of artists, as well as holding recording workshops at his studio.
Chicago native Johnny K built his
Groovemaster Studio from the ground up,
beginning in a house and eventually growing
into his new multi-level complex. Disturbed’s
debut album put him on the production
map. Since then, Drowning Pool, Staind, 3
Doors Down, Black Tide, Plain White T’s,
Adelitas Way and numerous others have
turned to his expertise.
YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO
The guitar riff: it identifies and defines virtually every classic song: “Johnny B. Goode,”
“Jailhouse Rock,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,”
“Purple Haze,” “Wicked Game,” “All Right
Now,” “Walk This Way”… anything by Van
Halen, AC/DC or the Rolling Stones. The minute that intro kicks in, listeners recognize it,
and if you really strike it rich, just one chord
and the whole world knows that it’s been a
hard day’s night. Writing the next “Layla”
will serve you no purpose if it’s fingernails on
a chalkboard to your audience. This month,
we turn to five producers and engineers for
advice, legends who have worked with almost
every artist, in every genre, and collectively
amassed enough platinum albums and industry awards to fill a warehouse or two.
BY ELIANNE HALBERSBERG
The Midi Mafia—producer/engineer/DJ
Dirty Swift and producer/songwriter Bruce
Waynne—came to national attention through
their work on 50 Cent’s breakthrough hit,
“ 21 Questions.” The duo opened Ravenite
Studio in Los Angeles and now work with
a broad range of artists, including Brandy,
David Archuleta, Elliott Yamin, Fantasia and
Chuck Ainlay’s BackStage Studio has hosted
most of Nashville’s elite and the recording world at large. His name appears on
over 200 albums; Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill,
Peter Frampton, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson
and Dire Straits are just a few. When Mark
Knopfler makes a record, Ainlay is the man
he relies on in the studio. Enough said.
Michael Wagener’s name is synonymous
with 1980s heavy metal: Dokken, Mötley
Crüe, Poison, Metallica, White Lion, Ozzy
Osbourne, King’s X—his credits are endless.
Wagener relocated to Nashville several years
ago, where he continues producing a variety
Dann Huff is the quintessential guitarist’s
guitarist. Following his tenure in the rock
band Giant, he became one of the music
industry’s most in-demand session players.
He eventually moved to Nashville, where he
became one of Music Row’s most in-demand
producers. Lonestar, Faith Hill, Martina
McBride, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban have
all recorded with Huff, and somewhere in
between, so did Megadeth.
These five producers now share some strategies that can take you from simply playing
guitar to becoming a guitarist—hopefully
one that people will want to listen to.