Recording Mike Mangini's Drums for Dream Theater's album "Distance Over Time"

Recording Dream Theater's "Distance Over Time"

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We speak to Dream Theater recording engineer Jimmy Meslin about his early years working with the band as well as the sessions, recording techniques and gear behind their latest record, Distance Over Time.

Photos by Matt Schieferstein

James Meslin traces his relationship with Dream Theater back to 2013. As they started work on what would become their self-titled record, the band decamped to Cove City Sound Studios in Glen Cove, New York, where James was the house assistant engineer. James was put on the sessions and quickly built a strong rapport with the band. By the end of the record he was known simply as “Jimmy T”.

As the band released the album and took it on the road for a tour cycle, Jimmy was working his way into the role of Chief Engineer at Cove City. When the band returned to Cove City in 2015 to start work on The Astonishing, Jimmy's talents were requested.

Having now worked on two albums with the band, Jimmy’s strong work ethic and obvious talents lead to him being invited out on the road. Initially put in the role of playback tech, Jimmy’s main responsibility was overseeing the sync of the show and all that that entailed. As the tour wore on, he became more involved with the audio department, doing everything from cable running, to miking John’s rig to helping with PA hanging.

Fast forward a few years and Jimmy finds himself deeply involved in the early stages of planning for what would become Distance Over Time.

Dream Theater Engineer James

The HUB: Let’s talk about the latest record, Distance Over Time. What was the preproduction process like?

Jimmy T: The initial conversation was a phone call from John (Petrucci) and he had mentioned that he was interested in doing an Airbnb vibe with the band. Something along the lines of, “We just want to go away. We don't want to be thinking about equipment and gear and what it's sounding like on the other side of the glass. We want to just set up in a room with our stuff and write music, and document it enough to then flip over and record it.”

It was a new experience for me with them. I mean, something like that is an approach I would do on the daily with local bands, or just bands that aren't Dream Theater-level. So John called me and says, “Can you shop options?”

Because John knew that I had done something similar previously with my own band (Time King), he asked me what were some of my considerations when I was planning it. Fortunately, I had hit this learning curve. “Okay, we’re going to be loud, but these places probably aren't going to be soundproofed.” So, we need somewhere that's on a couple acres of land. We need to be in an upstate (New York per JP’s request) vibe, in a barn or ranch; something just off the grid a little bit. We need a big room. We need to make sure that there's enough bedrooms. Etc...

So, in researching facilities it came to a point where I had to say myself, “Every Airbnb that I'm finding that's going to work for them is pretty much the equivalent cost of a high end studio. We might as well just go into a real room.” But then, one random Google search pinged up this place, Yonderbarn, and it was marketed as a “creative space”.

This spot had a house on the property, and it had a barn that was repurposed as a recording studio. It had since been disassembled, sold off to a new owner, and there was no equipment in the space, which is unfortunate, but was ideal for us at that point.

Yonderbarn ended up becoming the one and it could have not been more perfect. It was 800 square feet on the floor in the barn, high ceilings, plus a kitchen, some basement storage for some cases, and an upstairs control room that actually functioned as Mike Mangini's bedroom for the writing process, which was really funny. So, the plan was to go in there in June, and they would write for I think six weeks or so. Whatever the original number was, it was more than what they ended up needing. The idea was we would just go in there, they would write and record basic demos, and most importantly just be a band made up of good friends. At this point, we intended on going to a properly spec’ed studio for final tracking.

We had planned to go into Cove City Sound Studios (where I started and we had recorded previously) in August but the band was ready to record just after July 4th. I called the studio owner, Richie Cannata, and I told him the schedule's being bumped. Unfortunately, they were booked out for July. So I’m thinking, “Oh man, what are we going to do?” That's when JP called me and asked, “Hey, can we just do it here?” And I said, “Yeah, we definitely can.” But we had no real recording equipment.

The HUB: Were you recording at all during the songwriting process? Was there a mic up in the room, or something more?

