NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 2008: "Say Anything" have enjoyed a celebrated, if tumultuous, reign at the top of the pop-punk heap. Despite delayed tours, leaked demos, and rescinded albums, the band has retained an untouchable status in the hearts of their loyal fans. In this light, Say Anything's 2007 release of "In Defense of the Genre" may be viewed as just payback for their fans' endurance. The double album is loaded with meticulously crafted hooks and rhythms that seem to leap out of the collective iPods of young America and turn the work-a-day hum-drum of everyday life into a heart-rending music video. The new album debuted in the Top 25. Although few will realize it, "In Defense of the Genre" owes much of its vivacity to a modular Tonelux analog mixer in the talented hands of producer/engineer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate).
Brad Wood tracked drums, guitar, and bass with the band at Electric Lady Studios in New York before returning to the Tonelux mixer in his Los Angeles studio to track vocals, electronics, and miscellany. He mixed all 27 songs with Pro Tools HD 3 Accel, with individual tracks and sub mixes to the Tonelux for final mixing, and a return to Pro Tools to record the two-channel mixdown.
Designed by Paul Wolff, the engineering mastermind behind Tonelux, represent his latest and greatest accomplishment. They combine modern design and manufacturing processes with old school knowledge and intuition. Wood's customized console consists of eight MX2 mono line inputs with sends, four FX2 dual line inputs with sends, two MP1a mic preamps, two TXC compressors, and one SM2 stereo master, for a system that has 16 mix inputs.
Having piloted the best and worst large-format consoles in his hundred plus album career, Wood reflected on how he prefers to make records these days. "I'll never sit behind a large console to mix a record again; I much prefer my computer monitor, my speakers, and my modest outboard gear. I can't stand the comb filters that come off of a large console - it's too much. At the same time, it's obvious that when you take your mix into a console, it instantly sounds better." To find a happy medium, Wood underwent a months-long test of all the leading small-format modular systems on the market, intent on finding and buying the best of the bunch.
"The Tonelux sounded amazing," he said. "It had tons of headroom. The first thing I did was send audio through it at unity. Just like those big consoles, it instantly sounded better. When I built a mix from scratch, I was sold. I could push it hard and it took it all and sounded solid. It wasn't a tough decision. The Tonelux difference was obvious."
Mixdown of "In Defense of the Genre" was challenging. As if mixing 27 songs, each with multiple sections in need of distinct treatment, weren't enough, Say Anything's six members were scattered across the country. Wood produced mixes, posted the results on a secure server, mixed other songs, received comments on the previous mixes, tweaked the mixes, reposted the results, etc. until everyone was happy. "The Tonelux modules are built to high tolerance," he said, "which proved essential. I could recall a mix and know it would sound the same."
With one successful Tonelux project finished, and the Dar Williams on the way, Wood looks forward to filling the open space in his two Tonelux V-racks. "They're just getting started," he said, excitement in his voice. "And here I am with all this room to expand! Tonelux is really on to something, and I can't wait to see what else they come up with."