Home » recording » steve wilson’s the future bites

ELECTRONIC OBSERVATIONS and SOLILOQUIES for the modern world

Steven Wilson’s THE FUTURE BITES

By Paul Vnuk Jr.

 

Steve Wilson

Photo by Andrew Hobbs

For fans of Steven Wilson’s progressive rock-infused solo career, his sixth solo adventure, THE FUTURE BITES, may seem like a bit of an unexpected change in direction. However, to those intimately familiar with his 35+ year career, Wilson has explored these roads before; the dark pop influences found in No-Man, Blackfield, the Cover Version series and Porcupine Tree’s mid-period Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun, the ambient textures embedded in Bass Communion and Continuum, and the electronic krautrock experiments of I.E.M. all collide on the THE FUTURE BITES, a nine-song collection of concept art, stark commentary and analog soundworlds that, like a great film, reveals itself more and more with each listen. I was honored to sit down with Steven and dig into his latest creation.

Steve Wilson singing

Photo by Naama Kostiner

Steven Wilson

Where and when was THE FUTURE BITES recorded? 

The genesis of this  album goes back to the middle of 2017. Some of the stuff on the record has elements from the very first sketches and demos that I made. It was recorded in about six months of intense recording from the summer of 2019 to the beginning of 2020. Then the album was finished in January last year. Most of the tracking was done in my co-producer David Kosten’s studio in London. He has an enviable collection of analog keyboards. We had a lot of fun playing with an ARP 2600, VCS 3, Minimoog, Memory Moog, Pro-One—you name it. It was a lot of fun just to experiment like an idiot.

Experiment like an idiot, I love that!

I approached this album basically by using instruments that I’m not so familiar with. I know what the guitar can do, what its capacities are. When I approach a synthesizer, I really don’t. And I like that. I get genuinely excited by the accidental things, those moments of serendipity that pop out when you’re playing around with something that you don’t really understand.

Where do you start your creative process when you’re making an album? Is it, “I like these sounds and textures, I’ll turn it into a song,” or do you sit down with an acoustic guitar and come up with words or a melody?

Across my whole career, very rarely have I sat down with an acoustic guitar or piano and thought, “Oh, that’s a nice melody. I’ll turn that into a song.” Most of the things I’ve done over the years have started from being excited about a sound, a texture, a rhythm. For example, I might wander up to the Prophet 5 keyboard. I might turn on the arpeggiator, play around and suddenly hit on something I really like. People ask me, do you write lyrics first or music first? Both. That little arpeggiating pattern suddenly suggests the lyrical melody, which might suddenly suggest a lyrical phrase which fits the cadence of what I’m singing. That then suggests the next musical idea—a bit of lyric, a better melody, maybe some backing vocals, another keyboard part. It’s a very intangible thing—the music, the melody, the sound, the texture, the arrangement, and the production, all edge each other along in a kind of symbiotic way.

How do you self-edit, curate and decide what makes the cut for the album? Do you finish every sketch?

There were about 30 song ideas for this album, and some of them I absolutely did drop before I finished them. I think 21 or 22 songs were finished to a master standard. Six of those were on the deluxe box, and another four or five have been B-sides.

How do I decide which songs go on an album? It’s quite simple really—the ones I like the most, the songs that excite me. Then again, it’s not as simple as that because I don’t want to repeat myself. There’s a track on the deluxe edition box set that I’m really proud of, but it sounded like something I might have put on an album five or six years ago. So, it’s not a question of the quality of the song. It’s a question of, do I feel like this is an evolution in my sound? If something feels like I’m returning to my comfort zone, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad—it doesn’t go on the record.

Steve Wilson at the keys

Photo by Naama Kostiner

You released some demos on the deluxe edition box set, on cassette, and they’re different enough, but they’re also not a hundred miles from the finished version. How often do your demo elements make it through it to the final release?

When I make demos in my studio, I record through the best preamps, microphones, compressors and converters at 24/96. So that whole notion of a demo is kind of redundant. It’s often very hard to recreate or reinvent things that were originally captured in a very instinctive, almost random way. When a song is new, I’m the most in touch with it from an emotional perspective. Going back and trying to recreate a lead vocal two and a half years after I initially wrote a song… maybe I’m not that person anymore, or I can’t even remember what I felt like when I wrote the song. For me, the initial lead vocal is hard to top because of the emotional connection I have to the song at the instant it was being created. That’s why I record everything at the best possible resolution and quality right from the start.

