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Jeff Hughell Sleep Deprivation Album

Jeff Hughell Sleep Deprivation Interview

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Jeff, congratulations on your fourth full-length solo album. What was different or unique about the recording of “Sleep Deprivation” compared to the others? 

Thank you very much. The biggest difference in recording this album was I took as much time as I needed and felt no need to rush whatsoever. I spent a lot more time working on my playing, doubling bass parts. I also worked a lot more on other instruments like my guitar playing and piano playing. This is the first album I did all the keys and piano myself, and the first time playing guitar.

You recorded with drummer Marco Pitruzzella, your bandmate from Six Feet Under. You and Marco also worked together on your first solo EP “I Came to Hate.” What was the collaboration with Marco like on this album in comparison to your previous recordings?

Working with Marco is like second nature. We have been playing together for well over a decade. I always program drum’s first with EZdrummer then send the songs off so the structure is already there. He can then put his own style on it and change whatever he wants. Marco is an incredibly precise drummer that also has great feeling. I think on the song “Sleep Paralysis” he proved that he can really do it all. The drumming is so tasteful on that song, yet has some relentless blasting towards the end and then he seamlessly goes back into a slow nice feel.

Your last project before this album was Crush with the Bassists Alliance, which was eclectic in genre and instrumentation. As it relates to “Sleep Deprivation,” have your experiences collaborating with other musicians influenced your writing to this point?

While doing the Bassist Alliance album Crush, I really learned a lot about collaborating with other people. A large difference between that project and my solo work is that we only used bass on the Bassist Alliance album. I added no guitar or keys or anything else. To me it was a great experience because I really focused on bass playing and nothing else. With my solo work I am not afraid to experiment with other instruments and add other elements. So a lot of ideas that I had I was able to look at the big picture and really expand and experiment. I think on this album it all really worked out. I am very happy with the way all these other elements came out. It was also a nice change of pace going from an album that is all collaborations to being able to go ahead and run with my own vision, having the final say on everything.

Who handled the mixing and mastering of these tracks, and what was that collaboration like?

Jamie King was the one who mixed and mastered this album. It was basically my first time working with him. I was introduced to his work by Ryan Martinie. Jamie mixed and mastered the song “Extreme Density” that Ryan and I did for the Bassist Alliance project. I was totally blown away at how clear everything was and how every little part had its own place, which was a challenge because that song had so many different bass parts. I also had a bunch of other friends who had nothing but great things to say about him. After I went back and looked at all the albums he had done, there were actually quite a few that I had already listen to a lot and was unaware he had done them. I have never actually met him in person but he was very easy to work with and we just went back-and-forth through email and obviously sending lots of files back-and-forth. Production wise I couldn’t be more happy with the way everything turned out.

What bass gear did you play on “Sleep Deprivation,” and did you play any other instruments on the album?

On this album The main bass that I used was my Warwick Corvette seven string that has a solid bubinga body. It has custom Seymour Duncan blackout pickups in it. I used Dean Markley SR 2000 strings and ran it into the Darkglass Super Symmetry compressor into the Darkglass B7K, then into Logic. On the B7K, I used no drive going into the computer and then added a plug-in called CLA bass that is made by Waves. Jamie actually used my bass tone but did his own final EQ and compression. I also played fretless bass on a couple songs and that’s my Warwick Corvette custom shop seven string fretless that also has custom Seymour Duncan blackout pickups. I  played all of the rhythm guitar in which I used a Jackson soloist with Seymour Duncan Black Winter pickups. I ran directly into the computer and used the Positive Grid BIAS for guitar tone. Once again, Jamie used my tone and did the final EQ and compression. As I mentioned before, I did all of the keys and piano on this and there is a lot of piano. I used the Waves Grand Rhapsody plug-in, I was really happy with those sounds.

Mack Lawson and Erik Andersen provide beatbox and vocals on “The Darkside” in a unique moment on the album. How did that collaboration come about? 

One thing about this album, compared to my previous albums, is I had less guest appearances. Everybody that’s on this album with the exception of Jorgen Munkeby are close friends of mine. Mack Lawson and Erik Andersen both have sons that are the same age as my son and we all hang out. One day we were hanging out and Mack started doing his beatbox thing which apparently he’s been doing since he was a kid. I thought wow we should get together and record some stuff. I bet I could come up with some killer ideas for that! So one day Mack came over to record and I invited Erik as well. Erik and I were in a band together called Asylum many years ago. I thought Erik’s screaming voice could be something cool to add with the beatbox. So we really just sat down, had a couple drinks, and recorded. I put it together and I’m really happy with the way it came out. It is something unique that you really don’t hear in instrumental or metal music.

You recorded an official music video for “The Darkside” directed by Nikko DeLuna.  What was that experience like for you?

Nikko DeLuna has done a couple of videos for me in the past. He is awesome to work with and makes it really easy. So I knew I wanted to have him do some videos for this album. We have three or four songs that we are doing videos for. They were all shot at different places so they kind a have a different feel. Mike Kane shot Marco’s video separately at Marco’s house in the Seattle area. Mike did an amazing job of matching the lighting and the vibe of Nikko’s video so Nikko could mix it all together and have it look like we actually were shooting in the same location. I can’t wait for all the videos to come out so people can see what we have been up to.

If you had to pick a favorite moment on “Sleep Deprivation,” what is it and why?

If I had to pick a favorite moment on the album, it would be the song “Sleep Paralysis”. There are so many different things going on in that song and I was really happy with the way it came out. I layered all of my bass tracks on the song. I added a lot of extra percussion myself, Marco did an amazing job of making the song perfectly tasteful. Ray Suhy ( Six Feet Under) did an amazing guitar solo and Jørgen Munkeby put the icing on the cake with his saxophone playing. I also added some vocals (samples, not me) and it all just came together perfectly.

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