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Kris Crummett has worked with hundreds of bands and labels around the globe. Producer, Engineer, and founder of Interlace Audio, Kris is deeply entrenched in the professional audio community – if you don’t know who he is, you should – it’s likely that he’s produced at least one of the albums you’re listening to.
How long have you been running Interlace Audio?
I officially started Interlace Audio in 2000. It’s been something that I’ve been doing since I was 15, but I got my official DBA for Interlace that year and I’ve just been building the business ever since.
How did you get into recording?
My dad had some recording equipment, basically a few SM57s and a two track recorder. All the bands that I was in were too poor to go to studios so we just ended up recording ourselves. The two track turned into a four track, which turned into an eight track… I got a second ADAT from some guy randomly who had to make bail – it was an ADAT XT 20 for something like 100 bucks, which back then was a crazy deal, but totally useless nowadays. In 2001 I realized I needed to do this seriously, and I decided that I was going to go all out. I got a loan for a Pro Tools HD system preorder two months before they came out and bought a bunch of ads in local papers and magazines.
You play drums in the Crash Engine. How important or influential would you say being a drummer is to the way you track, mix, and produce?
I definitely put a lot of focus on the rhythm section, and the “feel” of the beat in the mix. I want to be able feel the drums, rhythm, and groove on any stereo that I play it on, and that’s always been super important to me. I feel like it’s something that’s looked past sometimes on other people’s stuff. As a guy that’s been sitting behind the drums for over twenty years I need to feel the rhythm section like I do in real life.
What was the first band you produced that people would know?
The first band was Crosstide. They were on Rise Records circa 2000/2001. I don’t know if anyone would really know that band anymore, and I only did like four songs on that album. The first label release that I ever did start to finish was Anatomy of a Ghost’s “Evanesce”, which came out on Rise Records and Fearless Records in early 2003. It sold something like 8000 copies and I lost my mind. It was incredible.
What’s been going on at Interlace recently?
I have a bunch of releases coming up. Miss Fortune’s full length on Sumerian records is coming out in the next couple months. The Issues record just dropped on Rise Records and debuted at #9 on the Billboard top 200. A Lot Like Birds just came out on Equal Vision a couple months ago. Icarus the Owl just came out. I just finished tracking the new Artifex Pereo full length. In a few days Johnny Craig and I will be starting another album together. We’ve done five albums together and it’s really cool that I get to do a sixth with him. It’ll be a full band effort on Artery Records. Then I’ll be producing the new Stolas album after that. 2013 was an awesome year and 2014 is also going to be even better.
You were a big part of the testing process for the 805. What was it like being involved in that process for you?
It was fantastic! I find I’m always judging gear and I’m always really interested in new stuff and what’s coming out. I like to hear how different pieces of gear sound and I like to get my hands on them. It was amazing to be able to say, “this is a really cool concept, and there are a couple things I hear that would make this even better” for the first time and know someone was listening. It was really cool to actually get something back from PAU where there was consideration taken on my feedback. I use the 805 knowing that it has exactly what I want in it, and that’s really cool.
“It was amazing to be able to say, this is a really cool concept, and there are a couple things I hear that would make this even better”
The first session that you used the 805 on was Night Verses’ Lift Your Existence. How much have you been using it since then?
Man I use it a ton. I use it on every record I make – it gets used on all sorts of stuff. Some records get it more than others, it just depends on the way the record is supposed to sound. It always gets used on room mics – it sounds so clear and it makes room mics sound crazy. I don’t think I’ve used anything on bass, keyboards, or piano other than the 805 other since I’ve had it. I also use it often on guitars and vocals. The D.I. on synths sounds so cool and it makes them sound really wide. Many times D.I.’d keyboards get a muddiness and they don’t stick out of the mix. With the 805 they sound really clear, and exactly like how they’re supposed to sound. The 805 is an irreplaceable tool and I use it all the time.