Jimmy T: So, the thing about Dream Theater is, yeah, we can go low-scale and DIY, but it's always going to hit a certain level of production. The band had ended up purchasing a Behringer X32 Compact, which is just a 16 local inputs, expandable digital mixer, which can be expanded up to 32. We kept it at 16, because my whole mentality was, “If the option's available, they're going to take it. We’re going to come up with odd lines we don’t really need, and it's going to lose the vision.”

So, I was trying to keep the bird in a cage a bit. Set the limitation, and that means your initial instinct of what you wanted to do will be what it is. So, we went in with 16 channels. I put four mics on the kit, just shoved a Beta 91A into the kick drum, put a Beta 56A on the snare drum top. I used KSM 32s as overheads, but they were kind of in an interesting position because Mike has so many toms to get coverage of and given his cymbals are so high, you’d totally lose those drums if you set the mic’s as high as his cymbals.

The HUB: Looking at Mike’s kit, you’d really have to approach overhead miking totally differently, wouldn’t you?

Jimmy T: Yeah. So for the demo only, because we weren't close-miking the toms and things like that, I ended up putting the overheads in an AB position, kind of right over the toms, like right over his back toms. Tom 5 and tom 6 are the outside toms of his wraparound, from left to right. The mic’s lived pretty much directly over those toms, with slight directing towards the snare drum to keep the center image and the phase aligned as best as I could. The cymbals themselves are so loud that they came in fine. I took one aux line for metronome that Mike controlled.

We took two bass lines, just direct out, and then a wet signal, which was a line out off of whatever bass head he was using at the time. He had a whole wall of bass heads, and he was jumping around, and patching effects. So, the DI was always clean and the amp line out captured any FX used.

Keyboards were a sub-mix through the Radial Key-Largo. Everything he had, maybe three or four keyboards, plus a laptop he’d experiment with all summed down to two lines into the desk.

And JP was right off the built in cab clones built into his Mesa with an additional line for his piezo, so there it was three lines into the desk. And then every guy had a talk-back mic. That went into a sub-mixer, so that came up as one line. And then James LaBrie had his own mic line so I could put a bit of verb on it, and if he had vocal ideas, he could come through on it.

Behringer actually has a really cool system. They have the P16 mixer in tandem with their Ultranet (audio-over-ethernet) technology (P16-I, P16D), so everyone had a 16 channel individual mixer, which is great. Everyone could mix themselves. Everyone had a headphone mix, and then JP had an additional P16 that he could mix his wedges off of.

We would multi-track, so I set up a template in Logic, which is the DAW most user-friendly to the band. So, it was 16 channel multitrack, and then a two-track sub-mix/rough mix of that, so that they can hear things back directly into the console, into an aux input. I set up the Behringer so that the band could easily listen back to what they had tracked and once they approved their whole arrangement and performance, I would take the multi-tracks. I would bring everything into Pro Tools and upsample to 96kHz, knowing that I was going to record the record at that.

From there, I built a session template. I’d remix the demo, send over a more hyped 2-track and print stems of each player within the session. If they approved the song, it was great. If they had edits, they would go back to it, and they would send me new information. I'd slot it in, and once the arrangements were done, they'd move on to the next song.

The HUB: Were you doing this just in case you wanted to use any of this stuff for the album tracking?

Jimmy T: I was doing this because I knew that once we were headed into the studio, we were going to need to say, okay, let's record drums. No time for additional pre pro. This way, I could mute the drum stem, but retain the whole band and the click track's there. If they want to jump to the chorus, no worries as I’d already be markered and metered and tempo mapped so that we're ready to go.

I was working remote at this stage. I set them up, and then I went back to Long Island, and I was working on my rig. I would go up every week or so and check-in. Matt Schieferstein, another member of the Dream Theater team, stayed up there as their production coordinator, to help the band operate through the day.

