Seven students from Los Rios Rock School in San Juan Capistrano, California, have released a near-perfect copy of Van Halen’s 1978 classic Runnin’ With The Devil, the opening track from the band’s debut album.
The project involved the students going to Sunset Sound studios in Hollywood, where the original album was recorded, and recreating the songs using the original equipment and techniques.
While Van Halen was recorded over a three week period in October 1977, the Los Rios students recorded their version of the album in a single day. After locating the original tracking sheets in the Sunset Sound archive, the students recorded their versions by replicating the original positioning of both musicians and microphones as precisely as possible, using the same rooms and mixing desk.
“Right before finishing the album recording, the very last thing that we did was to record the car horn sound that folklore [and Sunset Sound’s studio manager] tells us you can hear at the beginning of Running with the Devil,” says engineer Tom Landee.
“It was 2am in the parking lot when we recorded it the same way the band did [later reversing just it like the original]. To record the car horn, we used an AKG 414 outside, ran a long cable back into the studio, surrounded the mic with several cars, and at the count of 3 everyone blew their horns! It was an amazing way to finish up this project and get a fun insight into what it was like to make the original record.”
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Fans who want to watch more videos of the students completing their version of the album can signup to the Produce Like A Pro newsletter to see another 10 videos documenting the recording.
Los Rios Rock School offers private lessons and group rehearsals for aspiring musicians, as well as access to professional gear, live shows, songwriting and recording classes, music theory courses and more.