#047 - EIKE FREEZE: One of Europe’s most influential rock/metal producers shares his tips and tricks
Published June 14, 2022
Do you think your music could sound better?
In this episode:
EIKE FREEZE started his career as the bandleader, rhythm guitar player and main vocalist of the metal legends DARK AGE. He's also a music professional, specialised on rock and metal, with a humongous list of production credits. His portfolio reads like the who-is-who of rock and metal. He played the headliner show at the world's biggest metal festival.
And in this interview, Eike shares his recording and mixing tips and tricks, as well as his inspiring production philosophies.
How Eike started the legendary metal band DARK AGE
How Eike managed to be his own band's producer and engineer
The lowest points of Eike's career
The highest points of Eike's career
Eike's take on modern metal production
The pros and cons of recording live vs. overdubbing
Eike, on the rhythm guitar, playing the headlining gig with Kai Hansen and Friends at Wacken Open Air 2016
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Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be.
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This is the Production Talk Podcast episode 47.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. At the beginning, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land and the country that this interview is being recorded on, the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Today is a pretty special day. I'm pretty excited because with me is an old friend of mine. On the other side of the world, with me is Eike Freeze from Hamburg, and we have a long history. Welcome to the podcast. How are you going?
Eike Freeze: am. I'm doing very well. Thank you very much for having me. And also I pay all my respect and tribute to you guys and to the people of the Australian country. So thanks for having me. Oh,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's it's an amazing pleasure to have you mate. We haven't seen each other in a very, very long time, but we have a bit of history together because we both started as you know, mid twenties as musicians and, and producers around the same time. Would you mind to just tell us first about your early days?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: How old were were you when you started? Mm
Eike Freeze: yes, Jan. When I started, I got my first electrical guitar, you know, I, I skipped the acoustic. I just went to straight to the electrical guitar. After listening to Nirvana, I had to have one at the age of ed at the age of 13, obviously then, you know, I founded my first bands and did first rehearsals, which wasn't dark age back then.
Eike Freeze: It was a different bend from school. And from that moment on, I was also pretty much interested in recording. So at the age of 15, my. Now after spending weeks and months of, you know, trying to convince my parents to buy me a four Trek cassette recorder as a birthday and a Christmas gift together since they were very, very expensive at that time.
Eike Freeze: Yeah, I, I got, I I've gotten a little bit into home recording and that stuff with the four track cassette recorder was a Yamaha Mt. Four X, I think it was.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good.
Eike Freeze: And yeah, and then that's when I started actually, you know, annoying all the bands and those Y M C a rehearsal rooms, you know, to just asking them to do their demos, to record it with for, you know, on four tracks, like, you know, having four microphones for drums and then bouncing them down to one mono track doing bass guitars and vocals.
Eike Freeze: So that was my first steps at the age of 15, 16.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. And how old were you when you started a dark
Eike Freeze: That was around the same time I was 15 to 16. So my first band dires Eve from a Metallica song, we, we, we swapped some members and we started with dark age at the age of 16. Yeah. And that remained as the pretty much first lineup until record number four. So with, at the age of 16, we started that and recorded our first album one year leader at the age of 17.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: wow. So I just had a quick look and with dark age, I think you recorded three demos and a total of nine albums. Is that right?
Eike Freeze: Oh Jesus.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Roundabout
Eike Freeze: Yeah. Roundabout. I
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: roundabout. Yeah.
Eike Freeze: We did.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: records to remember. Yeah, well,
Eike Freeze: Yeah, I think it was to be, to be fair. I think it was eight, eight record, sorry, eight records and the EP and the DVD kind of, so that, but in total you're right.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Right. And dark age, basically wrecked havoc across all the over Europe for about 20 years or something like this. We were basically dominating the metal scene there for quite some time. And I think when, when we met, it was still in the early days, one of the first two records, I think that's when we first met.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then I remember that you actually helped me record the drums when I was a drummer for my first metal record. And we were much younger back then. And I think we drank a lot of beer when we did.
Eike Freeze: I'm pretty sure we did.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: These were the days. These were the days we've come a long way. And Yeah. Then later we actually worked together. Occasionally. Now we did a bit bit of touring together and I've got some, you know, fond memories, amazing memories from touring Paris some festivals in Southern Germany, you know, some local festivals and sometimes, you know, little youth centers.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: We, you played in front of 50 people one night and then in front of, you know, 5,000 the next evening. That was fantastic.
Eike Freeze: Yes,
Eike Freeze: Yes, yes,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Say, are, are you still in touch? With all the band members?
Eike Freeze: I am actually you know Martin, our keyboard back then he is, he's met. He's been married now the second time. So I'm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, wow.
Eike Freeze: going, I'm going to use wedding soon, but I have to say it, it, it did, it did calm down a bit. You know, I do have contact tore or drummer Y or or leak guitar player, actually our former bass player to Egar.
Eike Freeze: He is I, I, I, I quite had some contact with him cause he's in, in another band, in a new band called end seeker and they're with metal blade. They've been quite successful now. The last, the last six or seven years I would say they're maybe the hottest metal band up and coming here in Hamburg at the moment.
Eike Freeze: And their sound is really, really hard to, to mix it's this Sweden death like dismember and tomb, the old records, like with. With the famous metal zone no heavy metal too. The hand fly the Hm. Two guitar sound and with the old Marshall stacks and they pretty much were able to pick up that sound from the nineties, from the early to records.
