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Butch Vig Vocals Crack Cocaine

How Butch Vig's Vocals Changed the Sound of Rock Music: The Crack Cocaine Effect

Butch Vig is a renowned producer, musician, and songwriter, best known as the drummer and co-producer of the alternative rock band Garbage and the producer of the diamond-selling Nirvana album Nevermind. His work on the latter earned him the nickname the Nevermind Man. One of the defining elements of the "Butch Vig Sound" is Vig's unique vocal stamp. The celebrated producer ushered in the sound of distorted vocals in a beautifully musical way, and this feature is an integral part of the sound that the Butch Vig Vocals plugin faithfully recreates.


But where did this vocal sound come from? And why is it so addictive and influential? In this article, we will explore the origins and effects of Butch Vig's vocals, and how they have shaped the sound of rock music for decades.

The Origins of Butch Vig's Vocals

Butch Vig was born in 1955 in Viroqua, Wisconsin, and grew up in a musical family. He studied piano for six years, but switched to drums after seeing The Who perform on The Smothers Brothers. He moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to study film direction at the University of Wisconsin, where he met his future Garbage bandmate Steve Marker. He also started playing in local bands, such as Spooner and Fire Town, and set up his own recording studio, Smart Studios, with Marker.

Vig developed an interest in the manipulation of sound, and experimented with various recording techniques and effects. He was influenced by producers such as Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, George Martin, and Martin Hannett, who created distinctive sonic landscapes for their artists. He also admired bands such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Clash, Joy Division, and The Sex Pistols, who pushed the boundaries of music and culture.

Vig's breakthrough as a producer came in 1991, when he worked with Nirvana on their second album, Nevermind. The album was a huge success, selling over 30 million copies worldwide and launching the grunge movement. Vig's production style was praised for its clarity, power, and dynamics, as well as its subtle use of effects. One of these effects was vocal distortion, which Vig applied to Kurt Cobain's voice on several tracks, such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Lithium", and "In Bloom". Vig explained that he used a SansAmp guitar pedal to create this effect, which he called "the crack cocaine effect". He said: "It just makes everything sound better. It makes it sound louder. It makes it sound more aggressive. It makes it sound more in your face."

Vig's vocal distortion became a signature element of his production style, and he used it on many other artists he worked with, such as Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, L7, Helmet, and Foo Fighters. He also used it on his own vocals when he formed Garbage with Marker, Shirley Manson, and Duke Erikson in 1993. Garbage became one of the most successful alternative rock bands of the 1990s and 2000s, selling over 17 million records worldwide. Vig's vocals were often layered with Manson's vocals, creating a contrast between her sultry and melodic voice and his gritty and distorted voice.

The Effects of Butch Vig's Vocals

Butch Vig's vocals have had a lasting impact on the sound of rock music. His vocal distortion created a new aesthetic that was both raw and refined, both aggressive and musical. It added an edge and an attitude to the vocals that matched the energy and emotion of the music. It also gave the vocals a distinctive character that made them stand out from the crowd.

Butch Vig's vocals have also influenced many other artists and producers who have adopted or adapted his vocal sound. Some examples are Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins, Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters and Nirvana, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson from Marilyn Manson (band), Thom Yorke from Radiohead, and Jack White from The White Stripes. These artists have used vocal distortion in different ways and degrees to create their own sonic identities.

Butch Vig's vocals have also inspired many fans who have tried to emulate his vocal sound. Some fans have used guitar pedals, plugins, or other devices to distort their vocals, while others have used more unconventional methods, such as screaming into a pillow, a fan, or a vacuum cleaner. Some fans have even claimed that they have damaged their vocal cords or developed nodules from trying to sound like Butch Vig.


Butch Vig's vocals are a remarkable example of how a producer can create a unique and influential sound that transcends genres and generations. His vocal distortion has become a trademark of his production style, and a hallmark of the alternative rock sound. His vocal sound has also spawned countless imitators and admirers, who have tried to capture the essence of his vocals. Butch Vig's vocals are not only a sonic phenomenon, but also a cultural phenomenon, that have shaped the sound of rock music for decades.


  • [1] Butch Vig - Wikipedia

  • [2] The Nevermind Man: Butch Vig Interviewed

  • [3] Butch Vig Vocals by Waves - Vocal Effects Plugin VST VST3 Audio Unit AAX

  • [4] Butch Vig: The Quiet Genius

  • [5] Butch Vig on Producing Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

  • [6] How to Sound Like Butch Vig






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