Ross Hogarth: Van Halen 'Tattoo'

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April 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm Quote #11708

ron
(8969)

Ross Hogarth: Van Halen ‘Tattoo’
Article Preview :: Inside Track | Secrets Of The Mix Engineers
Published in SOS May 2012
Expectations were high for the first Van Halen album in 14 years — and with eight mics on the bass alone, engineer Ross Hogarth was taking no chances!
Paul Tingen


Ross Hogarth in his BoogieMotel studio.
Photo: Mr Bonzai

During the last decade, Van Halen the band seemed destined for a respected elder-statesmen-of-rock existence, playing their back catalogue on lucrative tours, and had not released an album of new material since 1998′s Van Halen III. But early 2012 witnessed the release of A Different Kind Of Truth, which shot straight to number two in the US and number six in the UK, and received glowing accolades, not only for the relentless high energy of the songs, but for Eddie van Halen’s rejuvenated guitar playing, the power of the rhythm section formed by his bassist son Wolfgang and drummer brother Alex, the bite of David Lee Roth’s grizzled vocals — and, not least, the in-your-face sound of the album.

This last was, to a large degree, the handiwork of engineer, producer and mixer Ross Hogarth. Born to world-famous illustrator Burne Hogarth and raised in New York, he began his musical career in the ’70s playing guitar and writing songs in punk bands, before moving to California to work as a roadie, soundman and production manager for the likes of Jackson Browne, David Lindley, Fleetwood Mac and Little Feat. His next step was to cut his studio engineering teeth at Rumbo Studios near Los Angeles, where Don Gehman, John Mellencamp’s producer, became one of his mentors. Hogarth has since built up a very impressive and extremely varied studio credit list, featuring the likes of Mellencamp, REM, Ziggy Marley, Jewel, Sick Puppies, Melissa Etheridge, John Fogerty, Motley Crüe, Hall & Oates, Roger Waters, the Black Crowes and the Doobie Brothers. Hogarth has won two Grammy Awards and currently works out of his own hybrid analogue/in-the-box LA studio, BoogieMotel.

Finding A Sonic Imprint


Adding his own gear to that resident at 5150 gave Ross Hogarth a powerful mixing arsenal. In this rack, from top, are a Retro Instruments 2A3 EQ and 176 compressor, Bricasti M7 reverb, Chandler TG1 limiter, and two AMS DMX 15-80 delays with a TC Electronic 2290 delay between.

Ross Hogarth’s work on A Different Kind Of Truth began as far back as early 2010, when he went up to Eddie van Halen’s 5150 (LA police code for ‘insane’) studio in LA. It’s next door to van Halen’s house, and every Van Halen album since 1983 was recorded there, though Truth would prove a partial exception to that rule. Hogarth explains: “5150 is the band’s sanctuary, where Ed and Al know what they hear and what they like. It is a fully equipped studio with a 72-input 9000 J-series SSL desk and lots of analogue outboard, which meant that this was predominantly an analogue project, even though we recorded to Pro Tools. I initially went there to demo songs with the band. We’re all professionals working with professional equipment, so we don’t really do demos, but we were establishing the sonic imprints for the different instruments on the album. Ed, Al and Wolfie were getting sounds, moving the songs forward and playing together as a band and we recorded everything to get an idea of the sound of the final album.”

In terms of “moving the songs forward”, seven of the 13 songs on the final album are reworked rarities from the band’s early days. It could have been a disaster, but what Roth has called “a collaboration with our past” turned out remarkably fruitful. “Dave wrote new lyrics to all the songs,” recalls Hogarth, “apart from for ‘She’s The Woman’ and ‘Bullethead’ — two songs that more or less remained the same. Dave put his own modern-day, personal life spin on the other songs, and the band worked hard to make everything really top-quality, both in terms of the songs and the playing. They are super-tight and have a great spirit. It’s also a beautiful thing to see the father-son relationship of Eddie and Wolfie, and to also see his connection with his uncle, Reverend Al. I’d like to add that nothing from the old demos survived. Everything on the record as far as the recording is brand new.”

David Lee Roth likes working in Henson Studios [originally A&M] and has been been making music there for well over a decade, so he persuaded the band to leave 5150. In mid-January 2011, the band moved out of 5150 to work there, with staff engineer Martin Cooke, engineer Paul David Hager and producer John Shanks. By the end of March 2011, the band had returned to 5150, where the Van Halens and Hogarth finished the record. Returning to talking about the beginning of the project, Hogarth described the “sonic imprints” the band and he devised for the different instruments.

The rest is in the print edition of the magazine, or available for purchase as a PDF file, or available if you’re a subscriber, or if you wait 5 months.


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April 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm Quote #11712

jroundy
(1366)

Can’t wait to read the rest….thanks for posting.


The poor folks play for keeps down here…They’re the living dead. Nobody rules these streets at night like Van Halen!!


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April 25, 2012 at 8:26 pm Quote #11751

VAiN
(2768)

That’s a nice little read.. can’t wait for the rest!


Resident dickhead. I will hurt your delicate feelings.


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April 26, 2012 at 5:30 am Quote #11780

animal
(788)

Same here. Like to read more


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May 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm Quote #12516

ron
(8969)

My copy came yesterday, I just glanced at the story and saw that it contains some really good stuff. I look forward to sitting down and reading through all the details.


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May 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm Quote #12537

Dave
(1954)

I downloaded this last night. It’s worth the $1.49 to get. A lot of engineering stuff I didn’t care about but also a lot of great info on the making of the album.

Overall, I get the sense he was more involved in making the album than John Shanks was. That’s based on this article and the interview(s) I read w/ Shanks.


Stay Frosty


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May 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm Quote #12663

VAiN
(2768)

Dave:
I downloaded this last night. It’s worth the $1.49 to get. A lot of engineering stuff I didn’t care about but also a lot of great info on the making of the album.

Overall, I get the sense he was more involved in making the album than John Shanks was. That’s based on this article and the interview(s) I read w/ Shanks.

Any chance of a copy & paste job to the forum?


Resident dickhead. I will hurt your delicate feelings.


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May 5, 2012 at 9:58 pm Quote #12698

Dave
(1954)

I think it’s copyrighted, so I don’t want to get the website in trouble, sorry.
Did I mention it’s only $1.49? :)


Stay Frosty


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May 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm Quote #12887

ron
(8969)

Dave played the keyboards on Tattoo…. interesting.


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May 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm Quote #12896

mrmojohalen
(5454)

How much is the magazine ?


When you turn on your stereo, does it return the favor?


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May 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm Quote #12899

ron
(8969)

mrmojohalen:
How much is the magazine ?

Cover price is £4.99 (it’s a British mag)


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May 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm Quote #12900

VAiN
(2768)

Dave:
I think it’s copyrighted, so I don’t want to get the website in trouble, sorry.
Did I mention it’s only $1.49? :)

Right…

Anyway, here you guys, enjoy… it’s a pretty techy read but interesting nonetheless..

http://www.whitespacecreativedesign.com/STUFF/noone_is_safe_now.zip


Resident dickhead. I will hurt your delicate feelings.


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May 9, 2012 at 8:12 am Quote #12919

JasonA
(1013)

Thanks, VAiN !


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May 9, 2012 at 11:30 am Quote #12923

jroundy
(1366)

VAiN: Right…

Anyway, here you guys, enjoy… it’s a pretty techy read but interesting nonetheless..

http://www.whitespacecreativedesign.com/STUFF/noone_is_safe_now.zip

Thank you!!


The poor folks play for keeps down here…They’re the living dead. Nobody rules these streets at night like Van Halen!!


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