Matchbox 20 Archives - Recording Studio Rockstars

Tag Archives for " Matchbox 20 "

RSR053 – Matt Boudreau – Working Class Audio Podcast

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

If you dig the show I would be honored if you would subscribe, and leave a rating, & review in iTunes.

RSR053 - Matt Boudreau - Working Class Audio

My guest today is Matt Boudreau, a producer, recording, mixing, and mastering engineer from San Francisco. Matt is also the host of a fantastic podcast that you should be listening to called, Working Class Audio where he interviews many top studio professionals.

His 34 year career path started out in New Mexico before moving to San Francisco in the 80s as a drummer in the bands The Sextants and Seven Day Diary, where he was first introduced to making records with great producer/engineers like Larry Hirsch, Joe Chicarelli and Gil Norton sparking his interest in recording.

In 1994 Matt began his journey to the "other side of the glass" when it came time to trade in his drum sticks for faders. And since then he has worked with a great number of artists in the studio including: Steve Earl, Brett Dennen, Matchbox 20, Shawn Colvin, the BoDeans, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Tori Amos, Florence + The Machine, World Party, Thomas Dolby, The Jayhawks, Ziggy Marley, The Samples, Joan Osborne, Civil Wars, Sarah Bareilles, and George Thorogood to name just some of the credits. Wow!

And on his podcast Working Class Audio you can find all sorts of great episodes with stellar guests like: Dave Fridmann, Niko Bolas, Al Schmitt, Brian McTear, Jim Scott, Larry Crane, F Reid Shippen, Eric Valentine, Kim Rosen, Warren Huart, Joe Barresi, Michael Beinhorn, Sylvia Massey, and Vance Powell. And those are just some of the past guests.

Though we’ve only just met, I am psyched to have my “brother from another podcast” on the show today.

Working Class Audio

Working Class Audio

“Sometimes as a player you graduate to these plateaus. You don’t consciously try to do it, but one day you can do something that you couldn’t previously do. And you have this realization, you think oh okay I've been playing all these years and something feels different.”

Matt Boudreau

The Sextants

The major band that I was in that meant a lot of me was The Sextants. It was a band that was formed out of the ashes of punk band out of Southern New Mexico called Manson Family Christmas. When MFC broke up The Sextants formed, we all moved to San Francisco. We were like Mamas and the Papas meets X with a heavy pop influence and that’s where I met Larry Hirsch. The reason I left the band ultimately is because we had a manager who was a weird guy. Terry Ellis was the president of the label that we were on which was Imago Records. He called us out to Connecticut where he sat us down to lunch and said basically you either need to fire your manager otherwise we are going to drop you because this guy is just not good for you. My bandmates didn’t see it that way and I was in disagreement with my roommates on that so ultimately we were dropped. In spite of everything I’ve learned over the years I still am on the same page as Terry Ellis for that one. Even though we broke up, we still continue to make music with each other to this day.

"Life if short. Take advantage of the time you’ve got, get in the studio, get stuff done, enjoy yourself.” -@Matt_Boudreau

Click to Tweet

How do you Capture a Great Performance in the Studio?

I think when you’re mentally present and you’re not distracted by the outside forces of money or personal strife or relationship strife. When you have control over the outside things that are very important, I think it allows you to relax in the studio and pay close attention to what’s in front of you rather than being like, oh god as soon as I get done with this session I have to go and make a credit card payment so they don’t ding my credit report. It’s small weird details like that I think that can play people and they don’t really think about it too much because it’s just a part of their day to day life. Something on the outside, some external force that is creeping into your mind as you're doing the session, I think it manifests itself through you and can affect the people in your session because you behave in a particular way. When you remove those things or have those things in check, you can be relaxed, you can be yourself, and you can get out of your own way and let things happen naturally. When that happens, I think that people get the best of you ,and you help bring out the best in others and it just becomes a reciprocal thing where everybody kind of builds up a teamwork kind of fashion that allows us to make great records

Are there Typical Routines that Allow you to get in the Mindset?

On a day to day level long ago I learned to keep a calendar. I’m kind of a late bloomer and for some of these things I think details like that. Details like that didn’t creep up into my life until I realized I had to get my shit together, so keeping a calendar and knowing what’s going on in your life, keeping your finances in order so you don’t stress about that and those are the bigger picture things. On the small detail level before a session I always think through and have conversations with the artists and say okay what is it that you’re trying to achieve? I will go through the instrumentation on paper and layout a potential mic setup just so I am mentally in the space where I get all the technical done beforehand, then when I get into the studio I have a game plan so that we can just play.

