Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy


Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy


Lesson Info

Recording the Band, Thunderpussy

Hello there, can you hear me? Yes. All right, let's do a run-through, I'll give you a signal, when you hear the click, we'll be rolling so just give me count-in, if you could. Okay? Okay. All right. (rhythmic clicking) (drumming) I want to get all the tape slap, the tape delay's going so now they're running. (guitar music) ♪ Met her at a bar in Sedona, Arizona ♪ ♪ I took one look and thought I'd like to know her ♪ ♪ She came up to me and said, what's your story ♪ ♪ Fire in her eyes and a lust for glory ♪ ♪ Red lipstick and high-waisted pants ♪ ♪ We move outside and she began to dance ♪ ♪ She pushed me up on her Moto Guzzi, yeah ♪ ♪ She said I might go fast, but I ain't no floozy ♪ ♪ I met a girl they call Speed Queen ♪ ♪ She like to keep her engine clean ♪ ♪ You can't deny her anything ♪ So there is one thing that I'd like to talk about here, they're playing with a vocal mic, live in the room. It's a scratch vocal, but as we're recording, it's difficult for me to know what th...

e drums are doing because I've got a lot of wash from this vocal mic so I'm gonna turn the vocals on and off, just to double-check what the drums are doing, just so you know what's going on. ♪ I was looking for her, she was looking for me ♪ ♪ Never look back ♪ ♪ Never be the ♪ (guitar music) ♪ What's your name ♪ Well, I see that Groovy's staying on the click really good and I can see that there's a struggle, and I think they wanna go faster than the click. But so far, so good. (guitar music) (rhythmic clicking) (laughing) All right, you know what, come on in, let's listen to that. Yay! (laughing) I don't think that's our final take, I think it's pretty damn good though. Yeah, you can hear them kind of fluctuating a little bit. The tempo is fluctuating a little, not so bad that that couldn't be our final take but they did talk all over the ending. (Scott chuckling) And they're talking now, it's like, it's gonna be in the recording that way so I'm gonna have them, if we like this take, I'll have them redo the ending so I can cut that clean ending on there but so far, so good. Ah, let's see, I'm gonna turn off the click. I'm gonna keep the vocals off, just so you can hear what's going on, too. So nice job keeping on tempo. Thank you. I can see that the click, that you wanted to actually speed up against the click, like, you wanted to go faster in the double-time. Yep. Yeah, for sure. So if we're going to retake the end, I'd say maybe we speed up the click by two BPMs, something like that. Yeah, I think we would like to do that ending again, let's go a little faster. Okay, but the rest of it is kind of sexy, you know? (laughing) We'll do another take, but you know, this could be the final take that, let me know what you think of the sounds, performance, and then we'll take it from there. So we're listening back now. Except we're all in-- Input. Input, here we go. There we go. (drumming) Do you want to sit here? (guitar music) (distant singing) ♪ What's your name ♪ (upbeat music) Did you think this feels slow? Yes. It does? Okay. (guitar music) So should we just stop and try at a different tempo? Or you want to take it entirely-- Try the whole thing a couple clicks up? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. (band member stammering) I'd like to do it again. I don't mind, yeah. Oh, we should definitely do it again, I just meant the tempo in the beginning is spot-on, I felt. Okay. I like the beginning tempo, it's when we move into double-time, we could push a little bit faster. Okay, so why don't we do this? We'll take the song in two pieces, we'll do another front take; either that or this has a great feel too, so we'll keep it in case we need pieces or if we want to use it as the front half, and then we'll recut with the BPM up two BPM, the double-time through the end. We should do it again and do it in pieces. Do the whole thing one time or just the front half? Leah was saying she's not crazy about her take in the beginning and we had a little talk about, saying we might we want to redo and so I think we do the front half again. Okay. And then try to speed up the end. And then just a quick question about bass tone? Yes. During that first verse, where it's just bass, it wasn't punching through, like, at all. Right, yeah. Should I change my tone for just that part, what do you think? I have an idea. Okay. We're using the SVT? Mm, hm. I'm gonna bring up the gain, the input gain on the SVT. Okay, cool. I bet I'll poke through a lot better. Cool. So let's adjust the sound on