Would you say it has changed the way you track or mix?
In a way it’s changed the way I mix. I’m always changing and evolving how I do things…and maybe it’s more correct to say that it’s changed the way I track. The 805 allows me to put other outboard gear in the chain in a way that I was never able to before. I can drive other pieces of gear with transformers if I need something more colored sounding. I don’t have to commit to a specific mic pre sound while tracking. I can mic something up and I know I have a really clean source that sounds huge, and then I can eq the crap out of it after the fact, or I can run it into an 1176 with no compression and just get that cool 1176 drive. It opens up all different types of options for post mic pre processing that you can’t get with other mic pres because they give you so much of their sound that it’s not possible without going overboard. That’s the weird thing to explain to people who haven’t heard it – you are getting the sound of the PAU, but the sound of the PAU is like the sound of the microphone before the PAU. Once they hear it they just get it and they’re stoked.
“The 805 allows me to put other outboard gear in the chain in a way that I was never able to before.”
Who or what type of engineering would you recommend it to?
Anybody who needs a four channel mic pre. Honestly, it is an excellent first mic pre because it is super clean and the price point is awesome and you get four channels as well as four DI’s, which is killer. A lot of new mic pres these days don’t have ¼” inputs on them which is a bummer. Honestly, I don’t know who doesn’t need one. The 805 doesn’t cater to only one style of recording, it’s something that everyone should have in their rack.
Is there anything else you want to comment on about the 805?
The feel of the 805 is excellent. I love the knobs and the controls. One thing that’s really cool is that tracks seem to stack up way better because each track has more of the character of the microphone – especially if you’re using different microphones for different sound sources. The tracks have the character of the microphone and not necessarily a bunch of added character from the pre, so you get different spaces from each source, as opposed to everything sounding like an API or Neve and getting lumped into the same spectrum. The 805 gives me a taller mix because each source is sitting where the microphone and mic placement puts it instead of where the pre puts it.
Your new studio build, is there anything you want to say about that? Are you drastically changing the design or incorporating different recording philosophies?
Well, it’s all the same gear – everything from the old studio will be moving to the new studio. The studio itself will be quite a bit bigger than our previous space. I’m looking at the blueprints right now, the interior is going to be 20’ x 28’, and the live room is going to be a similar size with two large iso’s. I haven’t quite solidified how big they’re going to be yet, but all in all it’s going to be bigger and cooler – 16’ vaulted ceilings. It’s going to have more of a modern “cabin in the woods” sort of vibe. We’re hoping to have everything done within the next 6 months.
What’s coming up for the Crash Engine this year?
We have a music video coming out that’s being produced by one of the biggest video companies in the world, and we’re super excited about that, it’s pretty nuts. I’ll let you know as soon as it comes out. That’s about it for me – lots of snow here and the new studio, that’s my life.
We’ve known Spencer Cheyne and his work as a local jazz drummer and recording engineer long before he was a user of the 805. He runs The Station Recording Studio here in Calgary, and he’s lining up for what’s looking to be a hugely successful 2014. The following is taken from a chat with him at The Station in late 2013.
What’s the story behind your transition from jazz drummer to studio owner/engineer at The Station Recording Company?
I guess I was always a “studio geek” at heart, even while pursuing a career in drumming. Andy Ericson, one of my first
drum teachers had a home studio, and sometimes during lessons we would do some recording, or talk about the recording side of playing, and it always fascinated me more than the actual drumming itself. I got a little portable recording rig, and began recording my bands, friend’s bands, and just became enthralled with the whole process. That little mobile rig has evolved into what is now The Station Recording Company – a full feature recording studio in the heart of Calgary featuring an SSL console, racks of outboard gear (including two PAU 805’s), and an extensive modern and vintage mic collection.
Who have you been working with recently?
Some recently include John Blackwell Jr., George Canyon, Dave Peirce, Ryan Laird, P.J. Perry, Tommy Banks, Jocelyn Alice, and Kirstyn Johnson.
