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Cities in dust
Old 25th November 2002
Gear Head
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Cities in dust

Hey Jules,

I was just listening to Souixsie and the Banshees "Tinderbox", when I remembered that you recorded "Cities in Dust." I think that record is one of the definitive records of the time - great sounds, performances, etc. I like how every song has an amazingly different drum part, most of which weren't things other people were playing at the time. Any insights about it? Was/is Budgie that good a drummer?

Old 28th November 2002
Gear Head
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Did I hit on a sore subject or something? Did you just miss this one, Jules?

Old 29th November 2002
Jules's Avatar
Gimmi a time zone break here!

I took over overdubbing late on the whole album, as they had fired the original producer. I had recorded Cities and a few other b sides from scratch at Matrix Studios London, Cities was a late addition to the album and was born from a b side sessions... the band had initially booked in to do b sides at the 'affordable' Matrix I was resident engineer at. After the first B side session the song was deemed too good a song to let go as a b side and the bands manager booked in with me to do it as a single and for me to wrap up the album overdubs.. I met no A&R person.. I wasn't an A&R guys 'idea' (a situation to follow me my whole career of making records) The manager described me as 'the only person they seem to get on with in the studio" at that period.

Budgie the drummer of Siouzsie & The Banshees was in his prime when I recorded him on that song. HE was also in possession of an AMAZING personal collection of percussion he had picked up on many world wide tours.

Simon Phillips (the session drummer) had been through Matrix studio a few months before the Banshees came in, and Simon had inSISted that his drums were recorded in what WAS the old pool table room.. (much to the chagrin of the studio owner who had to knock a hole in the wall for a multicore to pass through..) As that session turned out sounding great (well waddaya expect with him on pigskin and old' Jules on! the SSL) It just became second nature to continue using that area for my rock sessions (a lot of the other engineer cats were getting into midi & dance, I was the only 'weirdo' left working there who liked rock at that time..

Anyhow, with Budgie set up in that room (expertly I might add by his ACE rodie 'Joss' - who set up a Drum Riser(!) and tuned his kit daily) Budgies toms sound like tuned timpani, its a wonder they dont ring out so much..

It was engineer & drummer & drumkit in perfect harmony! He has AWEsome cymbals and really knew his ****.

Unofficially I was co-producer on those sessions (I got stiffed for a credit, their manager turned me down). I coached each band member through their parts often making musical suggestions or encouragement's.

My production influence on that track was,

for Budgie - to keep repeating a snare roll (I think in the pre chorus & outro choruses) that I liked and found 'hooky' and felt was something a listener could get to know and love) And also to keep doing a cool "rice-a-roni" ad (obscure 60's US TV ad reference here!)) pattern on the ride in the Chorus (I think.....)

The verse gtr part was uncertain and I helped the guitarist settle on the part I described as the sound off a helicopter gunship swooping in over low hills on attack. (he had presented me with 3 options)

Vocally I just got Sue to punch in on a few off key notes and double track parts.

Bass wise, I cant remember, that went on last but one night the band minus the bassist got a little er "merry" on wine and WE ALL HAD A GO ON BASS! It was fun! Sue & Budgie & the guitarist (and me too) all f**ked around with it..

It was during that mess around that I started to do a 'live dub cut show" by muting and UN muting mix elements slamming offbeat snares into explosive reverbs an making the kick sound like hip hop...

This proved to be an inspired 'play around' and somewhat pivotal for the bands US notoriety.

You have to appreciate that at that time credible indie guitar bands 12 versions of singles, were usually just lengthened versions..with extra solos etc.. Here was their rather junior engineer, cutting up live a Hip Hop version! It clearly unsettled them at first, but as things progressed, it dawned on ALL of us that the track REALLY leant itself to a Hip Hop / dance mix (not re-mix with midi **** - just a dubbed up mix like my 'jam')

I think what may have really put the icing on the idea was my (insane) Idea mid 'dub run' , with Budgie thundering away on bass, to stop the 2" mid song, slam the transport into edit AND DO A LIVE HIP HOP STYLE"SCRATCH" (in rhythm to the tune) rocking the two reels back & forth across the head then slamming the 2" transport back into play, all without dropping a beat.


(boy was that a reckless & stupid thing to do with a master tape!!)

And so a dance mix idea was born. I also created a 'signature sound' for the 12" by phasing the signal feeding a Publison Infernal Machine set to (ambience???) that I gated in a hip hop stylee on the drums.,

Unfortunately the mix escaped me, I tried on several occasions at a few studios but was brushed aside (quite rightly) and it went to a fellow far my senior, Steve Churchyard, who did a great job with it. He called me for instructions on how to set up my "secret sauce" 12' phased drum sound, it was mixed in Air Studios Oxford St on an old Neve.

Thanks for asking!

Old 29th November 2002
Gear Head
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Thanks, Jules - I wasn't trying to be pesky, but I put up the post a few days back, and since no one had replied to it, it was drifting out of visible range on the board, and I didn't want it to go away.

The amazing thing for me about that record, is that it was, in some ways, a total reflection of a lot of the 80's aesthetics sound-wise - highly effected guitar sounds and quite a bit of digital reverb - but at the same time, it was pretty different than most of what was out there - a dark, solidly gothic record that had a ton of great playing and melodic ideas on it (something a whole bunch of the 80's artists weren't known for).

Thanks again for the post - I got way more than I asked for!

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