FIG’s Gear Highlights:

Discovering exceptional tools has been a highlight of my year for 2023, and I’m thrilled to share some exciting finds with you. First up is the Alpha DI by JT Amplification – a true gem for any recording enthusiast. The time and meticulous process of selecting the transformer, designing the unit, and providing versatile tonal options reflects the dedication poured into this DI. When it comes to bass, the Alpha DI delivers precisely what I want to hear, offering a gain knob for driving the tube stage and tone switches to sculpt your sound. Explore more about JT Amplification’s Alpha DI for a closer look at this indispensable recording tool.           

https://reverb.com/item/42144898-jt-amplification-alpha-direct-box-standard

JT Amplifications: ALPHA DI Top View
JT Amplifications: ALPHA DI front view
JT Amplifications: ALPHA DI rear view
Watch Joe Barresi take you through all the options

Turning our attention to microphones, Austrian Audio has been a game-changer for alternative tom mic placements in drum kits. The Austrian Audio OD5 and Austrian Audio OC7 have been dreams come true, providing effortless placement and stunning sound. However, the real magic happened when I got my hands on the Austrian Audio OC818 – a fantastic choice for capturing overheads, whether accessing the back capsule or not. Austrian Audio is not only advancing capsule design and technology but also offering innovative plugins like PolarPilot and AmbiCreator, solidifying their unique position in the Pro Audio industry. 


For more information about these amazing microphones please visit: https://austrian.audio/microphones/

Tama Iron Works Studio Series Low Profile

Now, let’s delve into a crucial yet often overlooked element: the mic stand. During a drum session with Kenny Aronoff at Sunset Sound, I was introduced to the new Tama Ironworks Studio Series Mic Stand, and I instantly geeked out over their brilliance. The weight, locking mechanism, and meticulous design of these stands stood out. Whether you’re meticulously placing an SM57 on a snare or setting up a vintage 251 for vocals, you can trust that the mic will stay securely in place, preventing any mishaps that could damage your recording equipment. Cheers to the often unsung heroes of the studio – the reliable and innovative mic stands by Tama. And considering Tama’s extensive experience in creating drum hardware, who better to design an over-the-top mic stand than them? It’s a testament to their legacy of excellence in the world of audio equipment.

Tama Iron Works Studio Series Clutch Hub (The Gem of this mic stand!)


Tama Iron Works Studio Series Mic Stand

Rebirth: The Making of Diamond Eyes with Deftones

Deftones “Diamond Eyes”

Collaborating with the Deftones proved to be an exhilarating journey. Our acquaintance dated back to my time in Amen, where our connection stemmed from producer Ross Robinson. The genesis of the album “Diamond Eyes” marked a transformative phase with Nick Raskulinecz. The band found themselves entrenched in a string of unfortunate events, notably the tragic accident that left Chi, the Deftones’ bass player, in a coma right in the midst of crafting a record. The project seemed perpetually stalled, compounded by the search for a bass player to fill Chi’s absence.

Nick and Chino, going over arrangements

Nick, however, orchestrated a revival, gathering Frank, Abe, Stephan, Chino, and Sergio Vega from Quicksand to reconvene and set up in a rehearsal studio to start from scratch. Once Nick finalized and the band the arrangements, we set up at the already familiar Pass Recording Studio, harnessing the potential of their Neve 8078 console and having previously experienced  how to make sense of the control room. While Abe, Stephan, Sergio, and Franck effortlessly breezed through the tracking, Chino grappled with lyrical contemplation.

Sergio Vega holding down the grooves

I vividly recall the moment Chino, engrossed in his (back then) iPod, suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, I think I’ve got something.” At Nick’s request, I vacated the room for Chino and him to track in the control room. Two hours later, “Diamond Eyes” materialized in its entirety. It felt as though Chino had conjured the lyrics and melody out of thin air—like pulling a rabbit out of a magic hat—resulting in an explosive revelation for everyone present to experience.

Having fun with Stephan, Abe and Chino

Rockin’ Back to 2006: My Rollercoaster with LUDO

Back in 2006, as my career was just finding its rhythm, I got a call in from none other than the legendary Matt Wallace – the mastermind behind Faith No More and Maroon 5. This time, the adventure was all about diving headfirst into the universe of St. Louis Pop Punk band LUDO, a fresh band with a vibe like no other. Matt had recently started recording at Sound City more often,  as he just set up Studio Deluxe at the SoundCity Center.