“When I pursue things because I truly enjoy them, the money always comes later” -@Matt_Boudreau

Click to Tweet

What makes a Great Mix?

The great mix is in the ear of the beholder I think because let's face it you play a mix that you think is great that you did for any other engineer, of course they are going to say, “Oh yeah, that’s cool.” Of course they aren’t going to say, “Yeah, I would have done it differently.” So if you take that element out of it and quit trying to mix for other engineers and you just mix for emotion and for what the artists wants, I think that that’s a good start. Too many times, as many of us have done, I’ve focused on the wrong things. You think oh I’m going to do this because all the other engineers are going to like this, well that’s the wrong position to be mixing from.

Jam Session 

Q- What was holding you back at the start?
A -Access to equipment and then that changed because I started to work for a Pro Audio Sales company and I was able to borrow equipment over the weekends.

Q - What does recording look like to you today?
A -For me after going through various experiences over the years, my primary thing that I do now is mix and master out of a room in my house that if you saw it, you’d love it because of it’s oddball shape and sloping ceiling. But when I do track, I’m a freelancer. I will asses out the budget for my client and their aesthetic and what’s important to them and I’ll present them with a range of options

“You gotta keep your cool and see it from their perspective, you cannot make it about you” -@Matt_Boudreau

Click to Tweet

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?
A - There’s technical advice and there’s career advice. I used to work out of this guy’s studio, and old friend Buddy Salmen in San Francisco. I used to bring bands there and record. I remember in my early days there Buddy stand by me and would making these hand gestures telling me about how I should make my mix super deep and super wide.

Q - Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
I think for me concentrate on your monitoring set-up. I think that is key. I think that wherever you’re mixing, make sure your monitoring environment is dialed in. These guys I came across, the Sonar Works people, they make a room analyzing plugin combo that allows you to take a room and find out what the strengths and weakness are from an EQ perspective and it creates an inverse EQ curve that’s applied to the back end of your mix to take those anomalies out of your mix that you might be adding to your mix based on a funky room

The great mix is in the ear of the beholder I think” -@Matt_Boudreau

Click to Tweet

Q -Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
 I’m not a giant audio file person, but I do own a pono player. I was one of the early kickstarter people, I got a Willie Nelson signature pono player. I love bringing that in and make it so that depending on the type of music that we’re doing and the type of band I’m working with, I like it when they show up and I’ve set the mood with some music. Most of the time with rock records and americana records, you can’t go wrong with some old Stones, ya know? People come in and you’ve got that playing and you’ve got things set up and the lights are done the right way and you’ve got the room laid out, people walk in and go, “All right! Let’s go!” They get excited.

Q -Share a favorite software tool for the studio
One thing I really rely on in a session is Google Docs, the spreadsheet section. I’ll set up the session in a spreadsheet as far as instruments and what it's miced with, the outboard gear, all of those details and then I pull it up on my phone. So the google spreadsheet along with my phone at a session, especially when it’s just me doing all the setup becomes an indispensable tool.

“I now mix in Studio One from PreSonus which is to me one of the great rising DAW’s” - @Matt_Boudreau

Click to Tweet

Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - I’m going to do the shameless thing and plug my own podcast. On my podcast that is a major thing that we talk about. On my show I’ve got a recommendations page and I like to point people to things like tools & books that I find helpful to build the bigger picture because recording is more than just some mics and DAW, all the gear, that’s one part of it. Those are the tools that we use but there’s a lot of other tools I think that help with the mind and the mindset, the outlook. I like to focus on the big picture of all of this stuff together and I think it all influences each different thing in the chain or the spoke on the wheel, whatever different analogy you want to use.

“Get your feet wet. Starting screwing stuff up and making mistakes because that’s how you learn” - @Matt_Boudreau

Click to Tweet

Q- If you could go back and give yourself advice for when you were starting out, what’s the single most important thing you would tell yourself about becoming a rockstar of the recording studio?

