Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson
GOTH-ROCKERS BRING IN ELECTRONIC STYLINGS FOR SELF-TITLED OUTING
SEND IN THE BAND
Lee’s piano work is all over the album (she’s classically trained, with serious chops); she also added all sorts of electronic keys work, including a Roland RD700X and various soft synths. Additionally, Chris Vrenna (of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson fame) contributed a plethora of electronic sounds and textures that were added in once the instruments and most of the vocal tracks were in place. This, too, was part of the original vision for the album.
“I don’t think there’s less than 30 to 38 pairs of stereo tracks of electronics on every single song,” Raskulinecz comments. “It’s little parts and noises and ambience; more synth, lots of low bass. This album has a massive low end. I introduced Amy to the Moog Taurus [analog synth bass] pedals, which is one of my favorite pieces of gear ever. Rush was famous for that, and I was instrumental in bringing those back into their sound [when I produced them]. They didn’t even own any of that stuff anymore when I got involved with them. Anyway, we put that all over this album.”
Balsamo and McLawhorn played multiple guitars through a wide assortment of amps, large and small, including Marshalls (2250 and JCM 800), AC-30s, Bogner Shiva and Uberschall, Buddha Superdrive combo amps and others. “We have our own little secret amp collection, too,” Fig teases. Favorite guitar mics on these sessions included Shure 57s (ol’ reliable), FET 47s, AKG 441s, Mojave Audio MA-100s and Sennheiser 421s—“combinations of those going across four amps,” Fig says. “For some overdubs we had an MA-100 and MA-200 and a [Neumann] 87.” Adds Raskulinecz, “This isn’t one of those records were there’s layers and layers of guitars. Amy plays a lot of cool piano parts on every song so that took the place of a lot of guitar-style overdubs. Instead, we tried to make the guitar parts really interesting within themselves so there didn’t have to be a ton of them. We were real conscious about that.” The piano parts were recorded to tape, using multiple mics inside, a PZM on the floor beneath and AKG C-12s farther away.
The last part of the recording process was adding David Campbell’s lush and evocative string parts, which were cut at Avatar Studios in Manhattan during two intensive days of sessions. And that, friends, puts us at well over 100 tracks for most songs. “To play one song back, we had to have two Pro Tools rigs and a tape machine,” Raskulinecz says. “We completely maxed out the first Pro Tools rig with just the band—guitar, bass, drums, vocals, piano. Then there was another Pro Tools rig that had all of the programming and electronics and some of the strings on it. And then there was a Studer 24-track chasing with all the rest of the strings on it.”
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Finally, the avalanche of tracks was sent to veteran engineer/mixer Randy Staub (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Motley Crue, etc.), who has worked on several previous projects for Raskulinecz. Staub mixed the record at The Warehouse in Vancouver on Studio 1’s SSL G Series console. Ted Jensen mastered the disc at Sterling Sound in New York City. “He crushes it every time,” Fig says admiringly of Staub. “It always comes back from Randy sounding bigger than life.”
Which is exactly what Amy Lee wanted from this album. That, and to project some of the fun she and the band had making it. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of brooding goth-rock textures on this album—there are. But as she told Spin magazine in the spring, “This has been a long trip and parts have been hard. But it’s about not taking everything so seriously this time.” Even so, “Writing with the band and working with a heavy rock producer has made it more of a rock record.It’s Evanescence but with all these new sounds.”
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