Our journey at Sound City, where drum tracking, under the magic touch of Wallace’s trusted engineer Mike Landolt, set the tone. Shifting gears to Studio Deluxe, just a stone’s throw away, we plunged into overdubs. Imagine Moog and percussion/vibraslaps vibes in one room, while  guitars chugged along in another.

LUDO wasn’t your run-of-the-mill rock band. There was an unmistakable coolness, intelligence, and down right hilarious energy about them.Andrew Volpe, the front man, was a storytelling maestro, weaving tales with literary twists and wild reveals. Tim Ferrell, the guitar wizard, sprinkled technical magic with stacks of harmonized lines.

The pace was chaotic, in the best possible way. Multiple sessions, each room buzzing. Tim Convey injected Moog synth goodness, and Matt Palermo spiced things up with shakers and tambourines.

In the midst of all this controlled chaos, I soaked up some serious lessons – attention to detail, juggling multiple sessions for the same track, and the delicate dance of importing session data without accidentally removing something crucial during multiple drive synchronizations.

And that, my friends, is how the wild ride with LUDO unfolded in my early years as a budding engineer in 2006.

If you have not heard LUDO before, check them out extremely creative and fun. Stand out tracks for me off of “You’re Awful, I Love You Album”: “Love Me Dead”, Go Getter Greg”, “Lake Pontchartrain” and 
“In Space”

Strings and Stories: An Engineer’s Journey from Sound City to Stone Sour

My connection with Stone Sour and the origins of my freelance engineering journey are intertwined with a history that extends beyond the confines of the studio. Before my tenure at Sound City, I had the privilege of extensively touring with my band AMEN, forming lasting connections with the members of Slipknot.

This pre-existing relationship set the stage for a pivotal moment when producer Nick Raskulinecz (also a Sound City alum) reached out to me. We had just worked together on his production with The Exies. His call invited me to engineer guitar tracks for Stone Sour at Dave Grohl’s 606 studio.Excitedly accepting, I couldn’t help but reflect on the shared history with Slipknot, having toured together on notable occasions such as the MachineHead/Coal Chamber ‘Livin La Vida Loco’ tour and ‘Tattoo the Earth.

Upon arriving at 606, I found myself immersed in the creative process alongside Josh Rand and Jim Root as we worked on overdubbing main rhythm guitars. The familiarity and camaraderie developed over the years, both in the studio and on the road, created a unique dynamic that fueled our collaborative efforts.

The journey continued as we faced challenges during bassoverdubs, where precision in tuning became crucial. While Nick focused on vocal tracks with Corey Taylor, our dedication to achieving the desired sound became evident. Nick’s high standards pushed us to exceed expectations, and his occasional feedback, like “Hey, that sounds pitchy,” became a motivator rather than a hurdle.

Delving into the recording process allowed us to witness the technical skills of Jim Root and Josh as they laid down guitar solos. The band’s enthusiasm, coupled with Nick’s approval, not only marked the success of the project but also opened doors for future opportunities in the dynamic world of freelance engineering.

Beyond the studio accomplishments, the experience with Stone Sour became a reunion with former tour mates from the world of AMEN and Slipknot. The journey from shared stages to collaborative studio sessions created a full-circle moment that deeply aligns with my passion for music and the bonds formed along the way.

For Stone Sour, this record earned Gold certification and achieved Platinum status in 2017. I am Proud of my friends from Slipknot, Jim Root, Corey Taylor, Shawn Economaki as well as Josh Rand and Roy Mayorga

Inside Coheed’s Epic: A Dive into the Making of “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow”

In 2023, Coheed and Cambria marked a monumental celebration of their 2007 masterpiece, “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow,” with a tour, performing the album in its entirety. They played the illustrious Hollywood Palladium on October 7 and I caught the show. The evening was nothing short of epic, delivering the exceptional performance that fans have come to expect from Coheed.

This remarkable performance reignited a real connection I have with this album. It served as a powerful catalyst, drawing me back into the album’s production and recalling vivid memories of our time in the studio.