What are your thoughts on the sound of the 805? Has it changed the way you record or mix?
The 805 is one of the most 3D and punchy preamps I’ve ever heard. It’s like an API 3124+/512c, but with more top and bottom end, and it sounds more three dimensional. It’s got a crazy amount of detail, but not in a clean/clinical way, and that’s totally key. I’ve been going through this with converters recently. Even if something says it’s clean, there is not just one version of “clean”. All gear spec’d as clean and flat does something different to the sound. With the 805, it’s clean in a three dimensional, punchy, vibey kind of way…which I’ve literally never heard before. Usually when something is clean and flat it’s kind of sterile and boring and just uninspiring, but true to advertised spec, the frequency response is flat.
My experience with more colored gear like API or Neve is that there are tradeoffs for the perceived attitude or vibe that you sometimes get. With the API preamps, the mids seem pushed forward, which I guess can be good for some things, but then there’s the whole other issue with the pads. The Neve, it’s got its own thing going on, and it’s obviously worked for many records. My take on this is that it works well for things that don’t necessarily sound amazing because it helps blend and mush them up. When I have something that sounds great at the source, I don’t want to be mucking with the sound, I want it to be what it is. I want to magnify how good it sounds in the room.
We have a really nice grand piano and it sounds fantastic by itself. The Neve pres give the essence of how it sounds in the room, but they seem a little mushed, or veiled – cloudy is the perfect word for it. The piano through the PAU sounds bigger than it actually is, while being clean in a way that doesn’t make the low end sound mushy in the speakers, or over exaggerate the high end. It’s just punchy and open.
We also have an SSL desk at The Station. The pres aren’t that bad – you could make a record with them. They’re clean, meaning the frequency response is flat, but they don’t have the depth, punch, or detail that the PAU has, and you really notice it once you start stacking the whole record. When I did an entire record through the SSL pres I had to work a lot harder to build that depth and punch into the mix.
The 805 has changed my outlook on gear. I sold three racks of API 3124+’s that were replaced by 805’s. I still use my 1073 on some strident vocals that just need the Neve “haze” to help smooth them out, but anything where the source is good goes through the PAU. It just makes it come to life. I use it on everything including grand piano, acoustic guitars, bass, drums, percussion, vocals.
Compared with the other gear you’ve used, what have been some of your, and your client’s responses while
tracking through the 805?
I’ve literally had people ask me what I did different when I first started using the PAU. They said it was the best sound they’ve ever heard in their headphones while recording and on playback. I remember that while tracking Mike Little, he was like, “what did you do to my B3, it sounds different…it sounds way better” (George Canyons musical director and famous B3 player). I would have liked to have taken the credit, but I was just running the B30 into the 805 D.I.
On drums, makes getting a great sound easy. I can pretty much just pull up the room mics and it sounds mixed, and maybe I’ll want to mix in a little more kick and snare, but not always. Super easy – just two great mics in a room with good sounding drums going into the 805.
What are you your drum room dimensions?
26’ length, 15’ on one side, and seven to eight feet angled in on the other side. It’s got a 15’ vaulted ceiling, so there are a lot of angles that provide some good diffusion. The floor is maple hardwood. The grand piano lives in that room, and we usually leave the lid open to get some extra sound bouncing around. It works really well for the styles of music that I produce.
For producing “singer-songwriter” you can’t get something more intimate and detailed, and that’s really what that style is all about – making it an intimate experience for the listener.
What was your first impression of the 805? Do you remember what you first ran through it?
It was on snare drum, and I remember being really surprised. The snare was 3D sounding and appeared to have a stereo image even though it was just a mono SM57. I could hear the depth around it, but it hit me right between the eyes. It had forwardness – and really I think that’s what the secret recipe is – it sounds forward, without sacrificing the depth and the detail in the back. I used to own an Earthworks preamp and it was amazingly detailed with a lot of depth, but everything sounded like it was five feet back. The PAU is forward sounding, but still has the depth and detail behind it. With an SM57 on snare I can literally just have snare, kick, and a tiny bit of overhead and it sounds phenomenal.
