Santa Monica, CA (February 28, 2007)–The Producers & Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy held its 14th annual Grammy Producers SoundTable on January 20, 2007, in Anaheim during Winter NAMM. Pictured here (l-r) are: Michael Molenda, Butch Walker, P&E Wing Executive Director Maureen Droney, Carmen Rizzo, Nick Raskulinecz, Lizzy Moore, West Regional Director of The Recording Academy; and Harvey Mason Jr. Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy. Photograph by: Maury Phillips/WireImage.com (c)2007.During this year’s SoundTable, titled “What’s In Your Rack? Top Music Producers Sound Off On How We Work Today,” producer/engineers Harvey Mason Jr. (of production team The Underdogs), Nick Raskulinecz, Carmen Rizzo, and Butch Walker discussed how technology and creativity can coexist and how the world of the recording studio has changed.
The SoundTable panelists had loads of experience to draw from-check out some credits: Mason Jr. and The Underdogs–Dreamgirls, Ruben Studdard, Aretha Franklin; Raskulinecz–Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mars Volta; Rizzo–Coldplay, Seal, Pete Townshend; and Walker–Pink, Avril Lavigne and Butch Walker & The Lets Go Out Tonites. Guitar Player editor Michael Molenda moderated the panel.
Shown L-R: panel moderator Michael Molenda, Butch Walker, Harvey Mason Jr., Carmen Rizzo, and Nick Raskulinecz. Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy. Photograph by: Maury Phillips/WireImage.com (c)2007.”What’s In Your Rack” examined the diversity of modern recording techniques. Nick Raskulinecz remains a devotee of the conventional studio as creative and technical hub. “Making a record is like a camping trip, where you’ve got a bunch of people hanging out together all the time,” he said. “And we huddle around the console the way you hang out around the campfire.”
On the other hand, two-time Grammy nominee Carmen Rizzo underscored his strong interest in electronica and computer-based recording when he stated bluntly, “I hate studios. I like to record everywhere but a studio, and a laptop loaded with Pro Tools is my best friend.” Rizzo, who was a key figure in pushing for the Grammy’s new “Best Electronic/Dance Album” category, described a variety of non-traditional studio situations he’s recorded in, including working with Pete Townshend on a barge in the UK on the River Thames. He pointed out that the power of new recording software meant that such “location” recording offered a unique experience without any compromising of professional-level sound quality.
Butch Walker reflected the middle ground when he said, “It’s not about finding the perfect sound, but finding the right vibe,” adding that the overall emotional power of a song and its performance had to be considered more important than “perfect” tracks: “The sound of a kick drum won’t change someone’s life.”
As always happens when you put two or more audio pros in the same room, the talk turned to gear, and attendees at “What’s in Your Rack?” enjoyed a spirited discussion of favorite microphones, compressors, effects units and software, and frequently spoke of the rewards of pushing technology to its limits in order to get unusual, ear-catching sounds. Toward the end of the SoundTable, the panelists fielded questions from the audience, dispensing advice on such topics as the proper way to lay in backing vocals, the trick to getting bass and kick drum tracks to groove together, and the importance of mastering. But all the panelists echoed the idea that, whatever the recording situation or set-up, an ear for artistry has to trump any concerns with technology. “It’s easy to get so distracted by technology that you lose sight of the song,” said Raskulinecz.
The Recording Academy