Interview: Chris Holmes

Chris Holmes

We teamed up with PropertyOfZack to sit down with Chris Holmes, the co-producer and engineer behind Blink-182’s new EP, Dogs Eating Dogs.

What was it like going from working on Neighborhoods on and off for two years to doing Dogs Eatings Dogs in just over a month in terms of your role and it’s shift?

A very wild, yet familiar ride. 

On Neighborhoods, while you could say we were on and off for two years, the crunch time “on” part was the last month or so. What I’ve found with most things with a deadline with bands, is you figure out the deadline, and you pack as much in as possible…and even more up until the last moment..It is the nature of the beast. There is no finishing early. There is always a need for more time. I call it End-of Record-itis.

With Dogs Eating Dogs, we were initially kind of casually starting to work on songs for the new LP for next year, and the next thing you know, we have one month to write, record, mix, and master for a Christmas release. 

It ramped up quick as far as picking which ideas to focus on and really planning out how to make it happen within that time frame. My role essentially was the same as far as co-producer and engineer for the songs. What I’m trying to do as a co-producer is voice what I think the listener would want to hear, while also serving the song and balancing the artistic desires of the band. At the end of the day, the three guys decide what to do, but I can chime in and say my peace and hopefully offer a different perspective on things.

What I’m doing as engineer is trying to honor the legacy of the sounds from previous records and add my own touch to it. For example, if you listen to TOYPAJ Travis’s toms sound HUGE. I made a point to do the same treatment on them with this recording. The vocal sound on the “Untitled” record I really like, so I made sure to use the same vocal mic and recording chain from that record. To get even more micro, we had a different drum setup for almost every section of every song. For example on “Pretty Little Girl” ‘s pre-choruses we used these Zildjian 13″ hi-hats that were tight so you can hear every hit Travis is doing, and then when the chorus hits we put up this super-cracking OCDP Bell Brass Snare drum.

The only role change I had was being a little more hands-on with the delivery of the album and making sure it made it to iTunes, and to the bundles.

Fans go back and forth discussing if new blink songs have more of a +44 or Angels & Airwaves vibe, but the line between the two different sounds seem to be becoming more and more mixed with each new song. Do you think that line will continue to blur? 

For me, the more you listen to Neighborhoods and Dogs Eating Dogs the line blurs between the two bands.

I’ll echo what I’ve said before and say that if you’re hearing similarities that’s natural. The members are the same. I’d say if you listen through the blink catalog you can hear +44 and AVA before +44 and AVA existed.

The big difference for me, and this is something I’ve said to the guys, and I’ll tell you. It’s the tempos of the songs. I think blink-182 can more successfully tackle a wider tempo range than +44 or Angels and Airwaves can. 

I love hearing what the three of them can do with an up-tempo BPM….and I don’t just mean go back to what has now become standard issue pop-punk. I mean deal with those pop-punk tempos with the aesthetic that you have now. Making sure we have a wide tempe range is the key to the program for me.

I read a quote from Tom the other week saying that were was laughing in the studio this time, unlike during the Neighborhoods process. What was different this go around from your perspective, and did that change the way you interacted and worked on the EP?

I can’t speak for his feelings on Neighborhoods. What I can say, is making a record after a long hiatus is a challenge. Especially for a successful band that has a lot of expectations to meet. It’s work … it’s fun, but not every single moment is fun. So, if you can get through that, then naturally the whole process is easier the next time around.

Being in a space where you can say what you feel about a part, and not worry about hurting feelings is a big deal.

Was there a certain energy creating these five songs in the studio that wasn’t there last time to do the new sense of freedom the band has? 

I don’t think the effort changed based on the status of the record deal. You write the best songs you can in the moment you’re in. I think the want and desire to deliver on what we set out to do was enhanced based on the deadline. 

Being off a major label is a whole new challenge for sure though. 

Look, there are some things labels do well. Once you’re done recording you can turn in your record and let the label handle it. They’ll get it into stores in countries you didn’t know existed…they’ll push you to radio..they’ll get you on a billboard or two.

Well, this time around, we finish recording, and……ok…now what…well, let’s make sure we’ve got the bundles straight…let’s make sure all of the posters are signed for the bundles…let’s make sure we have a presence on iTunes. 

It really is a whole other level of managing yourself, and I think the guys are embracing that role. 

”Pretty Little Girl” will be the most controversial track on the EP for fans due to Yelawolf’s guest spot. What was it like mixing that into the song and being conscious of its potential affect on core listeners?


I go back and forth with this one.

The initial thought I had was, cool, if this is going to be another version of the track then I get it. We’ll have the original song with the open bridge, and then have this alternate version with Yelawolf on it. As we wrapped up recording the version everyone gravitated towards was the one with Yela on it, so we treated that one as the album version. I think both versions are great, and it’d be sort of interesting to see what people think if we put the open bridge one out…Not my call though!

What excites me most about the EP is the potential of what’s to come in the future – as all sounds continue to mix together. What do you think is left to come?

My hope is that everybody can converge at a neutral location and commit to carving on new songs. I’d love to do some pre-production and really nail down a set of songs, and then go in and record them like the good ‘ol days.

What the three of them do in one room is special, and we need to do more of it!

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