A -  You know I didn’t come up through the stereotypical studio chain, I didn’t intern, I always tell people I helicoptered in from the top, but I think the things that took me many years to learn might have been condensed if I had to focus on being an intern or being an assistant and learning from a mentor. I think having a mentor of some type is really crucial. If we had time machines and i could go back, I would meet up with myself and say, “Look, you need a mentor and you need to be a gracious student.” I think that as a result of being a self taught engineer it’s just taken me longer than it has the average person.

Twitter - @Matt_Boudreau

Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!

RSR042 – David Thoener – ACDC For Those About To Rock

(Press play on the green strip above or listen on iTunes with the link below)

RSR007 - David Glenn - The Mix Academy

If you dig the show I would be honored if you would subscribe, and leave a rating, & review in iTunes.

RSR042 – David Thoener - ACDC For Those About To Rock

My guest today is David Thoener, a multi Grammy winning producer, engineer, and mixer with a true rockstar list of credits to his discography. In fact David made many of the records that I grew up with that help define rock music for me.

David started his career in 1974 as an assistant engineer at the Record Plant in New York City, and learned his craft creating Aerosmith "Toys In The Attic," Bruce Springsteen "Born To Run," David Bowie "Young Americans," John Lennon "Walls and Bridges," Electric Light Orchestra "Face The Music" and Richie Blackmore "Rainbow Rising."

David then moved on to engineering and mixing records in 1976, and has since enjoyed a thirty year run of hit records including classic records for AC/DC "For Those About To Rock”, John Mellencamp "Little Pink Houses", John Waite "Missing You", all the hits from the J. Geils Band, Matchbox 20 and many others.

In 2000, David won two Grammys -- Record of the Year and Album of the Year -- for recording and mixing "Smooth" by Santana featuring Rob Thomas.

David has mixed hit records for Jason Mraz, Faith Hill, and Sugarland, and has made records all over including South Africa, Sweden, Australia, Mexico, and Japan to list a few.

I am very lucky to be able to have this interview in person since he lives right here in Nashville TN. Please welcome David Thoener to Recording Studio Rockstars.

There are no rules, it's whatever sounds good. The way that you create something, there are no rules on that. It might be the most crazy idea in the world, but if it sounds great and it works... then it works.

David Thoener

Thoughts on Recording Schools Today..

​With all these schools now, a lot of guys that are going to these schools think that they are going to walk out of school, and going to sit behind the board, and going to be working with Jack White on his next record, and that’s just not going to happen. It never has happened that way! Every place that I would go when I would deliver these packages, I would fill out an employment form... I’ll clean the toilet for you, I’ll do whatever. Persistence and luck. And I have to say 50% of being successful in the music business and especially as an engineer is luck. It’s being at the right place at the right time, or some musician that you’ve worked with in the past, that just happens to say to another musician, “Hey, you’ve got to work with this guy. He’s really good, I think you’ll like him.” Then all of a sudden, it happens. It’s getting those relationships together. I want the listeners to realize that you just don’t walk out of school and walk into an amazing job.

Do you see similarities for music releases now vs back then?

Acetates in those days were not to be used for manufacturing purposes, they were just used to take your record around, because every A&R guy and every label had a record player. They didn’t necessarily have a tape player. Acetate was the medium they would play your music on. So I would cut acetate discs of a couple of songs for artists and I would make tape copies. They would take those acetate discs and tape copies around to different places like RCA and CBS. It was hitting the pavement and walking around and trying to make appointments with A&R guys, and sitting down, and they would put your record on, and then give you the thumbs up or thumbs down. And then you’d walk out of there and go to the next place!

Really the consumer is the winner now-a-days. As opposed to an artist or the people that are in the position of making the record, because you have iTunes now, and iTunes takes a fairly decent percentage of the sale of your single. I don't even know what some of the sites like Spotify and Pandora pay. I mean you're paid pennies, to my knowledge, on the amount of records downloaded.

I think there are more one hit wonders these days. There are a lot of bands that I listen to on some of these streaming mediums that I think ‘man that’s a really great song!’ I’ll check out the record and I’ll find several songs that I like a lot. And I would normally become a fan of this band, but a year goes by and they’re gone. I find that more these days. I guess it’s a combination of being able to go in and do a record way, way less expensive than it used to cost, so the bar is lowered. 

