Metal Icon Criticizes Alice In Chains Producer For ‘Waste of Time’

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Anthrax’s Scott Ian discussed a production technique used by producer Dave Jerden on Alice In Chains’ Dirt and Anthrax’s The Sound of White Noise in a new Mixdown Mag article. The technique is to fatten up the guitar sound. Jerden had Cantrell use a multi-amp rig, selecting each guitar and amp combination for the particular frequencies it emphasised.

“Each amp was EQ’d differently: one for mids, one was for highs, and one was for lows,” he said. “So I would do three tracks on the left with three different amps, then three tracks on the right with the same amps. So it was six tracks of rhythms.”

“The hardest was the low end because he had this Matchless amp that we used,” Ian said, “and we had this Russian Sovtek fuzz box in front of it so it was like this blown-out, super-bassy, stoner-rock low end tone that on its own would have been completely unusable. All together with the mids and the highs, it sounded good. It’s just that a lot of the frequencies started to cancel each other out.”

Ian wasn’t a huge fan of the results, though. “[It] was completely superfluous, to be honest with you,” he said. “It was a giant waste of time. It was his idea to try it and I went for it. I spent all of that time playing six tracks of rhythm on every song, but two well-EQ’d tracks would have worked just as well in the end. That’s something I’ve learned: don’t use six tracks of rhythm. I think it was a good idea on paper, but functionally, it was kind of a waste of time.”

  • Dysnomia

    Interesting. I really don’t like the guitar tone on Dirt, never have. Wish it was less squashed sounding, like on Facelift.

  • Stone Gossardish

    Trying to criticized the most pure Grunge record of all is a losing cause to begin with. I’m sure Ian loves Dirt and he’s getting pretty technical here, but it is presented a bit like he’s almost taking a shot at Dirt. Pretty much no one has ever taken a shot at Dirt and they probably won’t past the idea that Got Me Wrong should’ve somehow been on there. 😉

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    • PhoenixForce5

      I don’t think its a shot at dirt. Cantrell and Ian are friends and have been since Clash of Titans in 91. I think its more like, the technique not fitting Ian’s style. Cantrell has a very specific sound and tone that’s all his own. Its instantly recognizable and it takes a lot of work but it may not work for somebody else.

      • Stone Gossardish

        Fair point. We’d love to hear a deeper discussion of all things Dirt. It’s rare that a record captures a “sound” and serves as the benchmark for it. As much as the funk brothers are the backing sound of Motown, Dirt is really the Grunge essential.