Henrik Udd – alongside Fredrik Nordström – forms one half of the production team behind a number of bona fide classics in modern heavy music. In additon to Architects’ ‘Lost Forever / Lost Together’ and ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ – winner of Best Album at HMA17, at which Udd and Nordström jointly picked up the Best Producer award – Udd has also set an incredibly high bar with production work on LPs from Bring Me The Horizon, At The Gates, Delain, Powerwolf, I Killed The Prom Queen, Hammerfall and many more.
Hi Henrik. Could you tell us about your path to becoming a producer? Was it always your ambition?
It wasn’t really my plan to become one in the first place and I don’t always consider myself as a 100% producer! I just love everything about music production, from mixing, mastering, dialling in tones etc and in metal music it’s pretty typical that the guy who does all these things is the producer.
How did you come to be working together with Fredrik?
While going to audio school I started interning in the studio, back in 2003. My first gig was moving kick drums on Dimmu Borgir’s legendary ‘Death Cult Armageddon’ album that Fredrik was working on during my first 5 weeks of internship. After finishing audio education I got really fed up with my current job so I decided to quit one day and went straight to the studio asking Fredrik if I could do some more internship. That later led to me getting full-time employment when the previous guy working there decided to leave.
Could you describe your role in the studio when you are working together?
In January 2017 I started up my own company so I’m no longer employed by Studio Fredman. Working together with Fredrik has been great and it lasted for over 10 years. We’ve been able to complement each other in many ways and it’s a huge advantage to have another colleague around at all times and be able to get each other’s opinions on something on the spot. Or, if someone is mixing, the other one can come in with fresh ears and point out what could be better etc.
Photo: Andrew Hayball
Could you give us a quick description of the studio set-up for ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’?
We started by recording the drums for all songs to the pre-recorded guide guitars. Dan played on his SJC Custom kit.
- Snare drum top and bottom were mic’d with a Sanken CU 31 (Japanese small condenser mic)
- Kick drum were mic’d with a Shure SM91 inside the kick drum and a U67 mic outside
- Toms were mic’d with a Shure Beta 56
- Main overheads were mic’d with Neumann KM 184
- There’s some support mics for ride, splash and china which is Shure KSM141
- The pre-amps for the mics are SSL Xlogic SuperAnalogue Channelstrip and Vintech x473
After the drums where finished we did the rhythm guitars and also started off bass guitar.
- The guitars were Mayones
- The amps we used were an EVH III, Peavey 5150, Diezel Herbert and a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier
- We used cabs from ENGL, Marshall and Mesa Boogie
- All the rhythm guitars were quad tracked, i.e. recorded 4 times
The bass guitars were from Dingwall for the lowest tuned songs and from Sandberg for the rest. Bass guitar was a straight line signal into Pro Tools Sansamp plugin.
We also started to do vocals as early as possible since it’s good for the vocalist not have to rush it all out in the end when everyone else has finished recording.
Sam sang into a CM47 Advanced Audio Microphone. The pre-amp is an SSL XLogic Superanalogue Channelstrip with some moderate compression.
Before ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’, you first worked with Architects on ‘Lost Forever / Lost Together’, which was viewed by many people as the band’s finest album to that point. How did your approach change for the ‘All Our Gods…’? Was there any pressure?
I felt some pressure during the mixing process cause I knew it would get really hard to top the previous album. But the songs and source material that this band deliver is always top quality which helps tremendously to make things a lot easier for the mixer. I could tell straight away from the demos that this had some kind of dark themed shadow over it all and it almost made me feel uneasy but in a beautiful way. For me, it’s all about trying to capture this and trying to make it as good as it can possibly get.
Your relationship with Architects seems to have become almost like family now – how would you describe that relationship? And how does that differ to working with other artists?
If the chemistry is right, this kind of family member relationship as you say, is something that will happen in many cases when working intensely and close to each other with a common goal. What’s a little bit unusual with Architects as a band is the warm hearted chemistry within the band towards each other. In many bands there’s this strong hierarchy and a competitive feeling which doesn’t really open up the group to anyone on the outside. There’s probably a hierarchy in Architects to but they’re all just genuinely nice guys!
Obviously ‘All Our Gods…’ has become an even more significant album as it was Tom Searle’s swansong. Clearly this had a huge influence on the songs and lyrics – how would you say it impacted the recording process?
I don’t think I really understood the state that Tom was in. He kept the spirits and mood so high and enjoyed recording so much. Such a funny guy, it was a joy being around him in the studio. There was one time in the middle of Tom’s guitar recording where he had to fly back to England to do some unplanned extensive surgery. I thought that the recording would be paused and pushed forward from there on – or maybe never finished – but he came back the very next day ready to get back on it again. Such a trooper!
Why do you think fans and industry have connected with ‘All Our Gods…’ in such a positive way?
I think the songwriting, performance and production on this album is great and it has some real weight to the lyrics. Sam’s ways of expressing those words together with the heavy rhythms and beautiful ambient soundscape speaks to a lot of people I guess.
What projects are you working on now?
Right now I’m mixing a really cool band called Myrath. It’s a progressive oriental metal band from Tunisia.