Interview with Ryan Greene May 23, 2012

May 24, 2012 by: admin

May 18, 2012


Producer, Engineer, Mixer

Studio City, California

By: Shauna O’Donnell

Ryan Greene has been a long time friend of mine and someone who I have learned a lot from over the years. Returning to his original stomping grounds Ryan has relocated back to Los Angeles and opened a new recording complex Validus Recording located in the NoHo art district of North Hollywood, CA. He has worked with some outstanding artists in his career and continues to do so.

Shauna/AR: Hi Ryan, thanks for talking with Alternative Revolt Magazine. You are now back in Los Angeles having moved to Arizona for a while. Are you happy to be back?

Ryan Greene: Words can’t describe how happy I am to be back home.  I’m born and raised in LA and to be back with all my friends I grew up with and reconnecting with all my friends in the industry has been great. Now being back, I’m meeting some extremely talented people that keep me on the cutting edge of what’s going on, so what’s not to like.

Shauna/AR: Let’s start with a bit of a history lesson. How did you get your start in the music industry?

Ryan Greene: History wasn’t my best subject, but here you go.  At the fine age of thirteen I started playing drums and it seemed to be a very natural instrument for me. Nothing could drag me away from the drums.  When I was fifteen,  I started working with a local sound company, wrapping cables, learning about mic placement and how to mix live sound.  During this time my brother was going to a recording school called Sound Masters. He would come home from school and I was more interested in his homework then I was mine. I graduated high school at seventeen and two weeks later my friend John Pratt recommended me for a job to mix “Front of House” at the Troubadour in Hollywood, Ca.  They hired me underage (thanks Troubadour) and I worked there for about 8 months until bands were hiring me to mix at other venues.  During this time I was going to the same recording school as my brother and after I graduated I started to work for MCA Music.  After a very short time I was promoted by Francis Buckley to first engineer. At that time I was a few months away from turning twenty and the youngest engineer MCA Music ever had.  After spending four years at MCA, I was looking to move forward in the industry and another friend recommended me for the Chief Engineer position at EMI Music.  I was Chief Engineer at EMI Music for nine years. It was an amazing job and in some ways I miss it. I was doing so many records all over the world it was time for me to leave.  Fat Mike from the band Nofx and I opened a studio in San Francisco called Motor Studios and after seven years in the Bay Area I moved to Arizona and opened a studio called Crush Recording where I worked with Jay-Z to Guitar Hero 3 -7 and  many different bands from all over the world.  After spending six years in Arizona it was time to come home to my friends, family and new opportunities.

Shauna/AR: At what point did you realize producing and engineering was for you as opposed to playing an instrument in a band?

Ryan Greene: Ha! That was a no brainer for me.  Being on stage in front of people wasn’t my thing at all.  When I played drums I had a huge kit, 3 kick drums, 2 roto toms, 3 rack toms, 2 floor toms and cymbals everywhere including two china cymbals directly behind me, so I could hide from everyone. I wasn’t very comfortable playing on stage.  I admire my friends that can get on stage and be the focal point of a show, but for me I always like being behind the scenes.  I’m most comfortable behind a console and feel sitting on my ass for fourteen hours a day is much more rewarding.

Shauna/AR: How many instruments do you play? What are they?

Ryan Greene: Drums were always my favorite, but I started off playing piano.  My mom said it would be good for me to learn piano before anything else, but that lasted a year before I bought a drum kit.  If I could get a ‘mulligan’ I would have continued to play piano, but you can’t look back, only forward.  I tried to play bass, but it didn’t hold my attention.  I bought a few guitars learned some chords, but that didn’t stick either.  I was always a drummer at hear,t but at least had a bit of piano and guitar as a foundation.  Did I mention I play a pretty mean shaker?

Shauna/AR: Is it important for a producer to be able to play instruments?

Ryan Greene: I feel understanding all the instruments and what they can do is very important. “They” say knowledge is power, one day I would like to meet “They”

Shauna/AR: Tell us about Alt Drums.

Ryan Greene: was an idea I had eight years ago and finally decided to put together with a lot of help from my drummer friends.  It started out as a drum replacement library for “Drumagog” and “Trigger” , but the company PropellerHead asked if we would do a version for “Reason”. consists of nine full drum kits and a total of thirty-four snare drums with all fully produced sounds.  My concept in designing them was not to do anything normal.  The best way to describe it is “Troy Luccketta” from the band Tesla was one of five drummers I had hit the drums.  Troy brought in four drum kits and one of them was his vintage 1963 Beatles drum kit.  Most drum replacement libraries I’ve heard try to make a drum kit like this sound like the Beatles, but when I heard the kit I thought that it’s been done before, so I wanted to do something different.  I decided to produce the drum kit as if the Beatles were Motley Crue. I like taking drum sounds and twisting them just enough to make them unique, powerful, punchy, warm and aggressive but not loosing the character of what they are. The library has something for everyone and is the ultimate drum replacement library if you’re using “Drumagog” and “Trigger”.  For people that program drums is available for “Reason”.