Who, or what type of engineers would you recommend the 805 to?
Everyone in need of preamps. If you get your drums to sounds right and put it through that preamp, that’s it, you’re done. In my opinion, other than a microphone and the source, the preamp is the next most important piece in the recording chain. We’ve tried and owned all the “standard” preamps on the market, and we’re now exclusively using just the PAU 805 and a Neve 1073. Also, nothing touches the PAU D.I., it’s the best I’ve heard.
What about for people just starting out?
For people starting out and trying to get a good sound there are three things you need: a good source, a good mic, and a good preamp. Converters are important, but preamps are much more important in my opinion. I sold one of my Brauners and bought a Manley Reference Cardiod for all the pop vocals that I’ve been doing. I just needed to try it. It’s not the not the world’s most expensive microphone at $2500, but into the SSL it sounded a little boring compared to what I was expecting. The PAU opened it up and made it sound amazing.
We use Gefell’s for room mics, and the PAU makes a huge difference in the signal chain. The Gefell’s have a really smooth midrange, and if you’re using a preamp that doesn’t have a lot of depth to it you get a sound that’s flat and lifeless. The Gefell through the PAU brings out the midrange with smooth detail and a 3D-ness to it. For drums I usually use the Gefells in omni running through the PAU. You just throw them up and they sound great.
What’s next for The Station Recording Company, and Spencer Cheyne?
I’m one of 13 people in the world to get accepted to Mix With the Masters in France this year with Manny Marroquin. His credits include Justin Beiber, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, Usher, Alicia Keys, and Kanye West. Who knows, maybe the PAU helped me get it…haha, maybe that’s too cheesy to put in the interview…
I’m also hoping the guys at PAU will put out an EQ and Compressor soon…hint hint, nudge nudge…
Issues recently released two tracks off their upcoming self titled LP to be released on February 18, 2014. The LP was produced by Kris Crummett at Interlace Audio. Kris used the 805 almost exclusively on all tracks. Kris also worked with Issues on their Black Diamonds EP in 2012.
Check out some great shots of the 805 in the making of the new David Bendeth Steven Slate Drums Expansion Pack.
Alesana recently posted Fatima Rusalka, the first premiere off their new album recorded by Neil Engle at Revival Recordings, and mastered by Kris Crummett at Interlace Audio. Neil used the 805 extensively on this recording. It sounds amazing, and we’re super excited to see what the future holds for Revival Recordings.
Neil’s instagram – @neilioengle
Hearts & Hands released their debut album, My Own Machine today on Artery Recordings/Razor & Tie. My Own Machine was recorded and produced by Stephan Hawkes at Interlace Audio in Portland, and is stated by Stephan as some of his best production work yet.
What was it like tracking My Own Machine with Hearts & Hands?
It was an awesome experience. We did a lot of planning for this album ahead of time so we were very prepared by the time production began. Based on the pre-production, I knew almost immediately who we needed to get to play drums on this album. My good friend Justin Salinas (The Word Alive, Catherine) had recently moved back to town and he was the perfect fit. Even though we used a studio drummer and I played bass on the record, it still only took 2 weeks total to track. This is largely due to the meticulous preparation and flawless studio execution of Alex Lyman and Garrett Garfield. Guitar performances were spot on, and the Garrett’s vocal performances were really off the charts. I can’t say enough positive things about my experience working with them. Alex is a bit of a taskmaster (he would gladly admit to this), but I appreciate that quality when a guy can back it up with results. The record is a perfect marriage between my more old school recording philosophies and Alex and Garrett’s more modern approach to songwriting and pre-production. In fact, I even told Alex when he contacted me about making this album that I wasn’t necessarily the guy to make “those type” of records, but I assured him that the bands I had worked with previously were all “got the record they wanted” and that he would be no different. We are both immensely proud of the album in all aspects. After seeing the band play live just recently, I can honestly say that they do the record justice, and vice versa.