Eike Freeze: And so he's, he's with up bend and our new bass player, the, the, the guy that jumped in for agar because agar was leaving the band after the fourth record, Alex HEK, he's a, he's now a music producer and media music composer and he is working at the boogie park quite famous studio here.
Eike Freeze: Yeah. So,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: boogie park is still around. I remember recording there on an, ah, what board was that? I wanna say API, but it was an API, a new
Eike Freeze: no, it was Neo tech elite. Exactly. Hmm.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, that was right. And there was such a filthy place back then.
Eike Freeze: David
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: looked like they've.
Eike Freeze: No, no, they and the, the, the place they it went bankrupt seven years ago or something and because the owner, yeah. The owner sold that place to, and to, to some investor in Hamburg and he put someone in take care of that place. And I think after one year they, they ran out of money.
Eike Freeze: So that guy, the investors said, we gonna close that place or we do it. And then he got into contact with Alex Hank or from a bass player. And Alex restructured everything like you know lowered the cost and this and that. And they were able to, I think, get rid of the depth. And Alex since then has kind of made that place.
Eike Freeze: You know, they, they, they throw out the Neo tech elite, they put in a. SSL AWS recently and to, you know, yeah. To, to put down to, to lower the power cost of course, which is always a thing. And they made it, they, they did some yeah, they, they, they made a really nice studio out of it. You know, it's now it's all nice and shiny and clean because they have a lot of media consumers and not consumers.
Eike Freeze: They have a lot of media relationships, clients. Exactly. And I know that these guys are more picky than some hard rock.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah. Yeah. Right. Oh, that's fantastic to hear. I'm glad that this, you know, place is actually still going and, you know, in good hands, that's, that's really good.
Eike Freeze: That's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: okay, you are, I guess the prime example of, you know, a musician starting, you know, getting bigger, getting out there, playing gigs all the time, and then you grew into a producer.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So you are a typical example of, you know, I guess, you know, a self-producing musician, you, you were very hands on and in most of the records, if not all of them, all of the dark age records. How, how do you manage that to, to be a musician and a producer at the same time? It, it takes entirely, you know, different angles or mindsets.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: How, how do you manage? Mm
Eike Freeze: a good question. Cause I failed a lot of times being that I have to put, I have to give fair credit to, for the first three records to those producers, which were this guy, should I and Andy KLA and who did the first three? So I was basically not involved into that as a producer. I was more the songwriter, the front guy, this and that, and the composer.
Eike Freeze: First time with the fourth record and it is something I would never kind of consider to do again or tell anyone to do it. Cuz I really think the role of producer, the external guy is super important. So why did I, although I managed to put, to put those records out, I say failed at it because obviously I stumbled in that process doing it a lot of times.
Eike Freeze: And I really, really it was actually the, my nice bent mates accepting that this took, you know, for the records to, and they accepting to the records to take so long because while doing it, you know, you, you stumbled, you do the first mix. It sounds horrible. Cause you don't have the distance to the music.
Eike Freeze: So you get up again. You do the next mix. So going through that process is really, really. Excuse my language, a mind, fuck, because you know, you can't sleep and, and it takes a long time, takes way longer than doing a record for a different band because you just have a distance. You're not, in my case, in my case, what made it even more difficult is not only also being the main composer, but being the singer, the rhythm guitar player, the engineer, and then the producer, and then the mix up.
Eike Freeze: So that is insane to do. So that, that, that, that normally I would, I would never suggest anyone to do that. In my case, you know, I had a nice and cool band who said, you know, we believe in what you can do. We think you can do it. And that's maybe the reason why I could, but especially on the last records that I did that was quite, that was really tough because normally yeah, cause I'm married also.
Eike Freeze: I have two children, so, and that role you're just. Yes. Thinking constantly of that record and it's very hard to get a distance. Yeah. So, so I, I think it's like with everything else in that position with that role, it's failing, failing, get up again, get up again, failing. And then at one point you have it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. Right. Okay. And how long did it take you until you had that breakthrough until you felt like, yeah. Okay. I can juggle it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: all now.
Eike Freeze: I think since we always have pretty good demos, we did a pre-recording with that. The recording process itself was a blast on all the records. We had a lot of fun, you know, we had a couple of beers, always. It was, it was nice. I think the problem is when I started singing, I was recording myself a lot of times is the second guessing on, is that good?
Eike Freeze: I, so, so it's recording. So I have a problem on judging on my own vocals on cans on headphones. So what I would do is I'd do a take put 'em. And listen on the speakers and that takes a lot of time and it doesn't get you into a certain mindset or mode. So that was that's where it starts. I would do. I would do, I would record a song, do a quick edit, do a quick bounce and listen in my car.
Eike Freeze: If I like my performance on a lot of times, I sing every song four to five times to get there because the producer, the external guy was missing helping me out, like saying you're pronouncing the words too much in the front part of your mouth. It's Sean's get now relax. Do it, you know, do it natural so that that's missing.
Eike Freeze: So I would check on the car and hear, oh my God, the guidance. Oh, oh my God. I'm singing it too light in the front bit of my mouth. So do it again. And that's why I always would recommend getting a, a producer, someone who is outside of your emotional attachment to the music. It
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. And I, I can imagine there were just, you know, some practical difficulties, you know, you would have to run to the microphone, you know, sing, then hit. Run back to operate pro tools and, you know, swing phone back, you know, nowadays we've got iPad apps. So you kindly carry your pro tools to the microphone if you want to.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But back in those days, that was not an option.
