Make It Hot: An Interview with Producer Dave Sardy

Dave Sardy is a rare bird in the world of rock production: a virtuoso on both sides of the glass. As the leader and producer of the groundbreaking New York post­-hardcore trio Barkmarket, he mined not only new depths of heaviness and lyrical potency, but also managed to capture some unbelievably vivid and powerful sounds on tape. His work as both an artist and engineer/producer is unmistakable. For a taste of what I'm talking about, check out "The Visible Cow," the first song on Barkmarket's 1996 album, L Ron. The song, which goes from a boombox intro into a wide-screen apocalypse and back again, is a tour de force of studio chops and skill. Quite frankly, it'll blow your socks off, as will the rest of Barkmarket's formidable discography. 

 

These days, Sardy's resume is stacked with artists he's either engineered, produced or mixed (or all three), including Helmet, Slayer, Marilyn Manson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down, Dandy Warhols and Bush. He recently mixed the new Supergrass record, Life On Other Planets, which has been getting rave reviews. I've interviewed Sardy several times over the last decade, and it's always a good time. I sat down with him again one recent evening at L.A'.s Steakhouse studio, where he was producing the band Revolution Smile for Flawless/Interscope. 

Last time I talked to you I think you said you were building a studio. 

Well, I've been looking at places around [Los Angeles]. I've been trying to find an old room. L.A'.s the perfect place 'cause there're so many failed studios here from like 1975. I've looked at some crazy old places. 

 

Like a [Fleetwood Mac] Rumours-era type studio? 

Actually, for [the Revolution Smile] record we tracked where they made Rumours, at Sound City. It's fantastic. It's in Van Nuys, in the middle of nowhere. It's one of the best sounding drum rooms on the planet. They haven't changed a thing since they built the thing in the early '70s. Nirvana tracked "Smells Like Teen Spirit'' there, all the Tom Petty records were done there, Heaven Tonight by Cheap Trick was done there, REO Speedwagon. It's crazy. It's not a hard sell to get people out there to record. 

 

So what would you want to do if/when you get a room together? Would it just be a place where you could mess around, or would you want to do sessions there? 

You've just gotta have a room. It's killing me. I had a room for almost 13 years in New York and it got torn down. You just need a place to go and have fun. Sometimes when you're making a record you just want to put the brakes on, give everyone a chance to go regroup. Or the singer can't sing, he's freaking out. You know, when you're locked down in all these expensive studios, the clock's ticking. I had a classic situation the other day. I was working on a record and the singer was complaining. Usually I try to make the studio feel like it's your bedroom - I'll spend like a day just tricking it out so that it feels like a fun place to be. I hate going into a studio that feels like a dentist's office. But with this singer it was the first time I've ever been confronted with someone who was like, "It feels like a bedroom, man. I want it to feel like a studio." 

 

Was there any kind of defining moments that made you decide to get deeper into recording?

I was playing in all these bands that were touring and going to "recording studios" to make recordings. My second band, we saved up all our money to go make a recording. And I just remember fighting with the engineer, saying, "Take the reverb off the snare, it sounds weird. It's not what we want," and him just saying, "Shut up, kid, you don't know what you're talking about." At that point, I kind of promised myself that I'd never go back into a studio until I knew how to operate everything myself. That was kind of a defining moment for me. 

 

Would you say that recording the Barkmarket stuff is how you really learned to engineer? 

Sort of. I was the house engineer at Harold Dessau in New York. I was their house engineer for about 5 or 6 years. It was kind of like an 8 and 16-track place, but they had a Neumann 87 and a couple good compressors, a Teletronix LA-3A, and a good wood room, which was kind of the key. So I always went in there with the approach that we were making a record, even if somebody thought we were making a demo. And I eventually wound up bringing a lot of people in there to make records, but it was not a professional studio. I didn't even know what a second engineer was until I had one assisting me. I was laughing hysterically. 'Cause you record your own music your whole life and then go to a professional studio and suddenly have this Second doing everything for you - it's so easy. I was like, "I don't have to plug the mic in? This is awesome." One of my first "professional" jobs was when I was hired to mix a record by this band Trouble, this kind of wild heavy metal band that sounded like Sweet or something. They flew me out to California and I had to ask a friend of mine, Greg Gordon, how to align a tape machine. I remember sitting in the hotel on the phone with him writing down how to align a tape machine, 'cause I had no idea how to do it. Still to this today I don't know how. You can probably tell if you listen to any Barkmarket records. 

