HOPEWELL JUNCTION, NEW YORK: Rob Caggiano is perhaps best known as the guitarist for heavy metal icon Anthrax, but those in the scene know he is responsible for some of the best-produced albums of the last decade, including We've Come For You All by Anthrax, Hunter by A Life Once Lost, Glitter In The Gutter by Jesse Malin (featuring Bruce Springsteen) and the Grammy-nominated Nymphetamine by Cradle of Filth, among many, many others. Most recently, Rob is busy producing and engineering the forthcoming debut album for his new band The Damned Things which features himself and Scott Ian of Anthrax together with members of Fall Out Boy and Every Time I Die. To perfect the guitar and bass sounds on the band's forthcoming album to be released on Island/Def Jam, Caggiano stepped up from his longtime favorite interface, a Metric Halo ULN-2,
to the Metric Halo ULN-8, allowing him to input multiple mics on multiple cabinets per take. Apart from drums, everything on the yet-to-be-named album went through the ULN-8 to capture the "in your face" sound that the producer is noted for.
Caggiano describes the songwriting of The Damned Things as a unique melding of classic rock with contemporary elements, as "raw, but not too raw." He sought to capture that collection of contrasts and complements in the sonic signature of the new album. The band recorded Andy Hurley's drums at Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village straight to analog tape and then dumped the tape to files for use in Caggiano's Digital Performer/Metric Halo ULN-8 rig. From there, they retreated to Brooklyn's MetroSonic Studio to record guitars, bass, and vocals, along with some keyboards and percussion. "MetroSonic is a great place to set up shop," said Caggiano. "Lots of space in the control room, plenty of old gear, a funky live room and lots of windows that peek out at the NYC skyline! Having natural light coming into the control room really helps the vibe for me... being able to see the Empire State Building in the middle of a lightning storm while cutting a screaming guitar solo is something that most people will never experience. Words can't even describe it really!"
Caggiano demo'd most of the new album before hitting the studio, turning to the imperfect, but reasonable, approximations delivered by modeling plug-ins to zero in on the gear he wanted to mic for the real thing. The most notable departure from business-as-usual metal recording was the elaborate guitar rig that helped bring about the melding of classic and contemporary that the producer sought. With plenty of exceptions, the principle guitar sound on the forthcoming album is delivered by a Fryette Sig-X head through Fryette cabs combined with either a Marshall, Wizard, or Orange and the other through various other cabs (heavy metal trivia fans will like to know that the Marshall 800 head is the very same one used by Scott Ian to record Among The Living years ago). The guitar went into a Radial Tonebone to split the signal prior to hitting the amps. A combo of an Audio-Technica 4050 and a Shure 57 captured the Fryette cabinet and then went into a Universal Audio 2108 and a Neve Portico 5042 Tape Emulator before it hit the "return" of the ULN-8. The other head/cab featured an Audio-Technica 4033 and a Shure 57 straight into the ULN-8 using the internal mic pres (set to Classic British).
"I've produced over fifteen albums with the Metric Halo ULN-2," said Caggiano. "I love the mic pres and the converters because everything I run through them sounds 'in your face.' The ULN-8 is even more astounding with even BETTER converters and eight of the ULN-2 mic pres!! For The Damned Things, I tended to use the 'Classic British character setting on the ULN-8's mic pres, quite a bit. It just sounds awesome! It gave the guitars and vocals exactly the tone I was looking for, and it even delivered an aggressive sound for a conga percussion riff! Of course there are other "character" settings to choose from along with the option of just hitting the pres as clean as possible with no additional tonal coloration. I feel like I've only begun to tap the potential of the ULN-8 mic pres!"
Although The Damned Things' debut will be mixed by Nick Raskulinecz in Nashville, Caggiano is looking forward to future projects that will allow him to take advantage of the Metric Halo ULN-8's high-resolution summing amplifier for mixdown.
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