Once everything was complete around July 4th, and we had agreed to record the album up at Yonderbarn, that's when I had to change gears and go, okay, well, there's 40 tie lines on the floor to the control room, but we have no equipment. So, I disassembled and transported my entire studio; computer, pre amps, processors, converters, patch bay, mic’s, even my Argosy desk. From there I made a Pro Tools super rig, combining my system and the band’s system. Then I brought in every single pair of speakers that I owned and they owned, their Lynx Aurora converters and made a studio out of the empty control room. Oh, and I made a call to my buddies at Rupert Neve Designs and sE Electronics to finish off the mic and pre amp package so that we could capture everything properly.

Dream Theater's gear laid out at Yonderbarn

The HUB: At this point, was your gear selection process informed by a specific sonic approach, or was it just, “I like working with these microphones”? What was the thought process?

Jimmy T: So, I had the benefit that some of the puzzle pieces were there. Mangini owns a touring mic package with Shure, so, you know, you're thinking about six toms, four octos, spots on everything. I’ve seen a lot of people come in and try and experiment with different microphones to use on his kit, and time and time again, we've come back to the Beta 98s on his toms. The lower ones, like the open-bottom gongs and stuff like that, usually you go to a Beta 52 or something. But he owns that stuff, it works in the studio, it works on the road. That stuff I wasn't concerned about. So, he had a Shure package which was great. We have that, that's in the bag.

John uses Mojave mics and Royer mics on his guitar rig. That was something that we took with us from past experience in the studio, carried on to the road.

So there were things in place where we had some stuff, but we were missing some choice microphones. You need a solid set of room mics, overheads, etc. You need some flavor in there that you can't expect a band to own, because they have to think about, “Well, if we're going to invest in something, let's get full use out of it.” They're not running a studio, they're running a band. So, if they’re buying something, it’d be nice to be roadworthy as well. So, I needed some of those choice tube mics and ribbon mics that are built for studio capture.

I’ve had a long-lasting relationship with sE Electronics going back to 2013. They shared distribution with Rupert Neve Designs, who I’ve also built a relationship with over the years. So, I made the call about this project and said, “I need some choice mics, and I need a ton of preamps.” They jumped right on it, and hooked me up with the Rupert Neve Designs/sE Electronics microphone package. They gave me a stereo pair of the new RNT Tube Microphone, stereo RN17’s SDC mics, and a stereo pair of the RNR1s, which are their ribbon mics. Alongside that, we brought in 32 pre’s, all RND. So, it was like, “Great, there’s the cherry on top of the goods me and the band already owned.”

That's always been my approach. I love a good drum room. And I'd much rather capture the kit how a person would actually hear it, which is your ear not right on the drum. With modern music, those close mics are usually the loudest thing in the mix, but if you can get the kit rocking with the ambient mics and the overheads at first, you know that it's working. Then, you can scoop as much as you want and boost as much as you want with the close mics and manipulate it however you want.

In my opinion, you can't fake a big room. There's a lot of great sounding records that utilize samples to achieve this, and sometimes, that is better for the artist. But, when you're talking about a legacy like Dream Theater's, it's got to be a real drum recording in a real room.

The HUB: Did they come to you and give you any sonic guidance of what they wanted to hear, or how they might have wanted it to sound compared to prior records?

Jimmy T: The big push was, let's make it organic. That was the thing. Let’s make something that's really hi-fi, and just makes people say “yes...” Let’s make a hi-fi record on the equipment they tour and write with. That was the main goal: capture Dream Theater exactly as they are. That's what I like to do. I love making rock records that make people go, “How is this actually the drum set? How is this so exciting without a ton of manipulation?” So, we're really well aligned when it comes to sonic vision, and that's probably because I came up through them, to a degree. Going back to 2013, and I'm getting into the world of working on professional records, and it’s with a band that started out making records to tape, you know, there's definitely been some influence.

The HUB: Yeah, and at the end of the day, if you're also going on the road with them, the amount of shared time you guys have where you're listening to albums, where you're talking gear…It must just be a natural extension of the relationship as is, right?

