Packy and Chad of “I Fight Dragons”

“Whole Lot Better” by  Packy and Chad of “I Fight Dragons”
Audio MP3
“Sailin’ On” by Packy and Chad of “I Fight Dragons”
Audio MP3

On March 4th 2010, two celebrities graced our new studio. Chad Van Damn and Packy Lundholm of Atlantic Records’ new band “I Fight Dragons” brought in their equipment. Packy brought in his custom made Squire Jagmaster, which sounded awesome. He ran that through a 1993 Fender Concert Amp. It’s an all tube amp that’s about 60 watts and we popped the screen off exposing the speaker itself because the screen rattles. Chad had a five piece drum set, but with 2 floors and one rack tom. Our session started at 6 pm but Chad happened to get to school a half hour early. Our Goal was to get set up pretty quickly and have our equipment set up and our mics ready for mic check at 6:30pm. We made that goal and after a quick mic check we started tracking.

Chad Van Dahm of "I Fight Dragons"

Tracking went really well. We put the drums in the dead spot of the main studio room. We used the Beta 52 on the kick drum and we got a decent sound. For snare we used the standard two SM57’s because they can handle the loud playing of Chad’s snare drum. The Toms we used the Beta98’s because they clip on to the drum and they are pretty standard. I used the KSM 141 on the High Hat because it has pretty flat frequency response and pretty clear. I used the Neumann KM184 for the ride cymbal because its not too bright but very warm sounding, perfect for cymbals. The AKG 414 stereo pair were used for overheads. The SF24 was used for the room mic. The rhythm guitar and the drums were recorded at the same time, guitar amp being in the Isolation Booth. We used the Violet Design Amethest and a SM57 on the guitar amp. I picked the violet design because I wanted a more vintage guitar sound. Bass then organ was next and we used the Avalon DI in the control room for both the bass and the keyboard. The keyboard decided we wanted to do some pseudo stereo so we did that during editing. We did the lead guitar next followed by all the vocals. We used the U87 for the vocals because we wanted a warm and vintage sound.

Packy Lundholm of "I Fight Dragons"

I mixed on the Illinois Institute of Art’s SSL Duality. Our first song on our disc is “Whole Lot Better”, a Brendon Benson cover. I wanted kind of a British Pop sound so I used the drive on beautiful British console on the snare drum and on the right channel of the stereo guitars. I had all the guitars sent a stereo group on the console and then mixed them in ProTools. We used 2 mics on the amp so for each guitar part we had 2 tracks. I didn’t pan them all hard left and right because I didn’t want to create “Big Mono”. I panned them incrementally apart. The main rhythm guitar got panned hard left and right, the next got half that amount and then the next one got half of the half. So the third one was closest to center. I wanted the guitars to be very big and to have their own individual space. I also EQ’d the guitars differently within protools. I took out 250 Hz out of every track to eliminate mud. For the second guitar I took out an additional 500 Hz to eliminate more mud. The third guitar I put a low filter on 150 Hz because the part doesn’t require any low end in it. The drums were panned to audience perspective. The vocals have a three part harmony and in my opinion make the song. I give allot of credit to Packy because he is simply a fantastic singer and nailed all parts with only a couple takes. I EQ’d them for texture so the lower harmony had a Low Pass on 3.7Khz the higher harmony had a Low Filter at 500hz and the middle harmony had a 250hz filter on it. Some automation was used on the vocals to control the level at some points. Three reverbs were used and sent to the stereo returns. The vocals were sent to the TC Electronic M6000 and made adjustments to the preset “Nice Vocal”. Snare and handclaps I made adjustments to the preset “Dance Snare”. I sent the guitars, overheads, and the organs to the TC and used the preset “Warm Venue”.

The second song was “Sail’n On”, a Derek Trucks cover. I wanted this song to accent every musical aspect and groove at the same time. I wanted it to sound like a live performance, giving every instrument its space. I sent the guitars to a stereo track on the console again and EQ’d them in protools. Allot of the same techniques were used in the EQ process for the guitars as in the previous song. I automated the organ so that when they did that slide down the keys that they panned to the left. I wanted the organ to come to life when the guitars were brought down behind the vocals.