 

Working on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' One Hot Minute is kind of what took you to a whole new level as an engineer. You met the producer of that record [and owner of American Recordings] Rick Rubin, when he signed Barkmarket. But how did you come to start engineering records for him? 

Rick is really talented at picking out people who can make records. He heard the records that I made on. 

my own and was like, "Why don't you make records with me?”

 

What did he hear that you'd done? 

[The Barkmarket album] Vegas Throat. Rick just has mad skills. It's ridiculous. He's got: the ears of a 13 year-old boy. He hears everything the way you would hear it if you were hearing it for the first time, every time. He's amazing like that. He's usually doing three or four albums simultaneously, just jumping from studio to studio, from the second he wakes up until 4:00 in the morning. 

 

When you were working with Rubin, did he give you a lot of latitude as an engineer? 

His thing is that you either get where he's coming from and you continue to work with him, or you just don't get called to come back. If a sound is close but not what he wants, he'll give you direction. But for the most part, you just have to keep making it great, and then if you make something great, he'll always have something to say about it. If it's not great, he'll just say do it all over. [laughs] I haven't really done as much work with him as people think. After the Chili Peppers' record, which took a year, we didn't do a record together for about five years. And then I came in and mixed the first System of a Down record. Sylvia Massy [Shivy] had engineered it with Rick. I think they had just gotten ... it was insane how much work they did on that record. Everybody was just like, "Aaagh!" That happens a lot in the studio - you work on something for five months and just finally say, "Somebody else just please take this off my hands." It's actually kind of an easy thing to do, to just kind of come in at the end of the process and go, "That, that and that -boom." And even the band will often say, ·okay, fine," 'cause they're so fed up with it. That's the art: To keep your perspective in the studio. You have to find ways to trick yourself into doing it. 

 

How do you do it? 

I do it by not engineering, so I'm not as involved in getting the sounds as much as I was when I was a lot younger. I'll just work with really good engineers - Greg Fildelman and Greg Gordon are two guys I work with a lot - and they know the kind of things I'm going for. We'll hang out together, but I'm not dialing up sounds. So it frees you to think about the 'playing and the performance and the sonics and that kind of stuff. The song is way more important than the guitar tone, unfortunately for the geeks. For the geek in me, it's much easier to sit around all day playing with a guitar tone than it is to put together a great song.

 

Even though you're now a producer, I think many people still regard you as an incredible engineer, because of your work in the past. Do you feel like the uniqueness of the sounds that you've gotten over the years has been lost because you're using an engineer, instead of doing it yourself? If so, does that matter to you? 

No, because I don't think that's what people want from records at all. They're not looking for me to go in and put my unique sonic spin on it. They're looking for me to help them figure out what their spin is. Producing is a totally different job. If I was making a record for myself I'd probably get way different tones than I would for someone who's trying to make a record for a major label, or even for an indie or whomever. What I'm trying to do when I work with a band is to figure out what they're going for and help them get there, not getting them where I am. 

 

How do you reconcile the desires of major label reps - who usually want hits with your own aesthetic and approach? That's not to say that your approach and theirs are mutually exclusive, but I can't see them being the same every time. Surely you must get calls from A£R people asking you to make things sound a certain way. 

You'd be surprised how much that doesn't happen. That's the art of the job: You're kind of the communicator between the band and what they're going for, and what the audience is going to respond to. And you have to do that, unfortunately, through the filter of people who work at record labels and radio. I've found that in dealing with everyone - the band, the manager, the publicist. A&R, and the president of the label, if you're lucky - as long as you make it great, everyone's excited. I only take on projects that I think can be great, that have something about them that's already great. I just totally believe that if you make something awesome, people will get it. You know, Air managed to make a huge impact on people, but if you'd brought that to a major label, they would've been like, "What the hell is this background music?" But they make phenomenal records. Sigur Ros - phenomenal records, records that impact people and have a life of their own. I'm always trying to push it toward that kind of thing. That's why I've never taken on a band that I'm just not attracted to at all I can't see squeezing out an album of, you know, 7-string guitars and Cookie Monster vocals. Even the System of a Down record - I heard that record as like a Dead Kennedys record. That's what I heard when I first listened to that. 

So you don't ever feel compromised, like it's your aesthetic versus the aesthetic of the label, or that there's a mandate from the label about the sound of a record. 

