The engineer is Tchad Blake. He is a master of creating a mix with depth and space without using artificial reverb. He was an early proponent of a hardware rack unit called a SansAmp, which is now modeled as a plugin. Here's a simple trick that I learned after reading an article from him. Take a kickdrum, bus it to an aux, add distortion to the aux, flip the phase of the aux and blend it with the original signal. It creates a deeper, rounder kick.
He's also a master at using compression, often to the point of pumping and distortion, to bring things forward in the mix.
Not sure how relevant this type of mixing/question is to sound design...I find myself playing with tube gear, overdrive, amps etc, more when I'm doing music mixing. I strive more for creating organic/natural sounds when doing sound design...even for tweaky science fiction stuff. Although a little overdrive here and there on a dense fx mix might make some fx cut...explosions for example.