From L-R: Neal Schon with engineer John Ellis
Soul Sirkus, a newish collaboration featuring Journey guitarist Neal Schon, vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, bassist Marco Mendoza, and drummer Virgil Dinotti, wrapped up the remixed, rereleased version of their new album World Play, recently released on Frontier Records, at Prism Sound Studios in Acton, Mass. The band cut basic tracks at fellow Journey-man Jonathan Cain’s studio, drums at O’Henry in Los Angeles, and vocals at Soto’s personal studio. When Dinotti took over original drummer Deen Castronovo’s spot, the group decided to make a few changes to their original recording. Prism Sound Studios engineer John Ellis rerecorded the drums and worked on guitar and vocal overdubs with the group, then mixed the album on the studio’s modified SSL 6000 E/G+ console. “All of the drums, bass, guitars and orchestra were tracked to 2-inch and then transferred to Pro Tools for vocal overdubs,” Ellis reports. We mixed down to ½-inch as well as digital, but wound up using the ½-inch mixes for mastering.” Ellis mastered the project using the Pro Tools platform, a TC Electronic finalizer and Waves and various other plug-ins.
Thanks to the Internet and MP3 files, the band could add parts and approve mixes without halting their hectic touring schedule. “I started premixing all of the songs on my own,” Ellis says. “As Jeff finished the vocals for each song, he would send them to me over the Internet, and I would finish the mix and send off an MP3. After everyone had a chance to listen in their favorite environment, Neal and Jeff flew out to the studio where I just recalled the mixes and made minor tweaks. This was a huge time-saver for the band, since I had already done the hard stuff before they arrived. It also gave them a chance to sit with the mixes beforehand so we could really get them right and not feel rushed.”