Usually what happens in that case is that you get fired. If you're not making a record that they think they can sell, you're off the project. Labels have no sympathy. But like I've been saying, if you make stuff that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, most people are going to get that. I only take records where I like the music. 'Cause I'm gonna have to sit and listen to it all day long, 12 hours a day, for 3 or 4 months. At Harold Dessau I spent years sitting in a room listening to horrible music played by people who had no chance of going anywhere, asking me, "So what do you think? Do we have a shot?" [laughs] I just can't do that anymore. But it is an art dealing with the big record companies. I've come across so many actual music lovers, some of the more old school people working at labels, and some of the older A&R guys - the people who've overseen all of our favorite records. And if you're lucky enough to work with those people, there's plenty that they can teach you. You can't always say, "Labels are dumb, and A&R people are idiots." That's not the case. Rick Rubin is a great example. He was the first record company president that I ever met and the guy could care less what radio people think. His attitude is, "If it's great, it's gonna work." End of story. He's not saying, "Is it right? Is it now? Is it today's sound?'' 'Cause if you try to make a record with today's sound, by the time you get it out "today's sound" is yesterday. So you need to try to make a record that sounds timeless and great, always. Otherwise, you're gonna have a dated record before it even comes out. 

 

So how do you make a timeless record? 

For me, I think it comes down to not using a lot of effects, and not using the current, trendy sound effect· approach. Like digital reverb in the '80s - everybody was screaming that you had to use it to make stuff sound great. Or now with Auto Tune on vocals. 

 

What's your opinion on analog versus hard-disk recording? Do you use digital? 

I use my ears. [laughs] If something sounds better coming off the computer I'll slam it to tape and see if sounds better coming off of tape. Everything usually hits tape at some point throughout the life of the record. I'll usually track basics on analog and then dump it all in the computer. Some records it's all analog, some records it's all on the computer. It depends on the band, really. The thing is, analog recording colors the sound in a way that's a lot more pleasing to the ear than digital recording. Digital recording might sound more glossy, or brighter, or some people may hear it as "better." I was just talking to this tech today about Pro Tools HD, and I asked, "How does it sound," and he said, "Oh, a lot better," and I said, "What does 'better' mean?" Your version of better and my version of better can be two totally different things. To me, an answering machine distorted and turned up to 10 sounds awesome. That's a great sound to me. A perfectly pristine, super-bright, plenty-of-overtones ride cymbal with rivets - I could care less about that sometimes. Most of the time I'm more concerned with a warm, crunchy, gurgling intestinal sound - and that usually comes from analog. I love home recording. My approach is, "Let's use the demo on the record, or let's make the demo the whole record, if it sounds cool" I've recorded in a 48-track studio through a 4-track Tascam mic pre, just to get that sound, 'cause I knew that was the sound I wanted. But, generally, analog colors the sounds in a way that's really great and digital colors it in a way that I don't think is that great. And analog is a lot more idiot-proof than digital recording. With digital recording, the problem - and I just ran through this on a record - is that with analog, if you record quietly, all you're doing is adding hiss. With digital, if you record quietly, you're getting a 4-bit recording, as opposed to a 24-bit recording. The quieter you record, the less actual sound you're recording. You have to record all the way to the top to get the most out of the actual recording. So if you record things quietly - because you're not paying attention and watching the singer accidentally set fire to the lounge curtains, while the bass player's rocking out, getting the best take of his life - it's gonna sound shitty. And there's no way to make it sound better. 

 

I think most people gravitate to digital for its editing capabilities. 

It's hard, because it's so easy to do it with a computer. But I couldn't imagine editing on Pro Tools having not edited tape for years. I've come across this with people who learn Pro Tools instead of learning analog recording. They don't really know how to put a record together or how to construct the recording. In a professional context, the way that you approach recording with a computer is great - if you know how to record. One of the problems with Pro Tools is that you've got a lot bands who can't play, who would never have gotten record deals, or even had a shot at being a musician, 25 years ago. You're really pulling the wool over the audience's eyes if you're making a record into this incredible thing on Pro Tools, and the band can't play a note. 

 

You blame over-EQing for many bad sounding records. When tracking, do you strive to not have to touch the EQ when you eventually start mixing? 

If you’re lucky enough to have a great mic patched into a great mic pre, recording a great instrument, you probably won't have to EQ. But there's usually something in the process, whether it's a mic cable, or a bad guitar amp, or a blown/cheap mic, that spoils the brew. 

