Stefan Hedengren of Softube recently conducted an interview with Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Softube: So you were a fan of Whitesnake before you joined the band?
Doug Aldrich: A friend of mine had all their records. The one I really loved was "Come An' Get It", I just thought it was a great record. Then "Slide It In" came out and blew me away.
Can you talk a little about the recording and mixing of the new Whitesnake record?
I've always been an analog tape type of guy. I have a 24-track machine that just sounds amazing but the limitations just started to get to me. I used to sit there and clean the tape heads like three times a day!! We did the last three or four projects using Pro Tools. Analog still got a great sound but digital is getting better and better every day. If you got a good Pro Tools rig and a fast computer, there's all these kind of plugins that work really well, and that's how I got into Softube.
Take a typical Whitesnake track from the latest record. How many channels would you be using there?
It varies, but they're pretty big. I think there were 16 tracks of drums. We were experimenting a lot with the drums. We tried some of the old school less is more techniques and it sounded good but since we are in Pro Tools and tracks is not a problem we decided to get some more mic's on the kick drum and experiment with blends so we ended up using four mic's on the kick drum. Obviously you got two mic's on the snare, you got all the toms mic'ed up, then there's a stereo pair of overhead, stereo pair of close room and then there's the far room, there's a mono room mic that we would compress a lot and blend in with the rest. I started recording through dual tube amps and then use the Vintage Amp Room for the sound in the middle. This way it got a lot of clarity in the middle with beef on the sides. So 16 tracks of drums or something like that. We didnt end up using all 16, but it was good to have options for the kick and room mics. Brian Tichy loves room so I wanted to make sure that we had it covered. There were three tracks of bass. Probably eight different keyboard tracks. For lead vocals, it could be lead double, a harmony, a special effect version or something. Then there would be a whole bunch of backing vocals. Everyone sang. Then later we would weed it down to the best background vocal parts for the songs. The session in the end might have 60 tracks or so, maybe more, but we tried to thin it out to let the rhythm section really breathe. A lot of that comes from the guitars not being so big. We might have 12 tracks of guitars, a set of acoustic guitars, stereo cleans, guitars for big chords in the chorus, a vibrato track or something else. David prefers to record everything and then we can go through and mute tracks or parts that don't need to be there.
David [Coverdale] is such a great singer, what do you do to process his voice?
The things that I like the most is the ones you don't hear that much. At first it sounds like it's nothing there but really there's some cool ambience that makes the voice sit better in the track. He's one of those singers that can sing into a crappy mic and he'll still sound amazing. He can make that crappy mic sound huge. The trick is to capture his real voice. I think he sounds great on this record. It's a real honor to be around when he is recording. There are times when he'd say that the vocal was to loud and he wanted to be more part of the band. He really liked the vocal treatment on the "Good To Be Bad" record, but on this there's a little less processing going on here and it's kind of more in your face. For the ambience on his vocals, it works to have a nice bright plate with some nice top end that you can blend underneath, as well as maybe some delayed reverbs or something that have the size. Between those two you have this nice bright shimmer. So you got your reverbs and some delayed reverbs or some delay that can be stereo and add some width. Sometimes we put an electronic doubler on his voice. Sometimes we would put a delay that's kind of like a 50s-type slap delay. He loves that kind of slap for certain parts. As far as EQ and compression goes. He just needs a nice warm compressor. Maybe a little bit of top end or maybe scooping out the low mids and the honkiness or something. It depends on the mic. But if you can just capture the way he sounds in the room, it will be great.
Read the entire interview from Softube.