Jimmy T: Definitely, definitely.

So, the Astonishing was a “dense” record. There's a lot going on there. Distance Over Time…Sparse isn't the right word, but it's less layered. So, that certainly changes the sonic presentation. Did that consideration come into play at all as you were recording and getting tones?

Jimmy T: Yeah, it's actually cool that you picked up on that, and hopefully people are picking up on that. Because that was definitely a conversation. JP being the producer of this record, he gave me an impression of, “I don't want to rely on production. When we write this record and it gets mixed, I want to be able to go up on a stage and have it sound like the record without any dependency of additional sources.” So, that's exactly what we went to achieve. And from the way you're talking, it sounds like that is the case.

Whereas The Astonishing, it was massive…it was like the band was a part of a massive puzzle, bringing in the orchestration, wild SFX, and characters in a storyline, it's a totally different approach to writing and production. This was them going, “Hey, remember when we used to write music in a basement rehearsal space? Let's do that again.” That was this record. I would say this record is way more raw.

It was a conscious decision by JP to say, “I want to get a lead tone that's so massive that I don't need to put rhythm tracks”. It also gives room for everyone to open up a bit more, and there's no competition in the mix. So, all of these things being considered, and not over-layering, and sparsely deciding when to add layers, it translates all the way through the recording process and the mix, because every instrument can take up more space.

You know, when you have a ton of tracks, things have to be compromised. Things have to be cut, and filtered, and automated and the whole deal to fit everything in. And I'm sure to some degree that was the case in mixing this record, which Ben Grosse did incredibly.. However, Distance Over Time is just five guys in a room and being recorded as they are, in essence - so there are inevitably less parts to squeeze into the mix.

The HUB: Can you walk us through your approach for miking up each instrument, as well as vocals?

Jimmy T: Cool. So, we'll start with drums. It's the biggest undertaking, just because of the amount of gear that goes into it.

A big thing on this record was that Mike likes being on a riser, because he tours and he's used to that feeling. He says he feels a difference in how the kit resonates when he's on a riser versus on a floor. So, he wrote the whole record on a riser and it never moved. And I think this was a blessing, an unforeseen blessing.

The kit got to live in that room for three and a half weeks to a month before we actually recorded. You usually never get that luxury. You load into a studio, you tune up the kit, you mic it up. It's a new room. The drums just traveled. Yeah, it sounds great, I'm sure, but you definitely have to work for it. The kit sat there. Temperature was right, the woods were talking to each other appropriately by the time we went in for a real recording.

So, first step is, does it sound good in the room? Is it in the right place? Does the source work? Because you can only be as good as that, you know? If it's a bad sounding snare drum, no EQ is going to truly save it. So, it starts there.

I would like to highlight with the Rupert Neve Designs stuff is that we brought in RMP-D8s, which are their new pre-amps with Dante. Which is a huge thing, and we did a whole spot on it, because they're a touring act and working the RMP-D8s into our live rig and studio is monumental.. So, that was really big for us, and big for Rupert Neve Designs, showing how you can be multifunction with the D8. It's studio grade, road-ready, and sounds amazing. So, we had three RMP-D8s with us to capture Mike alongside Shelford channels and 5024s and some fun EQs and compressors.

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channels racked up

I close miked everything. Mike used one 24” kick drum on this record, which is different; he usually uses two 22” kicks. And that was with the three mic setup that I always gravitate towards: kick in, kick out and sub kick. The Audix D6 was in the drum, just below the beater, middle of the drum. That's going to give you that click, and that point when you need it to cut through the mix. The Mojave FET 301 lived outside the drum. I always reach for a FET 47 on the outside and a FET 301 is kind of Mojave's rendition of that. It sounded unbelievable on the kick drum. It gives a little bit more of that boxiness and that air that you don't get from the kick in, which is really good, because it fills the 350Hz hole. That inside kick mic is usually the mega scoop, whereas the outside, it's kind of like, “Oh, I'm missing a little bit of that boxiness and woof.” Then Maddi wired a (Yamaha) NS10 woofer in reverse to get the sub kick. The blend usually lives with Kick In at unity, Kick Out at -5, and sub kick to taste, usually around -15. All dependent on your gain staging, though.

