The Making of Jane Doe: Kurt Ballou and Matthew Ellard Discuss Converge’s Classic

It took me quite a while to “get” Converge. I encountered their music, like many people do, when I started exploring hardcore and punk music, and initially shelved them, thinking “this is cool, but not for me.” It wasn’t until years later, after having spent many years exploring metal’s subgenres (as well as studying jazz, music theory, composition, and dabbling in record engineering), that, to paraphrase vocalist Jacob Bannon, things began to slow down and I started to understand the language they were speaking in.

Part of my re-initiation to Converge was via guitarist Kurt Ballou’s production output at GodCity Studio in Massachusetts. Over the past ten years or so, Kurt has twiddled the knobs for some of the flat-out best rock, hardcore, and metal albums of our time, accumulating a resume that lists Nails, Kvelertak, High on Fire, Cave In, Trap Them, Skeletonwitch, Black Breath, Disfear, Baptists, and many more, alongside the engineering work that he has taken on for his own band.

Before much of that output, though, was Jane Doe, a watershed album in heavy music and one of the most challenging recordings I’ve ever heard.

About two years ago, Ballou and Jane Doe‘s engineer Matthew Ellard sat down with Berklee professor (and Purple Rain engineer) Susan Rogers to talk about the record. The results are finally available (in part) to stream below, and they are fantastic. The conversation touches on all sorts of issues that are sort of in the background of Converge and metal culture in general, and it is an absolute must-listen for aspiring bands and engineers alike. Enjoy – this is a real treat.

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.