The Damned recruited famed producer Tony Visconti for its latest, and he introduced new guitar tones to the game by customizing Eventide H9 settings for Captain Sensible.
Tony Visconti: Evil Spirits’ Other CaptainWe spoke with legendary produer Tony Visconti—whose many, many credits include classic albums by David Bowie, T. Rex, Iggy Pop, Thin Lizzy, and John Hiatt—about working with the Damned in Brooklyn’s Atomic Sound.
What did you hope to get out of the Damned in the studio?
The best record they ever made! I think they picked me because they collectively like various albums I’ve made: especially the T. Rex and Bowie stuff. The Damned opened for T. Rex back in the day, and I even asked Captain why we never did this before. But the time was right.
How did you capture the album’s live feel in the studio?
I’m not a control freak and I want them to express themselves, and I wouldn’t work with them if they weren’t great musicians—that’s my criteria. But everything needs some editing, and to pare it down to what you finally hear, we had to make a lot of choices. I made Paul punch in a lot, but a lot of it comes with modifying parts and changing things to be something a little different without changing their overall feel or what they’re trying to say as players.
What was your philosophy about shaping the tones for this album?
We had to kick everything up a notch, and that required the Captain playing a bunch of different guitars in the studio. The studio has an excellent Fender Stratocaster that Captain used on at least three songs, for arpeggio things or anything that we needed a clearer sound on beyond the overdriven Gibson sound he’s known for. Things like that made a big difference, and on some tracks, you’re hearing five to six guitar takes all at once. We really textured it very heavily.
What gear was integral to creating the guitar tones on the album?
I introduced him to the wonderful world of Eventide, and we used the H9 a lot. Most of the patches we used for the H9 were custom made by myself. I like to pick a patch out from the library and then heavily modify it for the song, and I really get in there and tweak them. I named all of them after the Captain, and I think maybe there will be a Captain Sensible pack at some point for the H9. Eventide’s Tony Agnello is a big fan of the Damned and brought some secret prototypes to Atomic Sound for the Captain to use, but I’m sworn to absolute secrecy about what they are and do.