Producer, engineer and mixer Nick Raskulinecz is probably better known for his highly successful working relationship with the Foo Fighters, but aside from the Foo Fighters he has worked with a long list of other acts which include Trivium, Mondo Generator, Stone Sour, Danzig My Ruin, Velvet Revolver, Rush, Shadows Fall, Superdrag, Fireball Ministry, Death Angel, Deftones, and Danko Jones.
In this installment of Ultimate-Guitar
's "Producer And Engineer
" series, Nick
chats to Joe Matera
about working with the Foos, his engineering approach in the studio and the latest on the new upcoming anticipated studio album by prog-rock legends Rush
UG: You had your biggest break through having worked on the Foo Fighters record One By One. Can you tell us a little about the events which led you to working on that record?
Nick: Leading up to working on the Foo Fighters’ album, I had been working at Sound City Studios in Los Angels for a long time. At the time a producer I had been working for GGGarth Richardson - the Canadian producer - I had been engineering with him on a very long project, and he had another project come in that he couldn’t do, so he threw that ball to me and I ran with it. And I made that record for him. It was called More Than Conquerors, by the band Dogwood and it was done for Tooth & Nail Records. It turned out really great and that gave me the confidence to walk away from Sound City and really try to make it out on my own, you know become an independent engineer. So I went out to all the clubs in LA and looked for bands to record and tried to meet people, I did the whole networking and playing the game thing that you got to do. And it was great and I loved it. I picked up a couple records along the way like I engineered a record for Danzig. So I was doing some cool stuff. Then that took me to the Foo Fighters’ One By One record. I had met Dave Grohl for the first time at Sound City a couple years before that record. I did some engineering for him on a song at the time and we became friends but then I didn’t see him for a couple years until I ran into him at a parking lot in LA. And he told me the Foo Fighters were getting ready to go back to Virginia to make a new record and asked me if I was interested in going back with him and engineering the record at his house. And I was totally down for it.
Having worked with Dave Grohl, is his approach to recording in the studio meticulous?
It depends on what it is, but not particularly, no. The thing we have in common is that we’re both energetic and we like to capture that energy on tape. We don’t like to think about it too much. There is an energy and a vibe and we like to make performance records. It is not like the Evanescence record that I just made where it was very meticulous and where everything had to be perfect. It is not like that with Dave at all. You know what he is meticulous about? He is meticulous about making sure he has a great song. He is not meticulous about the recording process. The guitar doesn’t have to be perfectly in tune for him or the drum track doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it’s exciting and energetic, then that’s what he wants.
You work out of Nashville, which is a very country music oriented town, so how does your studio approach compare to Nashville’s way of doing things?
It couldn’t be more different. I am like a freak of nature in this town. In Nashville, people record a whole record in days. And though those records kind of have the same type of groove, they have some really amazing talented musicians, especially when it comes to pretty much all of the bigger country records. With the records I make, I like to move into the studio part and camp out. There is a studio in Nashville where I work at called Blackbird Studios and I’ll move into either Studio A or Studio D and will stay there for two or three months. It is doing that versus moving into the room, recording the whole record and then going back to the house or a smaller studio. I like to be set up and I’ve got a really big set up, where there’s drums everywhere and I have about fifteen to twenty guitars in the control room and there’s cabinets everywhere, but it enables us to work very quickly as we can go between sounds here and there really quick.
In regards to your approach in the studio, how do you go about capturing guitar sounds?
"We are currently in preproduction right now so that we can finish the rest of the record which we will start recording again in mid October."
A big part of getting a good guitar sound with mics is that you have to look at all the factors. You have to look at the type of amp, what kind of room its in, what guitar is being used, what type of strings are on, every part of it is super magnified. I really take pride in the records we make in what they sound like. I’ve also got a great engineer who I work with for a long time now and we co-engineer all our records together. I will produce the records and then we will co-engineer together. Lately we have gone really simple on the guitars. We’ve been going back to having one amp cranked up with one or maybe two mics in front of it, which is blended together down to one track. And I am really happy with the results as I think the guitar sounds on the last few records I’ve done have been crushing.
Are there any favored mics you use primarily?
My favorite combo right now is a Shure SM57 and Neumann U-47 and another combo I really like as well is a Mojave MA100. That mic has a lot to it and has a really big sound to it. It has a full range and is very presence sounding.
When it comes to layering guitar tracks, how do you approach it, is there any specific method you adhere to?
Well the main thing is that when layering guitars I will never use the same thing twice. Each track will be different. I will switch guitars or sometimes will use the same guitar but with a different amp or sometimes the same guitar and amp but with different mics on the cabinet. I will make it different each time.
You’ve stated in an interview that it took you 15 years to make drums sound how they sound and that you find that the drum sound is the hardest thing to record?
Yes, it is like recording any acoustic instrument where there are so many factors involved. And again as with the guitars, it is the same with the drums, but those factors are multiplied many times over again. It all starts with the guy sitting on the drum stool and how he holds the sticks, how he has his kit set up around him, the type of drums he has, what sort of heads are on the drums, where they’re set up in the room and that’s not even having put up one mic yet! Then you put up the mics and you then have to try and create a dimension with the drum sound in the room, where it’s not just some flat dry drum sound. There has to be some ambiance and some natural space to it, so I’ll spend a lot of time on recording drums as getting a good drum sound is very important to me.
You’ve lamented the state of the industry in many interviews you’ve done in recent years, so do you see any light at the end of the tunnel?
I do as I don’t want to be a total pessimistic. The music industry has been a kind of sinking ship in the past few years, which is a drag and ultimately what this has done is it has kept labels from signing any new bands, it has kept them from signing the next Madonna or the next Soundgarden or the next Nine Inch Nails. But people will always be listening to music, as music is such a huge part of people’s lives. I do hope it turns around and not so much for the money sake of it, but just for the sake of music having a value again and having it mean something where it is not disposable. Music has become very disposable now, you’re more inclined to go spend money on Starbucks every day than going and paying for your favorite song from your favorite band. And it is a situation where your favorite band may not be able to make another record because they’re not making any money any more.
What kind of advice would you give to any budding young producers out there?
"The new Evanescence record which turned out amazing."
To just to make it sound great, which is what we are suppose to do as producers anyway. It is to make records sound the best that they can. I also try not to be too much in a hurry as it is not a race. I know there are budget constraints but I still try and make everything sound as great as possible and when you have really great players it is very easy to do that as it just sounds better. My other advice is to keep it in tune, keep it in time and keep the energy. Keep that energy of the performance no matter where you’re recording.
You’re working on Rush’s upcoming new studio album, Clockwork Angels. How is it coming along?
It is coming along fantastic, we have recorded two songs already and we released them last year and then the band went on tour. But we are currently in preproduction right now so that we can finish the rest of the record which we will start recording again in mid October.
You mentioned earlier that you’ve just finished the new Evanescence record too, so what other projects have you got coming up as well?
Yes, I just spent six months on the new Evanescence record which turned out amazing. I am currently going into the studio with a new band for Atlantic. And I have also got Alice In Chains doing preproduction in Los Angeles for the rest of the year and we’ll be gearing up to make a new Alice In Chains record. And after I’ve done the Rush record, hopefully I’ll begin work on another new Deftones record too.
Interview by Joe Matera
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