Having said that, it was less so on this record than on previous records because David pushed me a little bit harder to experiment, but some of the sound design elements, for example, like the guitar solo on EMINENT SLEAZE—I could never recreate that. I wouldn’t want to recreate that. That was something that just happened on the spur of the moment within an hour of when I wrote the song.

That guitar solo is one of my favorite moments on the album—it has a very angular, jagged Robert Fripp ‘Great Deceiver’ feel.

That solo is a direct extension of the lyrics. One of the reasons I wanted to play all of the guitars on the record is because of that very thing. When you give a guitar solo to an amazing superstar guitar player, they can do great things, but they’re not playing the solo as a direct extension of the sentiment of the lyrics. Me, as the songwriter—that is exactly what I’m doing. That guitar solo, which has that element of danger and sleaze and angularity that you commented on, that comes directly from the subject matter of the lyrics. I’ve not met many musicians who ever ask me before they’re about to play a solo, “Tell me about the lyrics and the theme of the music, or the emotions and the sentiment of the song.” Being the songwriter, of course I’m in touch with all that.

THE FUTURE BITES has elicited some strong opinions, being an electronic synth-based album rather than a heavy, prog-guitar driven album. What informed your direction for this record?

It was a gradual acknowledgment over a two or three year period that the world we live in now is an electronic world. What I mean by that is, all of the sounds that my kids, who are seven and nine, hear growing up are entirely electronic. The sounds they hear from their laptops, from their iPads, from their phones, even from the doorbell chime, for goodness sake, it’s all electronic! So obviously, the music that connects best with them and engages them the most is music that reflects that world. When I was growing up, the sound of guitar, bass and drums was the palette that people used to make pop music and had been since the 1950s, when rock and roll came along and essentially sent jazz into the underground.

Now the same thing has happened. Electronic and urban music has sent rock music to the underground as a niche form. I find that fascinating. Part of me obviously mourns that because I grew up with rock music. I still love rock music, but I also acknowledge that it’s hard to do anything new with the vocabulary of rock music. I’m always open to being proved wrong, but I do believe rock music is an exhausted musical vocabulary, and the most exciting music of the 20th century will come from the world of electronic music, urban music, hip-hop music—from people who don’t obey the parameters of traditional classic pop or rock songwriting techniques. I was talking earlier about approaching the keyboard as an idiot and not understanding it. I think that’s where new ideas come from when people don’t know what they don’t know.

I love the story about Greg Toland, the cinematographer on Citizen Kane, who was asked, “Why did you want to work with Orson Wells, who’d never made a film before?” He said, “That’s why I wanted to work with him—because I knew he would ask me to do things that we’re not supposed to be able to do.” That kind of ignorance and naivety can lead to new music and fresh ideas.

Here is the answer, I think, to why rock music has become more and more marginalized. It hasn’t reinvented itself. It hasn’t sounded fresh or done anything that we haven’t heard before for many years. Whereas the world of urban electronic music is constantly doing that, in a way that I may not musically respond to on a personal level—it may not be my kind of thing, but I love the fact that it’s got that freshness to it, which rock music simply doesn’t seem to have anymore.

Steve Wilson on guitar. Photo by Naama Kostiner

Photo by Naama Kostiner

This album seems like a return to when you were first starting out in the 80s, when Porcupine Tree was just you working at home with limited gear. As our studios get better and we get better gear and access to better musicians, there’s something that gets lost. It must be freeing, messing with synths just to mess with them. 

That’s actually very perceptive because I’ve felt that myself. In a way, this is the most solo record I’ve made in years. When you take the background singers out of the equation, a little bit of drums, a little bit of percussion, a couple of guest spots from members of my band, 90% of it is me. And that reminds me so much of being in my little bedroom studio at my parents’ place in the early days of Porcupine Tree and No-Man with a little Portastudio or a Fostex B-16, my little mixing desk and an Alesis Microverb 8-bit reverb. It was all about the ideas, and limitation is the mother of invention. So, you’re absolutely right.

I think that’s part of the problem with a lot of contemporary music. It’s so easy—you just buy a piece of software on your laptop, and you can make records that sound as good as anybody’s. It’s revolutionized the industry, but are people making better music? They’re making more generic music. And that’s the other side of that coin. We have the preset generation; it’s very easy to just press a button, and you have that theremin sound from ‘Good Vibrations’, press another button and you have that Phil Collins drum sound from ‘In The Air Tonight’, and that unfortunately is the enemy of creativity. The first thing I do with presets is throw them away. Even if I take a beat from a loop library, I’ll twist it beyond recognition because I almost feel guilty or dirty somehow if I don’t twist it into my own shape. I think you have to have a lot more resolve to overcome that tendency or temptation to just go with the presets because they sound great. I can just load up this beat, and instantly I sound like a great Detroit techno record from 1992. But that’s the point, those records have been made already, do something different with it, fuck it up in some way!