Fig, Nick, and Claudio in the middle of it

In 2007, Coheed and Cambria’s upcoming record was highly anticipated. When producer Nick Raskulinecz extended an invitation to me to join the recording process as engineer, it marked a departure from my routine and continued a new chapter for me after my tenure at Sound City. The band congregated at Cole’s Rehearsal in Hollywood, where I was introduced to Claudio Sanchez, Michael Todd, Travis Stever, and the unexpected addition of Foo Fighters’ drummer, Taylor Hawkins.

Claudio, adding some sparkling acoustic guitars

The Pass Studio was selected for the recording. It boasted Neve 8078s in both the tracking and mix rooms; a striking contrast to Sound City’s practical ambiance. The unconventional shape of the tracking room, with its soaring ceilings, proved instrumental in capturing pristine and focused drum sounds while maintaining impeccable instrument isolation. Meanwhile in the control room, the louder we turned up the 8078 the more bass frequencies were attenuated. It challenged us to trust our ears at lower volumes.

Michael Todd laying it down

Nick’s meticulous preproduction laid the groundwork for an exceptional record. The collective musical prowess of the band was extraordinary. Witnessing Claudio’s precision as he flawlessly laid down vocals and guitars was nothing short of enlightening. Michael Todd’s bass mastery was awe-inspiring, effortlessly maneuvering with his fingers. Travis and I often found ourselves immersed in guitar melodies and solos whenever the mixing room was available. His musical dexterity complemented his amiable nature, making the creative process immensely enjoyable.

Travis, adding some additional melodies

Taylor played a vital role on “Good Apollo, I’m BurningStar IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow.” When Chris Pennie couldn’t record due to contract issues, Nick tapped Taylor to step in and he brought a whole new vibe. In just three weeks, he nailed the intricate tunes, adding his own magic to each track. His drumming was top-notch, handling the album’s complex beats like the pro that he was. In only three weeks, he seamlessly assimilated Coheed and Cambria’s intricate compositions and his adaptability and effortless execution were truly remarkable.

Taylor Hawkins in studio during the tracking of  “No World For Tomorrow”

It was great to reconnect with the band at their October 7thshow and to hear this amazing album live again. To date, the 2007 recording session with Coheed and Cambria remains one of the most artistically and technically satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. I’m still hoping they will make it out the west coast to do a new record again.

All above images taken from Youtube Video “Coheed and Cambria – The Making Of No World For Tomorrow” 

Watch Claudio’s Video Coheed and Cambria – The Making Of No World For Tomorrow 

Neil Peart: My Humble Part in Honoring His Musical Legacy

Neil Peart born September 12, 1952 died January 7 2020

From: NeilPeart.net, February 2010

On the anniversary of Neil Peart’s passing, I’d like to share a memory of an extraordinary experience. My humble part in honoring his musical legacy involves the role I played as engineer recording the new arrangement of the Hockey Night Theme song. Being involved in this project, which centered on the great Neil Peart, was an honor beyond words.

“speech” to the musicians before we began – about what this piece of music signified to Canadians. “Just remember that every man, woman, child, granny, moose, and beaver in Canada will hear this performance.” from:NeilPeart.net, February 2010

In December 2009 we met at Ocean Way Studios and the ambiance was charged with creativity. Nick Raskulinecz, alongside Neil, orchestrated the session, which we tracked live in Studio A. The set-up, with the 72-input custom Focusrite console, was meticulously prepared to capture the essence of Neil’s drumming prowess.

From: NeilPeart.net, February 2010

The night before the recording, the anticipation built as we readied the drums and carefully mic’d the custom DW kit, decorated with logos from all 30 NHL teams. The session itself was a blend of intensity and artistry—three takes to capture Neil’s genius alongside a vibrant 17-piece brass band.

From: NeilPeart.net, February 2010

A poignant highlight was the arrival of the actual Stanley Cup, a symbol of triumph and dedication. It joined the celebration alongwith the talented musicians who contributed to the recording. The collective energy in the room was indescribable.

Nick Raskulinecz, Paul Fig, and Rouble Kapour

Screenshot from Alfred Music Drums-Trailer-Neil Peart: Fire on Ice

As the recording session drew to a close, there was an amazing moment. As Neil Peart departed, he left me with a memorable farewell. With a characteristic warmth and humor, he glanced back and said, “See you later, Figaroni.” His parting words captured his down-to-earth nature and playful character. It was a simple yet profound interaction that captured Neil’s genuine and approachable personality and it endeared him tome not just as a musical icon but as a remarkable person.

