Cadogan: My rig [for the sessions] was really stripped down. I had a Marshall Plexi [amp head] and I tried to get a good basic tone, not a lot of crazy effects, but what I was doing was trying to make my chords bigger. I was conscious of wanting to have real dynamics in the moods of the songs not just have it go out on one level of intensity. From being clean to a burst into a chaotic thing. "Narcolepsy" is a great example... that dreamy sound that then kicks into another gear.
Eric Valentine: They had recorded a bunch of stuff and had a lot of demos. Most of them weren’t really quite ready for that, so it was a process of picking through the stuff and seeing what was usable, what needed to be replaced and what we had to start from scratch on.
Salazar: Eric was this incredible producer who is all about sonics, and he has this amazing collection of vintage gear and effects pedals. I went crazy and we spent hours just trying to get cool sonic stuff, double-tracking bass sounds, laser-sound effects using feedback on "Graduate," eight-string basses. A real tape flange where we would put a cassette tape in and run it at the same time as the two-track and weave it in and out to get a natural tape flange on the bass breakdown on "Thanks a Lot." Hendrix used it all over his records.
Jenkins: We were definitely able to experiment [during the album sessions at Skywalker Sound in San Francisco]. We put microphones in tanks of water. Before I met any of those guys or Eric, [producer/engineer] David Gleeson took me up there when it was kind of new, and we would sneak up on the soundstage there on the pretense that we were doing something and start recording. People assumed we were supposed to be there because security was so tight nobody would ask us anything. We got away with it and recorded a bunch there and really liked it.
I was looking for a real thud in the drums… I wanted a thickness in midrange, so we put the drums in a smaller room and opened the doors so it had a sense of breathing. For "Jumper," I gave Brad -- who uses these big sticks -- I gave him some small sticks, and put the riser in the middle of the room and did it with no reverb, like a Beatles thing. "Burning Man" was a song we recorded and mixed on the same day.
A song like [spare, dreamy ballad] "I Want You," nobody showed up to the studio that day -- the recording sessions took three months -- so it was just me and Eric that day and he said, "What do you want to do today?" I built a a loop and we just kind of put it together, and it had this feeling of being a throwaway -- it has the most free and easy sense to it. It's just me picking around in the studio. I had a talk box where in between I would yell things. "That was a really good sound" -- that stayed on record, me yelling into that box.
Valentine: Brad did a great job of playing live drums to that loop. We weren't using computers, just straight on to tape machines, no changing or fixing anything. I would cut and edit tape. That collection of people are great musicians, it's just undeniable. Brad is a great drummer, Arion is an amazing bass player, he really got into it. Kevin was such an extraordinarily gifted guitar player, with such a distinctive approach. He definitely did that shoegazer thing, with all these open tunings and pounding guitars on eighth notes... things that nobody else has really done. Stephan had a vision for that record for sure, and he’s an incredible lyricist. It was really his thing.
Rhone: Was the gist of the album already there when the group got signed? Yeah man! In some cases I had to send them back because the demos were better than the re-recorded versions. They say in the business, you get "demo-itis." With some of the songs, I liked the demos better. "Semi-Charmed Life" was the smash. But we had five, six singles off that album. We broke a new group on their first album, selling multi-millions. That was a big feather in my cap, absolutely. For a signing like that with a new management team to blow it out as big as we did. That was a big moment.