California X’s ‘Nights in the Dark’

The sophomore album from rockers California X, Nights in the Dark, was tracked in Easthampton, Mass., in Sonelab Studios with engineer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Speedy Ortiz). The album is loaded with fuzzed-out guitars, punk rhythms, and generally anthemic songs that range from distorted to hugely distorted.


Pizzoferrato recorded to Pro Tools via two Lynx Aurora converters. “The console was an MCI JH636, though most mic preamps were outboard,” Pizzoferrato says. “I have a number of Classic Audio Products of Illinois 500 Series mic preamps, some actual API pre’s—vintage and new—and a handful of others for different flavors.”


Basics were captured live with all the members in Sonelab’s main tracking room; amps were placed in adjacent iso rooms. “Overdubs largely consisted of additional rhythm and lead guitar,” he says. “Once that was done, we would record vocals and begin mixing immediately. There were no rough mixes on this record.”


Frontman Lemmy Gurtowsky mainly sang into a Shure SM7, patched into a Great River MP-500NV mic pre and then a Neve 2254/a compressor. “There were some songs where a Bock Audio 151 was used instead of the SM7,” Pizzoferrato says. “We did this when more detail was needed in the sound and performance. Most vocals were doubled with some reverb added. The SM7 was set up for scratch vocals, but Lemmy sounded great through it, so I had him sing into it for most of the record.

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