Murray and I got back from mastering on Tuesday night. We drove down to Portland, Maine to work with Bob Ludwig. It was a really nice, scenic drive from Montreal. Here’s what it looked like:
Anyhoo, a lot of people don’t really know what mastering is, so here’s a quick rundown of the whole process:
1. Recording or Tracking: Each instrument is performed and recorded individually. A dense song can have more that 50 layers of instruments.
2. Mixing: All those 50 layers or tracks are balanced together into two tracks: Left and Right.
3. Mastering: The mixes are then kind of “mixed again,” compressed together, hopefully resulting in a unified sound. Also the songs are put in running order and any fades or gaps are added.
Or, in Jughead Jones sandwich terms:
1. Recording: Picking out all your ingredients for your ultimate, multi-level sandwich: slices of havarti, provolone, tomatoes, Swiss, lettuce, sprouts, (veggie) meats, pickles, and five to seven slices of bread. Don’t forget condiments such as mustard (regular, Dijon or en grains), mayonnaise, corn relish, etc.
2. Mixing: Assembling the towering sandooze.
3. Mastering: Pressing assertively (but not too firmly…don’t want to bruise the lettuce) down on the sandwich to achieve a height suitable for the most openest mouth. Finally placing toothpicks in each corner before slicing diagonally, into triangles.
…and one year later you have an amazing album/sandwich in your hands!
It’s been an emotionally and psychologically rough year for The Dears, and especially for Murray, so it’s really good to have the album done and sound REALLY incredible. BTW, we’ve mastered with a lot of people, and Mr. Bob Ludwig is a genius: he’s got that bag of magic pixie dust and he’s not afraid to use it. I’ll tell you more about it soon.