John “Feldy” Feldmann likes to stay busy. Over a three-decade career, he’s done just that, fronting bands, holding down A&R positions, co-founding a record label, and producing and writing for a list of artists as long as your arm.
Then came the pandemic. Feldmann, Grammy-nominated for his work with Blink-182 and Fever 333, got down to business in the studio at his home in Calabasas, CA, re-recreating back catalog hits by Goldfinger, his seminal California ska-punk band. The other far-flung band members contributed their tracks, with video, and Goldfinger’s Quarantine Video series was born.
Inspired, Feldmann sat down to write and produce a new Goldfinger album, the band’s ninth studio full-length since forming in 1994. Never Look Back was released Dec. 4 on his label, Big Noise.
Over Zoom, Feldmann gave PSN a virtual tour of his studio, where he’s currently working with Avril Lavigne, and talked about his pandemic productions.
On the Quarantine Videos:
The idea came out of me knowing my own brain and knowing that an idle mind is the devil’s playground. I have got to be busy, and at the time, we didn’t know what COVID-19 was, or if it was a straight killer. I came up with this idea to record my parts and see if the guys could do their own parts in their respective houses.
The first song was “Here in Your Bedroom,” which was apropos. I just ripped it off YouTube and put it in a Pro Tools session. We set up a click template and I sang and played along to the original. All these videos are one take of me playing guitar and singing. Everyone else would send me their takes and I’d put them in the session. I wanted it to sound like a live show, so our live mix engineer, Jon Graber, mixed all of them.
On Producing Never Look Back:
I wrote most of it in quarantine by myself. The whole album was recorded in quarantine. It’s a fun, nostalgic Goldfinger album. We’ve got ska, punk, reggae—all the flavors.
Mike Herrera, our bass player, lives in Bremerton, WA, and did all his parts at his studio. Moon [Valjean], the guitar player, lives in St. Louis; he did all his stuff on a little Pro Tools “light” system. Jon Graber has a studio and recorded [guitarist] Charlie Paulson there. Everything else was done here.
A lot of people want to sing their lead vocals to the vibe and hear the finished music to get the energy of the song, but I couldn’t do it that way. I would record my final vocals, all the doubles and all the harmonies, and all my guitars. I’m definitely a fan of Rupert Neve; I have the Brent Averil 1073s, the Vintech 1073s, I use the Slate Dragon as my 1176 modeler—I love that thing.
I sent everyone my finished parts with a click track. A lot of times I would program the drums; EZ Drummer has all my samples in their Pop Punk EZX. Travis Barker [of Blink-182] played a lot of the drums on the record; he lives in Calabasas. Nick Gross [Big Noise co-founder] also played some of the drums. I’ve got a great drum room and a great drum kit, so we cut all of the drums at my studio. They were one of the last things I did on this album.
On Remote Production:
I had Mike [Herrera] sing a bunch of stuff. He’d write a verse, send me the lyrics, and I’d say yes or no: “Maybe you can give it another shot.”
Monique Powell from Save Ferris sang on one song. I said, “Could you give me more ad libs? I don’t feel your presence.” She did four different takes. She was in an apartment in London on a laptop, screaming into an SM58, so I used [Antares] Mic Mod [software] and changed it to a Manley Reference Gold.
Every album I’ve ever made, I’m in the room with the musicians and I’m saying, “Let’s try that again.” But this time, I got the parts and had to make use of whatever they sent me. Thank God I’ve got such great musicians!
Goldfinger • www.goldfingermusic.com