Shauna/AR: You opened up a new recording complex here called Validus Recording. Tell us about the studio and what services you offer there.

Ryan Greene: Validus Recording is a full production recording studio that has all the modern equipment mixed with all the best vintage gear including guitars, basses, amp’s and cabinets to enable you to get the best possible record.

Shauna/AR: What does the name Validus mean?

Ryan Greene: Validus means strength and power in Latin.  Veronica from the band Benedictum and I were talking one day and she mentioned the name. I asked her what it meant and when she told me I said “you just named my new studio.”  I think the name is appropriate for what we do at Validus.

Shauna/AR: Who are some of the notable bands/Artists you have worked with?

Ryan Greene: Megadeth, Jay-Z, Alice Cooper, Mr. Big, Cheap Trick, Gladys Knight, Tonic, NOFX, Lagwagon, No Use For a Name, Good Riddance, Pulley, Lita Ford, Authority Zero, Strung Out, Patty La Belle, Dishwalla, Sick of it all, Bad Religion, Tower of Power, Curt Smith (Tears for fears), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) are a few. Video Games include the “Guitar Hero 3-7, GH: Aerosmith, and Guitar Hero DLC”, Rock Revolution and Rock Band and movie credits; Total Recall, Stand and Deliver and The 5 Heartbeats. Producer/Writers I worked with include Glen Ballard, Diane Warren, Desmond Child, Max Norman, Holly Knight, Michael Corcoran, Marc Bonilla, Clif Magness, John Shanks.

Shauna/AR: Do you have a cool story you can share about working with one of them?

Ryan Greene: They all have cool stories, but the studio is like Vegas, what happens in the studio stays in the studio.

Shauna/AR: Who are some of the current projects you are working on?

Ryan Greene: I just finished mixing a radio single for “ The Dreaming”. I’m always doing artist development and currently working with the bands Slow Motion Celebrity, Static Fiction ,Lovers Drugs and Piranha.

Shauna/AR: Do you prefer working with one genre over another? Do you have a preference?

Ryan Greene: I’ve worked in so many genres of music during my career I feel comfortable with just about everything.  Going from a metal band to a pop band to an alternative project keeps things fresh.

Shauna/AR: You have engineered and mixed songs for the video game “Guitar Hero 3″, and many more for downloadable content, 40 songs for “Rock Revolution”, and produced/engineered and mixed for the video game “Rock Band”. How did you get involved working with these companies?

Ryan Greene: My friend Steve Ouimette called and asked if I would be interested in doing a re-record of an Alice Cooper song called “Schools Out” for the video game “Guitar Hero” and next thing we know we became the re-record guys. It was fun having a drummer come in and figuring out what drums, mic’s, cymbals and tuning were used on the original songs so we could get as close to the original sound as possible.  Steve would do a lot of investigating on what guitars and basses were used and if needed he would buy the correct instrument to make sure we were as accurate as we could be to the original song without having the original players and equipment in the studio.  The best part was when we would A/B our track to the original and it was difficult to tell the difference.  Steve hired all of the players and since he’s an amazing guitar player he played all the guitars, most of the bass and keyboards. After we finished “Guitar Hero 3” Steve got the call to do another game, the team reassembled and off we went.  I think we ended up doing over 90 re-records.

Shauna/AR: You have been in the industry for a while and have seen the many changes. What do you see to be the pros and cons of how the industry is today?

Ryan Greene: I think everyone that has been in the industry for years could write a book on this but here are a few of the pros.

With today’s technology can make records much faster, which cuts down on the cost of the record.  Another pro is you can make anyone sound good. You don’t have to have much talent to sing, we can fix your sorry ass with Melodyne or Autotune. It’s the perfect thing for the singer that doesn’t want to practice.  The same goes for the drummer. If you can’t play your drums in time, don’t worry we don’t have to spend days and days editing, beat detective and elastic audio will make you sound like someone that has played for years. LOL, yes this is a “Pro” statement if you’re working with someone that doesn’t have a lot of talent.

Here are a few cons.

