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Inside Track: Deftones 'Prayers/Triangles'

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Matt Hyde
By Paul Tingen

Matt Hyde at Megawatt Recording Studio B, where the Gore album was mixed.Matt Hyde at Megawatt Recording Studio B, where the Gore album was mixed.

The success of Deftones’ Gore album is reward for the band’s restless experimentation — and for the work of engineer, producer and mixer Matt Hyde.

Deftones’ musical openness and penchant for experimentation have earned the band the moniker “the Radiohead of metal”. Their music moves dramatically between a wide range of moods, sonic colours and musical styles. The band’s eighth studio album Gore is their most experimental to date, yet also their highest-charting, reaching number two in the US, five in the UK and topping the charts in Australia.

The album’s critical and commercial success obviously also has to do with the quality of the songs, the playing, the arrangements and the production. Singer and guitarist Chino Moreno and the album’s engineer, mixer and producer, Matt Hyde, explain how they and the band as a whole managed to conjure up an album that’s inventive, cohesive and successful.

Metal & More

Matt Hyde’s track record is as multi-faceted as the music of the Deftones, in that he is also a musician, playing guitar and keyboards, and has worked with everything from hip-hop (Cypress Hill) to US roots music (Jonny Lang), to all variations of rock, from stoner to alt to hard (Monster Magnet, No Doubt, Sum 41, Porno For Pyros). He does, however, have a penchant for metal music, having helped steer bands like Slayer and Hatebreed to great success. Hyde first worked with Deftones as an engineer on their previous album, Koi No Yokan (2012), which was produced by Nick Raskulinecz. Towards the end of the project, Hyde also got involved in the production side and, according to Moreno, he and the band developed a “great rapport”. For this reason, the return call in 2014 didn’t come out of the blue.

Deftones are that rare thing: a metal band who gain critical acclaim and fans outside of the genre.Deftones are that rare thing: a metal band who gain critical acclaim and fans outside of the genre.“I was contacted in the Spring of 2014 with the message that Deftones might be interested in working with me again,” remembers Hyde, “but the first thing that happened was that Stephen [Carpenter], the guitar player, hooked up with me in the Summer because he wanted to work on his guitar tones. During the making of the previous record we had spent a lot of time with his Fractal Audio Axe-FX unit on modelling some of his amps, as well as mine. So we went into the studio for a week and a half in the Summer of 2014 and we both brought every amp that we own — that was a lot of amplifiers! — and modelled many more sounds in the Fractal. A little while later Stephen called me saying that the band wanted me to co-produce a new record with them.”

Old Ways

Deftones were keen to continue working in the same way as they had on their previous albums: in time-honoured, money-consuming, 20th Century rock & roll fashion, first writing and arranging songs in a rehearsal space, and then recording and mixing them in a commercial studio. Hyde was happy to oblige, and in the Autumn of 2014, set up with the band in a rehearsal space in Los Angeles.

“They had done some demos at the beginning of 2014, not with the whole band, but just preliminary stuff done by some of the guys. We started by going through that material first, and figuring out what was cool, and they then began writing new songs as a collective in the room. We would get together a couple of weeks at a time each month, and I would record all the rehearsals using an Apogee Duet with my laptop and Pro Tools 10. They were playing in the room with a PA — it was like a production rehearsal before a tour — and I would take a stereo feed from their monitoring mixing board.

“Jamming together in a room is how they have always written. They don’t sit in front of computers and write stuff. It’s not the way modern bands and kids work these days. This was old-school: a band jamming until they find a part that feels good, and then combine that with another part that we liked. It was a slow process, but during each two-week period we probably got between three and four songs and cool parts and ideas together, and we developed the latter during the next period. We also figured out a lot of the atmospheric stuff that ended up on the record. Chino will have melody ideas the whole time, but usually he writes the words after the track has been written.

