Q&A With Dwight Yoakam

Sep 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Barbara Schultz


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Tell about how you and Marc developed the guitar sounds on the album.

This album is probably one of the first, if not the first, times in my career that I’ve played electric rhythm. But we were fighting a little bit with the sound. At one point, we were trying to replicate something from the day before, but it wasn’t happening. I’m using a Vox AC30 and also a Fender Super Reverb throughout the album, and the lead guitarist, Eddie Perez, played through two reissue black-face Fender Deluxes. All of them have been hotrodded—with reworked tubes and transformers.

Anyway, we walked out in the room one day at EastWest, and I said, “What’s that mic up there that you’ve got for ambience in the room?” And he said, “We could pull that,” and we ended up yanking down these Coles ribbon mics and putting them on the guitars. We had played with a couple of different mics previously. You know, there’s a standard procedure for miking guitar amps that people have been doing for a long time, but Marc was willing to explore other ideas.

We took the Coles mics as a cue from The Beatles. When you look at some of the Recording the Beatles pictures, they use these mics; they look like an old radiator. From then on, that became the sound, exclusively.

I also want to mention that Robert Dixon [of Amphole] reworks our amplifiers for us. He has done wonders with my Vox, all my Deluxe reverbs, and he’s worked with us for years; he is sort of a well-known secret weapon in the amp business. He takes them to where they can go and then says, “Okay, that’s it we need to leave the amp be. Let it live there.”

On the Deluxe reverbs, I think we go for probably 20 watts rms and it ends up at about 34 or 35, but it still breaks up nicely. Same thing with the AC30 and my Super Reverb.

I heard that you introduced the original songs on the record to the bandmembers in the studio on the tracking dates. Was this deliberate—a decision to capture songs while they were really fresh?

No, it wasn’t deliberate; it was just the nature of how we were working on this album. But it did lead to finding different approaches. The song “Waterfall” is a great example. I showed them the basic song, and they sort of played along, and I said, “Well, now you’re just playing along with me. Find something else.”

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