What are some of your favorite things about your production efforts on it and the way it turned out?
I covered a bit of this in answering the previous question, but it is safe to say that it is a song oriented production. Everything about the album lends itself to people feeling the music, while still sounding polished enough to engage the listener. It can be tricky to walk this line, but ultimately it provides the listener with everything they need to enjoy the album. Every album has different objectives it needs to accomplish. Recognizing and accomplishing these objectives is what making albums is all about, and it is the reason why I enjoy making a variety of very different records. I would get bored making the same record over and over again, but this hasn’t been an issue. I have made some very eclectic records in my day and the range of different projects I work on is staggering. From the prettiest acoustic album to the gnarliest death metal record and everything in between, my goal is to always acknowledge what a project needs and make sure it gets plenty of it. I have a winning game plan no matter what the brand brings to the table, and executing that game plan is the most rewarding and constant part of my job.
What instruments/mics did you use the 805 on for this album?
My main uses were Lead Guitars and Bass. These are my two favorite uses for the 805. For lead guitars, it has a way of setting the leads apart from the rhythms because of the different space that the sound occupies. Leads seem to “float” above the rhythm guitars and this can be essential when making space for everything in a mix. On bass, it sets the bass in a very different space from the guitars so that it is very deep, yet always audible. I feel like both of these qualities are wildly evident on My Own Machine and the guys noticed the difference the 805 made while tracking. I also used the 805 on room mics and Hi-Hat and Ride, as these are spacial elements important to the way I mix drums.
Who, or what type of engineers would you recommend the 805 to?
I recommend it to anyone who feels like they need something they don’t already have. I had been fairly bored with preamps in recent years because I had a very good arsenal of cool options that did what I needed to varying degrees. Most of these were different shades of sounds, but all in the same ballpark. The 805 is playing a different game altogether. Tall, deep, and 3D in a way that my other preamps just aren’t. That doesn’t mean I would get rid of my other options, but I never realized how much I didn’t have the option of the 805 until I heard it and used it. The results I get with it would be unobtainable without it. This isn’t to say that you can’t make great records without one, but I feel like it completes my preamp arsenal in a way I didn’t even know I needed.
You recently released Shelter Red – The Split Sabre after a successful Kickstarter campaign. What was it like drumming, tracking, producing, and marketing this? What has the response been like?
Doing the guitars and drums in Shelter Red with my bass payer Austin Crook over the years has been an awesome experience. It’s an absurdly rewarding musical outlet for the both of us, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t be more proud of the band and our new album The Split Sabre (https://itunes.apple.com/us/
What’s next for Stephan Hawkes, Shelter Red, and Interlace Audio?
It should be an interesting year for me on all fronts. Shelter Red plans to keep supporting our new album and maybe do some touring. Interlace Audio is expanding to two different locations so it goes without saying that we are planning on taking everything to the next level in 2014. Honestly, as long as there are cool new records to make, I’ll be in the studio enjoying myself to the fullest.
You can check out Stephan and some of his other work here:
We caught up with Stu McKillop of Rain City Recorders last week on the recent release of Living With Lions’ new 7″. Stu’s been a user of the 805 preamp since January, and has worked with many of our favorite bands at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, Canada.
You’ve worked with Living With Lions before. What was the process like this time around?
Yeah this was my second time working with LWL. I recorded their first EP Dude Manor many moons ago. This time was definitely different. We only had 4 days to do the 7 inch. It was a super fast paced sesh. Fun but no time for really fucking around or trying anything crazy. Dude Manor we did on graveyard shifts at The Hive over a week or 2 I think. I do recall a magic mushroom induced flute solo making that record haha.