“In general terms, the feel and dynamics are really critical with this band, as they do the loud-soft thing better than anybody, so they worked a lot on that. My role was to be like a facilitator. They write, and bounce stuff off me. I helped them a little bit sometimes in steering things in certain directions, and helping them solve problems with melodies or harmonies and assembling arrangements and organising their ideas. But I was not the guy coming up with the ideas. These guys know what they are doing!”

Sparks Fly

Moreno’s recollections tie in with those of Hyde, though sometimes with different emphasis. “We [the Deftones members] have known each other since we were kids, and because we are so close to each other, what the others are going to do can be a little expected. For this reason we try not to have preconceived ideas of what we are going to do for an album before we get together. Instead we like to go into songwriting situations with nobody knowing what to expect, and this adds to the excitement.

Inside Track“The sparks of uncertainty and of being caught off guard by someone doing something unexpected are the highlights of making music together. Many of the best songs and ideas come from instinct. When somebody presents you with a new idea, your first reaction to that is going to be the most organic. So there was a lot of free-form stuff going on during the rehearsals, even though, like Matt said, maybe a third of the record came from a riff that somebody might have recorded on his own, or played for us in the room. But there never was anything that was really fleshed out as a complete idea.”

Logistics also played a crucial part in the proceedings, with the band members living in different parts of the US. Drummer Abe Cunningham, bassist Sergio Vega and Moreno made the best of their stay at a hotel close to the rehearsal space, at some very un-rock & roll hours. “The three of us would meet up for coffee every morning at 8am,” explains Moreno, “and we’d discuss what we’d one the previous day, and what we were going to work on that day. The rehearsals did not start until noon, so we had four hours to kill every day, and because we all live in separate cities we don’t get much time to be together, and we wanted to use the time we had as productively as possible. Sometimes we’d go to somebody’s hotel room, and hash out ideas, playing electric guitars without amplifiers. But nothing really took shape until the five of us were in a room at the rehearsals. As much as we can have ideas apart from each other, nothing really takes shape until everybody reacts to what it.”

One example was the album opener, and first single, ‘Prayer/Triangles’, which, recalls Moreno, “was one of the last songs we wrote. Sergio and Abe were just jamming, with Sergio playing that bass line, and I came up with that little delayed guitar line in response, which formed the core of what became the chorus. Stephen [Carpenter] was running late, and he came in while we were playing, picked up the guitar and immediately launched right into the chorus chord progression, with Abe playing double-time snare. It almost sounded like U2 or something, not like Deftones at all. There was no talking, the song was written in literally one hour. These are the special moments that are the essence of the band. Although the song now sounds like Deftones, it does not sound like something we’ve done before. It was something fresh that came into being without us even thinking about it. It was one of the most organic experiences you can have being in a band.”

There’s been a lot of speculation that the many aspects of Deftones’ music can be traced back to specific band members, with guitarist Stephen Carpenter seen as the metal-head and Moreno bringing in influences from outside metal, and so on. Moreno, however, plays these differences down, stating, “I know we’re seen that way, but it’s not that black and white. People assume Steph is the metal guy, Sergio is the alt-rock guy, I’m the new wave guy, whatever. But honestly, as metal as Stephen is, he writes a lot of stuff that is not metal. The initial idea for ‘Phantom Bride’, for example, came from him. He was playing that guitar riff over and over, and I suggested we make a song out of it because it’s very infectious. Steph reacts to what we do in ways that even I would not expect. So yes, we do all have our core personality traits, but when we make a record, we don’t stay in our corner. Everybody gets in each other’s territory, and that is what makes it such a collaborative experience.”

Watt’s Up

In February 2015, after a writing and arranging period that had, on and off, lasted several months, the band and Hyde reconvened at Megawatt Recording for the actual recordings and the final mix. Megawatt is a top-class recording studio that has existed since 1978, when it was called Lighthouse, and saw legendary stars like Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, and John Fogerty within its walls. Renamed Bay 7 Studios 20 years later, the facility was visited by the likes of the Beach Boys, Tom Petty and Santana. It was reincarnated as Megawatt in 2012, and consists of Studio A, a tracking room with a vintage Neve 8058 Mark II desk plus two 12-channel Neve sidecars and a 95-square-metre main recording area, and Studio B, a mix room featuring an SSL 4080G+ desk.

