Butch Vig’s Recording Secrets


Super-producer Butch Vig is currently fielding technical and artistic questions over at Gearslutz. Vig is the acclaimed songwriter, drummer and producer behind seminal albums such as Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream” and all the Garbage studio albums.

Vig is was one of the first producers to use the ProTools “sound” to his advantage. One characteristic of his sound is the inventive use of rhythm based mixing . This is where several types of drums (live drums, programmed beats & mastered rhythm sections) are playing back in parallel, all occupying their own pocket in the frequency range.

Vig on recording Garbage:

A lot of the Garbage songs had multiple drum sounds…live drums (usually looped and mixed down to stereo, sometimes mono), programmed beats (usually run through an amp or stomp box) and sometimes we would make our own “record”…which means taking a beat, maybe with a bass line, guitar line, or some sound effect, and running all of them through the same stereo effect to give it a “mastered” feel…almost like we were sampling off an old album.

Also, he gave some information on recording the first Garbage album:

In fact, the 1st Garbage album was done in a sort of lofi chain:
We recorded into a 24 track Otari MX80 (I think!) and almost all the tracks except for vocals were run through either an Akai S1000 sampler or Kurzweil K2500…then we mixed the whole thing through the Harrison w Flying Faders.
It wasn’t until Garbage’s V 2.0 that we jumped into Pro Tools!

This explains the constant pulsating rhythm in the first album. These days, the same sound could be achieved by running all my guitar tracks trough a sampling synthesizer like the Korg M3. The M3 has rocking compressor that makes everything sound “pre-mastered” and of course an incredibly rich palette of BPM-synched filters and modulators.

Try it, this may inspire a brand new batch of songs.


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