of the fastest emerging and most solid producers in the
underground is Sanford Parker; the man responsible for the
expansive sounds of albums by Nachtmystium, Pelican, Yakuza,
Buried at Sea and Teeth of the Hydra. Prone to work with some of
the most extreme and open minded musicians in the underground
Parker was the next obvious choice in my string of interview
with producers. Read on and spread the word.
- How did
you become a producer? Do you think that being a musician gives
you an advantage?
I got my start in high school, living in the spring-break
capitol Panama City FL. I was more into industrial music back
then, bands like Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Killing Joke, Godflesh
bands like that. I am still really into those bands but over the
years I got more into heavier stuff. I bought an early Mac and
a very basic sequencing software, an old sampler and a couple of synths and started my own one man band. I wrote and recorded
several songs, kind of traded tapes with friends and stuff.
Anyway, word got around and bands started contacting me to record
their demos. I did a few of those over the next couple years. So
that got me thinking maybe I could make a career out of this. I
researched some recording schools found one nearby and away I
went. After finishing school I moved to Chicago and started
working in studios up here. As far as being a musician, yeah I
think it helps a lot. You need to understand an instrument in
order to record it. I don't believe it's necessary but it helps.
I would never take my car to a mechanic that can't drive.
- I was
looking at your bio and you have recorded, mixed and produced
several bands. Can you please explain the difference between
producing and recording?
The line between recording engineer and producer is getting
blurred. I guess the basic difference would be an engineer has
no creative input and a producer needs no technical knowledge of
gear and studio workings. But like I said it's kind of becoming
the same thing. Even if someone hires me as an engineer I still
give some sort of input. If I'm hired as a producer I give more.
It's basically a credit on an album these days. I like working
with bands on a creative level, If I had to choose between
producing and engineering I would choose producing.
- I was
looking at your discography as a producer and noticed that most
of the bands youíve worked with are prone to experimenting. How
does your approach as a producer differ when working with a more
straight ahead sounding band and a band that is more
Yeah, I tend to gravitate toward more experimental bands cause
thatís what I'm really into, and I think bands also get that
vibe so they seek me out. I try to treat each band differently
no matter what they play, altering my way of doing things to the
style of each band, trying to steer clear of a one trick pony.
- Have you
ever said NO to producing some bands? If so, what would drive
you to that?
Yes, I have turned away from producing bands before, the obvious
being rap metal and shit like that, but also some other bands
that I just couldn't get behind musically. If I don't feel that
I can offer anything I won't pretend to. Engineering on the
other hand is different, I still got to get paid.
are different ways to see the work of a producer; and apparently
the role of such has changed with time. Some bands see a
producer as someone who would guide the recording sessions,
mixing and mastering and also guide the performers to an optimal
point. Others, take into consideration the producer's ideas into
the music itself. How do you see the role of a producer?
All of the above, of course I work with a band on a creative
level but when a band is with me I feel it's my duty to make the
dudes happy. I make sure everyone sleeps well, eats well and has
whatever inspiration they need to get the job done in whatever
form it may be. A happy band makes good records. I take on the
roll as a manager in that way, and I enjoy doing this. It also
changes from one band to another, some bands need very little
guidance some need more. I try to offer what I can when I see
it. Also, it's about getting a good performance, I'm not afraid
to make someone do it over and over again 'til they get it right.
Some people need that extra push you know.
happens when you are producing a record and you think; Ďthis
song is sucksí. Do you ever confront bands because you consider
some of their material to be subpar? Do you make suggestions? I
mean itís gotta be hard to be totally sincere.
Well, I always lay it out like this; think of me as the first
person reviewing your record. These are the points at which I
think are strong and these are the points I think are bad.
Weather or not they choose to use my suggestions are up to them.
At the end of the day these are not my songs and this is not my
band. I always try to lay it out it out in a way that makes
- I read
an interview with David Byrne where he said that studios might
become obsolete since basically people can make good recordings
in laptops nowadays. Would you agree?
I agree to a certain extent. Yeah, studios that Byrne is used to
recording in are closing left and right. There's only one left
of the really big studios in Chicago. People aren't willing to
pay $1500 a day for a studio anymore, and if you can afford to
spend that, why not build one in your million dollar mansion? On
the other hand, just because you own a laptop doesn't make you an
engineer, and people are starting to realize this. This is where
I come in. I offer really good sounding recordings for a
reasonable price, even Billy the crust punk kid down the street
can record with me. The bottom line is you don't need a fancy
lounge to make a good record, just kick-ass gear and someone that
knows how to use it. I have never heard a record made on a
laptop with shitty Guitar Center mics that I thought sounded
good. That shit is good for demos not albums.
- You have
your very own, Volume Studios. What type of equipment do you
have? What type of equipment would you like to get?
Well, obviously the big advantage is I have the means to make my
own records at my disposal 24/7.
Having time to make my own
records is another story though. As far as gear we have a Neotek
IIIc 36 channel console. Otari and MCI muti-track tape machines,
Ampex 2 track machine, Pro-tools HD2 rig, several outboard
stuff, mics, etc. I always want more stuff it never stops. We
just got a Moog endorsement I would love to get a Voyager synth,
but even with the hook up they're still pricey, maybe one day.
would you recommend to someone who aspires to be a producer?