Eike Freeze: wasn't and that's why I, I did it quick and dirty. I just recorded in front of photos. I just, I was put my mic up in front of the screen, you know, put my keyboard up my mouse and I was, you know, so it was always producer editor, engineer, singer . So
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Constantly switching heads. yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Right.
Eike Freeze: And that's, and that's exhausting.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I can imagine. Yeah, I can imagine. Well, it gives you a lot of control, you know, you have full control over everything, but not, having second opinions is I
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I don't think that's easier. W would you agree?
Eike Freeze: agree. Totally.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm. Yeah. Yeah.
Eike Freeze: It's not easier. And the thing is, it also has to do a lot. I think a bit I, I would, I would have no, what I did is since dark age was a a death metal band, a lot of death metal band, and we grew more and more into singing, like clean singing. I did more proper singing, but I have to say I'm the worst singer in the world.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Eike Freeze: The moment, Yeah. Well, the moment I have a good take, I think you can hear, I have something to save. That makes sense. But technic technically, cause I don't practice. I'm really not good. So so I think it also had to do with the lack of self esteem in terms of, you know, getting a proper producer to do it.
Eike Freeze: Cause it was, I can't, I can't sing in front of that guy cuz he's throwing me out after two hours. like practice, man. You know, get your tone because singing is like proper singing is practice, like every other instrument also. And that's that I think that I kind of compensated. That with time, you know, that I said, okay, I'm gonna take my time as much as I need.
Eike Freeze: Cause the problem with me is a lot of times I have the finished product audible in my head. So it's there and I just, ah, I'm forcing everything around me to get to that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That well said. So, you know, that re describes what, what I find myself that if you have something in your mind and you try to manifest it into something, you know, capture it somewhere on your computer and it doesn't sound exactly like that. That's, that's really frustrating. And how do you manage to, you know, stay positive to, to, you know, still manage, to keep going in situations like this and, and, you know, not let you know the frustration get the better of you.
Eike Freeze: I think I realized at one point and I think this is always something. No one really talks about, but I think it's very important to, to say the moment art hits the commercial benefit and deadlines and timelines, you have to compromise on something. So what I learned is what gets me there just for myself speaking, and also with the stuff then that I did is learning that if I compare it to a painting, I was always obsessed with getting the colors.
Eike Freeze: Right. But the picture itself, the motive of it, that's what matters. I, and, and the time that is there, it's, it's the emotion, the feeling I get from listening to the track. No matter if it's, if it's a, a fun song, a love song, I don't care so much anymore about the colors. Like the, the deep red is not exactly how I imagine it to be.
Eike Freeze: I focus more that let's say I'm trying to do a, a still live of a rose. So we have the green and we have the thorns and we have the red rose itself and we have the table. So I was very, very, in my younger engineering years, I was always the color. Red is not like the one in my head. So I would search with EQ and with whatever, with the microphones to get that color.
Eike Freeze: In the end, I had to learn that as working with clients that have a really strict deadline, that, that, that you are losing time and nobody gives a shit which, which shade of red. It is. The only two important thing I learned in my business is they want the rose to look like a rose and the table to look like her table and have a great picture.
Eike Freeze: Everyone can say, look, that's a beautiful picture, cause it's a beautiful, still life. And the coloration is something that is influenced by so many things you don't have control over.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. And it's, it's highly subjective. I really like how you describe sound as, as visuals, as, as pictures in your mind that that's really telling, because you know, I actually do the same thing sometimes.
Eike Freeze: Oh, cool.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: quite amazing. Let's just fast forward to today. Do you still play actively in band these days?
Eike Freeze: No, I don't, I, I quit doing it. I, I had to quit my band nine years ago because the, the main, the main reason was we just, we just put out a record and to make it sure. My studio sharing place that I had with Hanon and the extractor of the heavy metal bend gum. It burnt down. So I just got out of there.
Eike Freeze: Last minute I was tracking a singer and first time, you know, I was. You know, I was experiencing if I can work as an engineer again or not, because I had all my gear, all my savings last 15 years was in that studio and it burned down, but I was covered by insurance for heaven's sake. So, you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Slow slow down for a second. So you are saying the, you were in the studio when it burned down. Is, is that what you just said?
Eike Freeze: yes, yes, we were, I was tracking a singer and the power broke down. Yeah. And so it was a studio on the first floor and there was just one entrance to it. And the other, there was a small river behind it, the biller. So when the building started burning the power went down and I was, that was very I'm not, you know, in Germany, it's, it's untypical for that to, to, to go down.
Eike Freeze: So I said, oh, something's wrong. I went into the kitchen and there was a glass, a big window. And I could see that the, that the roof and everything was already burning. So everything was red and with smoke. So I got back. Went into my control room, grabbed the hard drives as much as I could told the singer to, to join me.
Eike Freeze: And I took two pieces of cloth, watered them, put them into our face, cuz that's what I've seen in action movies. and then we, I found the, and I tried to sneak out to find, but we were, we were kind of safe. So there was no direct fire, so we could escape through the main entrance. But in that place, firemen were already putting water into that building four and half an hour.