Rush’s music was an integral part of my teenage years and in large part, shaped my personal musical journey. To play a small role in commemorating Neil’s genius was a humbling experience. His impact on music and culture transcends generations and has left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire and resonate deeply with countless fans.

Neil Peart’s talent, dedication, and kindness as a person are qualities to be celebrated. I hope that his spirit and the legacy of his phenomenal talent will continue stay in the hearts of fans worldwide.

Behind the Sonic Magic: Crafting Ghost’s Infestissumam – A Studio Journey of Creativity and Challenge

Nameless Ghoul, having a break from tracking guitars

“Ghost Record Infestissumam: While putting the finishing touches on Alice in Chains’ ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’ record at Henson Studios, an exciting opportunity surfaced. Nick Raskulinecz brought demos from a band, then known as Ghost (B.C.), and their direction captivated me instantly. Months later, as Nick finalized the deal, I jetted off to Nashville to set the gears in motion at Blackbird Studios.

Nathan Yarborough keeping track and documenting our guitar settings

Blackbird Studio’s A custom-modded Neve 8078 became our playground. We dived deep, meeting a tight schedule head-on, laying down main tracks swiftly within a couple of weeks. Working with the band in teams—Tobias, Martin, Simon, and Axel—for the first few days. Then, Tobias left back to his family in Sweden after all the arrangements were debated and confirmed. After drums were completed (we tracked for cymbal separation, which can be complicated, but Axel was impeccable at keeping his timing together and made this seem like a breeze), it was time for Martin and Simon to jump into action while Axel went back to Sweden. Nick and I dialed in their Orange amps with some vintage flavors like the Hiwatt Lead 30 and Marshall 2550 into an array of cabinets and mic flavors for standout guitar tones.

Nameless Ghouls keeping anonymity

After completing the guitar recording, Morrow, a quietly spoken individual with innate talent, joined us to deliver the iconic organ and keyboards. Fine-tuning the tone bars on the Hammond B3 for each song became a tremendously tedious task, with Simon assisting in achieving the desired timbre. Morrow’s performances showcased amazing touch and feel, yet the real time-consuming aspect lay in meticulously dialing in the sounds.

Nameless Ghoul tracking guitar-SG Les Paul Custom

After the organ and Keyboards were done, Richard, the bass player, finally flew in to “lay down the groove,” easily handled in a couple of days. At that point, my job was done while Nick worked on vocals for the remainder of the booking; I headed home to Los Angeles.

Nameless Ghoul and Nick Raskulinecz pushing performance.

Yet, an unexpected hurdle arose. Despite attempts in Nashville, securing singers for the highly Satanic Latin lyrics proved challenging. Enter David Campbell, summoned once more to arrange a stunning choir score. We gathered a 28-piece choir at Bridge Recorders (now Silent Zoo Studios) in Glendale, California. With their Neve VR,  I had a decca tree set up with three M50s, and one U87 for about every three singers, the scene was surreal—Skyping with Nick in Nashville while he connected with Tobias in Sweden.

The process was a blast, a whirlwind of creativity within constraints. That record remains a personal favorite. Now, witnessing the band’s phenomenal journey, it’s evident they’ve soared far beyond our wildest expectations.

All photos by Paul Fig

AFI “Missing Man” EP

Working with AFI on the Missing Man EP was an exhilarating milestone in my career as their recording engineer. This was my first time working with the band and meeting Adam, Hunter and Jade. They already had a studio in mind, and I had no way to steer the session to my live tracking studio Dave’s Room, my responsibility was to create and capture amazing sounding drums, and bass tracks. Adam and Hunter were not just exceptional musicians; they were fantastic to work with, instantly establishing a camaraderie that made the entire process feel like friends all helping to lift the project together.

Stepping into the studio, I was met with a different Neve console – the 8068, unlike the 8028 I was accustomed to at Sound City. Some channels weren’t cooperating, prompting quick thinking to ensure the production stayed seamless. Adapting on the go is part and parcel of the game. (Industry jargon alert “the work around”) My Pro Acs on the meter bridge to help gain quick familiarity to the control room. (I bring my monitors and amp everywhere, a trick Dave Bianco taught me to keeping recordings consistent)

We were fortunate to have an entire week dedicated solely to drums and bass. Adam brought in Mike Fasano, an outstanding drum tech (and Person, I have known Fasano since my days at Sound City) armed with an impressive array of snares and kicks. It felt like a playground of drum sounds, allowing us to select the perfect tones for each track, enriching our recordings with added depth.

