Blue Mic Q&A session with Cameron Webb ( Social Distortion,
Limp Bizkit, Monster Magnet)
It hasn’t taken too many years for Cameron Webb to go from
assistant engineering the albums that made the careers of Limp Bizkit, Monster
Magnet and Lit, to co-producing, engineering and mixing Social Distortion’s
latest hit for Time Bomb Records, “Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’
Roll.” In the interim, he’s proven instrumental in the making of
albums for superstar country, pop and R&B artists as an engineer and digital
editor. For more info on Webb, please contact Alia Fahlborg at Nettwerk Producer
BLUE: In general terms, does your overall approach to miking and recording change
from genre to genre?
CAMERON WEBB: Miking techniques can change a little from genre to genre, but
then you can use the same mics on the whole spectrum of music. I always see
photos of Frank Sinatra singing into an old Neumann U47, which is the same mic
I put up for Mike Ness of Social Distortion, Scott Weiland, and a handful of
others in rock. Good mics can cross over to different instruments as well; I
have used Blue mics on vocals, drum rooms, bass and guitars. What else is there
BLUE: Your approach probably changes from artist to artist, then, too.
CAMERON: The most important thing about using mics is the two users. Number
one, the engineer/producer using the mic that works best for each situation;
and number two, the artist, (who must) know how to make vocals react to a mic.
On loud parts, know how to pull back a little, and dig a little closer on intimate
BLUE: Do you track with EQ and compression? Describe your audio chain.
CAMERON: For drums, I eq but am very careful not to overdo it. If you choose
the proper mic, very little eq is needed. Most recordings I get from project
studios are over-eq’ed and harsh. If that is the sound and vibe you’re
shooting for, then great, but realize you are recording this music for others
and not just yourself. Now, compression is a great way to make a drummer sound
more dynamically consistent, but again, if overused you can make things small.
When done right, though, compression can bring life to drums and make them punchy.
BLUE: How about when dealing with other instruments?
CAMERON: For bass, guitars and vocals, I very rarely use eq. Guitar and bass
(should) get the tone from the amp’s eq -- if you don't like the way it
sounds, maybe you need to get a different amp, or a different mic! Know your
mics and where they sound best.
BLUE: Tell us what do you look for most when choosing a microphone.
CAMERON: When choosing a mic, my decision is made by listening to the instrument
and finding its positive and negatives. If you have a rack tom that doesn't
have great bottom end, then grab a mic that you know is bottom-heavy. Mics are
very versatile, and can be used in different situations depending on how close
or how far you place them to the source.
BLUE: What's the craziest sound you've ever gotten in the studio, and what were
the circumstances behind achieving that sound?
CAMERON: (I was) recording guitar with Corey (aka Chainsaw) from the Aquabats,
and he asked for me to get the most f’d up sound I could get. So I ran
a mic from his amp into the API mic pre and turned it all the way up. When that
wasn't good enough, I ran it through another pre and did the same. It sounded
great and inspired an amazing solo.
BLUE: How about an instance where a crazy idea was tried and the result ended
up really great but totally different than you expected?
CAMERON: I left a scratch vocal mic set up in the drum room and accidentally
recorded the drums with it. Later on, I pulled up that mic and realized it made
the drums sound huge!
BLUE: You’ve already worked with some amazing artists. Who was the most
inspiring, and can you give us an anecdote from your experience with them in
CAMERON: The first day I met Mike Ness of Social Distortion, I was asked to
record a solo with him for one of his demos. We sat down together, and instead
of worrying about what mics or gear I was using, he just trusted me to let me
do my job and played his guitar from the soul. Technically it may not have been
perfect, but it was real and had more style than you can imagine. From that
day on, I have always considered him the Johnny Cash of punk rock.