Eike Freeze: So yeah, the, the firemen, yeah, it was close. It was close. The, the, yeah, it was so yeah, so we went, we went out, the police came. Who are you guys? What are you doing in the building? I said, I worked there, that's a studio. And you know, what's happening and he's like the whole buildings on fire.
Eike Freeze: And then I've got to, and the doctors would take us and check on our, I know what the English word is on our blood and the oxygen and everything.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm, oxygen level 10. Mm,
Eike Freeze: Oxygen J so, and then I think two minutes later there was a police officer coming back in and said, Mr. Freeze now you need two birthdays because at this point you never could made it out.
Eike Freeze: So like, I think five minutes later, that that would be it. So that changed my whole perspective on everything. My daughter, Hannah was one year at that time and my son was three and a half. So I went home. My, my wife picked me up and my mother who lives with my dad in the us, they were on visit. So she was there with me too.
Eike Freeze: And before I could, before I would have a report from my insurance company, if they would, you know pay me for the damage. I had two days of thinking about everything. So yeah, that was a game changer, for sure. So at that point I made a decision that I. Possibly cannot step back onto the stages because I would have to make sure to make a living with what I have, and I could not waste any time because that would, as a musician, everybody knows.
Eike Freeze: That would mean you are on tour on weekends while in the week I would work. And I would see my kids, my wife and I had to make a decision. So that's the reason why I quit making music as a performing artist. But I have to say I'm still, still a songwriter. And I write a lot of music for other artists when I have the time for it.
Eike Freeze: Yes. But that's a small little story, sorry. Sorry for taking so long, but
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: No, no, no. That's wow. Is it fair to say that this probably would've been, you know, the lowest point of your music career?
Eike Freeze: Yes. Definitely. Because everything, you, you know, you know, you sacrifice a lot going that path being self-employed and all that stuff. So I always was under the impression. But everything was meant to be this way for myself. I was very, very at young age sure. About what I want. Of course, self doubts will, you know, will come in and, oh God, how am I going to feed my family now?
Eike Freeze: And, but I, I have to say it was maybe the worst, best, best thing that happened to me
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Explain, please.
Eike Freeze: Yes. Because I got a call from our dear friend of mine, Christoff Stephan now called Christoff Huwi who was working for solid state logic at that time who had a control room in the comedian studios.
Eike Freeze: It's the studio I am currently working in and he said, I heard about the disaster and you, I'm sure you got projects to finish up and I'm sure you have to meet deadlines and you have to make ends meet. So why not? You know, use my studio. You, you take over the monthly pay until you're done. Cause I'm working for SSL.
Eike Freeze: I don't have much time to, to use it. And I was so happy about it. We'll never forget him that. So, so I went. I could finish up, I think five days later was working again. So, and that was, yeah. And that, that was because I'm not the guy, you know, I have a high resilience and I don't like in Germany we say we, I don't put my head into the send, you know, I'm looking for so yeah, I was doing that and that was the beginning of a great, great journey.
Eike Freeze: I have to say with the studios who were doing a lot, this studio was a game changer for my career.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So it turned out better.
Eike Freeze: It turned out better.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you've traveled through quite a few different studios. You know, I remember the very first one in the basement of a school. Is that,
Eike Freeze: Oh yes
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that the first one? I think I helped you wiring things up and you recorded me as a drummer back then,
Eike Freeze: you did. Yeah, you did. Yes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I actually found the multi tracks of one of those songs the other day.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's quite
Eike Freeze: Oh,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: amazing. it didn't sound too bad. considering it's our not really early work, but yeah. wow.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, but just to, to go back to, you know, us a musician after finishing up with dark age, have you ever done any more you know, musical projects since.
Eike Freeze: I did. And I was I did, and that was actually the, the biggest gig of my life that I did. I was asked by Hanen to co-write and produce his, let's say Jubilee record. And that was so, so Cain founding member of Halloween, and then founding member of Gare the record companies was think, or was asking him, would, would you mind doing a Jubilee record?
Eike Freeze: You just have fun. We get a lot of guests. So I have to say a co-produced it with Kai and Alex dets from heaven, char burns. So with the three of us we would compose. A year of the music and then we produced and recorded. And drummer of that project was den wilding. The, the, the, the drummer of car who stepped in for, from
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh,
Eike Freeze: yeah, incredible guy.
Eike Freeze: So that was a great time, I think I think it's four years ago, something, you know, we finished up the product. We, we, we did that. And then we had a meeting with the record company saying, but then we should do one Jubilee show. Let's play at main, main stage center time, like 8:00 PM evening.
Eike Freeze: And we just need to get a great band. And Kai was like, well, I have a band, you know, I have Alex great guitar player who would do bass guitar at having show burn. He's playing guitars. But for that project, he was the bass player. I have IAH, he's a guitar guitar player. And then we get Calvin and we have Dan on drums.
Eike Freeze: That's it? So maybe some background singers. And that was like, Hey guys, I don't know if you have noticed, but I'm not a performing artist anymore. So you might have to get someone who can really play guitar instead of just pretending to play guitar and he was like, ah, yeah, you're gonna be fine, Ike. And then I remember the the general manager of the record company saying, oh, that's cool that we have a band.