 

There's a characteristic sound to all of the records you've worked on. Basically, it sounds like everything has been just slammed to tape - the signals ·are super hot - but it's all crystal clear and shimmery. What's your secret? 

That comes from simplicity, classy equipment. That bell finally went off in my head, when I first went into a real recording studio, having come from Lo-Fi Land. I took a classical recording class when I was in school. And in classical you only get one shot, so it's all about mic placement. And that really helped. Mic placement is huge. There are plenty of theories, like, "This is the correct place to put the microphone," but I don't necessarily buy that. I think you need to just use your ears. But using your ears is so subjective - you have to know how to create a good listening environment, which means a good power amp and a good set of speakers and a good room, etc. It's complicated. But, in general, I'm always just trying to make stuff loud, even when it's quiet. Using really good compressors -each one has a different sound to it. I've been lucky enough to have learned that over the years and collected a lot of those things. 

 

Have you used any particularly great mic'ing schemes lately? 

It's funny, my engineers always put up all these mics and I always end up asking them to take them down. Especially with drums. 'Cause I'm always more concerned with the one great mono mic on the drum kit than I am with all the mics combined. You do need to have a certain amount of mics on the kit, depending on what kind of record you're making. Any time you make a record for a major there's a chance that someone else might mix it, so you have to give them the raw materials in terms of how many drum tracks, etc. you lay down. But for the most part, I'm concerned with individual sounds being great. 

 

What's a piece of gear that you just can't live without? 

Probably LA-2As and 1176s. Neve mic pres. They go around with me everywhere. LA-3As I love a lot. They're all really smooth compressors that really color the sound. I tend to like the older stuff 'cause it colors things in a more gritty way, as opposed to the new stuff which can be a little generic. Distressors are cool, but they're really just trying to be old compressors. I had a bad Distressor experience. I mixed a record from a band -and it's a great record, you probably know it. But the band recorded the whole record themselves, and they tracked everything through the Distressor on the "nuke" function, which has the same attack time. So what you get is this little blip at the beginning of every hit, where the compressor is biting into it. And the blip is louder than the sound. So you add that up onto 18 tracks and suddenly there's a downbeat and there's this explosion of blips. I was like, "What the hell is that?" Everything was piling up, with all the same attack time. 

 

And they didn't notice? 

No! So, please: When you're recording with a Distressor, record different things at different attack times. That's the key. 

 

Tell me the story of how Barkmarket's 'The Visible Cow" [from the album L Ron] was recorded and mixed. Because out of all the amazing recordings that you've engineered and produced, I think that one song is your tour de force. 

And the funny thing is, it was a total reaction to me having to be a proper engineer for a year. Because I recorded the Chili Peppers album before that. I came off that record and I couldn't care less about how things were supposed to be done, so I did everything wrong. I never checked the alignment, I went through four different machines. I'd just put the tape up on a machine that I could get on for an hour, and just not check it. So everything about that recording was done the wrong way, with total abandon and disregard for the "proper" way to record. It was a mess. For me, when you're in the studio and you find a problem, the worst thing on the record becomes the best thing on the record, because you have to find a way to make the problem go away. And sometimes the best way to make it go away is to make it the loudest thing on the record. A classic example would be the first Stooges record. You hear them tell stories about that, like the drumming was so bad that they decided to only turn the high-hat mic up at mix. And then you hear that record and the drums sound insane, and you're thinking, "That sounds cool," when, in fact, it was because the drums sucked. So it's always something like that. So, to me, putting yourself in a circumstance where things are gonna go wrong, is gonna make you make an interesting record. I would pretty often go in the studio with Barkmarket, setting myself up for things to be wrong, and then have to figure out later how to make them good. For "The Visible Cow," I recorded myself on a boombox with just slide guitar. I did a whole version of the song that way. And then I recorded one with the band in five different studios, and didn't like any of it. Then we ended up cutting things together, almost in a "Strawberry Fields" way, like, "I like the intro on this," and "The verse on that sounds good." The problem is that the demo was so great that we didn't think we could do better. Luckily, we had the time to keep working on it until we beat it. But if we hadn't had the time, we would have just put the demo on there, for sure. 

 

So, getting back to the song, how did you make those hard-left and right­-panned dive-bomb guitars sound so incredibly massive? It sounds like there's about 50 tracks of that guitar.