“Believe in yourself. You really do have to believe that you can make a difference" - David Thoener

Click to Tweet

This J Geils Sound is sort of an introduction to the 80s sound. It seems like there were more effects happening on those records?

I have to credit Seth Justman, the keyboard player. He took over the production reigns on a lot of those records and Seth was into interesting sounds. He had a keyboard with a pitch bend on it, one of the first ones. We were more into delays than reverbs. 

Recording and Mixing AC/CD's
For Those About to Rock 

The drums were cut at the rolling stones rehearsal cavern. It was 20 min outside Paris. We used mobile 1 as the record truck because it was a big empty stone room.The drums were recorded by Mark Dearnley. He ran out of time. He had another commitment to another producer, so they called me up to finish the record. So I came in and finished guitars: rhythms, leads and vocals.

To get the most amazing guitar sounds (they weren’t into layering) we used Neumann's 87’s with a pad so close that they were almost kissing the cloth. That was the mic that got the tone they were looking for.

The AMS-RMX for mixing For Those About To Rock. AMS gave me a prototype of that unit. That’s part of the snare sound, the other part was taking the eventide pitch control and it had a feedback. So we would take the snare down an octave and turn the feedback up.

What advice do you have for us about mixing vocals?

It's the exact thing I’ve been doing for 42 years, I do exactly the same way now as I did back then. Every singer sounds different, right? So, some people say the Telefunken 251 Elam is my favorite vocal mic and I record everyone on that. But one size does not fit all. So what I’ve done since the very beginning, unless you've worked with the artist before and know what they sound good on, I get four different microphones that I have an intuitive from listening to them sing acoustically in a room I’ll choose four that I think will be most appropriate.

If I have an opportunity to use a 251, I’ll put that up, if I have the opportunity to use a Neuman 67, I’ll put that up. I’ll usually use some sort of Audio Technica, sometimes something like an SM7, sometimes a 414. I mostly lean in the condenser direction as opposed to the choice between dynamic, condenser, or ribbon. Ribbon might work for certain sounds, but it's a little bit darker and fuller.

So I’ll have them all lined up and all coming through the board flat. I’ll go through and get gain structure, no compression, very simple. I’ll have the singer sing the first verse and the chorus because naturally the chorus is going to be harder sung than the verses. They’ll try mic one, mic two, mic three, and mic four. And I’ll invite them into the control room to listen to the four mics, I want them to have a say. If it makes you really happy, then we know which mic to go with and clear the other three.

“Manual mixing. You had to use a console like you would a keyboard” - David Thoener

Click to Tweet

What are great go-to strategies to make our mix come together if you’re in the box?

There are some great plugins out there and I’ve been mixing in the box since about 2007. Analog tape retains a signal and has a bump around 60 cycles in addition to a saturation quality. But aside from the bump and roll off that you get from a tape machine, it’s supposed to just faithfully playback what was put into it.

I really just want ProTools to play exactly what I put into it, and that’s what it does! The Opticom XLA3 that was offered by Plugin Alliance. I downloaded the trial and put it in to level match to other plugin I was using. Theres a quality to it that I really dug. It has a swtich that you can go fast, normal, or slow for compression times. The drums just felt like they were alive.

I like a lot of the new slate stuff. If I have to get a quick rough mix together, I’ll throw that on between the equalizers and the compressors. You can go through and get things ball-parked really quick. I love the McDSP stuff. The equalizer is like a multi-band compressor but it’s a multi-band equalizer, works just like a multi-band compressor.

Last thing I want to mention is that new Abbey Road Plates that came out about 4 or 5 months ago. Download the trial and try out reverbs have always been the hardest things to try to get to sound (in the digital domain) like they’re in the analog domain. Their echo chambers and rooms sound real. The Oceanway emulation sounds amazing too. P2 audio has a convolution reverb that has different theaters. Try all the trials! See if you believe it's something that can help you.

“When I go into making a record, I go in 150%”  - David Thoener

Click to Tweet

Jam Session 

Q - What was holding you back at the start?
A - Really nothing held me back, I knew what I wanted to do. I had a mission. I just had the focus in mind of getting there as fast as possible, whatever that took.

Q- What was some of the best advice you got early on?

A- Back when I came into this business and was assisting some amazing engineers, nobody gave me any advice. They were all very guarded about how and why they did stuff. Honestly, I got no advice. Possibly some bad advice even.

