Ask @NollyPeriphery:

I know you and some of the other guys in Periphery like thinner picks, I just wondered what the reasoning behind this was? Especially in an age where the thicker, smaller picks seem to be most popular. Recently I've been trying the .60 Dunlop TIII and I'm loving the 'thwack' it gives.

We find that thinner picks have a juicier attack especially when palm muting, and also function a little like a compressor in that they bend more when you pick harder, or when you're picking on the thicker strings, making the notes more even. Really technical stuff can get a bit messy though, in which case I swap back to a thicker (but still no more than 1mm), smaller pick.

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Have you ever messed about with ORTF overheads? What're your thoughts on different stereo techniques for drum micing?

I have done ORTF before and while I did like it a lot at the time, I prefer the spaced pair technique I use now, where the mics are each 4ft from the centre of the snare, and close to 4ft apart. It always yields a very wide but natural top-down representation of both cymbals and shells.

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Hey dude, do you think you will switch to the new Dingwall combustion 4 when playing drop c? Or will you stick with your 5 tuned gcgcf?

I will probably stick to 5 strings for that tuning, since the bass parts often require dropping to the 5th string for certain parts. One day it'd be nice to have a 4-string set up for the F-C-G-A tuning we use on The Bad Thing, Alpha, Graveless, Zyglrox etc. though!

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Hey man! Just wondering, how much involvement did you have in the making of the Good Tiger album? Absolutely loving the mix, just wondering if you were involved in tracking, mixing and whatnot. Hope you are well!

Hi, and thanks - I'm glad you're enjoying the mix. Dez and I did a couple of pre-production sessions together, but then he tracked the guitars, bass and vocals himself. Drums were recorded last - I engineered those with Dez, then we mixed the record together with me reamping guitars and getting basic mix and levels dialled in before the two of us went over automation and effects together. Kris Crummett mastered and did a fantastic job of adding the final level of excitement and glue, while keeping things sounding very faithful to the mixes.

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Hey man, hope you're well! Dunno if you had anything to do with the recording of Physical Education on TJOM but I was wondering if you could elaborate upon the sound heard behind the main riff at around 2:53/2:54, sounds like a weird pitch shifted harmony or something. Thanks in advance! :)

Hey, I'm great thanks, I hope you are too! The band wrote that track with Diego from Volumes; he created a lot of layers, percussion and synths for the demo that we kept in the final album version too. There are a lot of odd sounds in there such as the one you're referring to - I don't have the session front of me but if I remember correctly there are 2 or 3 parts going there including a glitchy Rhodes-esque sound and a purely textural/percussive part or two

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You often talk about bands and share music in other genres, but what are your favourite bands in the same scene as Periphery?

Textures would definitely be one - they're written some of my all-time favourite metal records of all time, I can't wait to hear the new one they are working on.
The Contortionist would be another - I think they're really hit their stride on their last album, which I still can't stop listening to daily.

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I just got a Dingwall NG-2 and I'm loving it! Which pickup setting do you use and how do you set the preamp?

Hey, I'm really glad you're enjoying the bass! Mine still make me smile whenever I play them :)
I always use the series pickup position (the 2nd position as you go from furthest anti-clockwise), and I generally boost all three EQ bands a small amount as a starting point. With my live rig I'll sometimes not use any bass boost since that can make the noise gate act a little more sluggishly, but it depends on the way the room resonates, and how I feel on any given day.

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How do you get that snare attack so crisp and hard hitting? Your snares always have such an aggressive pop that I dig. Thanks!

I've answered this a few times before, but it's really just the specific compressor and settings that I use. I almost always use the Metric Halo channel strip for compression on kick and snare - in MIO mode it has that very aggressive character that I assume you are talking about. For the sake of simplicity I've attached a screenshot of the starting settings I use on both snare and kick, just bring the threshold down until you're seeing 9-10dB of reduction on snare, a bit less on kick. You will hear that sound that you're referring to immediately.
Other compressors will work too if they have similar attack and release times, though they will all sound a bit different so you'll have to audition and see what works for you. I have used the Boz +10dB compressor on snare on a couple of recent projects and found it to have a similar character.

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Do you buy your plugins? If so do you get the straight from the companies or do you use one of those other websites for buying them?

