Johnny K’s recording career began in a
house with egg crates on the wall. He now
has 40,000 square feet in a six-story build-
ing. Disturbed’s The Sickness was his first
major-label album; his latest is the self-
titled debut from Adelitas Way.
When was the last time you recorded
I think not since my first major-label record
with Disturbed [ The Sickness] came out in
2000. That record was made on tape and
mixed from tape. We used tape and Pro
Tools after that and kept working that way.
I did Machine Head’s Supercharger the following year all on tape. There were no computer screens at all making that record. The
vocals and everything were tracked to tape.
What are some key pieces of gear you
use for recording guitars?
I have three studios open at Groovemaster
and guitars in every room. I have 80 guitars and the collection is put to good use
because people always want to borrow
this or that. I use a handful of different mic
pres that I like, whether they’re my own or
in the studio. I have the Neve, usually the
33114 module on a Melbourne console, or
a rack of 1081’s I drag around with me. I
used a Neotek on the Staind record, and
I have to be careful how much volume
I push through. It’s an old Series II, and
I need to install a pad. I have guys who
like “this guitar rather than that,” and of
course if they’re comfortable with it, we
use it. But we don’t usually record with
just one guitar. We try several to have an
idea, and I plug in whatever I know will be
a good-sounding guitar. If the one they
want to use is better, we do that.
You can make a record sound the way you
want it to sound. Pro Tools is not to blame
for the way records sound and feel. Some
do sound sterile and over-edited; they
sound a little too fake to me these days.
There needs to be a better sense of reality to music, and you don’t have to take it
to Pro Tools and five takes and tune it and
you’re done. You can ask the singer to work
for a better performance, and ultimately
it will make you a better singer the more
you try and the more you practice, so I
try to approach things from the beginning
as if we’re using tape now, even with Pro
Tools. I used to comp vocals and punch in