Matthew Sweet

Article excerpt

Rebuilding the Wall of Sound

After helping popular be reverb-less mixes with the dry, in-your-face punch of Girlfriend in 1991, Matthew Sweet has come full circle with In Reverse [Volcano]--a multi-textured celebration of ambience that recalls Phil Spector's '60s Wall of Sound productions. The adventure began during the demo process for In Reverse, when Sweet cooked up more than 100 songs on a Pro Tools system and went crazy with overdubs.

"I multitracked a lot," he says. "I layered at least five guitars on everything, with each guitar playing the same thing. That got me thinking about those Spector records--which are really just a lot of people playing live, banging out the same chords, and creating this otherworldly sound. Right then, I realized how I wanted to make In Reverse."

To capture the sound of Spector's "teenage symphonies," Sweet copped the producer's modus operandi. The basic tracks for "If Time Permits," "I Should Never Have Let You Know," "Worse to Live," and "Thunderstorm" were recorded live at LA.'s Cello Studios with a 17-piece band: two electric guitarists, three acoustic guitarists, two bassists (including legendary '60s and '70s session ace Carol Kaye), three keyboardists, two drummers, two percussionists, two horn players, and a theremin player. (Sweet switched between guitar and piano.) The mics were placed, the players let rip, and everything was fed into Cello's ancient echo chamber--the same chamber that added the lush, natural reverb to some of Brian Wilson's classic Beach Boys tracks.

"We didn't get as ,crazy with the reverb soup as Spector did," says Sweet, who co-produced In Reverse with session guitarist Greg Leisz, drummer Fred Maher, and engineer Jim Scott. "But I think the attitude is there. I really wanted to do some songs that were ballad-like and try to create that Spector-esque sense of drama. And I wanted to work with a large group and track live with a bunch of musicians getting excited about playing off each other. …