Yes, I buy my plugins normally through audiodeluxe.com especially when they are on sale - they generally have the best prices in my experience. Some companies only distribute directly though, like SoundToys and Stillwell, so in those cases I buy direct.

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OK, the 22 Faces drum video. First, how are you getting that snare room sound without samples in such a small looking room? Second, the tom sound is amazing, is something similar achievable without mics as expensive as those Josephsons you used?

At Anup's place there is a very reflective empty room just down the hallway from his live room. It has a very extreme flutter echo that makes it very reverberant, albeit slightly ugly sounding in a way that works well for that slightly industrial "shotgun in a warehouse" snare decay if you put the room mics in there. I've attached a picture so you can see what I mean exactly.
Secondly, I think most of the best recorded tom sounds of all time were tracked with the standard Sennheiser MD421s, which are far cheaper than the Josephsons (though still not a minor investment if you need multiple to cover many toms). The Josephsons are unique to my knowledge however, in that they are condensers with all of the incredible transient response, lack of peaky/whistle-y frequencies in the upper mids/top end, and low end extension that you would expect from a high end condenser, but with the top end roll off you might associate with a smooth dynamic so it's not a wildly brighter sound than you would expect from a raw tom track. The huge benefit is not only do they capture a very rich and lively sound, but the sound of the cymbal bleed is extremely natural, not the incredibly ugly, harsh sound you get with 421s or other dynamics you might use on the shells. Additionally, the side-address form factor of the Josephsons makes them very easy to fit around a kit and get a more vertical "look" at the toms for a bigger sound with less bleed.
TL;DR - yes it's very doable with other mics, it's just more difficult and takes more work after the fact.

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Hi Nolly, I'd love to know which are your favourite delay plugins that you use for all the ambient stuff in Periphery songs and how you handle them. Thanks, bye

For plugins, SoundToys Echoboy is the classic, as well as FabFilter Timeless and Waves H-Delay. For a lot of the washed out guitar sounds on Juggernaut we used analog pedals for the delays and mod effects - several by Earthquaker Devices, and the MXR Carbon Copy Delay featured all over the record too.

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Ive been thinking of getting a versatile pair of SDC's for overheads and acoustics. Neumann KM184 and Shure SM81seem to be classics in different prices ranges Im considering. Any other recommendations?

Those are both solid, time-proven options for sure. I'd highly recommend you look into the Beyerdynamic MC930s too, they are excellent mics that sound in the ballpark of a classic Neumann SDC but arguably better featured with a built-in pad and filter. I also like the sE/Neve RN17 SDCs a lot - they're my go-to overheads for an accurate and pristine sound.

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I tend to compress the heavens out of my bass. I use ratios up to 12:1 and very fast attack times. Would you say this is wise to achieve a bass tone that is consistent, growling with energy and "big" ? Or should i dial back the ratio a bit? Thanks Nolly.

This isn't a very satisfying answer, but it depends what the source requires. Assuming the same out of gain reduction being applied, if the signal has a lot of exaggerated peaks that need taming, then a high ratio with fast time-constants will allow you to trim those down to a very consistent level without affecting the bulk of the signal; if you are trying to level out a performance that has a varying dynamic range, then using a lower ratio with slower time constants will "squeeze" the macro dynamics of the signal. Sometimes it's worthwhile stacking both types of compression one after the other (usually fast/high-ratio followed by slower/low ratio) - this is a common technique with both bass and vocals.
If I'm mixing my own bass tracks then I will have tried to achieve as much consistency in both areas during tracking by playing as best as I can. If I've done a good job, usually a maximum of 6-8dB of fast compression (usually 1176/FET-style) at 3-4:1 will be enough. Sometimes I'll place a hard limiter at the very end of the bass mix chain for extra dynamic control, but it won't be doing much at all.

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So, say you have a snare bus and also a parallel comp bus with snare through it as well. For the former, what is your goal, to chop off the transient a bit or to accentuate it? Is the parallel comp bus meant to compress the transient or to accentuate it? I'm not sure about how the two work together.

Good question, and in truth if you asked a group of mixers what they usually do, you'd probably hear every combination of the above.
My way of doing things with drums is to compress the shells to accentuate the attack (slower attack times), then have the parallel compression bus set with very fast time constants (usually an 1176-style compressor) to chop off the transients and give me a very dynamically limited channel to blend back into the drum mix to fill out the sustain and bring out low-level details.
Another common approach - that I don't use but have experimented with - is to leave the direct channels uncompressed or only very lightly compressed, then use a slower attack on the parallel bus to give you very "smacky" transients to blend under the otherwise more natural drum mix. That's a very valid approach that many mixers use, it just doesn't appeal to me in the same way as the former technique.

