Sources: In The Studio With Michael – By Brad Sundberg
This year at CES in Vegas (no, I won’t be there this time) Monster Cable is hosting a huge tribute event for Michael Jackson. Noel Lee is no stranger to hosting these monster events (are two catch-words in one sentence too many?), and I take my hat to his quest for perfection and showmanship.
I met Noel many years, as you might expect, in the studio. In the early days of the Bad album there was some sort of sponsorship agreement between Monster Cable and Michael, so before we knew it there was a truck behind the studio unloading case after case of some of the most beautiful cables you have ever seen.
Now, I admit that I am a bit of a geek with this sort of thing, but these cables were amazing, in every style and format imaginable. That was the good news. The Bad news (catch-word number three) was that Bruce actually wanted to use them. All the time.
OK, it wasn’t bad – but it was work. Studios are wired in such a way that all of the cables are hidden in the walls, feeding patch bays and mic panels. Typically all the engineer needs to touch is the microphone, a short mic cable, and maybe a patch cord.
Now Bruce wanted me to drag hundreds of feet of Monster Cable for recording vocals, drums, guitars, etc. No need for the gym – these cables were like small fire hoses, only heavier.
And yes, they did sound great.
Bruce was so particular about using these cables – I swear this is true – that he would record drums on a fat 2″ 16-track analog machine, then IMMEDIATELY look at me and say, ‘”OK, let’s transfer them to digital.”
This would mean I would have to get the Monster Cable “harness” which weighed about 9000 lbs, and connect the outputs of the analog machine directly into the inputs of the digital machine. I still remember my hands getting sore from unplugging and plugging in all of these cables, over and over again. We took this stuff very seriously. (By transferring those “fresh” tracks right after recording, we were forever capturing the analog sound on a digital format – the best of both worlds so to speak.)
For vocals we would run a long Monster Microphone Cable from the Michael’s mic in the studio to Bruce’s Preamp in the control room. I would have to jam it under the doors and remind Michael not to trip on it in the dark. (Jam and Trip – two more points.)
Bruce even went to so far as to have Monster make custom blue and yellow patch cords for the patch bay, because Bruce (and I) are Swedish, and those are the colors of the Swedish flag. (And the Ikea sign, but that’s not part of this story.)
Noel Lee used to make occasional visits to us in the studio. We had various guests who would stop by, friends of Michael, Bruce or Quincy, but not too many. Noel was a pro at knowing how often to visit and how long to stay. He was always friendly and upbeat, with a huge smile and endless curiosity. And – he loves music. He was allowed to hear mixes and production tracks that we were working on, something that I think he very much appreciated.
There were other guests – who shall forever remain nameless – who I was perhaps less “enthusiastic” when they arrived, but Noel was always a pleasure to be around. In no small way does he represent the “American Dream” of building a huge company from nothing. And he’s a blame nice guy to boot!
I wish Noel nothing but ongoing success in his business ventures as well has his tribute event for Michael this week. I wish I were in Vegas to see what he has put together!
We will be in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris in less than two weeks. My new edits and segments are almost finished (although the seminar will always be changing and trying new things), and I am very excited to spend a few days in the cold!
I hope you will consider joining us in the studio – it’s always warm in here.
Tickets on sale now at www.inthestudiowithmj.com/events
Will You Be There?