I spoke with producer Butch Vig at length about the all-analog approach he took to recording the Foo Fighters’ kick-ass new album Wasting Light (Roswell/RCA) in bandleader Dave Grohl’s garage. Here’s the first in a series of bits ’n bites from that chat — the evolution of the galloping lead track the band performed recently on SNL and Letterman, “Rope.” Check this space — and my Twitter feed — for more over the coming weeks.
MM: Let’s walk through “Rope.” I love the delay on the guitar intro that Dave plays.
BUTCH VIG: Thanks. We simplified the delay so that it goes through that pattern twice. Originally, it was a longer song with a different groove. It might have even started with the guitar part that Chris [Shiflett] plays.
We rehearsed it so that the delay could be set to the click track. During prepro, I’d listen to them play without the click track, and then I’d set the tempo. I did it old school. Instead of pulling up a grid on Pro Tools, I got out my old drum machine and had a shake tambourine thing that I would speed up or slow down. I had to do that along with the band on the fly. Sometimes we’d drop it out and it would be freestyle with no click. A lot of those things we did with an analog delay so you’d have to manually move them around to match the tempo.
— Mike Mettler