One of the many things I find interesting about Neurosis is that they sound almost exactly the same, beitinalivesettingoronanyof their albums that you've recorded.
Well, they're an example of a band that has figured out what they want to sound like. When they go into the studio, they basically execute that plan. They have a huge collection of equipment which they have made sort of fool-proof and roadworthy so they can go anywhere and set up, and sound precisely they way they want to.
This would include everything like their amps/heads and so forth?
Well, they have a very specific drum kit, a very specific keyboard and sampler setup, very specific amplifiers and effects units that are sort of wired in 'special'. I mean, Steve Von Till's guitar doesn't even have a pickup selector on it — because that's wired into his switching unit, which is what he uses to switch through his different sounds. So, it's a very integrated system. You can't plug his guitar into a normal guitar amplifier — you have to plug it into his setup.
So they recorded A Sun That Never Sets in room A of Electrical Audio...
The last album was recorded in studio B and the new one was recorded in studio A. The Times of Grace album — relatively speaking, they spent a long time on it because they were recording a lot of material. Times of Grace is the equivalent of a double album effectively. Then they recorded another album's worth of material for use as b- sides, and then they recorded another album which they released [last year] called Sovereign, that they're describing as an EP but it's like 40 minutes of music or something like that. So that's another album. So, they've effectively recorded 4 albums while they were in the studio last time.
I take it that things were done mostly live with some separation?
Well, the way studio B is set up — there's a big live room, and there's a big isolation room. So — there was room in the isolation room to set up all of their amplifiers and everything, and in the live room, there was room to set up all the drums, all the keyboard stuff and the extra percussion — because on that record, they were doing a lot of stuff where 3 or 4 of them were doing percussion. So, they could basically play as they would at a live show. The only difference being that the guitar amplifiers were behind a glass door.
So what was the atmosphere like?
Well, they're very entertaining people. They're heavily tattooed and they really love the Oakland Raiders. But generally speaking, they're real sweethearts, you know? I don't think anyone ever raised their voice about anything except the Raiders the whole time they were here.
Steve mentioned that they made you sync up an ADAT? Is this true?!?
Oh — they had this idea of putting a bunch of extra overdubs that they wanted to record in San Francisco. They wanted to put a bunch of overdubs on some of the masters that were going to be string sections and stuff. Then Noah was also imagining expanding some of his keyboard stuff on some of the songs and there wouldn't have been room on the multi-track to do a proper job of everything else if we tried to keep space open for that stuff. So, they slaved an ADAT for a couple of songs, but literally only a couple of songs. The hassle of having to use one of those fucking machines — especially in tandem with a real tape machine — is not worth it. I don't care if you can get 8 more tracks or 7 more tracks or whatever on your record as a result. It's not worth it. Those things suck. They're horrible to work with. They're slow. They make everything slow down. It takes twice as long just to play your goddamn record back. There's a hundred things you can't do with those little things that you can do very easily with a real analog tape machines. I have no patience for completely relearning how to engineer a...