Producer Bruce Watson
Bruce Watson is the label manager and in-house producer for Fat Possum Records, a label in Oxford, Miss., that specializes in recording local blues musicians, as well as indie rock acts like Andrew Bird, Fiery Furnaces, and The Black Keys. The label's recording space is a gutted, 130-year-old house that was recently renovated. Fat Possum Records has an MCI 636 console, analog multitrack and 2-track machines, outboard gear and more than 40 microphones.
“There’s something to be said for playing live and capturing the magic of the players together. That’s a cheesy thing to say,” Watson laughs, “but it’s true. We would rather have some bleed than a sterile performance. These days, we almost always get a good live rhythm, bass, and guitar track. For the latest AA Bondy record, we tracked a third of the vocals live in the room with the rest of the instruments!”
Watson used a pair of Sennheiser MKH 8040 cardioid studio condenser mics in two recording sessions. “There is a high-end harshness found in many ‘high-end’ condensers that is wonderfully absent in the MKH 8040s,” Watson says. “It’s hard to put into words, but the MKH 8040 high-end is more rounded, more pleasant. It really makes a difference when you have a lot of microphones and a lot of instruments in the same room at the same time. That high-end harshness can be a monster to deal with.”
Sennheiser MKH 8040
On the new AA Bondy record, Watson used the Sennheiser MKH 8040 on just about everything. He says that on upright piano, it revealed all the nuances, both harmonic and earthy, with an overall balanced, honest tone, and that on acoustic guitar, it captured a "realness" missing from most recordings. “We even used the mic for drum overheads,” he said. “It was high up, mono, and captured the small room as much as anything else. We didn’t use any close mics, and the sound, with an acoustic guitar in the same room, is phenomenal.”
Watson also recorded the first Jack Oblivion record in the new space. “It’s kind of a garage rock EP, and we were pushing the MKH 8040 as hard as we could,” he says. He used the MKH 8040 for drum overheads and acoustic guitar, including a vintage Gibson B25, and on vocals. “It sounded fantastic and, try as we might, we couldn’t break it,” he says.