Tucked away in Chicago’s arty Wicker Park area is Abyssinian Sons Studio, the creative launch pad for Filter’s Richard Patrick. It’s more than just a spot where the vocalist/multi-instrumentalist could throw down a guitar idea or 12 at 3 in the morning (which happened a bunch according to co-producer/engineer/programmer Rae DiLeo). Abyssinian Sons doubled as a living space for Patrick (now the sole creative force behind the band after the departure of Brian Liesegang) during the year of work on Filter’s latest Warner Brothers offering, Title of Record.
Before they had a chance to lay a note down, Patrick had to convert the warehouse to a usable studio with iso booths, control room and a 50-square-foot tracking room with 15-feet high ceilings. Once construction was complete, DiLeo came in, wired it and then got right to work. “We basically started out with me and Richie in a room,” he explains. “I would come up with a drum beat or a loop and he would just start laying down guitar tracks.”
The duo tracked right into 32 channels of Pro Tools 3, turning to tape only at the final mix, which was done at Ben Grosse’s The Mix Room in Burbank, Calif. Suffice to say that this was a mammoth recording project, with DiLeo reporting they filled 35 Gigs of hard drive space with every take. The studio is also stocked with three 888|24 I/O Audio Interfaces, a Mackie 32*8 desk, Neve mic pre’s and an Akai S3000 sampler for the drum simulation program. The Macintosh 9500 was also stocked with Digital Performer, SampleCell and a handful of plug-ins that they used liberally during the tracking of guitars, drums, vocals and even cello parts. Those plug-ins include Focusrite’s EQ and compression, Amp Farm (DiLeo loved the Fender Bassman, and Patrick relied on the Vox tones), Ampulator and Lo-Fi. Traditional outboard gear was kept to a minimum, with only three Eventide 4000s, a TC Electronic G Force guitar processor for guitarist Geno Lenardo’s rack and a Marshall JMP transistor guitar preamp for Patrick’s guitar tones.
Microphone selection was both simple and straightforward, with Shure SM57s and SM81s in large supply, as well as an AKG RE-15 and a Sound Deluxe that was used for vocals. DiLeo says that on the song “I’m Not the Only One,” he used an SM57 on the vocals for the mic’s gritty tone. As DiLeo explains, the preferred signal path on the project was: microphone to Neve mic pre and then straight into Pro Tools, where compression and limiting took place via the Focusrite plug-ins.
Though the recording of the album was fairly conventional, there were moments when Patrick and DiLeo bent things a bit. For the guitar track on “Captain Bligh,” for example, as Lenardo was laying down the guitar part, he attempted to work a Dunlop wah pedal while twisting the knobs on the G Force processor and playing at the same time. “It ended with Richie doing the wah pedal with his hand in syncopation with what he was playing on the guitar,” DiLeo recalls.
Some of the other interesting sounds found on Title of Record were happy accidents. “Once we started tracking, the mics stayed on the whole time,” DiLeo says. “We just tried to let spontaneous sounds creep in and then reverse them or manipulate them in Pro Tools. Richie would do really cool feedbacking swells in front of the monitors, and then we would reverse it. A lot of the spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment stuff ended up being the final take.”
Once tracking for the album was completed, Abyssinian Sons Studio was partially dismantled to give the band room to rehearse and Patrick a bigger room to sleep in. With a touch of an upgrade in the software and hardware department-Pro Tools 5 and a Macintosh G4 will likely get the nod-DiLeo says the room is ready to go again. “The goal is to come off the road and get right back in and record,” he says.
More power to ’em.