“Pray” | King’s X
Album: XV (Inside/Out)
Dates: Recorded and mixed January through April 2007 at Wireworld, just outside Nashville, TN.
Producer: Michael Wagener
Engineer: Michael Wagener
Mixer: Michael Wagener
Mastering Engineer: Ty Tabor at Alien Beans
Other Projects: Wagener has worked with many successful rock bands over the past 30 years. In total, his productions have sold over 80 million albums.
Studio Monitors: A.D.A.M S3A in a 5.1 configuration
Studio Workstation/Controllers: Steinberg Nuendo 4, Euphonix MC Pro controller, Sony DMX-R100 digital consoles
Select Processing and Conversion: Creation Audio Labs MW1 Studio Tool, Seventh Circle Audio N72 mic preamp, Chandler Ltd. TG-2 mic preamp, Groove Tubes ViPre, Empirical Labs Distressor, Euphonix MADI I/O, Solid State Logic AlphaLink MADI I/O
Select Microphones: Soundelux ELUX 251 (Pinnick vocal), Soundelux E47 (Tabor and Gaskill vocal), Royer R-121 ribbon (Tabor’s amp), Mohave Audio MA-100 condenser and Beyerdynamic M 201 (snare drum), Shure SM91 and Yamaha SKRM-100 SubKick (kick drum), Shure SM58 (toms), Mohave Audio MA-200, pair, and Royer SF-12 stereo ribbon microphone (cymbals/OH)Producer’s Diary
Following their self-titled 1992 album, King’s X ducked from under the cape of their first producer, Sam Taylor. Yes, the band had experienced notable success with Taylor’s direction. But better things waited for the trio, as none other than producer Brendan O’Brien — Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Korn, Stone Temple Pilots, the Black Crowes, Matthew Sweet, Train, Rage Against The Machine, others — de-varnished the King’s X sound of yore on their landmark, influential 1994 album Dogman.
(click thumbnail)Wagener, Tabor, and Pinnick at WireworldSince then, the band wandered, continuing to construct a studio sound all their own. Bassist/vocalist Doug Pinnick, guitarist/vocalist (and mastering engineer!) Ty Tabor, and drummer/vocalist Jerry Gaskill each possess a style that is recognizable to many and distinctive to most listeners.
Present-day King’s X Producer Michael Wagener (Ozzy, Metallica, Motley Crue, Queen), a truly technologically astute producer, engineer, and mixer, captures the essence of what King’s X is and stays out of the way (or at least that’s what he wants you to think he does). Thus, he allows King’s X to just play while paving the aural road ahead of them.
On their 2nd collaboration, Wagener and King’s X create an album that feels like you’re in the room with the band, but you’re listening to them on headphones; sonically, it’s detailed and precise yet live and loose. Nowhere on the album does this approach work better than on “Pray,” the first jam in which Pinnick sings about a need for compassion over a gritty groove that would make both Hendrix andHetfield jealous.
“The original track is done pretty much in one take, which — to me — is the way to record,” explains Wagener. “If I would ask Ty, ‘Could you try this?’ he comes back with what I suggested in one second — ‘Oh, you mean like that?’ For me, that’s a fantastic way of working. The better musicians are, the easier my job is … and King’s X is just fantastic.”
Wagener called upon his most desirable, reliable sources in the studio for the recordings; for instance, on Pinnick’s vocal, a chain of the Soundelux ELUX 251 (now Bock Audio 251), Seventh Circle Audio N72 mic preamp, and Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor was employed. Wagener also employed his own hardware creation — the MW1 Studio Tool by Creation Audio Labs, a unique D.I. and re-amplification device — on every guitar and bass track on XV.
In the end, “Pray” represents a match made in heaven; here, a band’s band and an engineer’s engineer both do everything they do best.