Where did you mix the album?

David did the mixes at his studio. The line between recording and mixing is so blurred if you’re working on a digital audio workstation. You’re mixing as you go, so it made sense for David to finish it off and mix it too.

I saw some older photos of you using a Neumann U 87 as your main mic. Is that what you use for demos and recording?

I have a U 47 clone now, the MS47 Mark II, made by a great American company called Mic Shop. That goes into a Neve mic preamp, then through a UA 1176 recorded via a Universal Audio Apollo interface at 24/96. That’s my chain. I can’t recall exactly what David’s chain was.

You’re well known for your many classic album remixes. I’m curious what you have learned or taken away from that experience—whether it’s as simple as, “Wow, I really love the way that they recorded the kick drum on this album,” or, “I love the interplay between musicians.”

Certainly a lot, but I mean, more the opposite—very often the kick drum wasn’t very well recorded. [both laugh] It seems like a really obvious thing to say, but those guys were playing live in a room, and they weren’t playing to a click track. There’s a natural push and pull, speeding up, slowing down, and a kind of symbiotic interaction between all of the people in the room, plus the leakage from different microphones into all the other microphones. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but it was—and as a consequence of that, I went straight away into that kind of recording philosophy myself when I did The Raven Who Refused To Sing at EastWest Studios in LA. It was just amazing musicians in a room for a week, and we recorded all the backing tracks live without click tracks. I’d never done an album like that before, but I love the fact that those 60s and 70s albums had that kind of natural push and pull and they’re not perfect. These days we’re so used to hearing perfect music, perfectly in tune, perfectly in time. Which is OK—music is constantly evolving, and it’s changing. I like both. Neither one is better, they’re just different.

I’m definitely a perfectionist when it comes to the studio, so I don’t leave things that are out of tune or out of time on my records… not anymore anyway. [laughs]

When you’re tracking, are you a person that does fifteen vocal takes and then comps together the perfect take, or are you a one or two take guy? 

I do a lot of takes and then comp it. If I was a great singer, like an Adele or a Lady Gaga or a James Blake, I probably would be very keen on doing just the one performance, but I’m not a singer like that, so I have to make the best of what I’ve got to get definitive vocal takes.

There is so much ear candy on this album—it kicks off with the cool sound collage textures on UNSELF.

That’s funny because UNSELF was originally the middle of SELF. David and I had this idea that SELF was going to have this complete non-sequitur middle section. We’d been listening to the song ‘On Sight’ by Kanye West. It’s this very aggressive electronic song, and right in the middle, for no apparent reason, it goes into this amazing kind of gospel, choral music, almost like changing the channel on a TV. I wanted a similar sense of disconnect in the middle of SELF. In the end, we couldn’t get it to feel right, but we realized that we had this beautiful little miniature in its own right, and this became UNSELF. The first thing you hear on that track is a constant texture from a few notes on a piano in an infinite reverb, and then the acoustic guitar comes out from this bed of spring reverb in the distance and into the foreground. I love painting pictures like that, which comes from my love of ambient music.

How about the electric guitars on the album? Are they DI, amp sims, or miked-up cabinets?

Some of them are amps. Some are DI through an amp simulation or something. On much of the record, the guitar is my trusty custom 63 Fender Telecaster, which is a very aggressive guitar. They’re great for those kinds of slashing, cutting, angular, angry sounds. It’s almost like you don’t have to distort a Telecaster; it already sounds distorted. And for instance, on SELF, those slashing atonal chords are going through my board and straight into and overloading the desk, which is why it sounds so upfront. It doesn’t sound like there’s any air moving at all.

Also, on SELF, there’s this Nile Rodgers, Chic-like funk picking. Is that the Telecaster?

That kind of Carlos Alomar, Bowie kind of sound? Yeah. To be honest, I don’t think I played any other electric guitars on this record other than the Tele. The only exception is on the very aggressive solo on FOLLOWERS, which was played on my Takamine acoustic out of the pickup, into my pedalboard going through a little Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 5 amp. That’s why it sounds out of control—that’s what happens when you put an acoustic guitar into an amp with a lot of gain, you get feedback and anomalies.

