Welcome to Rock!

Everything’s allowed and nothing’s too weird to be used in Rock / Alternative Imaging? No script too bad ass? No boundaries? We discuss this and more questions with two guys, who definitely should know the answers….

AND here :)….Hell’s spitting out Benztown’s Rock heads Dan Gustafson and Chris Davis, the Rock / Alternative guys here at Benztown! (Andy: If we ask about “Rock” below, we mean all kind of Rock Formats)

They’ll answer our questions and share their audio, Rock imaging tricks and plugin screenshots with us. Get ready to roll!

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Dan Gustafson is Imaging Director for Benztown Rock, where he pleases the needs of Rock freaks, Alternative listeners and guitar enthusiasts. Listen to his stuff, learn from his knowledge and check his screenshots.

1.  How does Rock Imaging compare to any other formats?

It’s no holds barred! There’s really no avenues and sounds you can’t explore, especially with Active Rock. Alternative Rock is different. It’s still open to plenty of exploration, just in a more subtle and thoughtful way.

2.  What plugIns do you use for Rock Imaging (including screenshots)

My favorites right now are Sound Toys Decapitator and EchoBoy on the main vocal track. Decapitator has a “Tone” knob that helps make things crispy and bright, and then you can add a little distortion with the “Punish” button. One of the EchoBoy settings I use is kind of a Delay/Doubler combo that gives the voice some meat.

For the filtered vocal, I use Waves Renaissance 6 Band EQ, and combine that with a slightly different EchoBoy setting.


On the Master Bus, I could not survive without the Waves Linear Phase Multiband. It brings everything together and adds a sheen to the mix that I have not heard with any other plugin.

Dan Gustafson_Linear Phase Multiband Screenshot

3.  Formats like CHR are very beat orientated and always in time. In Rock, you’re having songs in a range from 080bpm to 200bpm. How do you work out the breaks and tempo changes? Are you even beatmatching some of your elements.

There is definitely some beatmatching when the tracks lend themselves to that.

In other situations, I really focus on connecting all the songs on the downbeat and using a quick tweaked out vocal cut and/or sound effect to smooth out the transition. Plus, I’ll use either the Sound Toys EchoBoy or Moogerfooger Analog Delay for a really long reverb on the end of the first track so it doesn’t just stop, it kind of melts into the next song. I think one of the keys in this situation is making sure the sound effect isn’t the focal point during the transition. It should be felt more than heard. The kind of thing that when it’s there, you don’t really notice it per se, but if it’s not there, something seems to be missing.

4.  How do you handle that wide range of different styles and music when imaging Rock/ Alternative?

You need to think about that when you’re producing. If I know a station could play Metallica into Mumford And Sons, I need to produce some sweepers that start out loud and hard and smoothly segue into a tamer finish. And vice versa for Mumford And Sons into Metallica.

5.  How do you approach scriptwriting when it comes to Rock? Do you have any special styles or techniques?

Once again, no holds barred! I don’t really have any particular styles or techniques, other than trying to connect with people emotionally. I try to stay away from the “We’re Awesome” stuff, and write about who we are, what we represent, and what we think is funny or cool. I don’t want to tell the listener we’re awesome, I want them to hear what we say, hopefully have some sort of emotional reaction to it (laugh, squirm, raise up the devil horns…) and come to that conclusion on their own.

6.  Alternative vs. Active Rock: Do you have any differences in imaging these two formats?

They are completely different in my book.

Active Rock is all about in your face attitude, loudness and sarcasm. More aggressive vocal processing, beds and sounds.

With Alternative, I stay away from the hard beds and try to use more Dubstep and beat heavy stuff. If you think about Muse, The Black Keys, Imagine Dragons, Awolnation, these bands are using some really unique sounds and vibes in their music. I think the imaging that surrounds those songs should compliment those attributes.

And in both formats, it’s all about using elements that support the message, not about flash or trying to impress other Producers. It’s about writing something that is compelling, and then driving it home with the sounds and vibes that bring that copy to life. That being said, flash definitely has a place in both formats, it just doesn’t need to be utilized with every sweeper and promo.

7.  And now the final question: Who’s your favorite Rock Band?

Rage Against The Machine. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Killing In The Name”. It blew me away.

Thanks to Dan for sharing his tricks, knowledge and screenshots with us.


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Now for even more Rock / Alternative!

Chris Davis, producer of the Kyle and Jackie O Show for 2DayFm and format director for Turbulence, our second Rock/ Alternative library shares his tricks, knowledge and teaches you how to really rock! Check out his productions and also some awesome imaging tricks.

1. How does Rock Imaging compare to any other formats?

Unlike many of the other formats, rock imaging is all about telling it like it is.
It differs through its edgy delivery, sarcastic punch lines, & raw sense of humor. Think of it a bit like the class clown. Now, couple that with rugged, madcap FX, high-energy beds with slammin’ guitar licks, and kick-ass VO’s, and that’s what sets rock imaging apart from all other formats.

2. What plugIns do you use for Rock Imaging (including screenshot)

SansAmp – Works well as a great distortion plug-in to really mess the VO up

Chris Davis - SansAmp

Pitch N Time – A must-have plug-in for beat-mixing and creating movement within a promo

Chris Davis - PnT

L1, C4 and a good EQ reverb and stereo spread

3. Formats like CHR are very beat orientated and always in time. In Rock, you’re having songs in a range from 080bpm to 200bpm. How do you work out the breaks and tempo changes? Are you even beatmatching some of your elements?

It all depends on what I want to achieve. I try to steer away from beatmatching most music-based promos, but instead find interesting points in the music to ‘blend’; this also helps with the light and shade of a promo.

For me, it’s not always about the hook of a song, there are always many other interesting parts to use.

4. How do you handle that wide range of different styles and music when imaging Rock/ Alternative?

I like to find similarities within the music where possible. When that fails, using filters and SFX to create your own ‘remix’ if you like, can be a great way to glue the composition together in a seamless manner.

5. How do you approach the scriptwriting when it comes to Rock? Do you have any special styles or techniques?

I like to put on my sarcasm hat and get my joke on, say what everyone’s too shy to say, and take trending topics and flip them on their heads. For me, it’s all about creating a talking point, be it about something as simple as Valentines Day, or finding random movie grabs or products to write into a topical scenario.

6. Alternative vs. Active Rock: Do you have any differences in imaging these two formats?

When imaging Active Rock, I tend to aim my imaging at a slightly older audience, with more sports jokes and the like. Also, I find with the active format I’m covering a broader range of topics and focusing on that overall ‘Rock’ sound (guitars, basslines, and big drum hits). With alternative it’s a little younger, ‘anything goes’ type of attitude, so I can mix it up with samples of Dupstep, Dance etc…, and a little less of that traditional ‘Rock’ sound.

7. And now the final question: Who’s your favorite Rock Band?

Hmm… that is a tough one. I don’t have ‘a’ favorite rock band per se, I have many!!

Muse, Foels, Alt-J, Willy Moon, Hailstorm, The Wiggles just to name a few…

Also thanks to Chris for sharing his knowledge, audio and screenshots with us.

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