After locking in the drum tracks, it was Hunter’s turn to shine with his Ampeg SVT, a Marshall amp, and a collection of fuzz and distortion pedals. His bass lines seamlessly intertwined with Adam’s beats, resulting in us nailing those bass tracks in record time.

During the release of the Missing Man EP, there was a buzz when all photos of AFI frontman Davey Havok vanished from the band’s Instagram, and a new press photo emerged without him – only a silhouette was present, sparking rumors about his departure. Thankfully, that rumor turned out to be false.

Then, on October 16, 2018, the band dropped a bombshell – a surprise release of a new single called “Get Dark.” Following that, on November 30, 2018, they unleashed another single, “Trashbats,” heightening the anticipation and excitement surrounding the EP.

This collaboration was more than just capturing sounds; it was an immersive journey fueled by creativity and musical synergy. Working on the Missing Man EP with AFI wasn’t just a task; it was a shared passion to craft an experience that echoed the band’s essence and the soul of the music. 

Exciting News! I’ve Joined Austrian Audio’s Friends Page!

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve been added to Austrian Audio’s esteemed Friends page!

This recognition reflects my genuine appreciation for Austrian Audio’s OC7 and OD5 microphones, meticulously crafted tools that align perfectly with my pursuit of top-tier sound.

I’m honored to join the ranks of Austrian Audio’s Friends! Explore my profile on the Friends page here.

Last spring, I had the pleasure of visiting my good friend Joe Barresi at his studio. During that visit, Joe had just received a shipment of mics from Austrian Audio to demo and, knowing my curiosity for new gear, offered me the chance to try them out.

Always eager to explore new sonic possibilities, I picked up a couple of OD5 microphones. Little did I know, these mics would pleasantly surprise me in more ways than one. From the moment I started using them in my next session, I was struck by their robust build, incredible ease of placement, and, most crucially, their sound quality.

The Austrian Audio OC7, the  True Condenser version of the OD5

Those initial sessions led me down a rabbit hole of exploration. I found myself diving deeper into Austrian Audio’s range, getting my hands on the OC818s, the OC7, and more OD5s. As I continued experimenting with these microphones across drums, guitar, and bass cabinets over the following weeks, I found myself completely sold on their unparalleled performance.

Moreover, Austrian Audio’s groundbreaking use of dual-capsule technology in the OC818 opened new doors for me. The access to the back capsule, allowing separate processing, significantly expanded the sonic horizons. Being able to harness distinct characteristics from each capsule gave me a whole new realm of sonic possibilities, allowing for an unprecedented level of creativity and precision in my recordings.

The Austrian Audio OC818

From their nuanced sound to their effortless adaptability in various recording scenarios, Austrian Audio’s microphones have become an integral part of my personal toolkit. They seamlessly blend top-notch build quality with exceptional sound reproduction, making them an essential choice for capturing the essence of every performance.


Spotlighting Musical Brilliance: Collaborating with Independent Bands

I’ve had the privilege of contributing to the works of prominent label artists throughout my career. However, I’m passionate about spotlighting exceptional independent bands I’ve either collaborated with or had the pleasure to engage with for recording, mixing, or both. Working alongside bands that exhibit the drive to incorporate a producer or engineer to enhance their sound is truly gratifying.

Allow me to showcase some of the remarkable bands I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with: Holloys, Ironaut, PEEK!, The Lost Weekend, Fuzz Evil, Zach Jones, Billy Rubens and the Elevated Enzymes, LEWIS, 900 Pound Gorilla, The Lost Chorus, Cemetery, The Electric Ferrets. Each of these experiences has been enriching, contributing to the diverse tapestry of music I’ve been fortunate to be a part of.

My enthusiasm for discovering and collaborating with more bands is unwavering. If you’re an aspiring band seeking a producer/engineer to help bring your music to new heights, I’m always open to exploring potential collaborations. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you believe our collaboration could be a harmonious fit.