Jason Suecof of Audiohammer Studios
Peter interviews metal producer Jason Suecof about mixing from the patio, watching spaceships from the driveway and rigging up a Wall Of Awesome in the amp room.
Jason Suecof is one of those producers/mixers blessed with the ability to get consistently great guitar tones without making every band sound the same. Trivium, Battlecross, Death Angel, All That Remains, Bury Your Dead, The Black Dahlia Murder, DevilDriver, Drowning Pool, Deicide, Firewind, Six Feet Under… the list is practically a who’s who of heavy, most of it produced out of his Audiohammer Studios in Orlando, Florida. Jason has been a Source-Elements user for a while now, so we thought we’d hit him up for a chat.
Peter: Lemme just make sure we’re recording this… alrighty! So! Jason! How’ve you been?
Jason: Oh man. You know, a little bored, but also having fun. I’m starting the Nekrogoblikon record this week. Well… not really starting it, but we’ve been doing it over the past year in sections. Nicky [Calonne, vocals/keys] writes a lot of it back in California and I’m here in Florida, so they’ll fly here again this week, and that’s always fun during all this COVID stuff.
Peter: Well it’s good to talk to you. I interviewed Jay Ruston the other day and he said that you turned him onto Source-Live and I was like, ‘I’d love to talk to that guy anyway, so here’s a good reason!’
Jason: Jay’s awesome, man. Y’know, I would rather use Source-Live than ever look at anyone’s mix notes! Like, I suck at reading. I’m not good with it at all, but that’s my own problem. But sometimes I still have to use mix notes because there are situations where people are in different countries when I’m doing the thing and the internet’s no good. But in most situations I rather just hop on Source-Live. They can make their own notes for themselves so they know exactly what we’re going over, and it works out perfect for me because I’m good with on the spot. Like obviously I don’t want to start the mix with somebody listening from scratch. I’ll go insane. But once I’m ready for a mix review, then we can go over whatever. I feel like that’s fair.
Peter: Yeah. And different people do relate the same information differently. Like I have a custom Seymour Duncan guitar pickup, and I asked for it to sound like sunshine through a glass of beer, and like the taste of creme brulee. And so they made this pickup that sounds like sunshine through a glass of beer and like the taste of creme brulee! And I could have explained it as ‘It needs more upper mids’ and all these things, but to me, sunshine through a glass of beer was an adequate description! Some people are like, ‘I need this frequency and that frequency.’ Cool, but I need sunshine!
Jason: You get it! The way I work just saves so much time, because going over one part could be four to five rounds of notes, and the way the notes are written changes depending on who’s giving them to you. Not everyone is giving them to you right, so Source-Live is saving time. And also I used to mix out on my patio with it.
Jason: Yeah! Once I’ve got my mix and set up, I would I would send it out to my patio and automate outside. Also, it’s good to check out a mix outside because there’s very little bass problems outside.
Peter: That’s a good point! I should try that!
Jason: Yeah! You check your low end outside and you’ll find out pretty quick what’s going on. So I’ll screen-share, like if you have two computers, you can screen-share your main ProTools screen and then come outside and AirPlay it onto Apple TV. You know, Sam Pura is a producer over in San Francisco. He does like Hundredth and The Story So Far, and he’s a buddy of mine. He’s a real good producer, and he’s the one who told me about Source-Live back in 2015 or 16.
Peter: What are some of the projects you’ve used Source-Live on?
Jason: I’ve done Death Angel, and all the Nekrogoblikon stuff I’ve done… basically anyone who’s not in Florida! I definitely mixed the whole Death Angel album with Rob Cavestany. You know, you don’t really think about how sick of a program it is, because you’re in it while you’re doing it, but it really is a game changer. I’ll tell you what, next time I’m like bouncing something or doing something I’ll I’ll hit you up and I’ll you log into my mix bus.
Peter: That’d be insane. I’d love to do that!
Jason: Before I started using this, I had a really bad lag. It started getting real bad and I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t deal.’ But the Source Nexus is pretty much instant. You know, it’d be sick as if someone could fix the internet, just make it faster generally. I know Elon Musk is working on it [with the Starlink project]! I can see all the Space X launches from my driveway.
Peter: Oh really?
Jason: Yeah! I’ll be inside watching Seinfeld or something then I’ll see on my phone that they’re launching the ship, so I’ll run out to the driveway and watch it go up. A couple of times you can hear it too, but yeah man, it’s pretty sick.
Peter: That’s killer.
Jason: Yeah. Hey, on another topic, do you know about the KHE amp cab switcher? That’s what I’ve been working on setting up tonight. It lets you use up to eight amp heads and four speaker cabinets. Now where my cabs are is like 350 feet from my house, so we got like a super, super thick cable. I think we’re only losing like a half an ohm going down there. So I’ve got someone in there soldering these right now, because you can’t put those cables straight onto the speaker connector, they’re too thick. So you gotta make little jumpers and then he’s going to go back and run it through the wall. Whenever you’re checking out heads, the only way to really A/B them is to record all of them and then switch around and check them out. Now it’ll be like, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop. And I’ve never been able to do that before!
Peter: Well when I think of you I think of great real-amp metal tones. You’ve really nailed it. You really get it.
Jason: Metal is fun times, you know? I’m just a tech metal geek from the nineties. That’s all.
Peter: What drew your ear to doing this?
Jason: Metal? Well my dad played drums. He wasn’t a drummer by trade, but he played drums growing up and he had a little studio in the basement. I started playing guitar when I was eight and I got Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction. I got into glam first. I loved Winger. I don’t give a what anyone says.
Peter: Everyone needs a Les Paul. Everyone who was affected by Appetite as a kid has a Les Paul now.
Jason: Well, I had an ’88 Standard and I broke the neck on it. Anyway, then Megadeth’s Rust In Peace became my favorite album ever because of Marty Friedman and just it being the greatest album ever. And then it went to death metal and it was like, ‘That’s the one dude.’
Peter: The early 90s was such a killer time for death metal, with Morbid Angel being the first death metal band signed to a major label and stuff like that… everyone recording at Morrisound, the home of death metal.
Jason: I loved Morrisound and Jim Morris taught me a lot. I paid Jim to show me some stuff and he came here and he helped me out. I would go there too. I tracked a lot of drums at Morrisound, like for Trivium’s Ascendency record.
Peter: So what else is on the horizon for you?
Jason: Uh, honestly just Nekro right now. And I’m doing a band called The Convalescence in the summer. And then after that, I don’t know. There are a couple of things that I think could happen, and I’m still working on the next Job For A Cowboy record. Their guitarist is in Ireland and he’s becoming a doctor, so it’s just impossible for him to do anything while he’s working.
At this point in the interview, Peter and Jason start gossiping about guitar companies and Jason asks to stop recording so he can properly dish. The chat is followed up by Peter and Jason texting each other pics of their dogs. Meet Jason’s Tippy and Peter’s Pickford The Polka Pup.