It seems that many musicians make the journey from well established bands to the producer chair, especially in the world of rock/alternative music. What was it that particularly inspired you to go to the other side of the glass?
At some point during the course of my performance career I started having thoughts as to what I would do after the ride ended. The timing of these thoughts kind of coincided with working with this legendary producer/engineer named Val Garay. Seeing the way he worked and the flow of working in the studio really just sparked something inside me. I really wanted to figure it all out. It was like this big crazy puzzle. From there I just consumed everything I could get my hands on regarding recording techniques, gear, studios. I think I probably drove some of the assistants and techs at the studios crazy with the questions I was asking them. I thought it was a long shot as far as getting an opportunity to work in this world but I didn’t really think seriously about getting paid to do it. I was just so consumed by it that I was learning about it simply for the fun of it. Also I really I wanted to use the knowledge to record my own band at that time.
You recorded and mixed the excellent “Growing Up’ by The Linda Lindas, featuring your daughters in the band. Did you approach the recording any differently under the circumstances? Were there any times you felt you had to hold back on comments about performances? Or perhaps it was the complete opposite?
I approach them kind of the same way I would record every other artist, but because they’re kids I do have to be a bit more delicate with some of the critique (although they probably wouldn’t say that haha!) I do have the benefit of having an established rapport and comfort level, so that’s a big plus. Now that we’ve done a number of songs together and they’ve got some experience under their belts I think that their confidence in what they are capable of doing has improved, but you know, as their producer it’s my job to push them to do their very best work.
Having worked across a number of genres, are there any “go-to” pieces of gear that you know will always work regardless of which genre the tracks for into? Thinking about perhaps microphones or even plugins.
I think most of the things that I like to use are fairly applicable across multiple genres, at least the ones I tend to work in. From the mics (faves include U67s, Sennheiser 441s, Beyer M69 and M201), to the mic preamps (Neve 1073, Telefunken V76, Trident A Range), effects (AMS reverb, Roland CE-1 and RE301/RE501, Grampian 636 reverb) synths (Roland Juno 60, MiniMoog, MemoryMoog, Prophet 5), drum machines (CR78, 808, DrumTraks, DRM 1) …these things always manage to find a place that just works in my productions. They’re classic for a reason.
Regardless of commercial success, what’s the one project that you’ve most enjoyed throughout your career? Be it as an artist, mixer, engineer, or whatever hat you may have been wearing at the time.
I’ve been lucky to have had great working relationships with a two artists. The first one being Paramore. I’ve been able to work with them in pretty much every capacity in the studio over the last ten years or so, and every time I get the opportunity to work with them again it feels just tremendously exciting. They’re incredibly talented, passionate, generous, and funny, and we just have a lot of fun making records together. At this point they feel like family. Speaking of family, the other really fulfilling project that I’ve been a part of is working with my daughters- The Linda Lindas. It’s been pretty surreal to see them go from not really showing any interest in music early on, to it then becoming their passion and part of their identity, which is especially important at their age. Their success has been so unexpected but so fun to watch unfold, and I’m super proud of them and can’t wait to work with them on the next project.
What’s the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self before getting into the world of music? Perhaps something that you’ve told your daughters, also?
One thing that I keep coming back to is how inaccessible things seemed to me when I was younger, both in terms of playing music as well as on the production side. It just felt like, coming from my little corner of the world, these things were not only impossible to achieve, but like even the awareness that such a career path existed… like I thought that one had to get a degree in music in order to pursue it professionally, and the same with engineering or working in a studio. I didn’t know anyone who had this career, so it just seemed like a fantasy. So I suppose I would tell my younger self to have the confidence to try these things out, and that these careeers that might seem impossible are actually very probable with the right attitude and work ethic.