Academy Award-winning writer, actor, director, and musician, Billy Bob Thornton features Audio-Technica’s AT4060 tube microphone in Hobo, his third solo album.
Jimmy Mitchell (left) and Billy Bob Thornton are pictured with Audio-Technica’s AT4060 Cardioid Condenser Tube Microphone, which was used extensively on Thornton’s new album, Hobo. Photo by Myriam Santos-Kayda. (This photo is property of Myriam Santos-Kayda. Unauthorized use, alteration or reproduction of this photograph is strictly prohibited.)
“Once Billy heard the mic he said, ‘We don’t need to look any further.’”
Academy Award-winning writer, actor, director, and musician, Billy Bob Thornton recently released his third solo album, Hobo, on Big Deal Records. The album is co-written and co-produced by Billy Bob Thornton and songwriter/guitarist Randy Mitchell and features Audio-Technica’s AT4060 Cardioid Condenser Tube Microphone, which was chosen to capture the essence of Thornton’s rich vocals. The album is also co-mixed and co-produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer and long-time Audio-Technica user Jimmy Mitchell, known for his work with Thornton, Guns N’ Roses, Slash and Poe.
Recorded and mixed in Thornton’s recording studio, The Cave, by Randy Mitchell, with overdubs and mixes by Jimmy Mitchell (of no relation), the album reflects on experiences in California, its unrivaled entertainment industry and Thornton’s past twenty years immersed in the Los Angeles lifestyle and music scene.
When evaluating microphones to record vocals, Thornton tried a number of different mics by various manufacturers, but the AT4060 was the clear winner. “Billy noticed the difference immediately when he put his headphones on and sang the first song into the 4060,” says Jimmy Mitchell. “Once Billy heard his voice he said, ‘We don’t need to look any further.’”
“The theme of Hobo is to address the need for people to come to California if you are going to make it, as California is sort of the last frontier in the entertainment business,” says Thornton. “It is a record about joy, sadness, success and failure — the realization of dreams and not realizing your dreams. Every track, whether it’s a quiet moody song or more up-tempo rock, has an incredible feel to it, and the Audio-Technica 4060 helped me convey that in every one of my vocals. On the moodier songs, I sing at a lower vocal level, so I needed a mic that allowed my vocals to keep their edge without becoming muffled. The 4060 has a real fat, round sound with the detail and the edge I’m looking for.”
Jimmy Mitchell, who has engineered and co-produced with Billy Bob Thornton for the past five years, talks about the creative and technical aspects of capturing Billy’s vocals on the album: “The record has a heartfelt story-telling, left of center, incredible mood to it and creating a sonic landscape to match is exactly what Billy expressed he wanted for its sound. Billy was looking to get the feel of his voice to sound big and ominous, to have it sound thick and rich, yet keep the breathiness and openness. I think with the 4060, we’ve nailed the true essence of Billy’s vocals on this record. When he sings the real quiet passages with a low, soft breathy voice, you feel like he’s singing directly into your ear. And with the more rockin’ songs, he’s powerful, up-front and right in your face creating a dialog between the guitars and vocals.”
Randy Mitchell, who has worked with Thornton for the past three years, did the initial demos and final tracking sessions for Hobo, where he also used the AT4060 to record his vintage Martin acoustic guitar. Mitchell placed the AT4060 close in on the guitar, midway between the sound hole and the neck joint by the 12th fret. “I put the 4060 up and recorded the guitar basically flat. This allowed me to capture the entire guitar sound without the boominess that sometimes occurs recording acoustics in the studio. When we played that track back, it sounds like you’re in the room listening to it live. It’s just a great, great microphone.”
Having performed on the GRAMMY-winning album The Wind by Warren Zevon, headlining at SXSW 2004, and being a featured presenter on the 2005 GRAMMY Awards, Billy Bob Thornton has received critical acclaim from journalists and musicians alike for his songwriting and vocal performances on his last two albums. With the release of Hobo, Billy Bob Thornton continues to break the mold as a songwriter and musician while living on the cutting edge, creating powerful songs and lyrics reflecting his love for music and life itself.
For more information on Billy Bob Thornton please visit www.billybobmusic.com.