Distribution of music has changed drastically. Most people don’t buy records in stores anymore.  Some labels are even offering records for download only.  I understand we have to keep up with technology, but lets not forget music is an experience. Looking at artwork, reading the lyrics and maybe even reading the credits while listening to your favorite band seems to be a thing of the past.  The Internet is great for the A.D.D listener, you click on a song, get bored and click on another and another and another.

We all have gotten used to having everything right now, but there are some benefits to this. Hearing a song on the radio at 1am and being able to download it immediately is great, but on the other side people are becoming more and more accustom to having ‘everything’ right now and even for free which has hurt most of the entertainment industry.  If the buying public really knew how hard it is do be an artist they would still spend money on buying records instead of stealing them.

Shauna/AR: What advice do you have for new bands when they tell you they want to make a go of it in the industry as it stands today?

Ryan Greene: I feel it’s just as hard to make it today as it was 20 or 30 years ago.  One big difference now is everyone is putting product out so it’s hard for bands that really want to do it to shine through. There are many bands that are doing well, but it takes a lot of hard work just like it did 30 years ago. There was a time when everyone was getting a record deal and we all got very used to it, but now its back to how it was years ago.  If any band wants to make a go of it I would say dive in with both feet, make sure your songs are great, make sure you know how to play them live and be able to put on a great show.

Shauna/AR: What advice do you give bands so that they are prepared to enter into the studio to record a record?

Ryan Greene: Working with a producer is a good place to start.  Some of the biggest artists in the world have a producer on board to give an objective opinion and they will help you with your songs, even if you feel you don’t need help. When I produce a band I help write drum, bass, guitar parts and even get very involved in vocal melody’s as well as background vocals.  I’ll add strings to percussion parts if needed, whatever it takes to make the project the best it can be for the time we have to do it.

A few other things besides having good songs is make sure you’re prepared before walking in the studio door. Have new drum heads and make sure you have a few extra snare heads just in case one breaks and Guitar Center is closed. That includes one bottom snare head, sticks, extra springs for your kick drum pedal and drum keys.  Have extra guitar strings, bass strings and have a professional set up your guitars. I like “Eric’s Guitars” in Van Nuys, Ca., he does all my setups.  If your amps haven’t been re-tubed in the past 6 months, you should have them checked.  Don’t forget your picks! I can’t tell you how many guitar players forget picks. Try not to party the night before you come into record, it makes for a rough day.  The last thing is, remember that most things take a lot longer then you think in the studio even if you are prepared, so allow for overages.  There is real time (RT) and studio time (ST), here’s the calculation;  RT + 2 hours = ST so never tell someone your just going to be an hour, it never happens.

Shauna/AR: Where would you like bands to contact you if they are interested in working with you?

Ryan Greene: Email is the best way,

Shauna/AR: Thank you so much for the interview. Before I let you go was there anything you’d like to add or say?

Ryan Greene: I’m going to take full advantage of this thank you portion, so with that being said, I would like to thank; Shauna O’Donnell and Alternative Revolt Magazine for the opportunity to do this interview! Jacob Dennis, Adam Krammer, Justin Byrem, Masaki Murashita and Jimmy Von Fritsch, you guys were more than just assistants and I couldn’t have done the work I did without your support. I would like to thank Steve Conley an amazing guitar player and friend that has played on many projects I’ve been a part of. Michael Corcoran for helping me branch out on my new endeavor.  Troy Luccketta, my friend that always puts other people before himself, I’ve learned so much from you. Marc Bonilla, just knowing you makes me a better person but working with you has taken me places I thought I would never go.  John Covington, Gary Sanchez and Randy Walker for all your help with the Alt Drums samples and for all your hard work.  Dave Dolnick my brother, if you didn’t go to Sound Masters I wouldn’t have even thought of doing this as a career!  Janis Greene, for all the late night Dr. advice, you should be Dr. Janis Greene.  Emma Greene my 12 almost 13 year old niece, I’m just so freck’n proud of you, you truly kick ass!  Steve Ouimette, we worked on the biggest selling video game in history, pretty damn cool!  Brett Gurewitz and Fat Mike, you knowing you both changed my life forever. John Pratt, you landed my first gig for me, a producer never forgets.  Max Norman, what can I say about the person I watched like a hawk.  You produced Megadeth, Lynch Mob, Y&T, Ozzy and many other records I listened to while growing up. Being able to talk to you, watch you work and just hang’n out was inspiring.

Last but in no way least my mom that’s looking down right now saying, enough already GET BACK TO WORK!

That’s it, but remember “Success is fleeting, Failure is forever”

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