Paramore Comes Back Rockin’ on New Album

Apr 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Blair Jackson


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dlG: The way we tracked this record was kind of on a song-by-song basis. So, for a song like “Ain’t It Fun,” we had all the drums tracks. Then we tracked the bass, and the next day or two we tracked the guitars and then we’d do the vocals and then whatever remaining overdubs we had—synths or percussion or whatever. We occasionally would revisit a song to add a guitar solo or some other small thing later, but for the most part we did it one song at a time from start to finish.

That was a really fun way to do it, because you’re able to complete the picture of the whole thing sonically and see how things fit together. We refined our approach and our work flow, and we found the amps and sounds and microphones and setups that were really working, so by the time we got to the last few songs, we were on a quick workflow and knew exactly how we would move forward.

With all that layering, there must have been a lot of tracks on some songs.

dlG: There were. Some of the deeper ones are in the low 110s, for some of the biggest ones, but that’s including all the stereo keyboard tracks. If you have, say, five stereo keyboard tracks, things start to add up. And then there are the voices—doubles and harmonies on a lot of songs—and the string section, gospel choir… it adds up quickly.

Other outboard and plug-in choices.

dlG: On the analog side we used the board EQs and the board pre’s almost exclusively—either the DeMedio API [at Sunset] or JMJ’s [API] 1608. We used a lot of Distressor for guitar and bass compression. For keyboards, Justin loves running the synths through the A-Designs Ventura 500 series mic pre’s—he used a pair of those almost exclusively.

On the “commercial sheen”:

JMJ: I suppose some of that comes from the way I like to treat vocals, coupled with the way I like to layer synths and the way I like to do poptastic little gimmickry, because I get off on that stuff. But thankfully it was never a case where those things were done as some sort of desire to pander, or a requirement from up on high [i.e. a dem, and from the record company]. It’s just we wanted songs to have fun, poptastic, sometimes dance-y, sometimes very deliberately classic or fun references to certain ’70s or ’80s things, or certain recent pop conventions we dig. We weren’t afraid of that. It was very light-hearted and fun in that regard, in terms of those production values. Paramore can sing and play as well as any band that exists in the world, so anything that we did as window dressing was fun for us to listen to.

Who are some of your production influences?

JMJ: Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in the studio with Nigel Godrich, with Joe Chiccarelli and with Rick Rubin—all very different from each other. Those are three guys I would consider myself strongly influenced by. That said, because my experience as a musician is so varied, I’m really open to what the overall sonics will be when I produce, in that I don’t want to impose a signature or some conservative methodology or routine on it. I’m a chameleon by nature so I like to do it newly every time I do a record.

There are other producers and engineers who have influenced me and I couldn’t tell you exactly how, but I’m open to it. And certainly my experience with Trent [Reznor] and [Nine Inch] Nails affected me. But I separate those influences from being in the moment and trying to figure out what a record requires and what is singing to me in a subliminal way as being its core or it aesthetic heart.

I don’t think I have a very identifiable sound or style yet. A lot of what I did on the M83 album is quite personal, and that stuff—especially in keyboard world and the way I do programming and the way I do arpeggios and pads and lines—that’s a very constant through-line through Neon Trees, Tegan & Sara, Crystal Fighters, M83 and Paramore. But in terms of the overall sonic picture, I think I haven’t discovered what it is yet, and I’m really willing for that to continue to evolve. It’s also influenced by who is helping me mix the record. All five of those are different collaborations between myself and the mixer.

In this case, Ken Andrew is an old friend of mine who I have known almost longer than anyone in the music business. He’s part of the excellent modern rock tradition. I really enjoy the punch and tightness of his mixes. Here, though, it was the band and the label who decided on Ken, after a shoot-out, and he ended up being a perfect partner.

Was the band involved much in the production?

JMJ: Yes, they had some firm ideas about production. You know, people think of them as sort of modern rock punk-pop, but their influences run much wider and deeper than what their output has shown. And that’s part of what attracted me to the band in the first place. Among them they have a lot of taste that’s divergent yet similar amongst them. Jeremy, Taylor and Hayley all had unique ideas they brought to the table and usually there would be no dissension among the three of them. They work really well together and they’re all respectful of each other, which is always great to see.

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