Album: Cities (Tooth & Nail)
Dates Mixed: Fall 2006 at Paradise Sound near Princeville, Hawaii
Single Producer: Aaron Sprinkle
Single Engineers: Aaron Sprinkle, Randy Torres and Joseph Milligan
Mix Engineer: Mike Shipley
Assistant Mix Engineer: Brian Wohlgemuth
Mastering: Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound in New York City
Other Projects: Shipley has worked alongside producers including Robert John
"Mutt" Lange and Patrick Leonard, as well as artists the Cars, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Shania Twain, Green Day, the Black Crowes, Tom Petty, Devo and Cheap Trick.
Single Songwriters: Stephen Christian, Joseph Milligan, Deon Rexroat, Nathan Strayer and Nathan Young
Mix Console: Digidesign ICON
Mix Recorder: Digidesign Pro Tools|HD
Mix Monitors: KRK Expose E8
Selected Mix Outboard Gear: Crane Song STC8, Crane Song HEDD converter, Empirical Labs Distressor, Empirical Labs Fatso, Gates Sta-Level compressors, RCA BA-6A limiter, SPL Transient Designer, SSL XLogic G Series stereo compressor
Selected Mix Plug-Ins: Crane Song Phoenix, Massey CT4 compressor, URS Classic Console Strip
Last fall, supermixer Mike Shipley received a call from producer Aaron Sprinkle, who had just finished production on the latest from Anberlin, a quintet signed to Tooth & Nail Records. "I had worked previously with Aaron on half of a Jeremy Camp album," recalls Shipley. "He asked me to mix Cities (Anberlin's third full-length); I really like the band, so I jumped at the chance."
Soon after, Shipley and mix assistant Brian Wohlgemuth packed up everything they needed from their Los Angeles digs for a flight to Kauai, Hawaii. Upon arrival, they would mix Cities and its first single, "Godspeed," at a private studio Shipley helped build a few years ago, located on 10 acres of lush, unspoiled North Shore property. "We call it 'Paradise Sound,'" Shipley explains. "I knew the control room very well and we needed a fresh breath of air. It broke the routine, put smiles on our faces, and as much as the project was hard work it was a lot of fun."
(click thumbnail)Shipley's Digidesign ICON, Pro Tools|HD rig and all necessary outboard processing was transported from the Kauai airport to Paradise in the back of a dusty minivan, a means of transportation that initially worried both Shipley and Wohlgemuth. "Here came the gear bouncing along this dirt road," Shipley recalls. "A couple of local guys -- who were as nice as pie -- were driving all this tube gear on island time, bumbling along with the tailgate open. I was thinking the worst. But after we got the truck unloaded and Brian calmed me down -- I was the one freaking out! -- everything was okay. We were up and working the next day."
"Godspeed," a modern rock hit built to be larger-than-life, was mixed instinctually, explains Shipley: "It's obviously a big song, so it needed subtle delays and flanging effects that didn't pull away from the song itself. I tried to get a real depth of field, making it as non-linear-sounding as possible."
Shipley's fly-to-Kauai gear consisted primarily of compressors. "I have effects in Pro Tools that I'm very fond of," Shipley explains. "But nothing beats analog compression. I just love what the warmth of the Gates Sta-Level does for the bass and vocals." The mixer also feels strongly about the quality of fave plug-ins such as the Massey CT4 compressor, URS Classic Console Strip, and the Crane Song Phoenix. "I believe that plug-ins like the Phoenix are indispensable in Pro Tools land."