I had that in my notes. It’s almost this kind of very processed 80s electric guitar sound. I would never have guessed it was acoustic.

I would never have guessed that was acoustic myself. And that’s why I love it.

Who played the cool aggressive bass part on EMINENT SLEAZE? 

I played the bass and the bass player in my band, Nick Beggs, played the stick. The half-time Princey sections are me, and then Nick comes in with a sort of double-tempo tapping.

For the drums on the album, are these loops you altered, or a drum machine?

It’s mostly live drums.

Well, there goes one big internet myth. [laughs]

The only songs that have drum machines are MAN OF THE PEOPLE, which has a very primitive drum machine sound, and KING GHOST. The rest is live drums. I mean, they are obviously heavily processed afterward, with added sounds being triggered.

How about the vocal treatments? Are you singing and responding through them, or are they added later? 

It’s a bit of both. The signature vocal sound on this album—the kind of slap delay is David’s Roland Space Echo, and he’s got one that’s a bit fucked up, but in a good way.

I think they all are. [both laugh]

I think they’ve all got their own unique signature quirks, and his is just fantastic. If you listen, all the vocals have got that kind of halo of slap around them, which is the Space Echo.

Steve Wilson in the studio

Photo by Naama Kostiner

Two questions that I love to ask everybody: which song was the hardest to record, and which song was the easiest? 

The Hardest was SELF. There were so many things we tried and thought we liked, and then a week later we decided we didn’t. It was definitely a question of adding stuff and then realizing that less is more. I kept thinking, “We need to add more stuff to that.” And David kept saying, “No, we need to keep it stripped down and sparse.” And he was absolutely right.

We probably spent more time on that 2:58 song than we did on PERSONAL SHOPPER, which is nine minutes long. The easiest song was KING GHOST, which is one of the most purely electronic pieces I’ve ever done. There’s virtually nothing on that track that isn’t electronic; even the voice is massively processed. It came together effortlessly. The demo wasn’t a million miles away, and I came into the studio one morning and David said, “I programmed a drum part,” and I was like, “That’s good. Let’s add that.” And then we never changed it. It just fell into place so beautifully. That might be my favorite song on the record—that and MAN OF THE PEOPLE, ironically the two with purely electronic drums.

How do you know when you’re done, and how do you know when you’ve done too much? 

I wish I knew the answer to that. I think the simplest answer would be, when I’m so sick of it, I can’t listen to it anymore! [both laugh]

Thanks so much for doing this. I appreciate it. 

Bye for now.

David Kosten

David Kosten is a British producer, engineer and musician who has worked with artists including Bat for Lashes, Richard Walters, Snow Patrol, Everything Everything, Brooke Fraser, Keane, and No-Man. Under the alias Faultline, he creates glitchy modern electronica laced with nostalgic cinematic beauty. He is also the recordist, mixing engineer and co-producer of THE FUTURE BITES. David generously let us peer behind the curtain to find out how the album was made.

How did you get involved with THE FUTURE BITES?

I’ve known Steven for I reckon 28 years—pretty much half my life. Back then, I placed an ad in Melody Maker looking for musicians, and a guy turned up who I didn’t end up having enough in common with as a musician, but he said, “Oh, I know this group called No-Man.” It just so happened that I was a massive No-Man fan. The band was a trio at that point; I was a fan for about two or three years before I ended up meeting Steven, and then our paths just crossed very occasionally for 25 years. We chatted every now and again, and then two and a half years ago, Steven sent me a message and said, “I may have finally made some music you won’t hate.” [both laugh]

I guess Steven was aware of the music that I’d been working on in the intervening quarter century, so that was his opening gambit. He sent me a couple of things. He was right. I genuinely didn’t hate it. In fact, I liked it. He said, “Well, what do you think about doing some music with me?” And the first track we did, as a sort of experiment, was KING GHOST. We both loved how it turned out, and off we went and made a whole record.

Steven sent me photos of your studio and all those amazing analog keyboards. I assume you’re a keyboard player or a synthesist?

As musicians go, I’m not really a player of anything. I’ve reached a point now where I work with really good musicians, so whenever I try and demonstrate something, whether I’m singing or playing, it’s a bit embarrassing. I can get by using MIDI and programming stuff.

I like playing with sounds and machines, treating real sounds and making them a bit more unique. For me, it’s always about atmosphere and the way you treat sonics and manipulate performances to create an emotional response in a listener, and then combining that with making the artist’s vision come to fruition. The other thing I always try and aim for is, when an artist walks in here with an idea of what they think it might be that they want to do, I hope they leave going, “Wow, that’s even better than I thought it was going to be.” While synths is what I do, I also work with real audio—miked-up sources—as much as possible.

