Tool producer Sylvia Massey records a snare drum in a nuclear cooling tower

Sylvia Massey, one of the few high-profile female record producers (you can thank her for the work she did on Tool’s Undertow), is a lovely person. I spent some time in a studio one night talking about production techniques and philosophies.

As a producer, engineer and mixer, she’s always looking for ways to create new and unusual sounds for her clients. That includes finding a cool snare drum sound, one of the trickiest things any producer/engineer can attempt to do.

Natural reverb can do wonders for a drum sound. But how to achieve it? You could record drums in a stairwell of a big mansion…

…record the drummer playing out on the loading dock…

…get a hotshot producer like Mutt Lange to invent new sounds in the studio…

…or go all electronic with a technique using gated reverb.

Sylvia knows all about those techniques but thought “There must be something that hasn’t been done before.”

What about recording a snare inside a giant cooling tower of a nuclear power plant? After all, her client Thunderpussy was filming a video at the base of such a tower. So…

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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