JET – Shaka Rock!

September 10, 2009 | Author – Reza Nasseri

jetYou guys stated that the band had more creative control in the studio when making Shaka Rock, and weren’t as influenced by a producer or the record label. How was making this record different from your previous albums?
Mark Wilson: It was almost completely the opposite this time around. Shine On and Get Born were made in L.A. “the big record company way” in a massive studio with a producer and a million people following you around wiping your arses (laughs). This time around we got rid of everyone and got together with a friend, and went around to small studios in Austin to track and mix.

Chris Cester: We ended up using 8 or 9 studios in the end.

So the album wasn’t recorded in one central location, was it scattered all over the place?
CC: We did a lot of the drum tracking at a place called Wire, which had a really nice API desk.

MW: They also had Pultecs (EQs) and some other great outboard gear specifically for drums. It was a weird room too. The ceilings weren’t very high and the walls were maybe twice as wide.

How did that sound acoustically?
CC: Honestly it didn’t sound that great when I walked in there, which initially had me concerned, but when I started playing the drums, they sounded great in there.

MW: The drums were also tracked in tiny little room about 3 metres squared which we called ‘The Al Green Suite’, which sounded completely dead. It was perfect for tight, dry sounds.

A lot of the drum tones sound fairly “roomy” though…
CC: We only used that room for certain sounds like ‘Beat on Repeat’, ‘(She Holds a) Grudge’ and ‘Goodbye Hollywood’. So yeah you’re right, the rest of the album was pretty “roomy” and we used the main room for that with overheads, rear mics, and another special mic that Frenchie (co-producer Chris Smith) referred to as the ‘shitter mic’ (laughs).

MW: It was an old RCA mic that sat in the toilet. The funny thing is that when you put a mic in the only toilet in the building, it’s inevitably gonna pick up people pissin’ (laughs).

Did that make its way into the recording?
MW: No, haha. We have a little bit more class than that. We then moved onto Frenchie’s little studio called ‘The Bubble’, which was two storey building out the back of a house. There was no lounge room or any were else to kill time, simply a control room on the first level and a live room above it where all the amps were.

The next studio was called ‘Public Hi-Fi’ where the bulk of the mixing was done. It belongs to Jim Eno, the drummer from a band called Spoon.

CC: He built that studio all by himself and funded it by designing computer chips for Dell in his spare time.

Tell us about the early days of Jet. What’s the crappiest gig you’ve ever done as a band?
CC: It was a gig just outside of Detroit, near the famous “8-Mile”, it was actually the 9- Mile”, and this was before we’d released Get Born. As we were loading in, Nick had just jumped out of the van in his cowboy boots and these two African-American blokes were walking by and just stared at him for a moment and said, “Dayyyyyym” (laughs). So we get into the venue and there only three people there, two people that had driven for hours from Omaha, and the bartender.

MW: There were actually more people on stage than in the crowd, but from memory we didn’t play too bad.

CC: We ended up drinking with them all afterwards and getting the whole crowd drunk (laughs). The next time we came back there were 3000 people lined up around the block, which was quite a step up.

Mark, How did you achieve that crazy fuzz-bass sound on ‘Walk’?
MW: That’s a funny one, “Walk” has two bass guitars on it, and it was one of the hardest things to achieve during the making of Shaka Rock. One track was a clean sound coming from my Fender P-Bass and the other track was done with Chris’s Vox bass.

CC: It’s a 1966 Vox bass, I’ve tried to find the model but it’s really hard to track down. It looks like a Beatle Bass, but it’s much bigger and it features an in-built distortion switch that sounds really unique.

Chris, was there a preferred snare drum you chose for this album?
CC: We got a hold of a guy called the Drum Doctor who gave us this ugly looking old Yamaha snare called the Terminator, and that was actually the same snare drum used on Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’.

Finally who in your opinion is the best band of all time?
CC: That’s the easiest question in the world. I’d have to say The Beatles, without a doubt.

MW: I’d have to agree with that.

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