Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty have led the Royal Trux for a number of years now. They pulled a coup of sorts when Virgin Records dumped a lot of money on them, put out two albums, and then dropped the Trux. Jennifer and Neil kept the house and full-on home studio that they bought with said money and now they're back to putting out fine records on Drag City, like they had before. Only now, they can do all the recording and mixing at their home studio! We caught up with Jennifer at EJ's in Portland before they tore the house down in a rockin' frenzy.
I was listening to Twin Infinitives today and I was wondering how it was recorded. There's all these layers of stuff going on.
Yeah there was. It was done 8 tracks at a time and dumped down.
Was this done on 8 track or was it 16?
No, this was done at Greg Freeman's in San Francisco.
Yeah, I know. I've worked with him.
He had a 2' 16 and he also had an 8 track there.
Did you do the second and third records with Greg?
No, we just did Twin Infinitives. Also some songs that we ended up using on the Live and Unreleased CD.
On Cats and Dogs did you play everything on that or did you have a live band?
We had a band. We actually did that in a 24 track studio with an API board that had belonged to Brian Wilson at one time. Omega Studios is the name of the place. It was really overpriced and all but we got a deal with this guy and we tracked in 2 days and mixed in two. It was with a drummer, a second guitar player, Neil and myself. As far as the basic tracks, it was all done simultaneously-live.
It sounds that way. That's pretty damn fast to record a record!
I guess it really was. It just seemed luxurious because I guess it was our first time ever in a very expensive studio.
Was that the first time with a band?
Did you rehearse a lot?
Yeah, yeah. Neil and I wrote all the songs and then we picked the musicians that we wanted to work with. It was three weeks straight of playing the set and trying out the arrangements.
Were the vocals live or did you over dub them?
The vocals? The vocals were live. I did my vocals, and I have a completely different phrasing than Neil does, so I did mine and he did his but without having each other in the headphones. Hearing that kind of thing...
It'd throw you off. So at this point you guys have a studio at your house.
You have 4 ADATs?
We have three ADATs but we just bought ProTools so it's all synced up. Kind of unlim- ited tracks.
Cool. Go crazy with that stuff.
We haven't replaced the BRC yet. It's so much easier than a mouse. We've got a clean board; a Mackie 24 by 8 but we have 16 channels of Drawmer 1960 mic pres. Everything goes through the Drawmers.
Where did you score those?
Through this place in Indiana called Sweetwater.
Yeah, I've gotten stuff through there.
We had a sales rep and we were buying so much stuff through them we were getting cut some really good deals.
So you went to recording school?
I went to recording school for a year and I went to college...
Pre Royal Trux?
College was simultaneous 'cause I moved to New York while we were doing it. Neil was gonna move to New York so I only applied to one school. I was a freshman and you can only get into the classes you can get in. There was one class that was on theory that was beyond calculus and I was like, 'Hmmmm.' There was one really technical class where it was about soldering and it started there and went on. It was all done at Planet Sound which is where the Fat Boys recorded. Neil and I had already started recording the first record and we'd gone to so many different studios-we'd worked with Wharton Tiers and all these different guys that all had this information about how things should be done. It's not that I disagreed but I wanted to know why they were saying it and what was going on. So I would go to the class at the studio and ask all these questions. 'Why this?' 'Why that?'
Were you driving them crazy?
Yeah, I guess I kinda... They were like older people that were trying to make a career and I was a real pain in the ass. But then I quit and dropped out of college...