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Metallica Producer: A Cool Studio Trick I Used on ‘Sanitaritum’ Intro, You’ll Need Headphones to Hear It

Early Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen shared a few fun studio details from way back in the day, explaining on the Alphabetallica Podcast:

metallica flemming

“I like the intro for ‘Sanitarium.’

“If you listen carefully, you put headphones on, we actually do the guitars in the beginning in mono – it’s actually recorded like that.

“And then when the drums come in I just flick the switch and it goes into stereo.

“Which is actually a thing I kinda learned form Roy Thomas Baker. He did that a lot on some of the Queen albums, and it sounded really good, so I thought this is the spot where we do that.

“It goes from sounding fantastic in mono to sounding incredible in stereo. [Laughs]”

He also remembered introducing the band to the click track, saying:

“‘The Bells’ [‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’] is the first song we did to a click track ever.

“Just to get it that tight. That was probably me going, ‘We need it because they are probably speeding up.’

“Because they’re used to live situations. They didn’t know what the click track was when they came in [to record the album].”

Discussing the band’s recording process in general, Rasmussen noted:

“We did the drums with the rhythm guitars first. Just the guide rhythm guitars. Some of the time they would play all of them, but would just keep the drums, and then would do rhythm guitars on top of the drums.

“Because normally you do drums, bass, guitars, solos, vocals. [That was] what you did in those days.

“But I recorded rhythm guitars first because obviously it’s riff based music, and even the bass most of the time plays the same riff, I wanted James’s feeling the way he played the riffs to be the predominant one, and then I wanted Cliff to play with that.

“Because then you get the feeling that the riff is written with, not instead of one that’s interpreted by the bass player. So yeah, we did all the rhythm guitars, which turned out to be really goof for Cliff because he was used to the live situation.

“So if he had almost a finished track to play to, he played a lot better. He was kinda hippie, loose kind of guy, so he didn’t like headphones. So we hooked up some speakers in the big room, and blasted the track and had the amp in the lone room, and he would jump around and do his bass thing, it was really cool.”

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