NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA—Recording engineer and mixer Ryan Greene has returned to his hometown of Los Angeles after lengthy sojourns in San Francisco and Arizona, setting up a new facility in N. Hollywood. The studio combines an Avid work surface and Pro Tools with Greene’s collection of go-to analog gear, and features a pair of Focal monitors as the only speakers.
Validus Recording (validus is Latin for strong or powerful) is something of a first for Greene, who was previously an SSL console owner. When he closed his private production studio in Arizona and returned to L.A. in August 2010, he says, “I knew that when I moved, the SSL was going to go away.”
Greene has an impressive resumé, engineering at MCA Music in L.A. at age 20 and just four years later becoming chief engineer at EMI Music, where he remained for nine years. During his early years, he worked with some of the best songwriters and producers in the business, including Diane Warren, Desmond Child, Glenn Ballard and Robbie Neville, and with major artists such as Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Mr. Big, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford and Tonic. Then one day Brett Gurewitz, Epitaph label founder and Bad Religion frontman, came in with his band.
“It was really fun. He then introduced me to NOFX, and three weeks later I was in the studio with them. That went gold; it was their biggest-selling record. That started my journey into punk rock; I was booked a year and a half in advance for six years.”
Greene set up a studio in the Bay Area with NOFX bass player Fat Mike, engineering and mixing one Fat Wreck Chords label project after another, during one period working 18 months straight, 17 hours a day, without a single day off. “We’d be doing records for $15,000, and they would sell a half-million. The business model always worked,” he says.
But after seven years in a dark room it was time to move on. Greene established a studio in Arizona and reinvented himself again, working on Guitar Hero 3, Rock Revolution and some Rock Band tracks. “I did nine songs for the Guitar Hero 3 game and many more for downloadable content. I did 40 songs for Rock Revolution. And I worked with Jay-Z out there, which was cool.”
But personal reasons brought him back to L.A. That is fine with him: “At the end of the day, this is my home; there’s an energy here. All my friends are doing so well here.”
Validus Recording, located in a small complex of production suites, immerses Greene back in an industry environment. “You walk down the hall and somebody might have their door open. It’s inspiring. You can’t pay for this interaction!”
It was that interaction that led Greene to purchase a pair of Focal Twin6 Be monitors. A producer in the complex who owns a pair of the Focal monitors played him some of his tracks, he says, and they sounded really good. “He gave me a CD and I listened to it in my car, and it sounded exactly the same; it translated really well. So I got a pair to demo, and it was the exact same thing. When I listened to tracks at home on my little speakers, they translate. Right there, that sold me. If people ask what piece of gear they should get first, I say a really good set of monitors. You don’t know what everything sounds like until you do.”
Greene doesn’t appear to miss his SSL. “I’m really comfortable with the D Command. At least it makes me feel like I’m a little bit more behind a console.” Plus, he says, “The Dangerous Music 2-Bus has come in handy many times; I like to use that as my summing bus.”
Greene’s racks are largely set up with pairs of processing channels, he reports. “But then I discovered the Millennias [HV- 3D 8-channel mic pre], and fell in love. Now I want eight more.” The racks will soon include his old API 312 modules, which he sold to a friend 15 years ago. “He’s going to give them back at the price that I sold them, $325 apiece.”
These days Greene focuses on unsigned talent, from pop to thrash metal: “I love ripping songs apart and putting them back together; it’s inspiring and exciting to me. We’re taking these bands and trying to make it sound like it’s a $300,000 record.”
He’s also about to release a drum sample library, which features six drummers, including Greene. The set, which will be available for Drumagog and Reason initially, offers a different spin on the typical overhead and room mic setups. “It’s very unique, a little different,” he says, adding, “People have always liked my drum sounds.”