The tracking sessions for Gore represented an unusually long block booking for Megawatt Studio A, with its vintage Neve 8058 console.The tracking sessions for Gore represented an unusually long block booking for Megawatt Studio A, with its vintage Neve 8058 console.

It was a comparatively old-school project for Hyde, who has his own DAW home studio where, he says, “I can make an entire record, and where I also master. It allows you to do great stuff for very little money. I can make a record for $5000 and I can make a record for $500,000!”

Gore didn’t cost half a million to make, but spending several months at Megawatt nonetheless involved considerable outlay. “It is what Deftones are used to,” Hyde explained. “They have been around since the early ’90s, and are comfortable with certain types of technologies and have certain expectations of how things are done, so for them it was a definite decision to use a recording studio and a desk. There also is something special that you get from sending things through a big console that is different from working in the box. To a certain degree you do get what you pay for. There are certain sonic things that happen in a studio environment that are advantageous.”

“We chose to record in a commercial studio for a few reasons,” elaborates Moreno. “Number one is obviously quality, though I have heard plenty of records that have been done in the computer, and I can’t tell the difference. It could be more of a placebo kind of thing where it feels more real when you are in a studio. The first time we made a record it was in a real studio, so it is something that we are very used to. The five of us cutting the tracks in a proper studio, with a nice board and with nice outboard, is important for our frame of mind. When you are sitting behind an SSL or a Neve console you feel like you are doing the real thing. And because you’re spending money, it puts pressure on you. You better do your best and really focus! As humans we can easily get lazy if we don’t have any pressure.”

Bumps In The Road

By June 2015, the recordings for Gore were complete (see ‘Tracking’ box), and Hyde began mixing the album at Megawatt Studio B. However, there was an unexpected glitch: the band were on tour and not entirely happy with the mixes Hyde sent them. As a result they decided to hire another mixer, only to find that this didn’t work out either.

Moreno explains: “I like to be there during the mix, or at least that somebody from the band is present, because there always are certain details that you want to hear and make sure are there. When Matt started mixing, I kept missing elements, so we said, ‘Let’s get somebody else to mix it.’ But while these mixes were OK, we were missing many nuances, because that person had not been there during the recordings. In the end we decided to return to working with Matt. He’d had a month off, and came back to the mixes with fresh ears, and we were now able to be there most of the time, and at this stage the mixes came together right away. Matt had been working on the album for a long period, and I think it was good for him to step back and get some perspective. Matt is a very smart individual and very outspoken, who gives feedback right away, which I like, and we clicked really well. With Matt there for the entire project he ended up being like a sixth band member, and that ended up working really well. He is a big part of this record. His hands are all over it!”

Hyde recalls that, for him, the final mix was simply an extension of the recording stage. “Honestly, I feel like I have the vision for a song the whole time we’re working on it. I know already during tracking what I’m really going for, and the roughs are usually pretty close to where I want to be. Many of the vocal and other effects are dialled in during tracking, because the way I worked is that after tracking drums, I went home and I did a mix in the box, and I printed a drum stem, and I then at Megawatt recorded the bass to that drum stem. I would then do a bass stem at my studio, and recorded the guitars to the drum and bass stems, and so on.

“In that way I could bring up the sounds that we were after and lay them out over the desk pretty fast, and people had consistent monitor and headphone mixes while tracking. By the time we did vocals I had all the instruments stemmed out, and we would cut the vocals to that. The stems may have changed as we were working on a song. The drums stems in particular often evolved during the first few days of tracking, with me repeatedly modifying the stems until they were the way we wanted them. For the final mix all these stems got broken back out again with individual tracks spread out over the board.Matt Hyde made full use of the 88-input SSL desk, breaking out tracks and stems and using parallel processing too.Matt Hyde made full use of the 88-input SSL desk, breaking out tracks and stems and using parallel processing too.