Work your ass off, devote your life to this. You have got to
love it. The guys that I see doing well, including myself, have
very little life outside of the studio. I can spend 15 hours a
day 20 days straight some times, and not get tired of it. It
helps a lot to have a understanding wife also. That support is
- When you
listen back to your work as a producer, do you often hear stuff
you wish you could improve?
All the time on every record, there are only a hand full of
records I can listen to and enjoy them. But it's good, that just
means next time it will be that much better. It's even harder on
my own records, I critic my production as well as my
there any records that you listen to and think it has great
songs but suffer of poor/awful production?
All the time. I can respect lo-fi production to a certain
extent. Some records just wouldn't sound right with a slick
sound. But there are some records that are just unlistenable in
my opinion, that are amazing albums which is too bad they didn't
go the extra mile and do it right.
record are you particularly proud of? What old record from any
era/genre would you have liked to produce?
The new Nachtmystium I am very proud of. I think it came
together great. It was a very chaotic vibe in the studio and I
think it shows. Very cool record. Man, I would have loved to work
on some of those early Swans records, that must have been
amazing. I would love to work on some Angels of Light stuff to, Gira is a sick songwriter man. I love that stuff. Woven Hand
would be another killer band to work with.
- What can
you tell us about the following recordings:
Yakuza - Transmutations. How hard was this job? I saw
them live a couple of years before this one came out and they
sounded like a mess. You could tell they were very good
musicians, but I mention this because itís gotta be hard to
record a band as heavy, fast and eclectic.
Yeah, this was a tough one. Mixing this record was brutal. I
love this band and their songwriting, but they have a lot going
on and getting it all to fit was pretty tough. I think it came
out pretty killer though.
the Devil - The Diabolic Procession. I loved this record,
They have a classic, yet modern sound.
Yeah, they're very big into NWOHBM, and it shows. So we thought
to approach it like that, classic yet modern sound. We just
finished a new that I think blends those two elements even
better. It will be out in the fall.
Blackouts- the two records you worked with them. Some garage
punk bands are more aggressive than metal. These guys were
Ha, very cool. Dis-Functional was more like it. Interesting band
but some of the shittiest gear I have ever seen.
Savant - Flight of the Bass Delegate. I really love dub,
I just donít cover it because I want the focus of the site on
hard music. These guys really standout in your discography, how
did this relationship come about?
The main dude Ralph was my neighbor. He had just moved to
Chicago from Philly, and we hit it off. He wanted to make a
psychedelic record and that's what I do best, so off we went. I
would plug his guitar into a string of pedals, he would play and
I would twist the knobs. One of the funnest records I have made.
Nachtmystium - Assassins. I canít wait to hear this one.
These guys are one of the few interesting American black metal
bands. How was this experience?
All I can say is wow! I have never made a record like this, not
with the music but the vibe. Very chaotic scene, people coming
and going all the time I had to let my clinical guard down and
just enjoy the ride, fun times, and the end result I think is
- As a
musician, with Minsk you make this really heavy, almost tribal
music. Have you guys been composing at all since your sophomore
record The Ritual Fires of Abandonment?
Yeah, we have a lot of new stuff written, we will start
recording very soon for a new full-length that will be out early
next year. We have also recorded a Roky Erikson song for a split
with Unearthly Trance and a three way split Hawkwind tribute
with U.S. Christmas & Steve Von Till that will hopefully be out
at Sea, also very heavy and expansive. Your new work Ghost, how
does this differ from the past two records?
Well, there was about a 3 year gap in making Ghost. We started
it in 2004 and finished it in 2007. So it was very strange
coming back to it after so long. But then again I had forgotten
about all the time we spent in 2004 so when we went back to it,
it felt like the easiest record I had made. I was very pleased
with the out come.
next for Sanford Parker?
Sleep hopefully....... Trying to get a new band of the ground
with my good friend Dallas form AssChapel and Brann Dailor (if
he would stop working on the new Mastodon long enough to call us
back!).......it's called The IVth Crusade. It's basically left
over AssChapel songs they never got around to before they broke
up, awesome thrash stuff. Also, putting together a new band with
Bruce Lamont from Yakuza, the idea is kind of a modern day
Pigface, kind of industrial sounding, each song features a
different drummer. So far we have Dave Witte (Human Remains),
Darren (Unearthly Trance), Jon (Cephallic Carnage), Jeff (Rwake),
Noah (Milemarker) and some other drummers lined up that I
haven't gotten around to record. Should be a very busy year.
please list a few albums that inspired you to get into music.
These are some albums that have stuck out to me over the years
and ones that I listen to an a regular basis, that inspire me
everyday to do what I do:
Black Sabbath - Sabotage
AC/DC - High Voltage
Metallica - Ride the Lightning
Slayer - Reign in Blood
Danzig - S/T
Ministry - Land of Rape and Honey
Skinny Puppy - To Dark Park
Swans - All
Killing Joke - All
Neurosis - Enemy of the Sun
His Hero is Gone - Monument to Thieves
Burning Witch - Riff Canyon Dreams
Angels of Light - All
Woven Hand - Mosaic
Captain Beyond - S/T
Hawkwind - All
U.S. Christmas - Eat the Low Dogs
Pink Floyd - All
Jesus Lizard - Goat
The Bad Seeds - All
Brighter Death Now - Innerwar
........man I could be here all day, you get the idea.
Sanford Parker Official Site