Eike Freeze: And I was like, no, no, no, no, wait, wait. And it was decided. So, so there I was being back, you know back a musician again, and we had this concert and I think we play the show it's on YouTube. It's called Hanman friends, triple X. And we played, I think at the end of the gig was a, a SI 70 minute show.
Eike Freeze: And then we had, I think up to 70,000 people in front of the stage.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Just to fill everybody in, you know, the WCAN metal festival is the biggest metal festival in the world. And you played the main stage at eight o'clock. Is that what you're saying.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. This is basically the most prestigious show ever. Is it fair to say that this might have been, you know, one of the highlights of your career?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: No.
Eike Freeze: Oh, definitely. Definitely. I mean, we creamed our pants. We really were really, you know because the thing is, the thing is with that project, you know, chaos wouldn't do benefit to what we were going through because Kai, as, as a genius, as he is, he's chaotic to the bone. I love him to death.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: A lot of creatives are. Yeah.
Eike Freeze: yes, exactly.
Eike Freeze: And the thing is with that record, it hadn't been out on the show. So I think the release date of that record was one week later. So we were playing in front of an audience and record. Nobody knew a damn thing, no songs, no lyrics, nothing. We had one video out, so the people would know one. And so Kai had the idea that's one week before the gig for the final rehearsals, just let's, let's just play four of the early Halloween songs.
Eike Freeze: And I was like, I was in the middle of finishing up on the record. Like, are you that can't be real because then you have to get a guitar player, cuz those are seven minute songs for people who don't know the Halloween stuff and it's highly technical as you know. And so I had one week to learn four songs and, and Alex also, and we did the rehearsal and I, and on the, on the so I think it was, we had five days and rehearsal day, number four, where you actually should think of professional musicians.
Eike Freeze: That that would sound great. The drummer, unfortunately wasn't it was a great drummer Mitchell. I, he stepped in for was car he up and said, I'm not going on stage with you guys. Sounds like shit. We are a horrible band. This is, this is just embarrass. And he threw the sticks into the corner and he was right.
Eike Freeze: So you know, it was the pressure of it and it was everything. And, you know, you know, we were, you know, I couldn't remember the parts and Alex couldn't remember the parts Kai was not singing well, so we did is everyone was like, okay, let's take a three hours break. Everyone gets into the zone. So we then concentrated on parts.
Eike Freeze: We did, we, we didn't do the whole songs. And the last day was it the last rehearsal we made it sound great. So, but you can imagine the, the pressure going on stage. Yes. Going on stage, like the people don't know our songs, they're gonna boo us. I was convinced they're gonna throw bottles at us. And and, and I was, but I was like, I'm gonna be okay.
Eike Freeze: I, I'm surrounded by pro musicians who have been on world tours since 30 years. It's gonna be great. They're gonna, you know, they're gonna back me up. So I was, I was actually the day of the. I was quite confident. I woke up said, oh, a great day. And ah, I'm gonna be fine. Nobody gives a damn about the rhythm guitars.
Eike Freeze: You know, it's drums and vocals on on festivals. So you're not gonna hear anything. And then we, we arrived at the comedian studios, that's where we all gathered and packed our staff and the crew arrived. And Kai and Alex, the two guys with the most experience, they were fucking scared. So in the end I was holding their hands, trying to calm em down.
Eike Freeze: Like it's gonna be all right, I'm having your back. Kai. Kai was like, what have I done? Is this a good idea? But there's one thing I can say, which was and maybe that is, that closed us. The circle don't fear. Something you step in that you don't know nothing about go for it. It was the, it was the best gig of my career.
Eike Freeze: It was it was a fantastic people. Still talk about it and you can the YouTube numbers for a life giga, insane that a couple of, of the live songs have reached two to 3 million plays on YouTube. So for life gig that's yeah, that's just it was, it was a phenomenal gig. And so stepping into the dark is a good thing.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. Look, let let's add a couple of small numbers to this. I'm going to put the link into the show notes. So at the end of the
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: episode, Just scroll onto the show notes, click the button and, and watch the videos. Wow. Whoa. So thanks. You, you put us basically, you, you, you guided us through you the lowest and the highest parts of your career.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Is it. fair to say that to these days you are a full-time producer, you're basically working mainly with other artists no longer, you know, you're no longer involved musically yourself, but you produce other bands say how, how many albums do you think you produced over the last 20 something years?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You know, ever since you started, have you, did you ever counted? You keep a track record?
Eike Freeze: Wow. No I, well, my assistant Jen we were talking about that she should do it also for my, from my homepage. So, so I have to say although I am considered to be a producer, I'm also a record mixer, so I mix or master a lot, which has changed over with COVID. And so, so I'm pretty much. Like, you know, I'm more an old rounder, you know, I, I'm not a, I'm actually not a mastering engineer, but for some reason I've gotten into some big clients that, that, you know, that needed emergency mastering and I, and obviously they liked what they hear.
Eike Freeze: So I was involved now in a lot of finishing up on records, whether it's mixing. So, so let, let me put it this way. Young, if credited records, where I, where my name is on, I think three to 400 maybe.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow. That's that's huge. And do you feel like dropping a couple of names? You know, some, some names
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that we would know
Eike Freeze: Oh, sure. Well I think the proudest relationship I have with an artist should be deep purple, I think, which is as a guy from Hamburg, I consider, I still consider myself a small guy from Hamburg. Is, is quite incredible. I, I think I, I mixed and mastered 10 life albums for them and three DVDs and surround also.
