"At the end of the day, when you’ve got a Grammy award winning producer saying “that sounds pretty good to me” then you can rest easy that it does indeed sound pretty fucking good!"
For those of you not paying attention recently here is the news: Brit metallers Neuronspoiler have recently finished recording their new album with none other than production legend Flemming Rasmussen at his revamped Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen… This is exciting news by anybody’s standards, but as you can imagine we here at Sentinel Daily were very pleased to hear of this great opportunity presenting itself to one of our fave up-and-coming metal acts. We wanted to know how things went, and, admirably helpful to the last, the whole band were ready and willing to tell of the greatest adventure in the band’s decade-long history to date…
Flemming Rasmussen is a legendary producer/mixer. When did you first decide that working with him was something that would aid Neuronspoiler, given that your previous albums were never recorded with such big names?
JR Vox (Vocals): “We were sick of excuses, compromises and being stuck in limbo for a long time. We had to break out and blow the doors off for this next record; getting Flemming on board seemed like a good move given his pedigree. Neuronspoiler has always tried to deliver music that is greater than we are, in the sense that, we have a working formula for songwriting and stagecraft, but we want maximum value for fans because we feel that each album could be our last. With bands calling it quits, both legends and relatively new bands, we are acutely aware of our own mortality which brings each album into sharp focus. No time wasting, no excuses, no compromise, no dead weight. Those were the thoughts that kept us motivated throughout the recording process. Although at times we had to pull off small miracles to get the thing completed, but that’s just part of the journey.
David (del Cid, Guitars): “My main motivation to work with Flemming was that surely he would have the skills to record in any way we preferred and in this particular case it had to be the whole band playing in the same room, rehearsal/gig style! With the current, technology-driven climate bands find themselves in, we wanted to make a statement that this is the real thing, no Beat-Detector, no copy-paste, no Auto-Tune sort of crap. We might have struggled in the past but right now Neuronspoiler is a gig ready, well oiled machine and hopefully this will come across when you hear the finalised thing”.
I can’t remember being this excited to hear an album in a long, long time! How did you go about making contact with the great man. He’s not exactly a prolific producer these days compared to some of the more modern metal production giants.
JRV: “That was me, I reached out to a few studios and had a few names in mind for production but Flemming was always a legendary name that we wanted, not just for the bands he worked with but for his overall approach to recording. There is a reason producers like him were chosen to work on the biggest projects back then, because of their ear for music and engineering knowledge of course but also because of their truly professional approach to the music industry and bands. He has seen it all, twice, and has nothing to prove to anyone. That brings a quiet confidence that we haven’t had before in our recording process. We weren’t given lectures about how a band should behave, write, perform or create, he just gave us the creative space to carve out our own identity”.
Were you worried he might say no to a bunch of little-known hopefuls?
JRV: “Little known hopefuls? You flatter us surely! No, it was always a gamble that he would turn us down but the reason industry pros like him keep working is to find exactly what we were looking for, which is a synergy and artistic kinship through music. Bands need producers and vice versa to create art. He is a very down to earth person, hopelessly Danish in his no bullshit, matter-of-factness”.
DdC: “No need to worry about these things, we’ve got something to prove and nothing to lose like someone else once said”…
Matt Monroe (Drums): “If you’re worried about being rejected you might as well stay at home and do nothing. And if you don’t ask, you don’t get. That’s the Neuronspoiler way”
And history will now record that he said yes! Were you feeling nervous in the days prior to setting up in Flemming’s world-famous Sweet Silence North Studios?
Radek Koval (Bass): “It was the best experience ever for me; I practised for about a month everyday, maybe between four to five hours a day to learn the songs and to be ready for the recording with Flemming. I didn’t feel nervous – I was more looking forward to it so much that I didn’t have time to be nervous. I wanted to prepare the best that I can. It was my first time in Copenhagen and we drove a long way from London to Copenhagen with all of the instruments and we had to cross an extremely long bridge with winds that were so strong they tossed the van from side to side. Now that, made me nervous! I had Matt and JR taking the piss for the whole journey, but if went over the side of the bridge I could use them as flotation devices. I enjoyed the road trip and spending the time together as a band, I enjoyed all of the time there”.
DdC: “I actually spent the last couple of weeks before the studio listening to many records Flemming has produced, and I obviously went through the new Metallica boxes and listened to all of James’ tapes and their demos prior to the recording studio, just to try to understand Flemming’s workflow and see what we could expect of him. I did get the feeling that he’s pretty laid back and lets the band do their thing which is what I desperately wanted, we have a bunch of songs in the new album with weird ideas/arrangements that I’m pretty sure would have got rejected/asked to be changed as has always happened in past recordings, and which I find annoying most of the time”.
MM: “Of course you feel a bit nervous. But that makes you work even harder to be as prepared as you can be. For me it was mostly excitement. I really enjoy studio time because you get to do what you love, you create stuff and express yourself in a safe environment and you get to do it surrounded by your band mates. For me that was always a great thing. And on top of that we got to do it with someone like Flemming. Amazing!”
