The Dark Audio Magic on Hop Along's New Album

RX and Neutron on Hop Along’s “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” (1)

Every Friday, we’re sharing a newly released song or album from one of our favorite artists and talking with them about how they used an iZotope product on it. Bark Your Head Off, Dog, the new album by Hop Along (released 4/6 on Saddle Creek), was produced and recorded by Joe Reinhart and Kyle Pulley, and mixed and mastered with additional production by Ryan Schwabe. We spoke with Schwabe about how RX and Neutron were used in the process.

“I used iZotope plug-ins extensively on Bark Your Head Off, Dog. RX always gets a lot of use in my studio. When mixing, I love to do drastic compression and EQ, and if there is printed discontinuity, clicks/pops or ambient noise in the files, aggressive processing can make those artifacts sound ugly. I usually go through every instrument track and look for issues that I know will be problematic, and then audio suite just those brief moments out. RX is dark audio magic that gets used in every session.

“I also tried to use RX as a creative tool on ‘Look of Love.’ ‘Look of Love’ is a very dynamic song that starts with a cell phone recording of Frances on acoustic guitar, but that lo-fi acoustic recording slowly morphs into a clean studio recording over the first minute. I believe Kyle Pulley tracked Frances with a U47, a couple other SDCs, and on an iPhone. I used RX to make the gradual change from cell phone recording to studio quality recording by slowly taking the noise out of the cell phone recording as the studio recording fades in. You probably couldn't tell because my goal was to make it seamless.

“‘Not Abel’ is a beautiful recording that feels dark, smoky, and almost baroque at times. I wanted to maintain a classic sound, but with a clean, deep, and detailed modern low end to give the song a heavy foundation. I used Neutron's EQ linking/masking feature on all the low-end instruments (bass, floor toms, marching toms, kick) so I could dial-in how they interacted. That feature really helped get the low end sound balanced and powerful, but also 'right sized' for that style of record.

“‘Somewhere A Judge’ is a new direction for Hop Along, and it allowed us to play with vocoders, vocal tuning, and some synths. Joe Reinhart laid down so many catchy guitar parts that I needed to figure out how to highlight each one, but still keep the song seeming minimal. I used the Neutron Exciter to highlight his plucky parts over the clean drums and bass. Tyler Long's bass part and Mark Quinlan's drums are really locked in on this one. Again, I used Neutron's linking/masking EQ feature to get their shared low end (kick/bass) dialed in.

“Because of the arrangement, I wanted the drums to sound modern on this song. Mark's drums were giving me the bounce I wanted, but I needed them to 'lean forward' a little more. I used the multiband Transient Shaper on the drum bus to make the drums a little more animated in the mix (1 dB at most).

“What's unique about the Transient Shaper is that you can shape the transient to be pointy or round on each frequency band. I wanted the drums more transient, but I also wanted those transients round. iZotope is really the only one that can do that for me.”

—Ryan Schwabe

You May Also Like