Chris Vrenna:
The Record and Remixing U2

AudioheadInterviewsTech TipsSoapboxGoods and Gear

One Cursed Debut Album
“I got my record back, started shopping it around again and got signed by Six Degrees,” he says. “Then I went back in and reworked a lot of the record — further fulfilling the vision, and finally got it done.” But the release date was 9/18, which meant it was shipped out on 9/11 and so Vrenna’s Tweaker debut album got delayed on trucks and planes. The result was that the release wasn’t in sync with its promotional materials.

Hot XBOX 360 Bundles Now Available!

Then, a couple of tours that Vrenna’s Tweaker was lined up for were cancelled — as most major tours were at the end of the year. “This started a downward spiral… a series of unfortunate events,” says Vrenna. “My Tweaker album was cursed from day one.”

But Vrenna didn’t give up. He’s continued hammering out remixes and programming work for film soundtracks and record labels, and he has a concept already in mind for a second record. “My goal is to record it and put it out by next year,” he says. “I wanna get right back on the horse, get people to get the second record. Then maybe they can then backtrack and get the first.”

He’s Got No Style!
The title of his Tweaker debut album is “The Attraction To All Things Uncertain” and that pretty much sums up his style. “I purposefully don’t have a style,” he says. “I try to do different stuff on everything I do.

“One of my favorite producers ever was Flood, who I got to work with on ‘The Downward Spiral,’ and I saw how Flood worked,” says Vrenna. “And when you go listen to the work he’s done with the Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Depeche Mode, Pop Will Eat Itself or Nine Inch Nails, you’ll go, ‘None of those records sound like one guy.’

Chris Vrenna “I almost didn’t get the Rasputina thing because somebody thought ‘Well all he’s gonna do is put distortion on everything, you know, Industrial stuff.’ and I was like, ‘No, it’s not. I mean, I listen to Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Aphex Twin and ambient works when I go to sleep. It’s not all that I know, just because I happened to be in a band that does that style of music,’” he says.

“So it took me a long time to disprove and lose that typecasting stuff that I’m just going to put drum programming all over everything,” he adds.

“The kind of remixing I’ve been doing over the past year is taking bands that aren’t necessarily heavy, and making them more heavy,” he says. “Like I did a remix for the Wallflowers because their first album was huge, but by the time their second album rolled out, the airwaves had changed. So in order to fit in with the playlist, they needed to darken it and roughen it up.”

Scoring For Games
Four years after NIN did work on Quake, Vrenna got a call from the former ID contact he’d known from back when the Nothing family collective/NIN were working on the score for Quake, asking him to work on scoring the game Alice. Vrenna took the gig and worked on it for six months, creating 70 minutes of score.

Hot Concert Tickets on!

Vrenna is now scoring another video game — for a yet-to-be-announced title. “I can tell you that it’s got totally scary ambient music in it,” he says. “And it’s going to be absolutely arhythmic.” He plans to work on that game for the next few months.

Producers on Producing
NIN visionary and former collaborator Reznor, also a fantastic producer himself, says of Vrenna, “Chris has always had good sensibilities, instincts and taste — all paramount qualities of producing.”

And Vrenna has his own comments on producing for those interested in getting into it. “It is something that I think most people fall into naturally. If you are a musician, keep making your music and being as creative as possible,” he says. “If you are an engineer, again, keep working on a variety of projects in different styles, with different gear, and just learn.”

When deciding what bands to work with, he says it all comes down to whether it’s a good fit. “I must feel like I can help them, and that we can do good work together,” he says. “And I must like the music and people involved as well, of course. Producing is like joining the band for two months, so we’d all better get along!” - Anime Super Store

Long Hours
Vrenna typically spends anywhere from 8-12 hours a day in the studio. “I used to spend way more hours in there,” he says. “But as I get older, I realize that people are only mentally productive for that long. After that, it’s diminishing returns.”

Next page: In the Studio with Pro Tools

Chris Vrenna

1. Confessions of a Tweaker
2. The Record and Remixing U2
3. In the Studio with Pro Tools


Remixing the Greats of Rock & Roll
When Vrenna was asked to remix some music for the “Tomb Raider” soundtrack, he got to work on the remix of U2’s “Elevation.” “They are the nicest guys ever,” he says. “They wanted to play out the parts for my remix, so I was like, ‘You mean I get to record the Edge?! Just tell me when and where!’ So they said, ‘Just tell us when and where’ and I was like, ‘Alright!’”

Vrenna worked with the entire band for two days — one day of recutting, and one day of mixing. “All four of them would come in, and they all approve all of the mixes. They are super nice guys. It’s weird, you meet some of these bands with new money and they’re all about ego, but then you meet these gods, and they’re the sweetest guys in the world,” says Vrenna.

Continued on next page

Useful Links

Recent Vrenna Interviews
Tweaker of Sound

Nine Inch Nails

Power Mac G4

Pro Tools
Antares Filter
IK Multimedia’s Amplitube
IK Multimedia’s SampleTank
Arturia Moog
Cycling ’74 Pluggo
Native Instruments
Trilogy Atmosphere

Roland V-Synth

Mesa Boogie Triaxis
Microwave XT
Line6 Amp Farm
Line6 Bass Pod

Audio Interfaces
Apogee Rosetta


Shop by Brand at!

About Audiohead.netContact

Got a suggestion? Send us your mojo and we’ll put it in our pipe.

© 2004 - 2006 - - All Rights Reserved.