Adam Breyer (Guitars): “I would say more excited than nervous. For me this was my first proper recording experience so there’s always going to be that little bit of fear of the unknown, but we thoroughly prepared for the recording and arrived knowing exactly what we wanted to do so I never had any doubts as to how amazing the experience was going to be”.
When you got there – after the Øresund ordeal – were you aware of the history of the place? Or is it very much ‘just’ a working studio?
JRV: “It’s a magnificent studio which is at a newer location than the traditional Sweet Silence Studios, but still in Copenhagen. Flemming had all of his signature gear however including the legendary Trident desk through which our recordings were made”.
RK: “It was great to see the Gold and Platinum records and awards from Metallica on the walls and the legendary gear that Flemming used throughout his career. It felt like standing in the presence of history where some very important albums were made”.
DdC: “I was pleasantly surprised of the simplicity of the place, just a very chilled, everything-ready-to-plug-and-play kind of place where there’s nothing else but music going on, perfect!”
MM: “There was a piece of history pretty much anywhere you looked”.
AB: “Metallica were the first hand I ever really got into so walking in and seeing all of their discs on the wall and knowing that we would be making music with one of the people who was integral to those albums was a dream come true. It’s an unassuming place but steeped in history and that hits you from the moment you walk in”.
And what of Mr Rasmussen – tell us something about his working practices… where they much different from other producers you’ve worked with?
RK: “Flemming came across as very friendly and made us feel relaxed. He seemed to know exactly what I was looking for. I trusted everything that he did with my bass amp and overall bass sound because of his experience. He seemed to be able to dial in exactly what I was looking for and it shows on the final recordings. Recording the band together was a very enjoyable experience because the energy of a real band encourages a more natural outcome than with a metronome, because music is natural. It’s about people not about computers”.
MM: “Flemming was very easy to work with. His experience definitely shows in everything he does. He knows his stuff inside out and there was little time wasted getting things ready and sounding great”.
What would you say makes his production great?
JRV: “Honesty and simplicity. He didn’t spend an age fretting over mic placement angles relative to the speaker cone, he just did things the way he’s always done it and the result is a true reflection of the performance that the band gave. This is also the first time that we’ve recorded as a band live and the energy and power are present in a way that we’ve not experienced before. The tracks were not played to a click so the drums are natural and organic. We could have only achieved this with the right studio gear which allows the band to play together and play off each other, resulting in a unique take…”
AB: “As with any recording process there are always debates to be had… Is this solo good enough or could I play it better? Do we need an extra rhythm guitar in here? Should this vocal be harmonised or just doubled? Having Flemming’s ‘final say’ on such issues made these questions so much easier to answer.. Each of us had one hundred per cent faith in his judgement and this kept us all in check and on course. Flemming never let a bad take through, but he wouldn’t let you obsess over little things and risk getting lost in your own head. At the end of the day, when you’ve got a Grammy award winning producer saying “that sounds pretty good to me” then you can rest easy that it does indeed sound pretty fucking good!”
How gruelling was the whole process?
RK: “Even though the days were packed and busy, I preferred this and I didn’t feel tired. Basically it was music twenty-four-seven because when we were not recording, we were at home preparing for the next day’s session. It proved to me that this is what I want to do with my life and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I can also proudly claim that I actually did a whole bass track in one take”.
And moving away from the great man for a moment or two if I may – when can we expect to get an earful of the new album? Is there a release date yet And what should we expect from the album?
JRV: “Not yet, we refuse to be rushed on this one but we have appointed a mix engineer who is of equal stature to Flemming. We couldn’t put his recordings in the hands of just anybody. So we hope that metal fans will react positively to the final mixes. When exactly will it be released, we can’t say for sure”.
MM: “You can expect an honest record from an honest band. We have a lot of energy playing live and that was how we approached the album as well”.
Anything else you’d like the readers of Sentinel Daily to know about this whole exciting process?
JRV: “We are fans of the DIY attitude, however in our career we have kind of moved on from that ethos and always want to give the audience the feeling that they are listening to the best possible end result without being short-changed. This of course starts with the songwriting, which thankfully was relatively effortless and collaborative on this album. Having Flemming on board was also a great chance to learn from the master about how to do things, rather than being told what not to do. We hope that fans who have followed us on our journey for ten years will see a progression of the band, albeit baby steps, but still moving in the right direction. No one will ever be as convinced of the bands quality more than the members of the band themselves, therefore it’s most important that we as a band, know that we’ve put out the best possible album that we can”.
DdC: “As always, I’m hopeful that this new album will bring us new opportunities, new invitations to great shows, new working relationships and of course, new friendships with people who love Rock and Roll as much as we do. I hope this past ten years will eventually pay off and the world will take notice of what Neuronspoiler is capable of”…
MM: “We enjoy creating and playing together. And that IS what we do in the studio and at gigs. That’s what it’s all about. Sharing your passion and creativity with others”.