How did you get started in the business and how come you ended up behind the console as opposed to on stage?
I actually started as a musician. I am a guitar player but also play bass, drums and basic piano. I started recording other people more as a hobby. I had a 4 track cassette machine and would record bands for nothing just to experiment. Word of mouth got me more opportunities to record and I kept recording as much as I could, figuring out how to do things along the way by lots of experimenting and trial and error. After while It started to take off and I just went with it.
There are tons of engineers and producers out there doing records with mid-sized bands, but only a handful of go-to, A-level guys producing the bulk of what’s topping the US modern metal scene. You’re definitely one of them. Is there a specific moment or project that helped push you on to the next level?
I would say its a bunch of them. One record led to another from word of mouth and exposure from a handful of records from Shadows Fall, 100 Demons,Hatebreed,God Forbid, All That Remains,Blood Has Been Shed etc. Networking and hard work with a lot of hours in the studio. The bigger or more popular the artist were led to more opportunities.
If you weren’t producing records, what would you do?
I really don’t know. I was a woodworker and cabinet maker before all of this. Maybe I would still be doing that?
In a mix, where do you usually start: the drums, guitars, vocals or something else?
I would say probably the drums. But I always build a quick static mix of everything first to see whats going on and to get familiar with everything. The arrangement, the different layers.
Is there any instrument you generally struggle with more than any other in a mix?
The hardest part for me is usually getting the bass guitar to sit with the rest of the mix. There are a few ways to present it and lots of times the playing can be erratic and the low end not defined, or vice versa and everyone always wants the thickest biggest sound so its always a battle.
Which Toontrack product do you find yourself using the most and why?
That would be EZ drummer. Its the best out there for a quick great sound and to get going with song ideas and demos. The interface is streamlined and everything is all there without tons of menus dialog boxes getting in the way of being creative. It rules!
What was it like working with bands like Hatebreed & Rob Zombie?
Working with both of those bands is always a challenge! We always try and push each other for the best we can come up with. Lots of patience and trial and error.
Name a few all-time favorite albums that you did not work on where performance, sound and feel all come together in perfect balance.
I would say: Iron Maiden-Number of the Beast, Rollins Band-End of Silence, AC/DC-Back in Black, Steely Dan-Aja, Black Sabbath-Vol.4, Metallica-Master of Puppets, Fear Factory-Demanufacture, Nevermore-Dead Heart in a Dead World, The Prodigy-The Fat of the Land to name a few.
If you produced an album that you couldn’t mix yourself, who’d be the first name on your list for the gig
Of the top of my head I like a lot of Jens Bogren,Steve Evetts and Mike Frasers work.
Best studio moment ever?
I would probably have to say when working with some very unique legendary singers or guitar player and hearing the vocals or guitar come out of the speakers for the first time. Makes you go “wow” for a moment. Like thats the voice I have been listening to all these years and I am recording it.
Worst studio moment ever?
Losing recorded data from stupid mistakes!
Finally, any tips to those looking to make a career in music production/engineering?
Keep Practicing and experimenting with stuff you recorded yourself. Try to understand why you turned that knob and what it does. Don’t be afraid to try something new that you never tried before!