I would like to tell you there is a huge scientific approach but I think it is a series of happy accidents. And that’s the way it ought to be. I think what I try to do before I bring a band in here [to the studio] is have a vision. Some sort of guides to follow — we’ve got this bus and we’re going to drive it. We want to end up at destination B and we are starting off at A. Do you want to take the scenic route? Do you want to take the fastest route? Or do you want to take the least expensive? What is it that we are trying to do here?
It’s hard to talk about recording if you have some knowledge of it already because it obviously starts with a microphone in front of some kind of guitar or drum or whatever it is you are using. And that sound ends up on a medium — in this case we use harddrives. Then it’s how you manipulate those sounds, how you process it, how you deliver it. Then the kind of instrumentation comes in. I give you the analogy where some instruments acoustically deliver a certain colour. I try to explain music in terms of colour, for instance. You don’t hear a lot of sad songs played on the Banjo and you don’t hear a lot of happy songs on the Oboe or the Cello. Those are very extreme examples but psychoacoustics plays a big part. Whether it is something I have developed or a gift, I can generally see colours when I hear music. I try to convey that through some of the artists that I work with — a lot of times they see those colours too. So if we are getting a guitar sound for a specific part, do I mic the centre of the cone”? Do I mic off axis? Do I put a couple of mics up? Should we use two different types of amps on the stage? All those things deliver a colour. So it really all depends.
Arnold Lanni is producer of bands Our Lady Peace and Finger Eleven, owner of Arnyard Studio, and former member of both Frozen Ghost and Sheriff.