Good Charlotte

ROCK BAND FOCUSES ON PRE-PRODUCTION, LETS SONGS CARRY THE MOOD
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There are just those times in life when something takes a lot longer than you expect, and that’s just what happened when the members of rock band Good Charlotte began working on their upcoming album, Good Morning Revival. Unlike their previous efforts, such as the critically acclaimed The Chronicles of Life and Death, bandmembers (and brothers) Joel and Benji Madden found that pre-production took a lot longer than they had expected, mostly because they went into the studio and recorded 40-plus demos on their own. “We have a home studio with Pro Tools and then we would go into a studio and track drums and other stuff there, and then just go back and forth,” Joel Madden says when we spoke during tracking. “Me and Benji have a production team and we do a lot of stuff at our home studio, so we were just doing that: bring a hard drive in, do stuff at the studio, go home, work on it.”

After five months of schlepping their demos to and fro studio, the brothers decided to start pre-production with the rest of their mates, picking the best songs out of the lot. “And then we met with Don [Gilmore, producer] to start the record, and when we sat down and listened to the [15 remaining songs], we mutually came to the decision that it was all good, but it could have been a lot better. So we said, ‘Let’s scrap it.’”

Back at the drawing board, Good Charlotte kept three songs from the previous pre-production meetings—which Madden says may be release later on—and flew to Vancouver with Gilmore in tow, and started all over again. “One thing in Vancouver,” Madden says, “is that we don’t know anyone up there so there’s no distractions. We wanted to get away and for two months ended up working 12-hour days, every day. And I think that’s why we went up there because we were completely alone and we were able to be creative. There are two studios up there that are awesome—The Armoury and The Warehouse—and they were just great: The people there were awesome, the vibe was great, comfortable—great studios. It was just a great place to record. We would write a song, and when we decided, ‘Yeah, this is good,’ we would go to one of the studios and get a good drum kick and the room sounded good there, and then we would try to get as many tracks as we could keep as possible.”

Fortunately, producer Gilmore was up in Vancouver with the band, helping to shape these pre-production sessions. And those dates seem to be easy-going, as Gilmore produced Good Charlotte’s first album; Eric Valentine produced their sophomore effort, The Young and the Hopeless, and Chronicles. “We became really good friends when we recorded our first album and we just have a great relationship,” Madden says of Gilmore. “I like working with him. It’s hard for me to be in the studio with someone that I don’t like being around, and I don’t care if it’s just work; there’s a reason we did two records with Eric: He’s a cool guy, fun to be with and it’s fun recording with him. The same thing with Don: When we went in, I like being with him and I respect him—Don knows what’s he’s talking about; he makes great records. They definitely have a ‘Don Gilmore’ sound that I really like. But for this record and the kind of songs we wanted to make, the sound is really a part of that. Like the programming, the guitars—there’s a certain sound that he brings.”

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“We did two separate writing trips up to Vancouver,” Gilmore adds. “I needed them out of Los Angeles because of their active social lives. The first time up, we worked at Bryan Adams studio, The Warehouse. The second time up we went to The Armoury. Both studios are fantastic. I really can't say enough about the two. These trips were purely for the guys to write, but things went so good we kept every drum track and a few vocals.”

After two months, the skeleton of the new album was firmly in place, and the band and Gilmore headed south, back to L.A. to begin full-on tracking and mixing at NRG Studios. “When we came back to L.A.,” Madden says, “we re-approached it and saw if we really liked it. [NRG, Gilmore’s “home away from home”] is really nice and everyone there is really cool. It’s been really long, but it’s been a great process this time around.”

With his in every portion of this recording process, Madden has found a comfortable seat behind the desk, working alongside Gilmore. “We’re pretty hands-on, especially when working with Eric Valentine the previous two albums,” Madden explains. “We got to learn a lot about recording because Eric’s a really big gear-head. He knows a lot about equipment, a lot about sound. And after we did our last record, we all started recording on our own. So we’re very hands-on. But the thing is with a producer, I really believe that there’s a reason you have a producer and you have to trust him and if you want to produce the record, then you shouldn’t have hired a producer. It’s Don’s ballgame, and I’m just going to trust his intuition. You’ve got to create the sound and then you have to let a producer come in and give you his honest opinion.”

“I have a great engineer, Mark Kiczula, who has been with me for a little over a year,” Gilmore says. “Together, we discuss a plan of action that suits that band and the songs the best. We wound up using Chandler TG2 mic pre’s a lot on this record—guitars and drums mostly. I really like how you can crunch out the sound with the input and output, or keep it nice and pristine. Moving to the different studios, Ii always brought my Royer SF-24—always a must for drum room mics. We’re big plug-in fans: Sound Toys Filter Freak, Tremulator and all the Waves stuff.”

Madden says that those choice pieces of gear came quite in handy, as the album features a lot of programming while still remaining melodic and hard-core rock; Avenged Sevenfold performs on the first single. “I’ve been DJ’ing a lot for the past two years,” Madden says, “and we get to see how people react to music every night. I’ve learned a lot from different people and just being out every night and seeing how people’s reaction to music gave me a different approach to how I put the songs together.”

As for the group mentality on recording, Madden answers, “It’s been a really good time; it’s been really long, but it’s been a great process this time around. We all love Don and we’re in a really good mood; we’re really excited. We’ve been doing this long enough that there’s a rhythm to the band—kind of like a married couple. We know how things work.”

Sarah Benzuly is Mix’s managing editor.