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How I Got That Sound: John Feldman

The Used ‘The Taste Of Ink’ By Joe Matera
Published January 2023

How I Got That Sound

While having served as the founding lead vocalist and guitarist for American ska‑punk rockers Goldfinger since the early 1990s, John Feldmann has also etched out a successful career as an in‑demand producer and mixing engineer. He has worked with the likes of Korn, Blink‑182, 5 Seconds Of Summer, Biffy Clyro, the Used, and most recently with Canadian pop‑punk rocker Avril Lavigne. Here, he details how he got his favourite vocal sound on the Used’s 2002 debut single ‘The Taste Of Ink’.

With Intent

How I Got That Sound: John Feldman“I chose this track because of the unique vocal sound. At that point in my career, I had only produced the Goldfinger records, signed two bands, and the Used were the third band I had produced. In the studio I was experimenting with a lot of different production styles between two‑inch tape, digital tape, ADATs, and everything else. I ended up using Pro Tools for the Used self‑titled debut album which this track comes from.

“I had purchased a vintage AKG C12 and this very thin pop filter. A lot of the plosives were coming through because the pop filter was so very thin. Every time Bert [McCracken] would accentuate a ‘p’ it would just blow the mic up! Yet I thought it fit the music very well, so we did it with intent. Bert was just millimetres away from the vocal mic.

“Then I put that through a Universal Audio 6176, which has a 610 tube microphone preamp and an 1176 compressor, so it’s a hybrid of those two units. I had no money at the time, being in a band and still touring in a bus. I had just gotten a small publishing cheque, but every penny went into buying the microphone. Everything else I used, was kind of pieced together.

John Feldmann: I also had a trash can next to the mic because Bert screamed so hard, he would throw up sometimes!

“Finally, I used a Softube compressor plug‑in, which I love on vocals; I went with a 4:1 ratio and went pretty hard on the input so it would compress hard on the takes. I didn’t want to leave it up to any mixing engineer as I wanted to hear every breath, like you do when you’re in the studio. I also had a trash can next to the mic because Bert screamed so hard, he would throw up sometimes! It was a very intense recording process.

“That was pretty much my chain for that vocal sound, and I didn’t use any EQ going into Pro Tools. It was basically just the 610, the 1176, and in Pro Tools I had the Softube compressor.”