Eike Freeze: And I did I, I, co-produced a record for the singer, Ian Gillin the javelins that, that's what I did. I just mixed Don air's solo record two months ago, which is the, the, the organ player of D purple. I was an, I was an engineer for simple minds last year, six weeks in a row, they came to ion.
Eike Freeze: I think I'm very proud of that's, you know, the thing is always forget stuff, but I did I'm, I'm currently mixing live shows for status quo, which is unbelievable. Yeah. And I'm mixing five shows actually Then, of course I was an engineer for the, for the, for the big Halloween record that came, that came back last year with, with the re-entry of Kai.
Eike Freeze: I was a, an engineer on that, on parts of the music, not all of it. I recorded guitars basically only with Kai. What did I do? I mean, there's so much
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: already.
Eike Freeze: eighties prop band. I, I remastered the whole catalog. So it was relicensed yeah, some names, but yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Wow, that would keep you busy. That's quite amazing. Phenomenal, phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. Say I think it's fair to say that your, your skill is in metal production. That's your bread and butter genre. That's where you work. Most of the time, you know, simple minds might be a bit of an exception and you've done some pop production of if I'm not mistaken, but it's, it's mainly rock and metal.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Is, is that
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: right? Is that where you see a strength? Mm
Eike Freeze: mainly rock these days. Classic rock and rock music and alternative metal. I, the thing is with metal, it's my, with grunge music, it's the Harbor that I came from and I will always love it. But I have to say budgets, I'm that good these days. So metal bands struggle to, to like with NS seeker, it's different, you know they're, there's long time friends of mine and I love producing metal it's I still love it, but there's yeah, what, what can I say?
Eike Freeze: It's it's gotten a bit boring. I have to say. I think having metal has a little problem. Heavy metal is like Bruce Dickenson said 20 years ago. The problem with metal is that metal musicians listen to too much heavy metal. So it's always a revolving door and we don't see progress at the moment. I don't see that much of Interesting bands that deliver.
Eike Freeze: Interesting sounds. So my music taste also has gotten a bit backwards. I'm, you know when I listen to heavy metal for fun, I listen to the old stuff. So there's rarely a band that gets my attention these days. And there are lot of great rock music, band artists out there at the moment who by tone get me, you know, they have, I love life performances.
Eike Freeze: Obviously. I think the magic lies with someone who plays well.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Okay. Mm,
Eike Freeze: that's the that's that that's for me, the magic of a Al a drum kid, an AMPAC am a singer. It's, you know, it's not, it's not rocket science to record that. It's the rocket sciences to make it sound interesting that it grabs my attention.
Eike Freeze: It's a bit like jazz these days, you know, it's a very classic form of music and it doesn't need to be it can be improved by being more modern or this and that and production methods. But no, I, you know if I listen to, I dunno there's a guy that I just did called is an Irish guy, Simon McBride.
Eike Freeze: I mixed his record. It's incredible. He's think at the edge of 12, he was voted the, the best guitar pair of Ireland and he's the new Gary Moore. And he's currently he's currently the, the, the guitarist for topple for this tour since Steve Morris needs to take a break cause of his poor wife. So, but Simon is incredible and he's, he's just doing brilliant classic rock blues music, you know, doesn't need any synthesizers or crazy stuff.
Eike Freeze: It's just beautifully S and written music.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Right. I was just wondering, you know, if, if we think about this, the typical sound of metal nowadays, and maybe 10 years ago or 20 years ago, you know, however far we wanna go my impression here is that the sound is a lot more produced, very polished, very transparent. You know, you hear every single detail very clean, but still powerful.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And I always found that theres balance between clean and powerful that that's a trade off. You know, you either have it clean, then it's not that powerful or you make it really powerful. And then it gets a bit washy. What's the trick there to have both. How, how do you produce metal to, to get both
Eike Freeze: yeah, that's a good question. I think I'm still chasing
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well, if anybody would know it's you.
Eike Freeze: Well, well, first of all, again, there's this thing of, I think performance is always the main thing. If you want some energy out of the music, whether it's heavy metal or it's blues or it's raggy, I think performance is still the main key.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: couldn't agree more. Yeah.
Eike Freeze: With pro tools or with any other software these days, you can manipulate your takes in a way where it takes out the human element to, to a degree where you have the clarity and the perfection of it, which can sound fun too.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Did you ever record rock and metal band's life all in the same room from space guitars, keys, vocalists all together at the same time, or is it all one after another? It's an, an over up recordings these days.
Eike Freeze: It depends. I, I, I, I do that more and more with rock bands. I, I love it. It's the best thing. It's the best way to capture the, the energy I've been talking about? I think it's if the band is good, I do it. There is one thing that we have to keep in mind, which is a problem to my ears as, as a metal bend.
Eike Freeze: What I think these days is. For my taste. A lot of times it's the, the I'm missing the risk of doing something. People might think. It sounds weird because you see there's a, a certain, you know, if you, if you are a band and you sell 5,000 copies in Europe and you manage to keep up your tours, that in a way you can get the economy, the, the economics of the band running, there is a little risk of doing something with that.
