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Show Us Your Junk! Ep. 11 - Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business, Foo Fighters, Tool)

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Show Us Your Junk! Ep. 11 - Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Big Business, Foo Fighters, Tool)

Aaron Rogers

“I don’t want to know what they’re going to do next,” says Melvins recording engineer Toshi Kasai.

The former Big Business guitarist and regular Melvins collaborator has a long history of engineering and/or producing top-tier rock bands - the bathroom in his Sound of Sirens studio is decorated with platinum records honoring his contribution to albums by Foo Fighters and Tool, but when it comes to the creative process, Kasai prefers to let the artist lead the way.

“I have stuff I do, but I don’t want to make too much up that’s ‘my sound.’ I always want to push the band’s color more than my color,” he says. That said, Toshi’s fearlessness in choosing out-of-the-way tracking locations imparts a vibrant sonic palette that is entirely his own. It’s not uncommon for him to schlep his mobile rig for an outdoor drum overdrub session or to track guitars in the hallway outside the Melvins’ rehearsal studio on Christmas Day to capture the perfect holiday guitar tone.

Kasai’s control room workflow revolves around a Yamaha PM1000 mixer modified with direct outs for recording. Originally designed for live sound, serial number 001 was famously used by Dallas, TX sound company Showco as a FOH and/or monitor console for Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, the Bee Gees, Genesis, and others. It's been dubbed the “Japa-Neve” in recent years on the strength of its character-driven preamp and EQ section and is a popular platform for mods.

During mixing, Kasai all but eschews traditional rack-mounted gear in favor of an effects pedal patch bay. Having his pedal collection racked up and patchable at a moment’s notice allows Kasai to create unique effects chains on the fly and having all parameters within arms’ reach allows for expressive mix performances with just the right amount of dirt. Toshi keeps his Rainbow Machine, Organizer, Arpanoid, and Bit Commander racked for easy access, but he returns to the Disaster Transport SR over and over. “I like reverb and delay in the same box. It’s a great idea,” he says.