This is the last segment of a five part series investigating the role of the producer in modern rock music. So far I have mainly focused on negative examples to highlight just how hard the field of producing can be, but today I want to take a look at two producers who I hold in high regard and that are nothing short of a success stories.
Regular readers will have realised that I am a big fan of Steven Wilson. However my adoration for him stretches further than just his music, because as well as performing in numerous bands and side projects, he has also had many credits in producing and mixing.
Wilson’s first production credit was for a band named Psychomuzak, which was then followed by stints with more recognisable names: Fish and Marillion. However, it would be his next production role that would elevate Wilson to the status for which he is regarded today. As a fan of Porcupine Tree’s Pink Floyd-esque work, Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt chose to enlist the help of Wilson to produce their fifth effort Blackwater Park. Today this album is considered a turning point in the band’s catalogue and is often cited as their best work, for Wilson managed to capture the progressive influences of their earlier work that had been struggling to make themselves heard, whilst still maintaining their death metal origins. This album also laid the foundations for one of the most consistently creative partnerships in progressive music, which reached its music zenith in 2011/12 with the ambitious triptych of Grace For Drowning, Heritage and Storm Corrosion.
More recently Wilson has turned his hand to mixing, which has included focusing a lot on remixing classic progressive rock records from the likes of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Yes, ELP and Hawkwind. One of Wilson’s most successful album mixes was Anathema’s 2010 ‘come-back’ record We’re Here Because We’re Here, which, just like Blackwater Park, let their true progressive nature become unleashed.
Nick Raskulinecz made his production debut on Foo Fighters’ 2002 album One by One after impressing Grohl with his engineering duties on their track A320 which was recorded for the 1998 Godzilla film. He continued working with Grohl on subsequent releases, playing a role in growing the band to the international level in which they operate today.
On the basis of this work, Raskulinecz soon received many offers from major-label bands including Trivium, Marilyn Manson, Stone Sour, Mastodon and Evanescence. He eventually found himself producing Rush’s Snakes & Arrows (2007) and their latest masterpiece Clockwork Angels (2012), which together have helped the Canadian band return to the pinnacle of the progressive rock genre. Raskulinecz was also responsible for producing Alice In Chains’ comeback records Black Gives Way to Blue and The Devil Put the Dinosaurs Here, which have been once again confirmed AIC as masters of the grunge genre. In 2010 Raskulinecz took over Deftones’ production duties to work on Diamond Eyes, replacing Bob Ezrin and Shaun Lopez who oversaw Saturday Night Wrist‘s disjointed recording sessions. He would completely rejuvenate the band who had begun to show signs of weakening, making Diamond Eyes, and its follow up Koi No Yokan, two of the most successful metal albums of the new decade.
The aim of this blog series has been to show that the choice of producer can have a much bigger role in a record’s sound than most people think. I hope I have shown what makes a good producer and that when your favourite band’s new album is announced, you’ll stop and think what their choice of recording personnel might mean for the road ahead.
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