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Production legend Michael Wagener was also a big part of the band's panoramic improvement in sound, having brought his vast metal acumen to the recording process at his base studio in Nashville. Indeed, when it came to Ryan's vocals, Wagener had him try out 26 different microphones. Mike Dupke is effusive in his praise for Wagener. "Wonderful. I absolutely adored working with Michael Wagener. You often hear about guys who go into the studio and they get some other drum set and smaller cymbals and thinner heads. My drums tend to be big just because I like the sound and the durability of the larger equipment. So I try to go for something powerful, and Michael Wagener, as kind of a big treat for me, had me use all my own stuff. The same kit I would play live with these guys, was the kit he wanted me to use in the studio. And he was never 'come on, hurry up' unless he was hungry, at which case we stopped and went out to get something to eat; he wasn't going to be any more productive until dinner was found (laughs)."
"But his philosophical approach was that this was all rock 'n' roll," Mike explains. "There were a couple songs where I would start getting bummed out about my drum parts, 'Oh jeez, I'm not nailing these fast enough.' And he has said something that affected me very deeply, as far as this band goes, and that was that when you go in and record there are two things you are thinking about, the drum parts that you have in your head, and the parts that your hands are going to want to play naturally. And it's when the two of those come together, that's making music. And it made me realize that this is rock 'n' roll. Maybe what's perfect for someone like Steely Dan, isn't going to be perfect for our record, which really, is more about attitude."
"I think the real organic stuff is starting to come back," adds Mike. "The four of us up there, it's just simple but powerful, two guitars, bass and drums. It's going to be loud, it's going to be aggressive, but it's not going to be depressing. It's going to be upbeat and we hope everybody has as good a time as we are having up there on stage."
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