Alongside that, there was a Royer R-121 about six feet outside of the kick drum. That acted as more of a super compressed crushed microphone in the blend that I hit really hard with a DBX 560a, their 500-series 160 compressor. And that was really crushed. I took off a bunch of high end and it just gives that really fun parallel low end. But that's a 121, so naturally it's going to have a lob off on the high end.

It’s also a little bit more ambient, so you get some extra air, which is great. That's that 3D thing that I was going for. I put it at about waist height, and just angle it slightly at the kick drum.. You get some tom information off it as well. What you're not going for is cymbal information, ultimately. You want to be able to boost it and get more low end information.

For the snare drum I used an SM57 and an Audio-Technica ATM-450. Those were both on the snare top, and phase aligned to capsule. Where the capsule sits in the 57 versus the 450 is different, so you want to try and align them as best as possible so that you're getting the same transient timing into the rig. I used a Beta 56 on the bottom of the snare. You can really throw anything on the bottom of a snare drum is my belief; I just want that rattle. Some people go for condensers, but I like the dynamic, because it's less sensitive to the bass drum information. It interacts better with the gates, I find.

Mike has a second snare, which I miked with Beta 98s, top and bottom. Something that you have to consider with Mangini's kit is the real estate. You actually have to get into the kit, so mics that can be clipped on are your friends. The fewer stands, the better! So, Beta 98 on top and bottom of that, and then Beta 98s on tom 1, 2, 3, and 4, I believe. And then 5 was a Shure KSM 27, and the gong drum, which is tom 6, it's open bottom, with a Beta 52 underneath.

From there, we get into Octos, so Octo 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all Beta 98s. And then you start to look at spots, which the way he did his kit, he has a lower tier of what I call SFX cymbals. These are cymbals with short transients or short decays. We’re talking small china stuff and stacks and things like that. Those were KSM32s.

The hi-hats were both miked up with KSM137s. He has hats to the left and right of him. He actually has one fixed closed hat, and one that is controlled with a clutch per side, totaling four. Those share KSM137s, positioned to look towards the fixed closed one, because the open one cuts through a bit more.

On overheads were the RN17s in an XY, right in the belly of the beast. Mike’s big thing is, “I want people to hear my drums the way I hear them, because I purposefully play a certain way.” I usually have an instinct as a studio engineer to mix from audience perspective, because when I say, hit floor tom and I'm looking at the drummer, I want the floor tom to be coming up aligned with my eyesight, versus the drummer's. But Mike's big thing is, “I purposefully do this. I want to hear it from drummer's perspective.” So, everything was mixed from drummer's perspective.

We did the XY right over his head, just out of the way of being annoying, and that lived kind of center of his wraparound kit, picking up everything. Cymbals and toms, and everything was coming through. They actually lived closest to his rides, thus no additional spots were used on his rides. If you just put up these two mics, that was the kit, and we can soup it up from there.

Mike Mangini's Drum Kit Miked Up at Yonderbarn

The HUB: That was my next question. Given how complex of a kit it is, can you ever just put up one or two mics and actually hear it as it is?

Jimmy T: Totally. And that's the XY right over his head; that is the kit. Can that compete against a John Petrucci guitar tone? Probably not, but standing alone, you know, that is the kit. You could consider that the starting point. Those were the first faders I opened.

Then we had some ambient mics that were crucial to the 3D effect. So, we talked about that 121, but above that we’re RNR1s set up in Blumlein. They also lived 6 feet from the kit to be somewhat phase coherent, but were about head height or six feet high. These provided a roomy, full sound; but don’t feel distant.

