The above image is not the actual cover art. I have no idea what the actual cover art is. I can’t find it anywhere on the internet, and I never got a copy of the album once it was packaged and given a very limited release. I didn’t even get credit for recording it in whatever bare-bones liner notes there were. My payment was a bag of funky-smelling smokable green stuff.
Those were the days.
Tyson was in a lot of different bands back in the Guys with Dicks days. One of those bands was the hardcore outfit ADHD, and one Saturday afternoon in March of 2002 I got a phone call from him asking if I could bring my gear over to his place and record the band’s live set. They’d been playing semi-regular shows for months and figured it was about time they made an album.
I didn’t really feel up to it. I had a stupid throat infection that was taking its time going away. But he talked me into it, and the music video for Maren Ord’s “Perfect” came on TV while I was taking microphones off of stands and rolling up patch cords.
Don’t ask me why I remember that. I have no idea. Brains are weird.
All I really had that I could bring with me was my mixer, the no-frills opto compressor I was using at the time, the few mics I had, and the few shitty mic preamps I had. All the instruments and amps were already there in Tyson’s basement. It was the only time I ever got to record his drum set. For whatever reason, he preferred to use my kit for our recording sessions and the few live shows we played.
I used a three-mic approach on the drums different from any other I’d tried before, with one mic for the kick drum and then two stereo overheads. It sounded pretty crisp. Or maybe “crispy” is the better word. I brought this Bellari mic pre with me I got burned on via eBay, thinking I might get some use out of it. I thought it would be easier for everyone if we recorded everything but the vocals live off-the-floor, and I needed an extra channel of preamplification to make that happen.
This mic pre was advertised on eBay as the best, most expensive stereo channel model in the Bellari line. It looked pretty. I assumed it sounded pretty too. I spent about $600 on it.
When it came in the mail, what I actually got was the single-channel Bellari equivalent of the ART Tube MP pre that was worth less than $200 new and looked like it cost about $20 to make. Better still, the tube was fried. It was difficult to turn the gain down low enough so there wasn’t distortion, and there was nothing pretty about the sound.
The seller disappeared after the name attached to his emails changed. I’d been scammed. My new preamp got thrown in a desk drawer.
I pulled it out of the desk that Saturday and decided I’d find some way to wring some useable sounds out of it by keeping the gain whisper-quiet. What came out was still pretty compressed and borderline harsh, but it made my job easier and no one else seemed to notice, so I didn’t say anything.
Welcome to The Secret Confessions of a Teenage Recording Engineer.
I’m pretty sure the guitar and bass amps were recorded direct again, the same way we did it on the Fetal Pulp album. We had some fun with the vocal overdubs when Tyson unleashed some more of his impossibly deep support screams and improvised additional lyrics to accent Mike Knight’s lead screaming. He tried to get me to add some screaming of my own. Under different circumstances I probably would have given it a shot, but my throat was hurting and I didn’t want to do anything to slow its recovery.
Yet another missed opportunity for a Johnny West vocal cameo in the last place you’d ever expect to find one.
At one point Mike offered me a swig from a huge mug of water he was drinking. I took a drink without thinking. I hope I didn’t give him my throat infection.
Though I didn’t do any screaming, I did add one creative touch of my own when I tacked on a bizarre spoken introduction, dropping the pitch of my voice until I sounded like a radio DJ broadcasting from hell. And Tyson got the idea to take a few of Mike’s screams I’d recorded separate from the music to test levels, throw them in at the end of the album after about ten seconds of silence, and crank up the volume as loud as it would go, to scare the piss out of anyone who forgot to turn the CD off.
As with SEED OF HATE, I think I did a pretty decent job recording and mixing music that was not the sort of stuff I normally worked on given the equipment I had at the time, stupid fried useless mic preamp and all. This doesn’t sound as good as the Fetal Pulp CD (the drum sound is a lot less powerful here), but it got the job done at the time.
I tried dumping the tracks back on my mixer a few years ago to make myself a copy of the album so I could listen again, but the backup CDs seem to have gone funny on me. You can at least still hear a few of the tracks on Myspace over HERE. Something to listen for: there’s a support scream from Tyson in Anthrax Envelope about thirty-five seconds into the song that’s so hilarious in the way it doesn’t quite come off, I’m a little amazed he didn’t ask me to mix it out. Maybe he thought it was funny too.