Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock Instructional Video

One of the industry’s most influential rock producers and engineers released a 2-hour, 44-minute HD video
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One of the industry’s most influential rock producers and engineers released a 2-hour, 44-minute HD video

Joe Barresi’s long list of credits, which
includes his work with Queens of the Stone
Age, Tool, Weezer, Bad Religion and dozens
more, easily lands him a place on the
short list of the industry’s most influential
rock producers and engineers. Thankfully,
in Barresi’s case, his tremendous success
hasn’t led to a matching ego, and he has
generously shared his talent with the public
in his new 2-hour, 44-minute HD video, Joe
Barresi: Tracking Rock

The program is a behind-the-scenes documentary
that walks the viewer through
the three-day process of Barresi producing
a track with the alt-rock band, Zico Chain.
It includes the signal path of every instrument
recorded and the implementation of
Joe’s massive collection of mics, amplifiers,
cabinets and audio-processing gear. Also
included are the song’s AVID Pro Tools session,
an OMF file (allowing the session to be
opened in other DAWs) and the raw audio
tracks allowing critical listening and analysis.
A release of Barresi mixing the song on
his SSL 4000 console will be made available
Q3 of 2011.

Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock was shot
entirely in high-definition video, and it looks
fantastic. The program is not available in
DVD or Blu-ray formats; instead, it has been
optimized for on-computer viewing as well
as viewing on the iPad, iPod and iPhone-4
formats. I watched the program primarily
on my iPad, but I also spent time with it
on my computer and iPhone, and it always
translated well.

The documentary begins with a tour of
Barresi’s House of Compression (his studio)
and then jumps into recording. Beginning
with drums, it moves to bass, guitar and
then vocals and in each instance, there is a
setup chapter (e.g. Drum Setup, Bass Setup,
etc.), which is Barresi talking through his
setup of that chapter’s instrument. This is followed by a tracking chapter (e.g. Guitar
Tracking, Vocal Tracking, etc.), which captures
the actual recording process including
Barresi’s interaction with the musician
or vocalist.

The setup chapters include his thorough
signal-path explanations (although exact
gear settings are justifiably but unfortunately
not included) and are complemented
with visualizations that show signal flowcharts,
gear photos and gear costs making
it easy (though possibly quite expensive!)
to precisely emulate one or all of
Barresi’s signal paths. The gear explanations
are complemented with “Joe’s notes,”
which provide a brief comment on a specific
piece of gear. For example, his notes for the
Univox Cabinet used with the bass guitar
reads, “Likes it for distortion. Uses it for
guitar, bass and keyboards. Hard to blow
it up — indestructible.” But my favorite is
his unnamed staple guitar amp that is only
known as “Top Secret” in the program where
his notes reads, “Every pro has his secrets.
Go find your own.”

Besides being brilliant at what he does,
Barresi is funny. Not just mildly funny
but really funny. It’s no wonder bands are
happy to spend months in the studio with
this guy. The program concludes with a
50-minute discussion/interview between
Tony Shepperd, one of the project’s producers
(and a world-class engineer in his own
right) and Barresi, which is worth the price
of the program itself.

The less experienced among us may not
realize how tracking a band is an entirely
different animal than tracking individual
musicians, and Joe Barresi: Tracking Rock
not only captures all of the technical essentials
to tracking, but it also demonstrates
the successful dynamic between a band
and a tracking engineer/producer. And this
dynamic is as important if not more important
than the technical end of things. Barresi
demonstrates this concept perfectly.

The most amazing thing about this program
is that it is packed full of information
for both the beginner and the seasoned
pro. One would be hard pressed to find an
engineer that wouldn’t benefit from this
documentary in one way or another. I know
I’ll be revisiting it myself from time to time.

Price: $95

Contact: Tech Breakfast |

Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer,
engineer and mixer as well as a senior
contributor to PAR.