Those of us who grew up in the era of tape machines are all too familiar with some of the things that the Foos willingly put themselves through. First of all, especially back in the 8 track days, you didn't just go for a good drum track when recording basics, the whole band had to be spot on before you moved on. This lead to a lot of takes.
As Grohl says in the article:
“I am no stranger to tape,” Grohl says. “Call me dumb, but the simple signal path of a microphone to a tape machine makes perfect sense to me. There’s not too many options, and the performance is what matters most.”The good part about this is you're forced to make decisions while you're recording. You get the sounds, the arrangements and performances that work up front. As a result mixes go faster because you don't have so many options that you can get paralyzed.
But not everyone agreed with Grohl’s “analog only” rule. “The first song we recorded, we get a drum take and Butch starts razor-splicing edits to tape,” Grohl recalls. “We rewind the tape and it starts shedding oxide. Butch says, ‘We should back everything up to digital.’ I start screaming: ‘If I see one f**king computer hooked up to a piece of gear, you’re f**king fired! We’re making the record the way we want to make it, and if you can’t do it, then f**k you!’ Nobody makes us do what we don’t want to do. ‘What if something happens to the tape?’ ‘What did we do in 1991, Butch?’ You play it again! God forbid you have to play your song one more time.”
The other thing is that mixing becomes a performance in itself. Before console automation (which started out only on faders and mutes), you'd get as many people from the band involved with the mix, all with a specific assignment as when to move a fader, or a mute or a send at a specific time. Just like playing, you did it over and over until you got the part right. That made the mix much more of a performance and gave it a much more organic feel.
According to the article:
Everything was mixed with all eight hands (Grohl, Vig, Brown, and mix engineer Alan Moulder) on deck, riding faders in real time to tape.There was something that was very pure about those times that's been lost in these digital days. Bravo to the Foos for turning back time if only for one album (it's a great one, by the way).
Read the entire article here. It's long and goes into a lot of depth about how they did it.
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