WARNING: Semi-Technical Audio Engineering Stuff

Rich Costey, Producer and Mixing Engineer

Rich Costey, Producer and Mixer

Originally published in 2008, but we felt the need to share due to the value.  Rich Costey discusses mixing “The Pretender” by the Foo Fighters, the mixer’s Hippocratic oath, the significance of the intro, and why he shapes a mix around the vocals.  Costey also discusses some of the processing tools used to fine tune the drums, bass, guitars, strings, and vocals in this raging Foo Fighters track.

In approaching the mix, Costey discusses how his goal is to enhance the original work rather than over cook the mix with excess processing:

“(The Foo Fighters) had already done a lot of prep cooking and things were in very good condition. So I had to preserve what they had done to a fairly large degree, and this meant that my work mainly consisted of balancing and rides to get the dynamics to happen. Obviously, a certain amount of processing was still necessary, but that was more to enhance what the band, Gil and engineer Adrian Bushby had already done. It’s sort of like the mixer’s Hippocratic oath — the first rule is Do Not Kill The Patient.”  – Rich Costey, Sound on Sound Interview; 2008

“The Pretender” contains several guitar overdubs (“the power of the bees” as Grohl calls them) and the huge, powerful drum tracks, which made for a challenge in balancing the mix.  Costey discusses his preference in fader rides over EQ cutting to get a proper balance.

“That’s not to say I’m shy on the EQ. I’m not sure where I developed this habit, but I don’t cut many frequencies when I mix…I know there are people who cut frequencies to try to layer a track, but look at it this way: if you are conducting an orchestra, can you filter the woodwinds so the oboe doesn’t stick out so much? What you do is have the oboist play a little bit more softly, so you can hear the rest of the reeds.” – Rich Costey, Sound on Sound Interview; 2008

Full article available here.

Costey holds production and mixing credits on some of the industry’s most successful records, working with artists such as Frank Turner, Nine Inch Nails, Muse, Fiona Apple, Interpol, Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, and Rage Against the Machine to name a few…


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