“I moved to the SSL mix room at Megawatt for the final mixes, which took about a month. This is where it got interesting, because I had done a lot of parallel compression with my stems in the box, and I continued using many of them during the final mixes, but I also had parallel channels on the board. The drums in ‘Prayer/Triangles’, for example, were broken out over 17 individual tracks coming out of Pro Tools, and then there were another 12 channels with analogue effects. I did have somewhat of a mix template for all the songs, but there also always were elements that were particular to each song, which I usually routed to eight channels on the board that I reserved especially for that purpose.

“I mixed the entire record one song at a time. And then all the comments came in. Also, many of the mixes were evolutions. By the seventh song you may have hit on something really cool that you also want to do on the previous songs you mixed. So there were recalls from that perspective as well. We even re-amped and re-tracked certain parts at the last minute! In the modern age everyone wants to recall stuff endlessly. We’re at a point where we can manipulate things to death, especially when you work in the box at home and you have no time limits. One of the nice things of working in a commercial studio is that it does put a limit on things. When I work on a desk I make my mixes as recallable as possible, despite working on an 88-input console, and when the comments were all in, recalled about four to five songs a day. To recall the console, get the mix set up including outboard, make the changes, and print the mix took me about one and a half to two hours.”

One Thing At A Time

“Generally speaking,” says Hyde, “my mix method is to bring up the drums first, get them to sound the way I want, bring the bass in, then bring the guitars in, and once I have the entire music track going, I bring in the vocal. Then I start messing around with everything in, and make it sound good together. There is a certain amount of value in listening to things in solo, or per group, so you get some knowledge about the frequency content and compression, but the most important thing is how it all sounds together.

“As I mentioned, I ran a combination of plug-in effects that I had retained from the in-the-box tracking stems, and desk EQ and compression and outboard.

Matt Hyde’s mixes made much use of the outboard in Studio B.Matt Hyde’s mixes made much use of the outboard in Studio B.

Volume automation also was a combination of in and out of the box. It’s easier to do the really precise stuff that happens only at one moment in the box, but I did all the vocal and guitar rides on the board, using Ultimation. I don’t do many moves on individual channels, but instead do most of my moves on the subgroups in the centre section of the board. It’s about gain-staging stuff. There is only so much you can do in the box. It’s about how you hit compressors, and the desk faders are the final determiners of how things are going to hit the stereo mix bus.”

The 'Prayers/Triangles' Session

Within a short duration of 3’38”, ‘Prayers/Triangles’ is a typical example of the way Deftones works with light and shade, soft and loud, beauty and brutality. It starts with a heavily distorted electric guitar in the right speaker, travelling to the left, and then an atmospheric verse, with what sound like electric guitar harmonics put through a delay, followed by an all-out double-time-snare chorus with heavily distorted rhythm guitars, that still bears some faraway echoes of U2. The middle eight and outro also are full-on, in essence extensions of the chorus.This composite screen capture shows the Edit window for ‘Prayers/Triangles’.This composite screen capture shows the Edit window for ‘Prayers/Triangles’.

The song’s Pro Tools session comes in at 115 tracks, breaking down in, from top to bottom, nine drum effect tracks at the top, 30 actual drum tracks, six bass tracks, 10 Stephen Carpenter guitar tracks, 20 Chino Moreno guitar tracks (in the middle of which are two kick drum sample tracks, called ‘Death’ and ‘Rockhead’), four electronics tracks, 15 vocal tracks, 14 vocal effect tracks and finally three mix tracks. One thing that’s striking is the amount of editing in the individual drum tracks. Some of the wave form regions look black, which echoes the way Mutt Lange treated some tracks on Muse’s Drones album (see SOS October 2015), though Hyde insists the editing is fairly minor. “I was editing for time and feel. But these are live drums, plus some samples I took from the sounds of his actual drum kit, mostly from the kit with fewer mics.”

  • Drums: Audio Ease Altiverb; Kush Audio UBK1 & Clariphonic; Waves SSL E-Channel; SoundToys Decapitator; Valley People Dynamite; dbx 160; Peavey Kosmos; SSL bus compressor; ITI stereo EQ.

“The nine drum effect tracks are at the top, because it’s the way I organise things at my house when I do mix stems. The first four are different Altiverb reverbs: Cello Studios Room 1, AMS non-linear, AMS RMX16 and Lexicon 480L. Then there’s an overall drum bus, with the Kush Audio UBK1 compressor and the Kush Audio Clariphonic EQ, and it has a send to the Cello room. The snare bus has the same plug-in treatments, the overheads and toms buses have the Waves SSL E-Channel, and the room bus the SoundToys Decapitator. Below these nine tracks are four ‘drumpadprocess’ tracks, which have an SSL channel on the inserts and the sends go to a parallel Decapitator track. They are also sent to four outboard Valley People Dynamite compressors, to get some extra pop on the kick and snare.

“There’s quite a bit of outboard on the drums. In addition to the Dynamites there’s also a dbx 160 on the kick and snare, and a bus with an interesting unit called the Peavey Kosmos, a sub-harmonic synthesizer. And there’s an analogue stereo drum bus that goes through the SSL compressor and an ITI stereo EQ (the predecessor to the Massenburg). Really, most of what I am doing in the box is a copy of what I used to do on the board. When I have both available, I just do the same thing twice and make it work together. It may seem overkill, and it’s rather unscientific, but I just listen and turn knobs until it has the right impact and everything sounds the way I want it.”

  • Bass: Waves Trans-X Multi, Linear Phase EQ & Scheps 1073; Teletronix LA2A; SSL EQ & compressor.

“Because Sergio has such a unique bass sound, I ended up using plugins I don’t normally use on bass. His sound doesn’t have the same weight as you normally get, so I had to use a subwoofer cabinet to add some extra-deep low end. I then had to contain it, which I did for example by using the Waves Trans-X Multi compressor. There’s also a lot of stuff happening on the board. All the Fractal stuff comes out of one channel and all the SVT stuff out of another channel. They are being EQ’ed, using the Waves Linear Phase EQ, and compressed with the Waves Scheps 1073, and come up on my sub bus, 7-8, on the console, on which I also have the kick. The insert on the bass on the desk has the Teletronix LA2A outboard compressor, and I also used desk EQ and compression.”

  • Guitars: Waves Scheps 1073 & CLA Guitars; SSL channel; SoundToys EchoBoy; API 550b; Kush Audio Clariphonic.

“Steph’s tracks are in red, with two tracks, L and R, for each part. I used the Waves Scheps 1073 to add some colour and brightness, just on the left tracks, and then they go through Aux 1, which has the Waves CLA Guitars plug-in for compression. There’s a lot of stuff happening out of the box on the guitars, including SSL board EQ and compression. On Chino’s guitar tracks I have several EchoBoy delays, an API 550b and again the Kush Audio Clariphonic. There’s a track called ‘M160dup’ which is me sending the guitar part to an amp to get some special effects for the verses.”

  • Vocals: Antares Auto-Tune; Waves Renaissance De-esser, Renaissance Vox, VEQ4 & LoAir; McDSP Filterbank; Crane Song Phoenix II; iZotope Trash; Avid Mod Delay III; SoundToys EchoBoy; AIR Distortion; Audio Ease Altiverb; ADR Compex F760X RS; Empirical Labs Distressor; AMS harmonizer; Yamaha SPX90.

