Name: Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz
Going back to the very start, how did you first discover music and when did you realize that this was your calling?
My dad had an old polish acoustic guitar from his childhood in the house. I would sneak into his room when he was at work and I would peek in the case and pluck a few strings. He would once in a while pull that guitar out and strum a few chords and I thought it was amazing. My Interest was instantly sparked. That’s what made me start paying attention. Being really young, at my first round of guitar lessons, I would drool over how cool the electric guitars looked hanging on the wall at the guitar shop. I realized this was my calling the second I plugged one in and discovered distortion.
You grew up in the Massachusetts area and have your roots in the New England hardcore scene. What was the scene like growing up and what were some of the bands that put you on the path you ended up taking musically?
The scene fascinated me. It also scared the shit out of me. Everyone was big, tattooed and the music was pissed, but it was intriguing and everyone was so welcoming. Even back then I couldn’t help but notice what amps/gear people were using and how they were using it. The first time I heard Blood Has Been Shed’s “I Dwell on Thoughts of You” (early BHBS EP) it changed my life. I never heard heavy like that. It blew my mind, especially considering the use of clean vocals being mixed with the heaviest music I had heard to date at that time. Obviously many other influences came into play, but the first time hearing BHBS was a pivotal moment for my ears/mind. A couple other big ones were early Sevendust and Meshuggah.
You played and wrote songs for The Acacia Strain for several years and did many records as a member of the band. Eventually you stopped touring to only focus on writing and producing the band’s records. What made you stop the whole touring game?
I toured with The Acacia Strain for many years. We made records together that I’m still very proud of that did well on Billboard/charting considering how non-commercially accessible they normally are to the average Billboard music listener. They’re a hard working band that is still putting out great music. I’m forever grateful for what that band did for me. It was just a time in my life after touring internationally for me to move on to what my true passion always has been: creating.
These days, you’re producing for several bands. Is the love for producing records something you grew into during the Acacia Strain years?
Working with Adam Dutkiewicz for the first couple The Acacia Strain records really made me intrigued in the technical aspect of putting together an album, or songwriting in general. He just had a way of making the process so fun and kept everyone on their toes. Watching him work made me want to know more about what the hell he was doing. He’s still one of the best doing it and I think I can say without a doubt, he inspired me to want to be a producer/songwriter.
You’re also co-writing and writing for bands and have songs on many records. How did this come about?
I think after touring and meeting so many great people that I kept in touch with over the years. You reconnect with these people, and it just comes about that you always wanted to collaborate with each other, so you do it.
Having songwriters outside of a band is something very common in mainstream music, but not so much in metal. Why do you think that is and what benefits does a band get from having that outside influence?
I think that’s a perception that’s fading. It seems to me that more bands than ever are open to collaborations. For as long as I’ve been paying attention, bands/songwriters/producers etc. have been collaborating and making music the best it can be for a long time, because that’s what we are all trying to do at the end of the day, right? Create music that triggers an emotional response. The coolest part about collaborating to me is that you end up with strokes from a brush you wouldn’t have used otherwise on your “painting.” It gets exciting. Collaborations are often times derived from being fans of each other’s work. Sometimes producers are considered an additional “member” of the band and can really bring fresh new ideas to the table. That’s really cool to me. I think any degree of longevity relies on keeping the sound true to the artist, but also keeping a fresh perspective.
How does normally a co-writing session work? Do you bounce riffs or ideas back and forth with a band or artist or do you write something that is near-finished that you then collaborate with the artist on?
It works both ways. It really depends on how much the artist/band comes to the table with in terms of material.
Having written tons tons of songs, name a few that you think really stand out and that you are proud of for any reason.
All That Remains “Wasteland”
The Acacia Strain “Beast”
Bury Your Dead “Maverick”
What does your creative space or home studio look like? Give us a quick gear rundown!
Nothing out of the ordinary. Definitely always Mac for computing. Argosy, Genelec, Adam Audio, RME, Neve, Empirical Labs, Mesa Boogie, Peavey, EVH, VHT etc.
Which Toontrack products do you regularly use and where in the creative process do these come into play?
The Superior line set the bar incredibly high. I love it, I use it. I’ve tried other sample libraries and always end up trying to make up for what’s not there that Toontrack products already deliver on. Around here its always used for pre-production, many times making the cut for final mix. It’s amazing and it keeps getting better. I LOVE TOONTRACK.
Best studio moment ever?
Typically the final critical listening day and sequencing. For anyone that might not know, this is generally the process of choosing the song order and flow of the track arrangement. To me, this is when an album really comes to life. The final nice loud listen after sequencing before sending it off. You kind of get to let loose and enjoy the fruits of your labor with the band/artist.
Worst studio moment ever?
Being an idiot, blowing it and deleting stuff! Ha! Any kind of significant computer crash/malfunction that results in the loss of something. That can really ruin your day. Fortunately, with today’s advances, you can bounce back from this kind of headache pretty quickly with proper backups.
What’s next in your agenda? What do you have going on right now and in the immediate future?
I’m currently writing with All That Remains again and have quite a few other projects going on that I can’t say too much about yet, but I’m VERY excited for the near future. STAY TOONED!