Ben Lee has released 11 solo albums, in addition to his band work with Noise Addict. The newest, Love Is the Great Rebellion, is his sixth with renowned producer/engineer Brad Wood (Lisa Loeb, Veruca Salt, Placebo).
Love has an intriguing feel, where heavy lyrics (one song is called “Everybody Dies,” for example) are seemingly sung by the most cheerful choir of singers, and played with joyous gusto. The album was made in Wood’s backyard studio with the producer and artist playing many instrumental parts themselves.
“On drums, if it wasn’t programming it was either me playing or Ben, and I played all of the bass,” Wood says, “But we did hire some guitar players and background singers. And with Ben, there’s always a rogues’ gallery of musicians and other awesome people who will come in, hoot and holler on a song, stomp their feet, play a shaker, and off they go. Michael Wells played piano on a couple of songs. A mom at our daughter’s school played bagpipes for us for a day. But by and large, we played everything ourselves.”
Wood tracks to Pro Tools in the studio he built after leaving Chicago for L.A. a decade ago. He says Lee likes to record guitar (usually a Gibson J-45 acoustic) and vocals first. “Whether it was a techno tune or a full band thing later, Ben wanted to have voice and guitar locked in together—that nucleus,” Wood says.
Wood usually put up either a vintage AKG 451 or a Peluso 2247LE mic on guitar and an sE Electronics Z3300A vocal mic. “The 2247 has a bright, toppy thing that works really well on finger-picked guitar,” he says. “The sE mic is one of my secret weapons. I use it on 90 percent of the vocals I record. It has a bit of a [Neumann] U 47 FET sound. It stands up in a track, so it works well for Ben on this album.”