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First Impressions of Earth, Compressors, & EQ’s.
Old 24th November 2020
Gear Maniac
SamPura's Avatar
🎧 15 years
First Impressions of Earth, Compressors, & EQ’s.

Hey Gordon.

Thanks for doing this Q&A. Your work with The Strokes is literally the most important educational tool in my production career. I have learned and constantly learn new things and reference the material on a weekly basis. I could go on and on. Thanks for all your work.

I have just a few questions for you.

1. What is the story with First Impressions of Earth? How involved were you with the process and what was your experience with making that record?
2. Any sort of go to mix bus or drum bus or channel compressors in general used throughout the records that you could elaborate on?
3. What are you favorite types of EQ’s to reach for? Any areas you find yourself preferring to cut and or boost on certain sources?

Thanks so much Gordon!
Old 24th November 2020
Special Guest
Gordotronic's Avatar
🎧 10 years
1. hi! Long long (1 year-ish) story short: I built a studio in The Strokes rehearsal room in the Music Building on New York's West Side. Equipped it with everything I ever liked and some stuff I never owned before: Chandler Germanium, Teletronix LA-2A, Telefunken V76, Amek BC2, Distressors, and the usual suspects microphones. (one was a vintage mic with Vincent Gallo's name etched on the side )

They got off tour for Room On Fire and my job was to help them record demos as they wrote the songs that would come to be (much later) First Impressions. It was a very different band, maybe a little more grown up?- than the first two albums... and they seemed very serious about trying to find new songs they all liked. For me it was hard because many days I was just on call, and had many days off, and not so many days actually recording.

When the demos were done they brought in David Khane to work alongside of me, and within a couple months-- with a few songs partially recorded (the ones with my partial credit on!) they decided they wanted his expertise and sound on the album, and I was let go. Thats it in a nutshell! Suffice it to say that David Khane, with all due respect-- approaches and conceptualizes recordings and productions in a very different way than I do.

2. When people were really talking about out of the box mix processing (say 2009) I bought a Thermionic Culture Fat Bustard 12 channel (tube) summing mixer, Smart Research SSL compressor type C2, and a Cranesong HEDD 192-- thinking this was gonna change my life. For a few years and a few projects I really did use that, and my artists loved it, they thought it really made their sound much better and cohesive. I soon realized that I didnt really need to use that gear, as my two or three good mastering engineers were able to do all that in the Mastering process, with more care and expertise that I had. Im a good mixer, engineer and producer, but mastering is mathematically and scientifically way beyond my mental, philosophical and scientific resources!

These days I put a UAD precision limter on the mix bus, only when I'm bouncing down something for my artists to listen to, and make sure and remove it before sending it in for mastering. Thats just my solution!

On the other hand I always (these days!) make a parallel drum bus and put a UAD Distressor on one of them, or UAD LA2A. Then balance out the compression ratios, and the blend of the two channels depending on the mood of the song.

3. Eq's: yeas there are a small handful I use religiously. Almost always EQ after recording, except on some rare occasions. Pro Tools stock 7 band EQ totally works, UAD API 560 graphic EQ is always magic... I noticed it when i first ever tried it... u just open the plug in, and whatever channel its on, even without adding any EQ, just sounds better already. That being said, I use it mostly on bass guitars, and guitar busses. UAD Sonnox Oxford EQ is very cool, and I use it frequently, as is Wave R-EQ, a nice clear clean plug-in. I have a vintage Neve 1074, and I sometimes use the top boost for some vocalists, the smallest amount possible-- and my Avalon 737sp, I use the EQ on that very creatively to sculpt sounds and transform sounds into weird things... crazy vocal sounds, radio voices etc... also can use that EQ to make a bass guitar sound fat as can be.

The thing I eq most often is a kick drum after its recorded, I add a low end hump, and a push upwards around the high frequencies that allow the beater to cut thru a wall of guitars and heavy bass. I cannot tell u precisiely where those humps are, as I just do it by sight and sound, not the numerals.

Hilariously, and many engineers look at me funny for saying this... I rarely "cut" with eq, as in take away sounds, I almost always add eq to boost frequencies! Go figure.
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