The last bit were the RNTs set in omni, which were way up. They were about 16 feet up, widest parts of the room, equidistant from the snare drum and kick drum. Those covered the decay. You hear it and think “Oh, man, where was this drum set? This sounds massive!” That's what that does. And all those were hit with a fair bit of compression. About 10 millisecond attack, and super-fast release, and crushed about -5 to -7 when he was really slamming it. But it was just fun, you know? It's a rock record. You can hit that stuff and that adds the flavor. And that's really the main rundown of the kit.

The HUB: Do you start with the XY, and then fill in the empty space with all the tight stuff, or do you go the opposite direction?

Jimmy T: I'm starting with the XY. I knew I would need it, just based on the genre. But it was so important to Mike to hear the metal of his kit, as he says, or hear the cymbals, just as much as he hears the close toms, because he does such intricate and musical things with it.

Half of Mike’s kit is tuned lower. It's the lower toms in relationship to its partner on the other side. So, he does all these quirky things with his kit. Every nuance counts. Every little flutter on a cymbal is important. It's not just a standard rock kit, where it's like, “I'm going to hit a big fill into the chorus.” He'll get a triplet thing in one hand on a hat, and be accenting in some sort of syncopation on the other with the effects cymbal, always super proggy craziness going on. But no close mic will allow for that because you're just focusing on one part of the kit and you’ll lose the perception of the kit being one instrument. You need that sense of glue, I feel.

So, starting with those overheads and saying, “Can I hear everything? If we just had to listen to drums, would this work?” That was my first place. And then, let's make this a rock record. I brought up the kick drum blend, the snare drum blend, and bring in the toms, and then it's shaking the room because of how much impact we're getting. It was in a great spot. And then along with the help of the spot mics on the stacks and hi-hat you can really get all the definition you need.

Okay, so as you're getting this all miked up and getting that sound, what’s your process with Mike? Is he coming back in the control room to listen to each take? What's that back and forth?

Jimmy T: It depends on how dense it is. Sometimes he'll take a section and work in blocks. I would just kind of let him conduct his way through alongside JP. And if he needed help in navigating, like “I heard a stick click that you didn't hear in this verse.” We’d go back and work on it.

For most of the drum recording, John was in the room with us. For a couple songs, it was just me and Mike, and that was just schedule dependent. Most of the time, John would be there to say, “Hey Mike, that is totally what we were going for.” Or, “Hey, Mike, I'm actually doing a guitar thing, or I intend to do a guitar thing there. Could you do this type of fill so it sounds more unison?” That’s how we’d see some bigger picture stuff.

The entire band had a mentality which was really cool: “Yeah I know it worked, but that's not exactly the way I wanted it to sound. Let's take it again.” So, Mike would be on the floor. I'd be in the control room. We'd have full communication and visual to one another, and he would just work through the song, section by section, until we got to the end. Then I'd take five minutes to clean up any punch points. He would come up and review, make notes of, “I want to adjust this, or can you take a look at that, is that funny? Should we redo it?” And then once it was all said and done he would step away. I would just tighten up a sub-mix of it, review it with him and JP once more and hopefully sign off on it.

John was in the control room, which is kind of cool. We set him up with a producer's desk. He had his own set of monitors, laptop set up, his own headphones, and that producer's desk eventually became the overdub setup where both him and John Myung did their thing. I could turn off my speakers, or we could both work, and they could do their own thing and make their own mixes if needed..

The HUB: Where did it go from there?

Jimmy T: Once drums were done, we did John's guitars. We spent about 15 hours of really microscopic moves with the mics, which obviously could have a big impact. We did that until the tone was absolutely locked. The setup was a Mojave 301, Shure SM7B, and a Royer 121, close-miked on his 4x12”. These were summed down to one channel into Pro Tools. I also used a room mic, the RNT in omni; 15ft back and 6 feet high directly in line with the cabinet. We kept the head on the floor because he had his whole touring rack, and the rack wouldn't fit up in the room.