There's two, at most. I think there was one channel close-mic'd and then a room mic or something. It's just a Silvertone guitar with a fucked-up tuning. It's also played through a little tiny amp. Depending on the type of record I'm making, I have a collection of a bunch of little 10 and 15-watt tube amps. They tend to sound way more huge than any kind of big amp is going to sound. They have a huge low end and a 5-inch speaker. On "The Visible Cow" I was playing through a Paris Corporation amp that I bought for $5 in Michigan. But when you crank it, it sounds huge, like a screaming banshee. 

 

The whole song – and all of Barkmarket’s records – sounds like it was mastered super hot. It’s REALLY loud.

It was mixed pretty loud, too. [laughs] I mixed that record twice, I didn’t like the first mixes. The thing that I would do – and this is the other thing that was cool about American and having Rick sign us – was that they signed us for no money. We got such small deals from them. But from our point of view, we’d make a record for under $5,000. Because all the producing and engineering were done for free. I was producing enough records that I could get the studios to toss me some free time every now and then. They’d call me and be like, “The weekend is free, you can have it for $500.” And I’d be like, “OK, let’s go in and record 3 songs.” It was all stooged together. And the drums were all recorded at Sound City.

 

That’s another thing I wanted to ask you: On the Barkmarket records, the drums are often the loudest thing.

And I’ll make a case for that. The two main things that you walk away from on any record are snare and vocals. The snare sound defines an era of a record. If you listen to a record, and you listen to the snare sound, it will tell you when that record was recorded. In the ‘50s it sounded like a box of Wheaties, in the ‘60s it kind of like a smack, in the ‘70s it was trying to be like a drum machine – all gated and tight – and in the ‘80s it was all gated reverb. So the snare sound really is the sound of the record. So between that and the vocal – which is the personality of the record – that’s pretty much the essence of the album. So the snare sound is pretty crucial. Whenever I’m making a record with a band for the first time, it’s hard because they’ll get frustrated when I say, “Hold on, the snare’s dropping.” And they’re like, “Who cares?”, but if you want a truly amazing sound, you need to monitor that kind of thing. Someone will ask me, “How was work?”, and I’m like, “I walked around with a handful of water all day trying not to drop it.” Recording drums can be so tenuous. Everyone reading this will know what I’m talking about. It’s there for a moment, and you have a glimpse of how incredible it can be, and then the drummer’s hand moves to the right and it all goes to shit. You wanna kill the guy. It’s a rare thing to find a drummer who can play to the mics. You cannot make a bad drummer sound good; there’s no compressor, there’s no magic room, there’s no button. The wonderful thing about recording for years and years is that you get to the point where you know that’s what the problem is. You will start to think it’s you, it’s the room, it’s the tunings, and you start to think you don’t know what’s going on. It’s the fucking drummer, I guarantee you. [laughs]

 

I’ve read numerous comments from artists you’ve worked with and they all say the same thing: “Sardy kicked my ass, but no one’s ever gotten better performances out of me.” You have a reputation as being a taskmaster in the studio.

DS: Oh, yeah, I’m glad. Who told you that? I’ll kill ‘em!

 

So you’re obviously not afraid to mix it up with the artist in the studio, and push them beyond their usual comfort level. But how much is too much? Are you a fan of having bands do multiple takes, one after the other until they get it right?

Part of what you’re doing when you’re recording is putting everyone under the microscope, and the results are permanent. When you first start working with a band, you’re testing the waters. You need to be thinking, “Well, does the drummer start getting good at the 10th take, or is he good for two takes and that’s it?” And sometimes you only know that by pushing people to their ultimate limit, and realizing, “OK, here’s the wall.” Because some people and some artists, you get to that wall and suddenly unbelievable shit starts happening. But if you just say, “Well, I don’t wanna bother anybody, I don’t want to test the limits,” then you never get there and you never find out. I did it to myself, and I did it to my band. I was just laughing at this rumor about how evil I was to Rock, the drummer in Barkmarket, when we were recording “The Visible Cow.” Apparently, I was merciless, and we spent three days trying to record the drums to that or something. And just yelling at him and waking out of the studio in a huff. Anyway, sometimes with an artist you have to ask yourself, “Are they going to get better or was that it?” And if that’s all they’re capable of, then you need to figure out other ways to get what you want. Without naming bands, some people just won’t do more than one or two takes. With some other bands, take 12 might the one. I don’t think I’ve ever run, like, 20 takes of a song. That would only be if nobody knew how to play the song, which would be the Bush case. [laughs] There was a great quote from their guitar player after a second take: “My part was good, why can’t everyone just record over my stuff.” I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So, anyway, yeah, I agree that I’m a bit of taskmaster. One of the problems with ProTools is that you’ve got a lot bands who can’t play, who should have never gotten record deals, or even had a shot at being a musician 25 years ago. You’re really pulling the wool over the audience’s eyes if you’re making a record into this incredible thing, and the band can’t play a note. Sometimes, though, what you get is a band that’s gonna be great, but isn’t great yet, and just haven’t lived that life yet. Hundred Reasons is a great example. When we went to make that record, they had a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, and they were really, really good, but had never sat down to try to make a record before. So it was hard. But it ended up being incredible and they’re selling out venues and people are dancing all night. You can’t fake that, it’s not on tape. You need to set the bar really high for people so that they have something to shoot for.