How do you go about capturing your synths or outboard sources and processing them? 

There’s no sort of standard way of doing it, but if you want to drill into the actual nitty-gritty of it, I have a collection of keyboards and machines that I’ve accumulated, and every last one of them goes into a little Speck Electronics X.Sum line mixer. It’s basically a very high-quality front end for line level and instrument level signals. I want artists to be able to come in and live their synth dreams, by having the synths all connected so that they can be played at the same time. I don’t need to route anything to be able to monitor all the machines. Before I got the Speck mixers, I’d plug a keyboard into my interface input, and then when I wanted to hear a different one, I’d have to unplug it and swap it out. Now, I route the Speck mixers to an API or Neve front end that sounds great, and then straight into Pro Tools. What happens after that? I guess it depends on what the plan is—lots of plugins, lots of outboard. I don’t have a patch bay, so I’m still doing my old-fashioned, “Out it comes on number 30—what am I going to plug that into?”

What outboard did you use on THE FUTURE BITES?

I’ve got a fantastic Grampian spring reverb, and a Binson Echo Rec and a tape echo. And I’ve got a VCS3 that’s been here since I produced the last Keane record. We put loads of stuff through that. I also use a lot of plugin EQs, delays and reverbs as well because they sound so good. What I like about outboard is that it has physical controls that you can actually do performances on.

Steven mentioned that the vocal sound of the album was tape slap from a wonky Roland Space Echo.

I had one for a good decade, and all the Bat for Lashes records used it. It was such a key part of the sound of Natasha’s records. Then that machine died. I spent a ton of money getting another one, but it’s gone slightly funky. It might simply be that I need to do some housekeeping and change the tape, but when it came to Steven’s record, I didn’t because it started sounding really cool and very close to how my beloved old machine sounded.

I think I also used an old Dynacord analog delay, more than Steve realizes actually, because I did a lot of processing with that after the fact. I did lots of post-production, taking a sound that we’d recorded fairly clean and raw, and putting it through all the toys, and that machine has this fantastic organic shifting sand quality to it. It wobbles around in a way that’s quite controllable, and it gives a lovely, slightly unsteady quality to things. So, it’s all over the record, and the Binson as well.

The reverb and space are really well done on the album. Were those plugins? 

I use a lot of the same stuff that everyone’s got: EchoBoy, all the Soundtoys stuff; Little Plate got used a ton on this record. The Altiverb stuff is quite nice, and that got used a lot. And lately, a reverb from Avid call Black Spring that came with Pro Tools—I use that a lot. I have a lot of real spring reverbs, but sometimes it’s nice to use a plugin and move quickly.

I don’t really have any feelings about having to use expensive outboard or having to use a particular kind of microphone necessarily. It’s more, does it sound good? If it came free with your breakfast cereal, that’s fine if it sounds good. I’ve spent pretty much my whole career trying to make things sound worse. [both laugh] It’s true. It’s about triggering some sort of nostalgic response. Dirty old cassette machines and warped vinyl immediately have some kind of emotional impact. Basically, people have been paying me to produce their records, and all they really need to do is go and get the Sketch cassette plugin for $20, and it’ll sound like a Kosten production. [laughs]

Any cool tricks you care to share?

One thing—I do a lot on this record with the Roland echo. It definitely has become part of my sound—just printing stuff onto it without any feedback on the echoes at all. Set it to a fairly slow echo, all-wet, and then record that back in and nudge the timing, so there’s no delay at all. Then get rid of the original sound, and you’re left with just that kind of raw tape sound with all that lovely grain and glitching. When the joint of the tape goes over the head, you hear that too. That’s everywhere on this record.

I just got my first real tape echo (Echo Fix EF-X2 ) for my studio, and now I can’t wait to try this.

It’s a great thing. How slowly you run the tape determines the quality, and if you print too loud, you get a little bit of print through. It’s definitely part of what I like to do.

The drums on the album sound like electronic drum loops and drum machines, so I was pretty surprised when Steven told me that most of the drums are real.