the bass. Okay. We can keep the same tempo for now on the click. We'll recut again. I would ask one other thing when we do the recording, this new recording: at the very end when you stop, super quiet, no talking. Okay. No pedal clicking, just be quiet so that we have cymbal ring and it's smooth. Awesome, okay. So the first half? We're just doing the first half, we're not going the whole time? That's right, we'll do the first half, but definitely when we do the second half and the song ends, quiet, so there's no noise on the end. And I would say, quiet on both parts, make sure that you got the ring on the end of the first part, too. Awesome. I'm just curious now, 'cause if I don't click my pedal, there will be extreme feedback, which is not quiet. Okay, good point. So maybe I'll just try to click my pedal a little premature, like slightly. Do it. Okay. (laughing) You can have a little grace in your footstep. I'll just have to do it early otherwise you'll hear it. Tap it, but just like, slowly move into it. It's not really my footstep, it's about the pedal going (imitating clicking). Well, it's gonna make a sound no matter what. I do really like the round sound but I feel like doing that part especially since-- Is the taped mark helping you at all? Yeah. All right yeah, give this a blast and we'll get it. (bass music) (light conversation) That's gonna help. Yeah. All right, that's gonna help a lot. Now I'd like to also double-check our level so why don't you keep playing, I'm gonna go out there and check our level to Pro Tools. Everyone else back, you know what? When we hit the end of the first half, there is a open spot where the drums stop, and you sing through that spot. Don't sing this time so we can have no vocals in the overheads. Cool. Okay, just for peace, okay. All right. (bass music) So the bass-- Uh, looks good, bass mic and DI mic. All right, and our EQ is coming from-- Uh, it should on the channel over there. This channel. Gonna change that a little bit too. I'm gonna accentuate some more of the midrange, the SVT with a Fender bass, and this is a Fender, what is it, a Mustang? I think so, yeah. Yeah, there's something really special about that combination so I'm gonna accentuate some of that SVT sound. I've turned up some midrange EQ. Thank you very much. All right, we're gonna call this take two. Thank you! Okay, we've got a good sound for the bass, now is everyone ready? Yep. All right, okay. Turn on the click again. Click is still the same tempo. Mm, hm. All right, okay, here it comes. Here we are. (rhythmic clicking) (drumming) (guitar music) Yeah, the bass is coming out a lot better now. It's a lot better on the bass. So generally, I'll be taking notes as we go. The first take was a full take, the second take is the front half only, and I'll make notes whether or not this is a good take or what parts are good or bad on each of these takes. Just so it's easy to edit later. (guitar music) (rhythmic clicking) Ah, that's it. Okay, all right, very good. That sounded good, keep those headphones on. All right, let's actually do this end part right now. And if you could play into that break, you know, the very end of that solo part maybe? The last eight bars of the solo or four bars of the solo? (guitar playing) Yes. I'm gonna put a little tempo break here and we'll bump it up a couple BPMs. Great, great, great. We're bringing up the tempo. And then you should just be able to-- Thank you. Hold on real quick. Okay, we're setting up the new click. Should be right there, okay, should be good. Okay, let's give it a shot now, we're doing this break through the end. I just noticed that this, there you go. Oh, thanks. No problem. (guitar music) And make a note of take three on the Pro Tools. Here it comes. (rhythmic clicking) So this is a faster tempo. (guitar music) Still slow, seems like they're still struggling to keep it slow, you know? Okay, stop, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I think we need to bring up the tempo even more. Yep. Okay, let's bring it up two more BPM. We'll save that little bit and we'll start right here. Okay, just click here and go up here. Plus 158, there you go. Great, all right. Okay, we've brought it up two more BPM. Let's try this, are you ready? Yep. Start from the same spot, please. (rhythmic clicking) Here we go. (guitar music) Better! (guitar buzzing) Oh, oh, wow! Wow, okay (laughing) okay. All right, I think that's the right tempo. That sounded way better. I think we need to do it again and especially because the guitar, when you don't push your pedals off, boy, it is noisy, isn't it? Two of 'em, I got one of 'em but I messed it up. (giggling) Okay, how