“There are many vocal tracks! The main verse vocal track is called ‘New Verse TN01’, just below the ‘Aux 1 dup1’ track, and below it are some harmonies, and the chorus lead vocal is right below the ‘Aux 5’ track, ‘NWC6...’ All vocal tracks first have tuning from Auto-Tune, then a Waves RDe-Esser, and then the Waves RVox for compression. I then send the vocals to several subgroup busses, where they get de-essed and compressed a second time, so I don’t have to process so hard the first time. I find that by touching the vocals lightly twice, it sounds more natural than when I hammer them once. Some of the vocal tracks also have the McDSP Filterbank or the Crane Song Phoenix II tape-emulation plug-in, set to Iridescent for some extra sparkle and also to take some harshness away. I love those Phoenix plug-ins, they are really subtle.

“HC means hardcore, and ‘HC Vox’ is the track on which Chino is screaming in the bridges and the outro, and has the RDeEsser, RVox and Filterbank, plus the iZotope Trash, using a patch called ‘Smooth Overdrive’. It gets sent to an aux track called ‘HC Sub’, which again has the RDeEsser, RVox, the Waves VEQ4 and again the Phoenix II.

“Further down are the vocal aux effects tracks. They are each for one effect, respectively an Avid Mod Delay set to 166ms, an EchoBoy with a non-linear multitap thing, another EchoBoy with a classic 100ms slap, an AIR Distortion, an Altiverb reverb set to a Lexicon 480 gold hall, another filtered long echo, and a Space Echo, the latter two both from the EchoBoy. Aux 3 is a long filtered delay that answers Chino singing “prayers prayers”, and aux 5 has the Waves LoAir sub-harmonic generator. Most of my delays are filtered. The effects often are so heavy that I want to chop off many frequencies, so they quickly disappear in the mix, like a ghosting effect, otherwise everything would begin to sound garbled.

“In terms of outboard, I had the ADR Compex F760X RS on a parallel bus, which is a really fast compressor, ideal for limiting and spanking. It is side-chained to some really extreme EQ. I’m also using the Distressor on the vocals, again as a parallel. Instead of using the [SoundToys] Little Altar Boy plug-in, I ended up using the outboard AMS harmonizer and also the SPX90 for some pitch changes, all old-school ’90s stuff!”

  • Stereo Mix: Sontec Mastering EQ; SSL Quad compressor.

“I printed back into the Pro Tools session via Burl A-D converters. The session was 24-bit/48kHz; 96kHz would have driven me crazy for this project! I’m using a Sontec mastering EQ and an SSL quad mix-bus compressor on the stereo bus. But I keep my mixes at a standard level. I leave the whole loudness thing up to the mastering engineer, in this case Howie Weinberg.

“I actually master 75 percent of my projects, using the iZotope Ozone plug-in, but I prefer to keep the mixing and mastering processes separate. When I send my mixes to the artists and management I crank them up with the Massey L2007, so they get a kind of fake mastering, just for them to have perspective. The L2007 gets it loud enough, and does not damage the mix. I prefer to keep my original mixes dynamic and punchy, and I don’t want to overly destroy them before it gets to mastering. The loudness things is crazy, and this is the best way of dealing with it. Chino and I discussed mastering options, and we were mostly concerned with tone, giving the music warmth and low-end love. I didn’t want that ‘crunchy/ fried’ sound that I hear on a lot of things coming out recently. Howie managed to get it super-loud and still retain the dynamics and warmth. I was really happy with his work.”

Tracking The Old-school Way

“By the time we arrived at Megawatt Studios and started recording, the chord progressions were locked down, the song structures dialled in, and the arrangements complete, even though some arrangement choices came into being at Megawatt at the last minute,” says Matt Hyde. “When we listened to what we had recorded we would sometimes have better ideas for a drum beat, and [keyboardist and turntablist] Frank [Delgado] was always working in the background on his synth sounds and samples, and his parts changed a lot during the recordings.