Yes, it’s all live, played by a fantastic drummer, Michael Spearman, from one of my favorite UK bands called Everything, Everything. He is amazing, and he can pretty much play anything you ask him to. I don’t really have a space well suited to recording live drums, so we went to a place with a fantastic vintage Neve console called Snap Studios in North London. We spent a week recording all of these different parts and sometimes breaking them down into component parts so I could treat them differently, like getting him to play drum tracks without any cymbals and then overdubbing the cymbals. This way, I could add ridiculous amounts of distortion and compression to the drums without making them sound like 99% cymbals, which tends to happen when you compress as much as I do. Mike is still in the mix, and you might hear the original kick drum, but a ton of what I did was mix down all twenty-odd tracks of drums, different room mics and all sorts of things to just one channel. Then I put it all through a 1960s unit that’s meant to be a reverb unit, but actually, it turns out to be a distortion unit. It’s called a Grampian Spring, and it’s probably the best bargain that I’ve ever bought.

I bought one on eBay a few years ago. They said it was broken, and it turned out that all that was needed was a giant fist-sized battery. The guy told me you couldn’t buy batteries like this anymore. I just went to our local hardware store, and they had tons of them. So, I plugged this thing in, and it fired up perfectly. It’s from 1962 or 1963, and it has germanium, and it just sounds great when you overload it.

I also edit the drums obsessively from dozens and dozens of takes, working out the rhythms as we go, and once that’s all pinned down, I go about treating them and sometimes blending them with electronic things as well, like a sub kick, so you never know absolutely what you’re listening to.

How did you produce and capture Steven’s vocals?

An album stands or falls on the vocals, and it’s not necessarily to do with the audio quality. It’s all about the performance and the ruthlessness and the brutality of what it takes to get the right vocal. I think Steven had previously found recording vocals to be an unnerving experience. He was OK to work with other people recording guitars, yes, keyboards, fine, but the singing—he often did it on his own. I think that was where this record got elevated because he found his confidence with me in the studio. We found ways to get him to express the lyrics in a way that he was super pleased with. It just felt really strong and on a new level for Steven.

What was the vocal chain?

The vocal mic is a Chandler Limited REDD mic, which I got a couple of years ago. I used to use a Brauner VM-1, and there’s a really nice Microtech Gefell here as well, but all of Steven’s vocals on this record were the Chandler REDD, which goes into a Rupert Neve Shelford Channel with a bit of compression, and that’s it, it’s actually pretty raw without much processing before the added reverb and effects. I would say, 95% of the organic recording, apart from the drums, is that chain.

I love the Chandler REDD mic.

It’s really good, isn’t it? Pretty much all the instruments were recorded with the same mic. My booth is maybe 12’ x 8’—it’s very small. Steven would go in and sit down with his acoustic guitar, and I’ve got a nice heavy-duty mic stand, and I would swing the mic in front of him and hit record. Then I would swing it over to the piano and toward his face when he sang.

Another thing that surprised me is, Steven is really well known for his mixing skills, and yet, he told me that you mixed the album. I assumed he did it because it has the sonics that we’ve come to expect from a Steven Wilson record. It sounds amazing.

Ok good, I was thinking maybe you were thinking, “Man, it didn’t cut it in the same way as if Wilson had done it himself.” [laughs] We were kind of creating balances and mixing as we went, so the final phase of pushing it over the finish line was not a big distance. You’re kind of more or less there. Steven was here most of the time while I was mixing, and he was making comments, but I think what he wanted more than anything was just to do things differently from how he’d done them before. We’d challenge each other, but the thing that I can say with all honesty is, we really didn’t argue once about anything, which is almost unheard of.

For the final mixes, did you stay in Pro Tools, or come back out into an analog 2-bus chain?

All the automation was in the computer, and I think the only outboard that I ended up using was an Alan Smart C-2 compressor, which has a side chain function to keep the low end from clamping down too much. I didn’t really do much in the way of compression. It was three or four dB at the most. So, the sound didn’t really change too much.

Where were the Atmos and surround mixes done? Did you do those?

Yeah, no, I have no experience with that, and Steven has a lot, so I made stems of pretty much everything, and Steven did the 5.1 surround mix from that, and I think this was his first experience with Atmos. He actually went to Dolby HQ and did the Atmos mix with them.

I can’t wait to find someone with an Atmos system so I can check that out someday.

That was my first experience with hearing that stuff in Atmos, and it was amazing.

Any final thing we should know about THE FUTURE BITES?

We just had a fucking good time making this record. We seemed to know exactly what the end result was meant to be, even if we didn’t always know how to get there.

Thanks so much, Dave!

Thank you. All right, bye.

More from RECORDING

Stephen Marsh on Magic in Mastering

Stephen Marsh on Magic in Mastering

The Mastering Mindset

The Mastering Mindset

DIY Mastering

DIY Mastering