King's X "Alone"

Critically-acclaimed rock trio King's X have spent the latter half of their prolific recording career without a producer, handling production and engineering duties almost exclusively within the band. But a chance meeting in 2004 of the band and famed producer/engineer Michael Wagener changed all that for their latest full-length, Ogre Tones.
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King's X "Alone"Single: "Alone"

Album: Ogre Tones (Inside Out Music)

Dates Recorded and Mixed: Recorded in July 2004 and December 2004 through January 2005 at WireWorld Studio outside Nashville, Tennessee. Mixed in January and February 2005 at WireWorld Studio.

Single Producer: Michael Wagener

Single Engineer: Michael Wagener

Assistant Engineer: Ryu Tashiro

Single Mixer: Michael Wagener

Mastering: Ty Tabor

Other Projects: Michael Wagener has worked with a long list of illustrious and varied artists including Metallica, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Janet Jackson, SkidRow, Accept, Megadeth, Dokken, Queen, Extreme, and more.

Single Songwriter: King's X

Consoles: two Sony DMX-R100 digital consoles

Recorder: Euphonix R-1 digital multitrack recorder

Monitors: A.D.A.M. S3A (5.1 monitoring configuration)

Select Microphones: Royer R-121, SF-12, Soundelux ELUX 251, E47, Shure SM58, SM91, AKG 451, Sennheiser 504, Neumann KU-100 Binaural Microphone System.

Select Preamplifiers: Chandler TG2 stereo, Groove Tubes VIPRE, SeventhCircleAudio.

Processing: Empirical Labs Distressor, Manley Massive Passive, Crane Song STC-8 stereo compressor, Crane Song HEDD digital signal processor. Critically-acclaimed rock trio King's X have spent the latter half of their prolific recording career without a producer, handling production and engineering duties almost exclusively within the band. But a chance meeting in 2004 of the band and famed producer/engineer Michael Wagener changed all that for their latest full-length, Ogre Tones.

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"They played here in Nashville, and I met them on their bus," explains Wagener of a summer 2004 exchange of pleasantries. "The general consensus from the band was, 'Man, we always wanted to work with you.' So I said, "Well, here's your chance.'"

Wagener occasionally hosts recording and production workshops at WireWorld, his private Nashville-area studio facility. King's X were invited to perform four songs for a workshop, gladly accepted, and were soon sold on the idea of recording the 14-track Ogre Tones album while Wagener held the production reins. "Recording is left brain stuff," he explains. "Music is generally right brain stuff. If you have to do both at the same time, either one will suffer. They were happy to let go of all the technical and production stuff to just play."

"Spontaneous combustions" are something of a King's X modus operandi and "Alone" is arguably one of the band's best examples of one: it happened during a impromptu studio jam session. "They're just that good," Wagener insists. The band - who record all instrumentation live - laid down tracks for "Alone" via Wagener's discriminating microphone and preamp selections, minimal compression, and no equalization. "I would rather have the right microphone and preamp and play with those for a while," he explains. "There's no EQ on anything except the mix has a Manley Massive Passive on it." Compression was limited to vocals, drum room mics, and the mix. "Vocals used a Distressor and the Crane Song STC-8 and Crane Song HEDD were used on the stereo buss."
(click thumbnail)Michael Wagener

Notable microphones used during the "Alone" session included a Soundelux ELUX 251 for bassist Doug Pinnick's voice, a Soundelux E47 for both guitarist Ty Tabor and drummer Jerry Gaskill's vocals, and two phase-aligned Royer R-121 ribbon microphones on Tabor's newest interpreter of his signature guitar tone, a Randall MTS Series amplifier. Tabor's move to Randall followed a long stint of recording and performing via guitar modeling tools instead of tube amplifiers.

"He's back to tubes and very proud of it," insists Wagener. "The Randall really blew our minds."