Mudcrutch Records Debut in Tom Petty’s Rehearsal Space

May 6, 2008 5:38 PM, By Matt Gallagher


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

photo of Mudcrutch

From left: Benmont Tench, Randall Marsh, Mike Campbell, Tom Petty and Tom Leadon

On April 29, Reprise Records released the self-titled debut album from Mudcrutch, a country-rock band that originally formed in the early ’70s in Gainesville, Fla. comprising Tom Petty (bass), Benmont Tench (keyboards), Randall Marsh (drums) and guitarists Tom Leadon and Mike Campbell. Having succeeded in Florida, Mudcrutch relocated to Los Angeles in search of a record deal and national recognition, but disbanded in 1975, giving rise to the formation of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, with a nucleus of Petty, Campbell and Tench joined by bassist Ron Blair and drummer Stan Lynch.

In August 2007, Petty was inspired to reunite Mudcrutch at his Los Angeles rehearsal space, The Clubhouse, for informal jam sessions that quickly evolved into recording sessions when Petty and Campbell found that the band’s chemistry was working. Because the band felt at ease and played well in The Clubhouse, they decided to remain there in their rehearsal configuration to play live and record an album’s worth of songs—a mix of covers and new songs written by Petty during the sessions—instead of booking a studio.

Veteran engineer Ryan Ulyate, who has worked with Petty since Petty’s 2006 release Highway Companion, was asked to record, mix and co-produce the Mudcrutch project along with Petty and Campbell. Ulyate faced a logistical challenge in setting up the tracking sessions in The Clubhouse, where the band’s setup mimicked The Heartbreakers’ 2006 touring setup, employing wedges and a Digidesign VENUE board. Ulyate brought in his Pro Tools recording rig and consulted with Digidesign’s Robert Scovill—Petty’s longtime front-of-house engineer—on integrating the live and recording setups, and devising the final signal chain. The stage mics served as the recording mics, while Ulyate added a few more Neumann mics and recorded the band live without headphones.

Following the April 29 Mudcrutch CD release, Reprise Records plans to release Mudcrutch on vinyl and on an “audiophile” quality CD—derived from the same uncompressed stereo masters as the vinyl pressing—sometime during the summer.

I spoke by phone with Ulyate about the unique but rewarding challenges presented by this project.

It’s interesting that Tom Petty decided to reunite Mudcrutch and record an album with the band.
I think what happened was, one of the things we worked on last year was the Running Down a Dream documentary [see Blair Jackson’s “DVD Watch” review], and Tom had been working on that for, I think, a couple of years with [director] Peter Bogdanovich, and I actually went back and remixed a bunch of material for the DVD documentary. And I think in the course of doing the interviews, he started thinking about it and just said, “Hey! Why not get these guys back together?” And I’m sure glad he did because it was just great.

The album was recorded in 10 days—all 14 songs. What determined that schedule?
I think it was more an idea of, let’s start playing again and see what happens. I got the call from Mike Campbell that they wanted to do this, and he said, “Well, we’re thinking of just recording it in The Clubhouse, and not doing it in the studio.” I figured, okay, they want to do a real rehearsal—not really a recording session with headphones, but a band rehearsal where they’ve got wedges and [they’re] in the same room, as if they were rehearsing for a tour or something. I think that was part of the design of doing it there, just finding a place where everybody felt comfortable and they had the time to hang out, tell stories and reconnect after all these years.

We rigged up this system where we had one of those Digidesign VENUE boards as a monitor board, and then all the audio was actually passing from the stage racks through a Pro Tools rig, half of which was going to my Pro Tools D-Command board—I set up a little control room in a room off to the side—and then the rest of it just passed through to the monitor mixer. Basically he was mixing monitors and at the same time I was in another room mixing what I thought would sound like a record.

We were monitoring it as we were going. Every so often I’d solo something just to make sure that there wasn’t too much of something else in it. Everyone kept the levels pretty reasonable, so we didn’t have a problem with it. It’s not complete isolation, but if you’re going for a complete take, then you don’t have to worry that much about isolation, because it’s not like, “Oh, gee, that drum is going to bleed into something when we get rid of it.” But we’re not getting rid of it, so it’s okay.

It worked so well [that] the first day, they came in and we cut three songs, and those three songs are on the album. And that night I made them rough mixes, and they were listening to those songs on the way into rehearsal the second day.

It was a very cool way of working, because it got the band out of the mode of thinking that they were in the studio. So because of that, they ended up recording a live album—a live-in-the-rehearsal-room album. And I think that’s what made it such a good album, because they had to make it happen there.

Mudcrutch CD cover art

Sometimes that sound that comes from the wedges and all that stuff adds a little bit of excitement to the thing overall and gives it more of a feel. So, in this case it was manageable and it helped the vibe, and it made the band play as if they were playing live—they really went for it a lot more than if we were doing [studio] tracks.

The other thing that was really cool about it was they did it in their space. They were in their environment. If Tom [Petty] wanted another guitar, he’d just point to [crew chief Alan “Bugs” Weidel] and say, “Hey, give me that Rickenbacker, the 1959 up there!” I think the fact that they were in their element also made them a lot more comfortable, and also affected the final result.

Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95



Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.