Graduate Chris Mullings Engineers The Neighborhoods Debut Album
March 6, 2014
I got really excited to see the headlining act at tomorrow’s VIVA Phoenix festival was a band that our grad, Chris Mullings had recorded at 4th Street Recording in LA. I got in touch with Chris to do a quick interview of his success and ask a little about his work on The Neighbourhood’s debut album “I Love You”.
Chris graduated from CRAS in 2005. Chris relocated to LA and interned at Rocket Carousel with Grammy nominated engineer/producer Greg Wells. After his time there, he started interning at 4th St. Recording, where currently he engineers and produces today! Check out his interview with CRAS below:
CRAS: During your internship, what was your most memorable horror or success story?
CM: Ping Pong Balls…no joke. I was asked to get 24 ping pong balls for the band who loved to play all day. Gaps in the fence wreaked havoc on lost balls!
So I left the studio, drove all over LA looking for ping pong balls, most of which came in packs of 6 and half were already pushed in or broken…upon my return from a 3-hour journey I was informed that the person who told me to find the balls had just ordered them off the internet! ….Details!
Engineering is all about finding solutions not just doing what you know….always think about the task at hand!
CRAS: How did you end up in your current position?
CM: After 8 months of an internship at 4th St. Recording, I started as a freelance engineer and made my way up to Chief Engineer within just a few years. I have worked on hundreds of records! Drive and tenacity play huge roles in this industry. I’ve been at this 9 years now…feels good to be pro!
CRAS: Have you ever found yourself star struck or in an unreal moment?
CM: I have worked with so many amazing musicians & talent over my career so far, including Pink, Bryan Ferry, Steve Martin, One Republic, Flea, “Weird Al” Yankovic…But I gotta say being invited to watch Bruno Mars at the Staples Center with Jim Carrey was definitely a highlight! Also, Lindsey Lohan showed up at the studio on the wrong night & left us with massive amounts of amazing sushi that was probably meant for someone else. That was pretty cool too!
CRAS: Do you have any words of wisdom for new students?
CM: Pay attention! Every song is it’s own creation, don’t just phone it in. You have to love this gig, and love helping people create their art. That’s what you are here for. Let the rockstars be rockstars. You are here to provide them with the means to do what they do and if you do it well they love you for it! I couldn’t dig this gig more…so go out there and make some records! Come steal my job!
CRAS: Are there any tips or workflows that made your internship or job easier?
CM: Listen & absorb. If you are truly aware of your surroundings and paying attention, in 6 months time you will have seen the majority of what goes on in sessions…the relationship of artist & engineer, producer & artist, etc. Watch and listen to what the engineer is doing, even if you cant figure it out just yet…find what it is you are good at & exploit that!
CRAS: What is the one thing that sticks with you the most from your time at CRAS?
CM: I think the camaraderie of everyone there…everyone wants to be there for the music , whatever the goal may be! I had an amazing time at CRAS! They teach you respect for the technical and musical job that we provide! What they can’t teach is pure experience but they set you up to be able to walk in the room ready to learn the real deal…it’s up to you from there.
CRAS: Were there any instructors who you felt stood out or imparted some wisdom that stuck with you?
CM: All the teachers were great and completely different which shows that there is room in this industry for anyone who cares to fight for it! Shouts to Phil Nichols!
CRAS: What can you tell us about recording The Neighbourhood?
CM: The Neighbourhood rolled into 4th St. Recording back in the fall of 2011 to track their first EP “I’m Sorry” which is when we recorded the now “Platinum” song “Sweater Weather”. We all just seemed to click and in 5 days we were done with an EP that would lead them to getting signed by Sony/Columbia and touring the world. Within a year, I was asked to record the their 1st full length album “I Love You”, which was tracked almost completely at 4th St. Within a month or so of overdubs in New York, where I lived with the band, we were all completely immersed in the project…it was unreal and I will never forget it! I look forward to this band’s career and am honored to be a part of their history.
CRAS: During the process, what did you find to be interesting or revealing that you would want to share?
CM: The Neighbourhood’s songwriting is phenomenal. That was easily handled by them. The challenge on these records technically was creating the right tones and soundscapes…they wanted to push the edge, which they did.
We used tons of distortions & mediums. I ended up recording drum loops through VHS tapes for the most insane saturation. We also used cassettes and crazy distortions that I can’t even remember how we did it!
But whatever crazy ideas we would come up with, my assistant Chase McElhaney (also a CRAS Graduate) would have to actually pull it off! Engineering is never saying, “No, we cant do that!” Find a way. That’s your job.
Photo credit:The Neighbourhood
CRAS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
CM: It’s really hot in Arizona…
Thank you Chris for taking the time out to talk with us! We are excited to see what you are working on next!
CRAS will be at VIVA Phoenix tomorrow! We are excited to be a supporter of this great event! You can find more information here: