Cage the Elephant interview extras
EQ Interview Extras: Cage the Elephant
By Tony Ware
The March 2011 issue of EQ profiles Cage the Elephant’s Thank You Happy Birthday. Here, read interview outtakes with Cage's Brad Schultz and producer Jay Joyce.
Brad Schultz, on guitar interplay on “Always Something”…
There was one song, “Always Something”; we had the guitar and vocals but we thought it sounded too sailor-ish, too gimmicky, too circus, too jaunty… so Jay took me and Lincoln together to think outside the box. And we were listening to a lot of Gang of Four and The Clash, and we wanted to have that interplay of guitar thing going on, so we figured out parts for each of us that could play off one another, and Matt put the same vocal melody behind it and it really clicked perfectly, filling it out even though it’s still sparse.
…on musical inspiration…
A lot of our songs were about the energy, and on some of the slower songs on this album, the energy is the same; it’s just different, in a different form. We wanted to show that if music is honest and pure, you can find quality in any form. The Beatles were so great because they were constantly themselves and at the same time constantly changed. Part of their genius was they could write as if a different band wrote every song, but it was all obviously them. That inspires us.
Producer Jay Joyce, on mix dynamics…
Most people are just listening on their laptops, so they’re not really into the sonics of a beautiful recording anymore. You want to make it loud as you can without being detrimental. I usually make mixes with my own two-mix compression and limiting, make them loud, and then I’ll do a safety pass with just the console compression, and the levels are pretty safe, then we’ll just see what works better in mastering. And there was a little bit of both on this record. Some tracks are just rough mixes cranked up loud, but I can’t beat that moment in time.
…on unusual sound origins…
On "Rubber Ball" in the background there's this weird singer from some public TV show; I recorded that a year or two before we did the song, so while mixing I remembered it, found the tape recorder and put it in the Casio SK-1 and played it back all crusty. Hopefully no one will recognize it; it’s just this Wizard of Oz kind of voice.
…on band collaboration in the studio…
Not much compensation is done for noise. Everybody was down for noise. With Cage, it’s complete chaos and then all of a sudden you get this nugget. We can fool around for days, and all of a sudden it comes together and you have to be there to capture it.
There's no magic button for me when mixing. To me it’s the players; they bring the consistency. The record is pretty diverse, song-to-song, but it also has its consistency because it really is a band. It all comes from the way they play and what they do. We can mike it up and fuck it up in endless ways, but it’s still them playing.