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SESSION REPORT

DECEMBER 1, 2000 ISSUE

The Walls Are Coming Down

(RECORDING SESSION REPORT FRON NASHVILLE TO GERMANY)

BY JOHN JACZSZ

I realized that the dreams stopped when The Wall came down in 89. Now, sitting here in this small pub in Rosengarten, Germany just outside of Hamburg, discussing world peace with my new German friends, I became acutely aware that this was the best ending to my childhood nuclear war dreams. Growing up during the peak of the cold war I felt I was a part of a generation with no future. Our mottoes back in 72 were no one alive in 85 and Hope I die before I get old!
My trek to Germany began with a phone call from Production Assistant, Mike Griffith, AKA Frog, informing me that a German producer wanted to cut tracks in Nashville with the A team musicians. There are several A teams in Nashville; this one consisted of Paul Leim on Drums, Joe Chemay on bass, Brent Rowan, Brent Mason and Richard Bennet on the guitars; Steve Nathan on keys; Rob Hajacos on fiddle, and Terry MacMillan on percussion and harmonica. Mike said the producer, Rudi Musseig, was producing tracks for an Austrian singing group, Schürzenjäeger (Pronounced Shirts-an-yeh-ger), for BMG Germany and wanted the Rock/Country feel of Nashville. He stated that Rudi would be bringing his engineer with him. The engineer, Christoph Leis-Bendorf, would handle the scratch vocals during recording and not the engineering. Not really understanding what he was saying, I questioned, Mike are you sure youre not misinterpreting his English? his reply was, I dont think so? He said Christoph will be doing the scratch vocals! Not wanting to argue, I went along with his interpretation. The opposite would always prove to be the case; the Germans are very exact in their explanations and their use of English is probably more formidable than my own.
The session would take place at Sound Stage Studio in the SSl J-9000 room, tracking to a Sony 3348. Additional outboard gear was supplied by Underground Sound and included Neve 33114 mic-pre/eqs for kick and snare, Martin Sound Martech MSS-10 for bass, Neve 1073s for acoustic guitars and Piano, and Summit compressors for electric guitars. I am addicted to using the 33114s for Kick and Snare because the transients seem to be true to the sound heard in the room without being harsh. The equalizer on the 33114 is not as wide banded as most other Neve equalizers and enables me to pull out low mid frequencies from the kick without effecting the extreme lows. Also, the smooth top end at 10k is excellent for top end snap on the snare. The Martech is like putting a direct wire from the Bass to the tape machine. The low frequencies are punchy and never muddy. The 1073s have a musical top end shelf at 12k that works well for acoustic guitars and pianos. The closest thing I have heard to it is Rupert Neves new Amek Channel in a box. The unit has the same eq as the Amek 9098 console and the 9098 1 space rack mount Mic-pre/eq. Rupert has definitely tried to emulate his old eq curves by using what he calls sheen.
Assistant Engineer, Al Grassmick became my best ally during the session. Having a simple understanding of German, he was able to follow the lyric sheet with no problem. The session went off without a hitch, recording 25 tunes in 3 days with an additional 3 days for more instrument overdubs ( fiddle, Harmonica, percussion etc..). The songs were not full length because we were doing a greatest hits record for the Austrian boys, and many of the songs were recorded inside a series of five medleys. As promised, Christoph supplied the scratch vocals conveying the spirit of the music to the players. Keyboardist, Steve Nathan, interested in the lyric content, would ask Rudi and Christoph for the English interpretation of each song. This enabled him and the rest of the musicians to interpret the emotion of each track. Christoph picked up on some of the musicians jargon and always ended a good take with an enthusiastic Cool Man! in a heavy German accent.
After completing tracking, Rudi decided that mixing in Germany would be more advantageous because Schürzenjäeger (mainly Peter Steinlechner with help from Alfred Eberharter, Rolf Kohler and Christoph) would be doing vocals until the last moment before mixing. The logistics of fixing a vocal once we were in the mix process in the U.S. would have been cost prohibitive. All the tracks were transferred digitally through the Otari UFC to Alesis A-Dat for use at Christophs studio in Rosengarten, Germany. His studio is equipped with 40 tracks of A-Dat, 32 tracks of Pro-Tools 24 with a Logic Audio interface and two Yamaha O2Rs. The studio also had the standard complimentary outboard signal processing Gear (Lexicon, Roland, Eventide etc...) and many Pro-tools plug-ins. It also turned out that Christoph did more than sing and was quite adept at running Pro-Tools, playing last minute keyboard overdubs and drums. I hate people like this! Good thing his wife was a good cook, or I would have left!
The mixing went great, the beer and food were excellent and solving all the worlds problems was easy. I did have a little help in that department from the best steel guitar player in all of Europe, Nils Tuxen. .
Now if we could convince Saddam Hussein to pick up a guitar, drink a little beer and learn to play All You Need Is Love, my chemical and biological war dreams might disappear.
John Jaszcz (yosh)

(Yosh is quietly finishing mixes for EMI Canada Artist Monia and Provident/Reunion Artist Brian Duncan and dreams of world peace).

READ THE REVIEW ARTICLE ON THE SOUND MARTECH MSS-10 BY JOHN

Copyright © 2000, by Jon Jaszcz, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Published in Recording Engineer's Quarterly and Alexander magazines with permission

USE OF THIS ARTICLE SUBJECT TO USER AGREEMENT

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