 

I read something from Gavin of Bush where he was talking about you getting in his face about lyrics. Is that something you often do with bands?

Oh, yeah.

 

Because it seems that there’s kind of an unspoken thing between many engineers and producers where it’s like, “The lyrics are the singer’s domain. I’m not going to go there.”

That’s bullshit. [laughs] My approach is, “I’m the first audience that’s going to hear this record. And I’m telling you, that’s a dumb lyric, and if you sing that over and over again, I’m turning if off.” I’m the muso-art critic dude that you want to like your record. But I’m also the kid who just likes to bang his head. I want to make records that I would be influenced by if I was a kid. And having written lyrics for years in Barkmarket, I know the process that goes on. And also the cheats that go on when people write lyrics, when they run out of ideas. Sometimes, as you’re working on a song, and you’re going through it, you can almost see where the person gave up. And you can say, “If you just go an inch further, it won’t read like you gave up. You’re an inch away from something really cool here.” If the band isn’t up for it, they’ll say, “I’m not up for that,” and I’ll say, “Well, maybe I’m not the right person for the record.” I think lyrics are really important. [Marilyn] Manson’s lyrics were pretty amazing. He had a novel, as well as the album. He had so many lyrics. It was really cool to go through his lyrics with him, and work with him on them.

 

[looking up at adjacent studio] I just realized that this jackass next door has been doing vocal exercises for the last half hand hour and it’s driving me nuts.

That jackass is my singer, and I’m making him do them. [laughs]

 

Oh…oops. You put singers through that stuff?

If they need it, yeah. If you don’t warm up…think about it. I had a classic conversation with a singer. I was telling a guy that he wasn’t approaching the note the right way, and asked him if he’d ever done any vocal training. He said he hadn’t. Then I asked if he knew any of the theories behind it. And he said, “No, I just do what I do.” And my response to that is, “Well, you don’t just learn guitar by picking it up, you don’t just invent chords. At some point you’ve got to learn some basics. You just have to.” If you don’t know anything about singing, you’re going to wreck your voice and be useless after 6 months on the road.

 

What’s the extent of pre-production that you do with the bands that you work with. Do you strap on and rock out with them?

Oh, yeah. Some bands want that, other bands are afraid of it. You kind of have to feel it out with the band. For the most part, most bands want someone to evaluate their music and push it. The thing to realize is that it’s better to have someone doing that in the rehearsal studio when no one’s around, than to have the press do it, or no one doing it, because no one cares about the record. I usually do 2-3 weeks of pre-production with a band, 5 days a week. We’ll run the songs, try ideas out.

 

Is there anyone that you’d like to work with?

It’s hard, because there are people that I’m a fan of, but I don’t always want to work with people that I’m a fan of. Like I’m a big fan of Portishead and Massive Attack, but I don’t know that I’m right the guy for the job.

 

Both of those bands have are distinctly un-rock, and somewhat electronically based. Is that an area that you’d like to move into?

I’m a big fan of vibe records. And it’s pretty hard to make a rock vibe record, an album that puts you in a vibe from beginning to end. I love making those albums, but those records usually take a year and a half of messing around, and I think I’d go ballistic after awhile.

 

So what have you done lately?

I  produced and mixed the Dragpipe record, produced and mixed the Campfire Girls, mixed the new Supergrass record. That record is going to blow your mind, it’s incredible. Right now I’m working on this Revolution Smile record, and then I’m producing a band called Serefin from England.

 

Tim Scanlin edited and published the Berkeley-based SnackCake! magazine from 1994 to 1998. He now does A&R for Rhino Records in Los Angeles, and plays in Actionslacks.

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