History Repeats Itself
Mike Piersante mixes National Ransom
By Ken Micallef
The December issue of EQ magazine profiles Elvis Costello's National Ransom, produced by T Bone Burnett, recorded by Mike Piersante, and mastered by Gavin Lurssen. Here, learn more about Mike Piersante's mixing techniques, in his own words:
“T Bone calls it more balancing than mixing. We’re already fond of the way things sound, and if they sound good when you cut the track and everyone is inspired, we don’t change that all around at mixing. It’s balancing, running it through the good board, maybe the kick drum needs a little more compression because I will tend to go light on any compression usually during tracking. Little sprinkles of API EQs, then just balancing and blending things. Maybe a little delay, some reverb. But overall, it’s a very organic approach to mixing. We’re not carving the stuff to death.
“Our console is a hybrid API console designed and built by Robert Bushnell and the staff at Sunset Sound in 1968. It’s all API EQs, op-amps and transformers. The console was in the number one room at Sunset Sound through the early eighties. It recorded a lot of Disney scores and TV theme shows, and albums by the Doors (LA Woman), Janis Joplin (Pearl), and Led Zeppelin (II and IV). The Rolling Stones used the board and Sunset’s echo chamber to mix their records (Exile on Main Street). You can take everything you love about API: the headroom, the openness, and add the way Sunset Sound built it with its very simple signal path and great preamps. It acts as kind of glue. A lot of modern consoles are very clean and they leave the sound unfettered where the API will put a little bit of character on everything. So everything has a similar glue to it. I will take tracks that are cut elsewhere and bring them up on this console before I have done anything and it sounds like I have already been mixing for half an hour. It bonds everything together in a nice way and gives it a big fat tone.”