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Rancho de La Luna is a studio of mythic proportions. Founded in 1993 by Fred Drake and David Catching, it’s a sonic oasis perched in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert in California that has housed the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Kyuss, Warpaint, Iggy Pop, Eagles of Death Metal, Foo Fighters, and many more. Some of the greatest rock records of the last 25 years were recorded in, or heavily inspired by, Rancho de La Luna, and its legacy of hospitality and creative provocation is the stuff of legend. We spoke to David – the studio’s host, chef, bartender, producer, musician, housekeeper and party coordinator – about how his environment inspires him and his approach to recording.
Explain your creative methodology for approaching a new session in a sentence.
Experimental fun in a sonic sanctuary with transcendent trajectories to achieve remarkable results
How does the desert influence you creatively?
The desert inspires me with its mysterious and magical greatness and infinite illumination
How does your studio setup impact the way you work?
The Rancho de La Luna studio setup makes it exceptionally easy to move quickly between all instruments and sounds, making time to concentrate on delivery of instruments and vocals with maximum efficiency. That keeps it fun.
It’s a pretty small space and when doing my own sessions or producing, I always have drums, multiple guitar and bass amps, DIs, keyboards, vocal, and floating mics in place, into outboard gear, and levels set, so that anyone could walk in and with a few minutes, start recording with minor adjustments. Guitar and bass rooms have multiple mics so they can easily be moved between the many amplifiers; and drums are usually completely over-mic’d and ready. You can always strip back to just the mics you need…
What is the one piece of studio gear that you couldn't get through a session without?
What RØDE mics are in your arsenal and how do you use them?
I have a lot of wonderful RØDE microphones: NTR, M1, M2, M3, NT2-A, NT-1000, NT5, NT4, K2, Classic II.
My Classic IIs, are always set up as mid room mics – for every session that I produce or engineer and most other sessions as well. They are incredible – clean and clear and add a lot of punch and atmosphere. The K2s are used on a myriad of instrumentation and drums, as well as vocals. sounding great on acoustic instruments, piano, acoustic guitar, upright bass.
I’ve had superb results with the NT2A microphones on my Fender Rhodes piano, Wurlitzer piano and guitar amplifiers. The NT4 is fantastic as a drum overhead microphone and on acoustic guitars and piano. It’s fun to switch up sounds and try new signal paths with different microphones to make it fun and interesting.