San Diego, CA (April 4, 2005)–Released in February 2003, Switchfoot’s album, The Beautiful Letdown–the San Diego band’s first on a major label–closed out 2004 with double platinum status. The band is once again in the studio with engineer, producer and long-time API fan, John Fields, working on the follow-up record.
“They’ve been on the road for the last two-and-a-half years,” reported Fields. “This time, they wanted to make the album at home in San Diego. In L.A. we’ve got 50 to 100 choices with killer drum rooms and great consoles, but in San Diego you have one choice–Signature Sound.”
The choice of studio was heartily endorsed by Fields, not least because Signature Sound, San Diego’s premier recording facility, installed a 48-input, 24-monitor API console in 2003. “I just love API consoles,” enthused Fields, “and API mic pres in general. I own a bunch of API gear, like the ‘four-banger’ mic pre, the 3124.”
API’s four-channel model 3124+ features the same mic preamp circuit that is used in all API consoles, plus the same output transformer that is used in all API equalizers.
Fields continued, “I have three API 550 [four-band] EQs and a 560 [ten-band graphic EQ] in a Lunch Box. I carry them around wherever I go, but didn’t need to this time because there were already a bunch at the studio.”
The API console was installed at Signature Sound after initially being set up in a temporary studio by Blink-182 and their engineer Ryan Hewitt and long-time producer Jerry Finn for the recording of their sonically experimental eponymous album, released in late 2003. The band and offshoot project, Box Car Racer, have recorded four album projects at Signature Sound, which boasts a client list that also includes U2, P.O.D. and New Found Glory.
Fields, who engineered and produced Switchfoot’s breakthrough album, brought in renowned engineer Steven Miller for the new project. Miller, who helped shape the sound of Will Ackerman’s Windham Hill label, shares Fields’ love of the API sound. “I owned a 16-channel Demedio API console,” said Miller. “I loathe that I don’t have it any more.”
Fields revealed that The Beautiful Letdown was also tracked and originally mixed on an API console as well. “That was at Sage and Sound Recording in Hollywood. Owner Steffan Fantini is a great vintage gear collector and has got a ripping, old, black API console. We made that whole album at Sage and Sound in eleven days. We only did the songs we needed. We recorded twelve and eleven showed up on the album.”
Indeed, Fields is known for the speed at which he works. Miller comments, “I’ve been in the business for nearly 30 years and I’ve never seen anybody work as fast.” The as yet untitled new Switchfoot album, scheduled for release this summer, was also recorded quickly.
“We went in for ten days and basically cut the whole album,” Fields reported. “I’ve always been fast. My philosophy is to keep it rolling, rather than take three days on a snare drum sound, and at the end clean it all up and see what just happened. We had the band buy a Pro Tools rig and now we’re finishing the album at the singer’s house, where he built a studio in his garage.”