I was thinking about buying some gear back in the 80s. Especially when Record Plant went out of business in ‘89, there were some amazing gear that was going for like nothing. They were telling me, don’t buy the 670 fairchild for like $1,000 because if I’m paying you, then don’t think I’m going to pay for your gear as well.

“I’m always trying to record the end result at any moment” - David Thoener

Click to Tweet

Q- Share with us a recording tip, hack, or secret sauce.
A -  1 .Research the band. If they don’t have a record out, go to some live shows and get an idea of what they’re all about. If they have records out research the previous records and make yourself familiar with everything about them

2. Always check your mix in mono! I realize everything's in stereo, but there are phase issues that you won’t necessarily hear in stereo, but you will hear in mono. So every once in awhile hit the mono button and see how your mix folds down into mono.

3. Another cool trick, especially for expressive rock stuff. I personally like to pan my guitars. With your two rhythm guitars, pan one left and one right. I’m looking to get them in balance in the mix. I’ll balance them in stereo and monitor them in mono. Naturally they are going to drop down a level around 3 DB or so, while in mono I’ll raise them to where they are balanced with the drums and the bass. When you go back to stereo, they are kicking your ass.

4. Unless you’re using compression for an effect, I would use compression on the record side to control the guitar, the bass, or the vocal but not to a degree where you can hear it. Pop it in bypass, in and out, and if you can see that the compressor is doing its jobs without hearing it when you pop it in bypass and then back in the circuit then you’ve reached a good spot to stop right there because when you get into the mix mode you can always compress more.

5. As far as getting the low end right on a mix, know your speakers. Take records that you’ve done prior, and when you’re trying to get your bass sounds, you can always use a reference song to see if your mix is close to that. I use a lot of high pass filters a lot of times even on bass, even if it's just taking out 25 cycles. I always try to get my kick and bass to work together so that my kick drum is accenting all the notes the bass is playing together.

“I mix in a DAW all the time now” - David Thoener

Click to Tweet

Q - Share a favorite hardware tool for the studio
 If I’ve got one, an ELAM 251 Telefunkin microphone, which is very hard to get.

Q - Share a favorite software tool for the studio

A - I think going back to what I already covered the Opticom, the new Slate stuff, the new McDSP stuff, new Abbey Road Plates.

Q -Share with us a tip for the business side of the recording studio

A - For all the rockstars out there, it's very, very important to save your money because this business is feast or famine. At one time you’re the hottest guy in town and you have one gig after another and you think, ‘man I’ve arrived. This is my life for the next 30 or 40 years. I’m just going to do every great record out there.’

Don't ever think like that. Even the best artists, the best engineers, the best producers, the best mixers will have ups and downs, this is 42 years for me and I can think back to the 80s where I would be off for two months and I’d think oh shit it's over, but I was always saving. So even when I’d hit those periods of 2, 3, 4, or 5 months where I would not get called, I never had to worry about paying my rent. I didn't live a high lifestyle, I kept it and I knew every month if money was coming in or not, I could pay my rent and bills.

“A great record is a great record. It doesn’t really matter what medium its recorded on.” - David Thoener

Click to Tweet

Q - If you had to start over what gear would you need? How would you find people to record? And how would you make ends meet while you got started?

A - It’s almost like that desert island question. I’m a huge believer that a lot of the gear doesn’t necessarily matter. If I was in a situation where I had 10 57s and Altec mixer and a two track tape recorder, I’d make it work. So your imagination is the guide for that one. Finding musicians. It has to do with relationships.

Go out to clubs and try the best you can to meet the guys after the shows over. If you’re able to get access to a studio you can mention to them you’d like to go in at their convenience you’d like to go in and record. That’s hard to do because even recording digitally costs money.

Q - What is the single most important thing a listener can do to become a rockstar of the recording studio?

A - Listen to other bands and other genres as much as possible. As much as I kinda hate the concept of Spotify and Pandora, I hate the fact the artist and people involved in those records aren’t seeing the money that they once saw. At the same time, these different streaming means have become great for the public. It allows me to listen to things my peers have done or a lot of amazing new bands I can find. There’s so many great sounds, they’re inspiring! It gives me ideas, so when a mix comes up I can draw from something I’ve been a fan of. 


Big Thanks to Tyler Cuidon & Merissa Marx for this week's episode!!