We ran an instrument line down to his head. So, the head wasn't in the room with us, which is different than most guitar recording sessions where you're tweaking the amp the whole way. But it was really cool, because it forced us to make a decision and go, “This is the sound.”

John Petrucci's Recording Rig at Yonderbarn

I put a slight baffle to the side of John's rig, leaving it open facing towards the room mic, but cutting off and tightening up some of the left-right ambience around the initial impacts on the close mics.

We also did some acoustic. I used an RN17 on that, closed mic sitting out on the floor. There were a couple moments where we used the demo guitars, like some of the feedback stuff and things like that. That was just a vibe in the room that we kept. And there was one song, I think it was Out of Reach, where he went out on the floor and captured it in front of his amp. He was interacting with the cabinet, getting feedback, things like that. So, that was cool. Otherwise, everything else was tracked from the control room.

When we did the leads, the only thing that changed is he flipped over to his channel three lead sound, and I made a slight EQ change on the sum. You know, I pushed a little bit more of the 1.5k versus the 4k to sit a little bit more in the vocal register, where I would boost a little bit of the forwardness of a vocal, and it's a bit rounder. That was really it. So, I mean, it's all great gear, it's a great player. It's not insane trickery. It's not like we had to reinvent the wheel. Just get the right tools, and get the right performance, and you're going to be there.

The HUB: Let’s talk about recording John Myung’s bass.

Jimmy T: Bass was such a pleasure to record, because JMX had a bunch of bass amps there, we got to shop options. I really gravitated towards one that he brought in, which was the Ashdown ABM 1200. That was pushing a 4x10” cabinet, which had a Mojave 301 on it. And that was in an sE reflection filter to kill off any ambience. In addition, a clean DI, straight to a Shelford channel, and a line out off of the amp head. And that was the sound. Good gear, good player. I just blended them to taste, and he made sure he performed it the way he wanted to hear it, and it was done.

Were those all getting mixed down like John's guitar mics were, or were they all getting blended first?

Jimmy T: No, those came in as three individual, because bass can be a bit touchy with phase, and because the Yonderbarn room was new to me, I didn't want to commit it if something could've used a polarity flip or just less of a sound down the line. Those went in as three individual inputs. And you're usually not doing additional overdubs, so it's really easy to manage file wise.

The HUB: What about Jordan’s keys?

Jimmy T: Jordan had his keyboard array in which I gave him a bunch of stereo lines. We also fed his Hammond into this sort of “Leslie-in-a-box” by Motion Sound. I took a direct feed off it as it has microphones built into the box. So, that was the Leslie/Hammond sound.

He had his Korg Kronos and a laptop, and a bunch of synths, and we were really just going direct in through good pres. All analog, no digital inputs. That was the sound.

Jordan is the kind of guy, just let him do his thing, because he's going to shop and build sounds. He’s an unbelievable player, it probably takes more time to build the sounds than it takes him to track the insane parts he plays. It’s comical in ways.

The HUB: Right. And he's got the knowledge to be able to make the sound whatever he wants, so that's why it's easy to go down the rabbit hole.

Jimmy T: Totally. Totally, yeah. I mean, he can run circles around me. He can sit on that Kronos and he'll be like, "Yeah, so I have this one sound, but there's actually 15 layers doing stuff in it, and then I only want this part of it to come out when I'm above C3..." Incredible.

So, that's the band.

The vocals were actually tracked remotely with Rich Chycki up in Canada, because that's where LaBrie lives. I was still working with the band, and LaBrie needed to get going on vocals. So, some of those early tracks he recorded, he was recording against finalized drums, guitar and bass, but still had the demo keys. We had a deadline, and we wanted to be ahead of it. So, I was still working with Jordan a bit when vocals were happening. Final stages entailed me merging his parts into the master sessions before mix delivery.

He was using a Mojave MA-1000. A single mic in front of his vocal in a good iso booth with Rich Chycki.

And that's the story.

The HUB: Wow. Well, thanks for all the great info and thanks for your time, Jimmy!

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