No matter what the budget or situation, Trombino draws out amazing performances and records that really draw you in. He delivers the results needed to make a record work and has worked with great bands, including The Starting Line, Drive Like Jehu (for whom he also played drums), Blink 182, Finch, Weston, Sugarcult, Creeper Lagoon, Rocket From The Crypt and the Poor Rich Ones.
His hard work over the years paid off this year with the success of Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American, which has become the biggest "alternative" record of the last year. He has worked on all of that band's records, including Clarity, one of my favorite reference CDs of the past few years. Just listening to the productions on these three records, you can see he comes up with appropriate, well done sonic approaches to reinventing a band in an interesting way each time.
Tell me about the new Jimmy Eat World album. You started tracking it at Cherokee with an API board, I assume?
Yeah, we tracked it at Cherokee. At the time they didn't have the API board. They had a Trident. It was probably my favorite tracking room in town... They recently just swapped it out for an API. I haven't been there since they changed it, but I am a little afraid because I was so into that Trident... The room itself was really good. It was one of the best sounding rooms in L.A. that I have found. It's got the size, but it's not cavernous- sounding. Playing drums there feels so good.
Are you still playing drums when you go in and get drum sounds?
Well, I mean I fuck around a little, but I am not really playing very much anymore.
Did you do all the basic tracks there?
Well, no. We had some money to spend, but not a lot of money.
The story goes that the band wasn't on a label then when you were recording. Did you do it on spec?
Yeah. Well, I had done two records with those guys, and I felt really brotherly. I had been hearing demos that Jim had been sending me, and I was in love with the songs and wanted to get involved some way. We decided that we would just make the record and either find someone to release it or they would put it out themselves. One way or another we were going to make it, and we were going to do it right. Fortunately, they had developed a fan base from their days on Capitol and were able to tour and bring some money in. We didn't have to cut too many corners. We were able to go to a place like Cherokee to cut the drums and to save money, go to a cheaper studio to do the overdubs. We went to a place called Hard Drive and spent a month-and-a-half to do the overdubs, which was pretty luxurious.
That's probably why those performances are so tight on that record.
Yeah, well, we had the time to spend. And then we were able to go to a place like Ecstasy and mix it and spend two weeks to mix it.
Did you mix the record from Pro Tools to the SSL board there?
Yes, we mixed through the board but that studio also has a Neve. I need to track and mix on a Neve. I have tried an SSL, but I needed to go back to the Neve. I have also learned what kind of rooms I am into. I am really into a medium/small control room.
I heard that you mixed the new Finch record in Pro Tools?
Yeah, I did. That was my first Pro Tools mixing experience.
So what did you think?
Well, I don't know. I am pretty happy with the way it sounds. One advantage that I had was that I could spend a lot of time mixing it. I didn't have any projects going on while I mixed that thing. So I would work on it for four or five hours and make a CD and drive around or fuck around and stuff, bring it back it the next day and tweak it a little more. I didn't have to get a song a day done. There was no pressure. It was a really cool experience.
Once you get fatigued you can run. Do you prefer to work that way now?
No. Sonically I think the record could sound better, but for the budget I am really pleased with it. I wouldn't do it if I had all the money in the world to spend. I would definitely go back to a console.
And recently you mixed The Starting Line at home, but it sounds a lot different then the Finch record. Do you attribute this to lessons learned from the Finch record?
I also recorded it in a different studio, which I think contributed a lot to the way it sounds. The control room there is nicer and translates better outside of the studio. But...