High Energy Rocker - "Circle The Drain" by Mike Mathis

I did this mix for a “Mix Audition” over at Audio Mix Club. Mix auditions are a form of competition, but rather than the winning mix being chosen by a panel or vote, it is chosen solely by the artist, Mike Mathis. I didn’t win, but I quite enjoyed mixing the track.


Very good song. Would love to hear how the “winner” mixed it as compared to yours. Vox came in about 15 seconds, chorus (I think) about the minute mark…on target. Like how the vox was evident even when the background heavy stuff was present.
This is a high bar track for sure. thanks for posting it

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Very energetic song, and I love the invigorating vocals and guitars.
There birds and the bees are very nice , and connects very well with me!!!
The beat is very nice!!!
This is clearly a winner to me!!!

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Thanks Paul. Here is a link to the winning mix: Circle the Drain Mixed by Jim Rizzo

Thanks Rene, I appreciate the listen and comment!

Interesting song, the vocals and music (to some degree) reminds me of Billy Idol. It seems like your mix is very forward, punchy and clear. The winning mix did have a vintage/retro ‘tape’ vibe to it, which is something I usually like, but didn’t seem quite as glued and cohesive as yours.

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Mike is a great artist and songwriter. He has done some work with a really big LA producer and his team (whose name escapes me at the moment). I won another Mix Audition with one of his other songs on AMC - This one: “Out of Nowhere”

It seems like your mix is very forward, punchy and clear. The winning mix did have a vintage/retro ‘tape’ vibe to it, which is something I usually like, but didn’t seem quite as glued and cohesive as yours.

Thanks Stan, yeah I quite enjoyed Jim’s take on the mix. The artist was keen on us making some production changes to improve the song, so that is why the actual production side is quite different too.

Something I also noticed listening to your mix and the winning mix was that you did something at the end which was interesting. Probably more of an ‘effect’ than a production change, but I was curious what you did. It’s kind of “crinkling cellophane” sound as the mix fades out. Almost like a “vinyl” crackle, but different. It adds some interest just as the song seems over, rather than the standard fade out.

If you care to elaborate on production changes you decided to make to the song, that may interesting as well. :slightly_smiling_face:

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That is a little “water going down the drain” sample at the end.

-The sound at the beginning is a time stretched, reversed copy of a guitar lead note, I think.

  • I selectively muted the guitars in the first verse, then brought them back gradually to build the arrangement more, same with the second verse.

  • I lengthened the space at the stop between the second prechorus and the 2nd chorus, and I added a little kick drum fill to improve the transition.

  • I reversed and time-stretched the arpeggio guitar figure in the bridge to create a kind of evolving pad atmospheric sound to happen behind the bridge.

  • I created the “whoosh” transition out of the bridge/breakdown out of a reverse cymbal and a few other sounds.

  • I took delayed the first downbeat of the first chorus after the bridge so that the downbeat happens on “down” instead of “shot” … to creae a little surprise and create more impact in the chorus.

  • The last 2 “Down the Drain” ad-libs in the final chorus were not in the original tracks. I created those using duplicates of earlier versions.

… so… quite a few little changes.

Here’s a straight ahead version of the mix, with the original musical arrangement and no changes

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Thanks for the detailed response!

Just curious if that sample is a northern hemisphere counter-clockwise drainage or a southern hemisphere clockwise drainage? It probably makes no difference in sound, but my understanding is that the physics of “Globe Earth” does create that difference.
Now that you explained the sound, I see what you did there. :slightly_smiling_face:
I’m not sure I would have made the connection until you explained it though. I guess my sense of a drain sound would be more like a toilet or bathtub than a faucet, if that’s what your sample was - i.e. more low frequency gurgle and glub. And maybe a tad longer in length. Just my 2 cents.

I was able to hear most of the production changes you pointed out on a re-listen, thanks for explaining them clearly. The “kick drum fill” was a very nice flourish, and the “arpeggio guitar figure” was a cool ping-pong effect that did elicit interest. Also the “reverse cymbal whoosh” was another cool one.

Listening to 3 different versions also gives me a greater appreciation for the core tracks of the song too, a very well done song. You definitely did a great job in using those production changes to make it your own.

Really good song; it all sounds quite professional. Whereas sometimes I get criticized for having a low overall dB on my mix (due to some peak volumes); I am sometimes sensitive to highly compressed mixes, which is not unusual nowadays, even with some hit songs. The mix sounds good, but I had to listen to it at low volumes or it hurt my ears. I am listening to the winning mix, and it affects me the same way. Probably a lot of high frequencies; I can be sensitive to that too.

The vocals makes me think if Billy Idol and Bon Jovi had a child, he would sound like this guy. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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This a great mix, very well done.

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I didn’t read any of the comments, just to be safe. First, it sounds like a song you would write, so mixing it probably came naturally to you.
I really like the weight you got on the guitars; they’re up in the mix and full without competing with the voice.
The bass and drums have a solid aural relationship and keep things moving really well.
I’ll have to check, but I don’t know what the winner would have done differently.

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just saw this post.
from what I remember from Mike…he likes to hear softer compression on guitars. Jim Rizzo’s mix has an extra long release on the guitars that pushes them deeper into the mix and less forward. Your compression is bringing the guitars forward and crunchier (which I actually prefer) but Mike is a bit laid back when it comes to it. I also see several missed opportunities on showcasing the bass guitars during chord changes in the winning mix. The bass guitar is being fed through the same compression and the chord changes are less impactful. It would have been a bit more “thrilling” for me personally if the bass guitar was brought forward for a split second during the chord shifts in Jim’s mix.

I liked his drums. He is a drummer I hear?
Even though it is a great mix, it is a safe mix, a bit less adventurous. a tiny bit less memorable than yours.

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Very nice vocals, and I love the whole production.
Winning is not everything, having fun, and learning is even better!!!
This music is so invigorating, full of energy!!!
Very well done, I love this!!!

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