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What do you look for when experimenting with different guitar tones, eq-response-wise? Do you like a tone that sounds pleasing off the bat, or a tone that's 800Hz-heavy which you can sculpt with EQ later? Do you like ones that boom with low mids?

Nothing counter-intuitive, I want the raw guitar tone to be really pleasant to listen to and play through, with a balanced frequency balance across the whole spectrum. If anything, I'd rather have a bit of excess low- and top-end extension that I can filter away if necessary, rather than trying to create the necessary air and power after the fact.

The response/character is also determined hugely by the amount of filtering of the guitar signal before/during the gain stages. This is something that every aspect of your signal chain up to the power amp stage will affect, but particularly is affected by the pickups, tone knob, any overdrive or EQ pedals you're using, and the preamp's design. The amount of low end cut before the gain stages will take things from thin, to tight, to balanced, to rich to flubby as you cut less and less; similarly the amount of high end that reaches the gain stage will go from piercing, to twangy, to balanced, to smooth, to rolled-off.
Experimenting with this pre-filtering is a large part of what I do with guitar tones, and I will frequently adjust the filtering on a riff-by-riff basis to optimise the guitar sound for a part. In the digital domain - Axe-FX, or plugins - a filtering EQ serves well (always BEFORE the amp modelling stage), but I struggled to find anything adjustable in hardware pedal form so I actually created a pedal with VFE Electronics called the Focus specifically to be able to do this. I've been very remiss about doing a demo video of the Focus, but will be doing so in the near future.

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Favourite compressor on/for guitar, and why? :)

I like the classic SSL G-channel's compressor section a lot if I want to compress clean and mid-gain guitars (and as a "Swiss-Army knife" compressor for pretty much everything else too). The fact you only have the option of simply fast or slow attack takes a lot of guesswork out of operating it - if I want to reduce the spikiness of a guitar part (very normal for cleans), I'll use the fast attack setting; to enhance the transient (such as, say, the slap stuff Animals as Leaders do) I'll use the slow attack.
I don't really compress heavily distorted guitars, they have very little transient information and dynamic variation as is. If a track has additional rhythm parts coming and going, I might buss them to a compressor just to help level out the volume disparities and reduce the amount of automation I have to do to make things sound even.

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You've already answered a question about the Alex Rudinger cover of I the creator snare reverb trick, but it is only very present on some hits, did you do this by automating the volume of the room mic's? the drum sound you got on here has been torturing me because I'm so fascinated by it!

I send a fair bit of the ambience tracks to my parallel compression bus. As a result, they are ducked in volume when the drums are busy (by the other drum tracks that are feeding into the same compressor), but naturally bloom and sustain a lot more when there is space for them to do so.

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Hi Nolly, I'm studying music production at the moment and I'm curious as to why when drums are being recorded for metal the, kick are almost always isolated with something put over if they're not just being triggered. I'm curious to the benefits of this, thanks.

Hey, there's a few different reasons for doing that:
- If you want to place a mic more than a foot in front of the kick, the isolation means that mic will pick up less of the rest of the kit (especially the cymbals), giving you more freedom for sculpting the sound at the mixing stage.
- You might want to reduce the amount of kick drum that can be heard in the overheads and room mics. That might be so you can leave those tracks sounding bigger at the mix stage, without the low end bloom from the kick becoming overwhelming and muddying the mix. It might also be for the next reason:
- Typically when you edit drums, you keep all of the tracks grouped to ensure phase coherency. Double-kick parts can cause difficulty though - if the kick is played simultaneously with the snare or toms, it's normal for there to be a slight flam with all but the most accurate drummers. Depending on how tight you want the edited drums to sound, it's normal to ungroup the kick drum from the rest of the tracks and edit it separately. This can cause a multitude of phase problems if the kick is clearly audible in other mics. but isolating it with thick blankets can reduce this to a point that it is not apparent when listening in context. Some engineers like to omit an acoustic kick drum entirely and simply have the drummer play with a electronic kick pad if they foresee this being an issue.

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