Jet lagged to the max, with hardly any sleep I got up around 5:00 am this morning. Took some breakfast, skyped with Jessica and waited for Rich. As traffic in LA is crazy Rich’s working hours are after rush hour, so he’ll come in around 10 or 11 am and leaves around 10 pm (actually in this case most of the time after midnight). When he finally was there, I already had set up my edit station in a little office upstairs, so I could continue my edit work.
Before a mix really can come together it is important to get all the parts and tracks aligned, in sync and ‘mix ready’.
To understand the process, it is good to know that this album has been recorded in a time span of 3 years. It started with the guitar and vocal roughs. Together with Daniel we wrote the music and recorded separately from each other. Each in his own studio. Then Ted & Mike laid down their tracks in separate studios in The States. Then the session went to Alex Argento in Italy, and when he was done it was sent off to the other guests. At the end the recordings where sent to Poland, where the orchestra did their magic to it. So when everything got mailed back to me, I had this pile of tracks everybody had recorded in as many studio’s as there are players.
It’s not as ideal as being altogether in the same studio. Where the engineer can monitor a consistent sound, and can anticipate with what is going on.
So all the tracks have different levels and are recorded with different views on how to record, as there where many different engineers. And now that has to be mixed to a consistent sounding album with everything in place. Quite a challenge as you can imagine!
So this day was filled with importing the sessions in his ProTools system and talking through the album and what we wanted. Then we both got down to editing the tracks. Rich studio assistant Jeff was called in to help with this editing, so the three of us where editing on three ProTools systems, plowing through the material. To give you an idea:
Per song we have:
- 32 channels of drums
- 2 channels of bass guitar
- 12+ channels of guitars & guitar effects
- 12+ channels of keyboards
- 10+ channels of vocals & vocal effects
- 24+ channels of orchestra
So for some songs up to 90 channels of audio and effects and each instrument recorded on a different way. Quite a task to get all of that mixed back into an enjoyable stereo mix. A task well known to Rich, as he has had much bigger sessions with Transatlantic.
Of course you can automate all settings in ProTools, and mix purely ‘inside the box’ digitally. But we did not want to go that route, as we will mix this album as analog as possible. For me this day came quickly to an end around 9pm, when my body just decided to shut down and go in sleep mode. While I was sleeping and trying to get rid of the jet lag Rich and Jeff worked until around 1am to get a head start with the mix.