit or two.  Cool.  I think I got enough...




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