“We laid down some of the stuff live, particularly some of the interlude pieces and intros and outros, but 90 percent of the album was recorded via overdubbing. Typically I’ll start with the rhythm guitar, to get the tuning and song structure down, but this is such a unique band that we did it in a more traditional, ’70s way, stacking things from the bottom up. So we began by recording the drums, then the bass, then Stephen’s rhythm guitars and after that his lead guitars, then Chino’s guitars, and Frank’s parts were the last to be added during the main tracking sessions. The vocals were recorded at the very end, in late Spring, early Summer 2015, and following that there was some more work on Frank’s electronic stuff, and a few more sessions with Steph for extra lead guitars.

“I recorded many of the instruments using the Neve 8058 desk and the two Neve 12-channel sidecars, so I used Neve mic pres, mostly 1073s, and some 1066s and 1089s. Abe had two different drum kits, and I recorded one with a close-miked setup with gazillions of mics, and the other with more of an Andy Johns setup, with three mics and a couple of spot mics. I tend to change mics and move them around all the time, but some general mics would remain the same — like on the multi-miked kit a Shure SM57 and Neumann KM84 taped together above the snare, a Sennheiser MD441 underneath the snare, AKG C414s on the toms, and a C12 for overheads. The kit with the three mics had three Sennheiser MD421s, plus an SM57 for the snare top, and a Neumann U47 FET, Sennheiser e602 and NS10 on the kick. Room mics could have been a pair of RCA 44BXs halfway down the room, plus a pair of Violet Amethyst mics and a pair of Coles ribbon mics, and I might also have had a Telefunken ELA M 251 as a mono room mic.

The Studio A live room at Megawatt is the main tracking area.The Studio A live room at Megawatt is the main tracking area.

“Sergio has a really unique bass sound, and he uses the Fractal Axe-FX and has a SamsAmp Bass Driver DI. I recorded his bass in different ways, from his DI going to a couple of Neve mic pres and various compressors like a Urei 1176 or a Tube-Tech, and on his Rivera sub cabinet I used a Sennheiser e602 mic, going into a Neve 1089 and a Retro Sta-Level.

“The guitar cabinets were recorded with a Beyer M160, and at other times an SM57 or a Sennheiser 421, and the room mic was an AEA R84 ribbon. The guitar sounds were a mixture of Rivera amplifiers and stuff coming straight out of the Fractal, using Palmer DI boxes, in different combinations for each song. In some cases I re-amped his guitar again later on. Steph plays an eight-string guitar, and with Sergio playing a six-string bass there’s a lot of overlapping going on, which makes it harder to mix, but also is unique. It’s part of the band trying to break a few rules.

“With Chino’s guitar it is a little different. He mainly uses just one amplifier, the Rivera Knucklehead Tre, which has certain sounds that he loves. To record his vocals I used a Bock Audio 241 microphone, going into a Martech MSS-10 mic pre, and then a dbx 160XT, which works well on his voice. At other times, particularly for the distorted stuff, he’s holding an SM58 going into the MSS-10 and a Maag EQ4 500-series. He likes to play with effects while he’s singing, so he also had the Eventide Mixing Link which allowed him to put effect pedals in his vocal effects chain. He operated the Mixing Link with his iPad, and we’d print that, and we’d also print his dry signal. We recorded his final vocals at a small studio in Oregon in the middle of nowhere, which was perfect because it allowed us to get away from everything and just focus on the vocals. I brought my laptop, a Universal Audio Apollo 8P Thunderbolt interface and the vocal chains I just mentioned.

“I recorded Frank’s stuff DI. We spent quite a bit of time at my studio working on sounds. He uses a Nord, which is his main hardware synth, and he works in Ableton a lot, and I brought in some different soft synths that I like, for example Omnisphere and a Mellotron plug-in called M-Tron Pro. He also likes to use guitar pedals on the synth sounds, making use of a Little Labs PCP Distro to insert guitar pedals in the chain, like the Electro-Harmonix Memory Toy and Holy Stain, and so on. He definitely likes to mix analogue and digital.”

Published July 2016