Eike Freeze: Where at these days, the record company will drop you immediately. So the thing is with a lot of times that I have with this, cause when a band approaches me, I go, what, how do you wanna sound like? And a lot of times say, yeah, we wanna get, be, be raw again. But the moment we are playing and I, you know, I get more and more into their zone.
Eike Freeze: I still want it raw, but, but polished, but this, and yeah, it has to be raw, but you know, I, I just listen to the LA latest. Still perfect. The latest Testament. Oh, it's great. How the guitars sound? And I said, yeah, but it's copy pasted all the way. You know, it's, it's a built record, same with the drums. You can check the choruses, put them together and you will see, it's just, it's just perfect.
Eike Freeze: So, so there's a fear of, you know, doing something people might think, oh, it sounds weird. I mean, speaking of a band like Slayer back then, I think the, the energy comes from the attitude of not giving a fuck, sorry for my language again. But it is for me, it, that is, that is the punk of it. You know, I think that is what got me into metal.
Eike Freeze: I, I, I love Panera. Like the energy I got from Panera coming from grunge was like, what? This is the most heavy sounding stuff I've listened in my whole life.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm, still perfect. Mm, mm that's okay. Mm.
Eike Freeze: So of course they were so spot on at the peak of the career playing rise, their skills were incredible, especially as a trio with an extra singer.
Eike Freeze: But, whereas, you know, but when I have a band I think a part of punk is we don't care what we sell. We don't care. We we're gonna play anyway. You know, we're gonna, we're gonna go into the, we're gonna play the Y the youth club or the Y M a anyway, if we're gonna sell five tickets or 200, that's where I think re rebellion starts because give people something they have been not expecting.
Eike Freeze: And in these days, you know, but young, when we both started out music, we would go to the head Pega ballroom to see other bands, local bands. Oh, are they good? We don't know. There was no YouTube to check before that. So we had to go watch the show. So we've been surprised by times. And sometimes you're like, ah, I grab a beer instead.
Eike Freeze: They're not good. That's fine. These days to get, you know, people curious, it's difficult, more difficult. So I think I will be interested in heavy metal. Again, the moment a band comes in and tell me, you know, We don't actually care how we sound. We, we play in the live room and you record it and that's how we sound.
Eike Freeze: That's, that's how it
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, right.
Eike Freeze: and love to see that
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So is it fair to say that, you know, in, in, in your opinion that
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: metal is nowadays overproduced and probably over edited and, and too clean, you know, there are techniques like sound replacing and timing, correction, where you can just make a drum performance, you know, like, like as if it was played by a robot, you know, you can de your guitars and edit them and then ream later.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So every chop is exactly on. And you know, is there an overuse of editing these days? Is that what you're saying?
Eike Freeze: Yes. I mean, it's a very, very complex question. Because obviously there are records which are perfectly edited that have, that still contain a lot of human element that I love. The last record metal record that I listened and private to was architects. All gods have abandoned us. That was the one that got me because the singer had so much rage and there was such an element of, there was such a human factor still left after all the perfect playing that I was like, wow, there's a certain energy that still goes through the speaker straight into my heart.
Eike Freeze: I thought it was a fantastic record. So if this is done, if the lyrics, if the band, the attitude is stronger than the missing human element of the performance, then I would say use whatever is cool to make your records sound great. But I rather listen to life heavy metal records because I have that human element suddenly, you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah. Right. All right. That's, that's a good point. you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: there's no hiding when it comes to live shows. So you gotta perform, you can't can't rely on
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: the
Eike Freeze: gotta perform. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Okay. So it all comes
Eike Freeze: And also, and also, well, you know, there's another thing, sorry, this is such a complex thing to talk about. I'm sure 10 producers will and musicians will have 10 different opinions. So I, I highly I'm, I'm really saying that this is just my point of view and my personal taste, of course also.
Eike Freeze: And also what I think is really a pity is if you listen to iron maiden and the way each of the members has a style of playing, what is the drummer Niko brain? Imagine you get a guy like this into the studio and you, if you use timing, correction, and triggers, you would kill his way of doing the song the way he feels it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: true. Yes.
Eike Freeze: And, and, and this is like LA Alrich, the same thing. People always complain about Lars being a bad drummer. I agree. I don't agree. I think there is technically better drummers, but he has such a trademark. So what's the sense of getting guys like these with such a Sonic fingerprint? That's the thing a Sonic fingerprint is what I want from every artist to get them to studio character, get him here with all his experience and editing the shit out of it.
Eike Freeze: You know, doing our beloved what is it the be detective over everything and putting samples. You don't have, there's nothing much left of Nico brain, you know, and that's why people buy the records. He, he has this unique selling point and it goes to Bruce Dickinson. If you tune, tune everything too much, what's the meaning of getting this way.
Eike Freeze: But which was actually the thing that made the BA band famous in first
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm-hmm okay.
Eike Freeze: That's my that's what I don't get
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. look you're preaching to the converter here. You know, I'm, I'm all
Eike Freeze: Yeah. Mm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: performances over Sonic characteristics. And what, what I find sometimes is that, you know, when I work with a band I can see it in their faces that, you know, they just enjoy themselves really well with the first couple of takes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But then it's like the music teacher sits on their shoulder and says, okay, wait a second. That snare was just a touch louder than the one before and after redo that. And, you know, per perfectionism kicks in, it's like the music teacher sits there with a rhythm stick, slapping a fingers for playing something slightly uneven or so.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And you know,
Eike Freeze: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: my, my point is always trying to guide you wanna finish a project before. That kicks in as long as they still enjoy themselves. So right at the beginning, when they enjoy themselves, before the overthinking kicks in, that's, that's the key. And, you know, that's probably the hardest thing in music production in my personal opinion to to get right, not to work with the artists.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So to get the most out of them. Would you agree with that?
