The powerful title track from Bruce Springsteen’s new album was recorded with engineer Nick DiDia, mainly at Studios 301 in Sydney, Australia. Producer Ron Aniello first asked DiDia to record some of Tom Morello’s guitar parts for songs that had already been started. “Once we did that,” DiDia says, “the idea came up to possibly record the entire band.
“I tracked Tom’s overdubs at 301 in Byron Bay, where I live,” DiDia continues. “He brought a Marshall Head with him and his pedal board, and we used my old Marshall cabinet. I usually use a 57 and a KM 86 on the cab, and most likely the vocal mic as a guitar room mic. The vocal mic was a Soundelux U95—I had gotten it for a Pearl Jam session years ago to try out and ended up buying it.”
But when it came to tracking the entire E Street Band, they needed a lot more real estate. “In Sydney, there is a very large orchestral room that also has a few large isolation rooms, so Max [Weinberg] was in one room and Bruce was in another, and the rest of the band was in the main room. In addition, we were able to use some of the isolation booths in the adjacent studio for guitar and bass cabinets. The initial tracking was a nine-piece band live; then we overdubbed the horns and additional background vocals.”
DiDia recorded the session to Pro Tools through Apogee converters, and the Boss played acoustic and sang live with the band. “The acoustic would have been [captured via a Neumann] KM 86 through an 1176, and the vocal was an SM7 through a Pultec and an LA-2A. Acoustic guitars just sound right to me through that combo, especially if it’s an acoustic in a rock track,” DiDia says. “The SM7 has a real presence to it, and the vocalist can get right on it. It also has good rejection so it tends to keep the guitar out of the vocal mic more than a large-diaphragm tube mic.”