Eyal Levi, acclaimed producer at the world-famous Audiohammer Studios (THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, AUGUST BURNS RED, WHITECHAPEL), will host a three day CreativeLive course “GearGods Presents: Mastering Metal Mixing” streaming live from 9:00 a.m. – 4 p.m. PDT/12:00 p.m. – 7 p.m. EDT on September 29-October 1. In this course, free to watch live, Eyal Levi and special guests Will Putney (THY ART IS MURDER, POISON THE WELL, SUICIDE SILENCE), Mark Lewis (also of Audiohammer) and Josh Newell (AVRIL LAVIGNE, LINKIN PARK, IN THIS MOMENT) will cover everything from prep and setup, to fundamentals and finalizing the mix – a complete guide to creating mixes that sound polished but not fake. I had the chance to speak with Eyal by phone to see what makes him tick as a producer. Check it out, and be sure to register at the link below:
Amps: So you’re hosting a three-day clinic “GearGods Presents: Mastering Metal Mixing”…tell me about that.
Eyal: That is going to be broadcast on CreativeLive from September 29 – October 1 and 18 hours of getting into the nitty gritty of mixing. I have some really killer guests like Will Putney, Mark Lewis, and Josh Newell and we’re just gonna get into some pretty good detail on how to set up a metal mix, how to get great tones, and the last step of mastering, getting the rest of your album sounding great.
Amps: What made you want to do something like this?
Eyal: Well, I’ve been doing seminars for CreativeLive for about a year now and we’ve done all kinds of topics ranging from programming drums to recording them, to songwriting and I’m really finding that I enjoy doing this. I’ve always been an opinionated person and I enjoy very much spreading my opinions in audio, and trying to help raise the bar even if it’s just a few people at a time. I feel like the music industry is in trouble for a few different reasons and one of the biggest ones is the bar being super-low. If I can help raise that, I’m game. These aren’t the only things I’m doing in this field but that’s the next thing I’m doing. When I was learning how to record there was a ton of misinformation on the internet and it was very, very hard to find out what anybody did. I must’ve spent years going down bad paths and I would have killed to have somebody that made records give me a few tips.
Eyal: I went to a few different studios to get my band recorded 15 years ago and I hated the prices (laughs) so I decided to learn how to do it. I mean, I had some experience when I worked at a local studio and having the producer smoke heroin and go lay down on the couch and put me in charge. I didn’t’ know ANYTHING about recording, especially not on analog tape. Maybe that was formative or something.
Amps: You’ve got a pretty wide spectrum represented here in the producers. Like Josh who worked with AVRIL. I am a huge fan of hers.
Eyal: Well, Josh is one of those major label guys. He’s done AVRIL LAVIGNE but he’s also done CYNIC and INTRONAUT. His credits range all the way from the biggest pop to the most legit prog-metal, you know? I think guys like that are super-inspiring, too. Because they show that you don’t just have to stick to your home genre in order to be successful in music. You can do other things and there’s no shame in it. You can still record metal and love it, and move into rock and pop to make you some money.
Amps: What to you constitutes the perfect mix for a record?
Eyal: It’s gotta be the right mix for the song. And that’s about as many words as I can put it into because every mix is gonna be different. Say you get five different badass mixers to all test mix one song. Every mix is gonna be completely different. Four of them will be wrong and one of them will be right, or maybe three will be wrong and two right. But, does the message get across? That’s what’s important to me.
Amps: How much does your approach change from band to band? Do you have certain hard and fast rules that never change, or do you adapt for different bands?
Eyal: The hard and fast rules ARE to be flexible and adaptable, and to keep certain things in line. Vocals need to be in tune, drums need to be intact, that kind of stuff doesn’t change, but the particular sound you’re going for will change. Every song, every artist has a different message they’re trying to put across which could be, “Look at us, we’re so badass at guitar” and so you have to make sure that comes across. Whatever brings the message of the artist across is the way to go.
Eyal: Sometimes it’s my own work! The cool thing about that is I can change it if I think it sucks. Of course I can’t like everything.
Amps: What’s going on with you recording-wise as far as DAATH or anything else?
Eyal: DAATH, nothing’s going on. We’re still on hiatus. I think all the dudes are free agents now but we haven’t decided anything yet. There’s gonna be something happening with one of my projects in the coming year but which one I’m not sure.
Amps: You’ve produced some just, amazing acts…is there any one record or records you’re most proud of?
Eyal: I don’t ever feel like, “Fuck yeah, I nailed it on this one” because I always could go go back and figure out something I could have done better. Lots of times if I hear something I did years ago it’s more like, “What the fuck was I thinking?” you know (laughs)? But I guess the thing that overrides that is if I feel the record sounds right for the band then I’m pretty OK with it.
Amps: Do you have any advice for people just starting out on either side of the console?
Eyal: Don’t think that this is the 80’s, the 90’s or even the early 2000’s while you’re getting into this. If you’re doing it because you love music and have no choice but to do this and you’ve got a really thick skin, crazy work ethic, and you’re interested in the way that tech rules the world, then by all means go for it. If you’re not interested in being an entrepreneur and working your ass off and developing multiple income streams then this might not be the right path for you.
Amps: What, if any albums this year have knocked your socks off?
Eyal: Good question, I don’t really know, man. It’s hard for me to say because I work on music so much that I haven’t heard many that knocked my socks off. The new DECAPITATED is on my list to check out; I absolutely love that band. I love the people in that band. My band got to tour with them on the one before the big accident. We were together in 2007 and we got really close to those guys and what happened to them really hit home. It was really, really great to see them basically resurrect themselves. And what I heard from the new record sounded fucking badass so that is definitely on my list for personal reasons.
Amps: What’s next for you?
Eyal: There’s some really badass records coming to the studio that I can’t announce yet. That’s gonna keep me pretty busy through the spring. And these recording boot camps, gonna do a bunch more of them. They’re gonna be full immersion boot camp experiences, small class sizes and between 30-50 hours long, 10 hours a day. Where they differ from a master class or a clinic is that say in a master class you go watch somebody talk about stuff they’ve done, and they’ll tell you some tricks they use, answer some questions and then you’re gone. This is going to put students on the spot so we’re going to have guest artists and when we talk about something like how to properly punch in guitars I’ll show them the right way to do it. And then they’re gonna have to do it in front of the class as well.
When you’re coming up and learning how to record you’re oftentimes surrounded by shitty musicians and you don’t have anyone good to record. So people don’t even know what the standard is for quality. In this case they’re gonna have me breathing over their shoulder and then they’re also gonna have a badass professional musician that they probably listen to right there. And they’re gonna get to record this guy. That will help them understand what it’s like to record somebody good and what it takes and where your standards need to be. We’re gonna go from pre-production all the way through finished recording and getting it ready to mix. I don’t think there’s anything else like that. They’ll get more than they would in a year on their own.
Be sure to head over to CreativeLive.com for more information and to enroll for free today. The tips and knowledge you get from Eyal Levi and his peers will last you a lifetime.