Set for release in May 2012, Aerosmith’s latest studio album is being billed as ‘a testament to one of the greatest bands in the world’.
Fans that have been kept hungry for new material since 2001’s Just Push Play and 2004’s bluesy covers album Honkin’ on Bobo, are set to be rewarded with a 14th album that producer Jack Douglas is describing as ‘raw’ and ‘nasty’.
Aerosmith’s decision to renew their collaboration with Douglas, who helmed sessions for Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic and Rocksin suggests a return to an old-school sound. Helping Douglas, engineer Warren Huart and the band achieve the right sound is Endless Analog’s Clasp.
The band began work in July at two Aerosmith-affiliated Boston-area studios: Pandora’s Box, which the band owns, and the Boneyard, guitarist Joe Perry’s personal studio. Two Clasp (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) units are in use at Pandora’s Box – one connected to a 16-track two-inch Studer A800 analogue tape machine for recording drums, and one connected to a 24-track two-inch A800 MkIII for recording everything else. At the Boneyard, another Clasp is connected to an additional 24-track 2-inch A800 MkIII for overdubs. A fourth Clasp will be called into a yet-to-be-announced Los Angeles studio when sessions move to the West Coast later this year.
‘Clasp is revolutionary,’ says Douglas, who, aside from his tenure with Aerosmith, is noted for his work with John Lennon, the New York Dolls and The Who. ‘We’re sticklers for big, fat analogue sound, so this system was just perfect for us. And we’re so happy that Chris [Estes, Clasp inventor] came along and was able to hook us up with the stuff, and we really love it. The album’s gonna sound amazing. It has that rich, fat sound of analogue and we have the convenience of being able to edit in Pro Tools. Normally, if we were using tape, we’d be using reels and reels but Clasp lets us use the same reel over and over again. And then normally we’d have to break for a few days to dump everything into Pro Tools for editing, but Clasp allows us to do real-time transfer. And we can record at any tape speed we want.’
Huart, best known for his work with top-selling acts like The Fray, Augustana, Kris Allen and Better Than Ezra, adds: ‘The reality is that recording with tape just makes things sound better. Every single piece of digital equipment you buy tries to make it sound like tape. Clasp is fantastic because it does what digital is trying to do for you by actually using real tape. It’s been a godsend in the studio as Aerosmith is capturing such a powerful, classic sound.’
‘You forget what it sounds like to hear these instruments actually going to tape,’ says Brad Whitford, one of Aerosmith’s two guitarists. ‘It’s the only way to go. You hit that tape, and you get all those rich harmonics. People are going to hear this album, and they’re going to say, ‘There’s something different going on here,’ and the difference is Clasp.’