How did the PAU Audio 805 mic pre play into these recordings?
The 805 is all over the 7 inch. All guitars and bass were tracked with the 805’s. Guitars were just a plain old sm57 into the 805 and then into a Lynx Aurora. Bass was a super simple chain as well. RE20 into 805 and then I hit it with a Mohog 1176 and into the Lynx. The 805 makes my guitar recordings sound bigger and more open sounding. I don’t feel like I’m ever overloading the preamp, and I tend to record guitars at stupid loud volumes if I’m going for power tube distortion.
You work with a lot of bands that range from melodic punk to death metal. Who, or what type of engineers and studios would you recommend the 805 to?
Yeah I definitely have some range in my genre play book. With death metal, everything needs to be as clean and precise as possible and the 805 is great for that without sounding sterile. I’m just wrapping up the new Archspire LP and the 805 is all over that thing! We didn’t end up triggering the snare on this record (which is insane! 330bpm gravity blasting!) so if ya wanna hear how fast the 805 can go, be sure to peep that record when it drops on Seasons Of Mist Records. The 805 is clear and clean but not “boring” clean. It’s got a nice smooth bottom end when used on things like bass or kick drum. It’s the size it adds to midrange instruments that make it my favorite for guitars and vocals.
I would recommend this pre to any engineer with a pulse. It’s awesome and definitely sees the most action out of all my pres.
You’re currently playing in Precursor and Lined with Gold, and running the Gold Stock record label. What’s coming up for your bands, and the rest of the Gold Stock roster?
Yup! I’m playing guitar in Precursor and bass in Lined With Gold. Precursor has an EP coming out on State Of Mind Recordings out of NY. Lined With Gold just released a 4 song EP on Gold Stock Records. Both super fun bands to play in and both very different in sound. Gold Stock Records just threw our first “Fest” in May, and the video of the fest should be dropping very soon. I try to keep as active as possible in the local music community in Vancouver but sometimes I just can’t get out of the studio.
Tell us about Jimmy Eat World – Clarity.
Hahahahah great question. Clarity is one of the greatest emo records of all time. Definitely JEW’s best record. I could take Clarity to a deserted island any day of the week. I dig this record because it sounds real. There aren’t triggers blasting and gobs of bullshit auto tune all over it like their newer stuff.
What’s next for you and Rain City Recorders?
RCR is about to go thru a big change. We’ve brought Jesse Gander on board from The Hive. Jesse does amazing work! He recorded Japandroids and White Lung. He also does heavier stuff like Bison and Cooked And Eaten. Jesse was my teacher when I was a wee lad and I’m very grateful to have him join our team. We will be upgrading the studio with a Pro Tools HDX system and a C24 desk. Jesse also brings a ton of outboard gear and mics with him. We are very excited for the future!
My name is John Dello Iacono, I work with Gary Cioffi at Maximum Sound Studios. Here is a demo video that we did for the PAU Audio 805 Preamp. The audio is raw and unprocessed to give the listener an unbiased demonstration using 2 ‘essential’ studio microphones.”
This video was filmed at Maximum Sound Studios in Boston, Massachusetts by independent photographer/videographer Josh London of J.Lo Photo. Ezra Davis is of the band Theaters – they recently released their debut EP, WICKER & WAX, produced by John Dello Iacono at Maximum Sound. John’s been recording since he was 14, and working with Gary at Maximum Sound for the past three years. We’re happy to be able to add Maximum Sound to our list of PAU 805 users, and we’re excited for future releases from John and Gary.
Night Verses release their full length album, Lift Your Existence today. Recorded by Kris Crummett at Interlace Audio in Portland, Lift Your Existence is entirely tracked through the PAU Audio 805 mic preamp, with the exception of the toms. Lift Your Existence is the follow up to Night Verses’s Out of The Sky EP, also recorded by Kris. You can check out some of the album pre-releases below. We’re stoked on it.