Eike Freeze: I, I totally agree. And that is why I'm a big fan of you know, spending, if it's, we're talking about guitar music here, I think in first place. So, so that's why I, I think it's very important to, to have a straight schedule, a straight deadline and, you know, rush, you know, getting the guys in play.
Eike Freeze: Don't listen too much. Don't put too much rough, rough mixes out there, you know, keeping the enjoyment level high and making it fun. I mean, it's, it's fun. It's fun. It's it should be fun. And of course there's tension, of course. Different approaches, but that's also a big part of production talking with the artists, what they want before you go roll out to recording, that has to be all set.
Eike Freeze: You have to know what you're looking for. And I, I, that saves so much time and with young artists that is maybe the, the, the, the gray hair grower. I, I call it because you have to explain all the time all the time. Why are we not redoing this? Because it sounds fine to me. Yes. But the snare is not loud enough.
Eike Freeze: So trust me. So it's always about, you know, comforting them a lot. I just, you know, I just did a and I asking, so why don't you do this? Why do you do this in proto and why? So, and they are curious, and I like
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: mm.
Eike Freeze: but everyone who has children knows it can be tiring at times. So, yeah. But I would agree getting, get through the production with a good pace and yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Look there's another thing that I just wanna bring up quickly and then get your take on. So ever since I discovered Ramstein some 15 to 20 years ago, I'm not even sure when
Eike Freeze: Mm.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I noticed that there is actually similarity between metal production and EDM production and Ramstein from the beginning on, they had a bit of both and the way metal has developed over the last couple of decades, I'd say there's even more of a similarity than well, couple of decades ago.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So is this something that you see as well? Do you see similarities there
Eike Freeze: Between EDM and
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: and, and metal production, you know, when it comes to lit literally quantizing performances and
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you know, the, the production styles that they're actually similarities.
Eike Freeze: well. Yes, because I think. There are similarities because I think there were two scenes melting into each other. There was the go EDM scene that suddenly, you know, we're listening to me Manson and also to Ramstein. So there was, they were merging kind of, and speaking of EDM, obviously a lot of it is electronical components like keyboards, synthesizers.
Eike Freeze: So I think what, what they found out is that if you have a four to the floor beats played and a sequencer
Eike Freeze: and you, and they more, they play around and they get it tight, there' a certain movement and power that comes with that. So, so I think that metal, you know, we're looking over their shoulders saying, wow, that's cool. Let's, let's also do that. That's cool. Let's do it. And then maybe some of that energy that, that these bands were using came into metal.
Eike Freeze: I did it with dark age, a. You know at the end because we always had a keyboard player and I liked some of the stuff from Ramstein and whatever. So they were influencing me and my taste too. Yeah, but the thing is, it has been said now, you know, it's like, okay, we, we got that. We got that.
Eike Freeze: Anyone doing other stuff here, anyone having another idea about
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I see. I see. Look if I ask you to, to look into your crystal ball and what do you predict for the next 10 years in the music industry? What epic changes are we facing? What's coming up.
Eike Freeze: Whew. Well, let me tell, let me say this. I'm the worst guy to predict anything, record sales or whatever. I'm really bad at it. I'm always wrong. So I give it a shot. I still give it a shot. Alright.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. go for it.
Eike Freeze: Okay. The only thing is, so my, my son, he's turning 13 now. And I think with manipulating music, especially with he's listening to trap and hip hop a lot.
Eike Freeze: So with the altitude stuff, so we kind of, we, we kind of had that era where everything, the human element went away. So we have perfection in every way and pop music all that max Martin stuff, it's old. How can you do it better? You know, Illa mixing it, it doesn't get better on pop music. You know, that's, that's the epitome of everything.
Eike Freeze: That's, that's it. So I, he doesn't like guitar music by the way, my son. So I. Experienced Tim seeing someone all the time playing a life instrument. So that is suddenly what grabs the, the new generation's interest, because I think there's something very intimidating about someone singing in front of you and playing a guitar and not having altitude on you, just being fragile and, you know, revealing that side from you.
Eike Freeze: That is something where I think there's a new way of, wow. It touches me. I don't know why. So I predict that music that has a certain, I predict that in the next 10 years we will more folk, we will see more punk and hand play music in the mainstream again, by people that cannot be exchanged
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: wow.
Eike Freeze: like the.
Eike Freeze: Like, like a talent that has such a strange voice and way of telling stories that you cannot exchange him by one guy from a 10,000 stadium audience. Because these days you could pick anyone from the audience and replace it because it's being manipulated. Anyway, you can play a little bit of guitar, go on stage.
Eike Freeze: Even on food fighters, life sets, Dave gro would get a guy from the audience and he would play ever long, perfectly. And he was a fan, you know, so, wow. But get, get, get people
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yep.
Eike Freeze: in front of microphones
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep.
Eike Freeze: that do it in a way it cannot be replaced.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Who sound unique? Mm. .yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. You know, that resonates with me. My, my boy