can we get 'em both at the same time? (talking simultaneously) Okay, Molly's gonna do it. So we're gonna have the singer, Molly, step on the pedals so we can get rid of that noise at the very end. (guitar music) (guitar buzzing) Oops, wrong way. (light conversation) Okay, she'll get it. All right, you guys ready? Are we just doing the end again? Just doing the end. Ready, here we go. Hang on, are we ready, oh, we're not totally ready. Hang on, stop, turn on the click. Now we're ready. (rhythmic clicking) Here goes! (guitar music) Oh, I think we got it. Great, I think we got it, come on in. Fantastic. So I think at this point-- Definitely the first take and with that ending. Yeah, we're gonna do an edit, we're gonna put together, let's see, take two, was the front half only, we like it, and we're gonna cut that in with this take five ending. Okay. Well done on that, Molly. So now at this point, I'm going to take some time, and I'm gonna do the edit, I'm gonna put together take two with take five, the front half with the end and put 'em together. You guys, seriously, how was the first part of that second take? I lost my headphones, I don't know what happened. Seriously? Was it good? I wouldn't mind doing it one more time. You want to do the front half one more time? Yeah. Okay, let's do it again, there was a part where the guitar solo was rushed going in. Was it off? A little, but I didn't think it was that bad. That's when my headphones fell off, I was like, what am I doing? I think one more time, we can nail it. One more time, well, we got the end. Yeah. Okay, it was fun. Okay, Scott? If we need, we can just tape them to your head. I think maybe I should tape them to my head. I would actually like to see that. (laughing) Can we get duct tape? Uh, gaff tape, same difference. Gaff tape's great. Do it, let's get ready. How we doing, Drew? Doing awesome! Any questions? Well, we had a question about the tape echo. Ah. I'm gonna rewind that real quick. Please rewind that, yes. So how long do you have on the tape echo before you have to start rewinding? I think there's 15 minutes. So, we're running at 15 ips, which I believe that gives us closer to 30? Oh, 30 minutes, if we were running 30 minutes-- If we were running 30, it'd be about 15. I don't know if that's a full reel of tape, though. It's close, we've lopped a little off the ends, but it's pretty close. All right, so probably about 20 minutes, we can keep it running for 20 minutes before we run out of tape but we have to keep an eye on it to make sure that we don't run out of tape and we're recording this to those two separate tracks. I think it's useful because it kind of adds this blurriness to the whole picture. Oh yeah, it's cool. So yeah. Cool, question about the click, how often do bands want; so you made the click double-time, right? Yes. So there were twice as many articulations. Yes. How often do bands want that versus just a basic click or at different pitches, do you work with that, or do you pretty much keep it as simple as possible? Oh yeah, every band wants something a little bit different. The slower songs are better with less clicks, you know, without the double-time. Okay. The more open the clicks are on the slower songs, the easier it seems to be for drummers to keep up with it and to keep locked. But then there's bands that want certain sounds, they want claves or they want side stick, or they have very particular sounds that they want. I think we're using kind of a wood block. We're using marimba two. Marimba, okay, marimba two, very popular. Cool, yup. Very popular but yeah, we'll customize, and sometimes they want accents; I prefer to just have no accent, it helps, because you don't have to start on any one part of the bar that way. Okay. Okay, I think they're ready to go. Let's go for it. Let me hop in here real quick. Thank you. Unmute that and then I'm gonna do that and then you're good to go. Great, thank you. All right, y'all ready? (light conversation) Is that a yes? Yes. Okay, everyone got their headphones on? And here we go. (rhythmic clicking) Okay. (guitar music) I heard kind of wonky feel there in the intro, I think I can get that from a previous take and cut it into this take. It was a drum fill, a tom fill in the middle of the intro, so I think we'll do an edit on that. (guitar music) (rhythmic clicking) Okay. Great, all right. I think that was our take, are you happy with that? I feel better about that, yeah. Very good. Actually, I think there were some problems with that take. But we'll listen and I can cut from the other take and we'll make it great.

Class Description

Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers.