Nick Raskulinecz: Room for Variety
Around the time producer/engineer Nick Raskulinecz moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, he purchased an SSL 6000 console, hoping he’d eventually find a place to put it. “I was working in studios around town, great studios—Sound Kitchen, Blackbird—but the whole time, I had that board in storage in L.A. and I was wishing I had another way to do things.”
Five years of storage rental later, a six-room studio within Dark Horse Recording became available and Raskulinecz jumped on it, calling his new studio Rock Falcon. “It’s attached to a cabin, so there’s a place to stay,” Raskulinecz says. “It’s got a ski lodge–type feel with lots of exposed beams and rock, hardwood floors. It’s kind of a small space—very woodsy and private.”
Raskulinecz installed his SSL—a 56 mono/8 stereo-channel console that was originally part of CBS-TV studios L.A.—plus his Pro Tools rig, Proac, Genelec and KRK monitors, and his extensive collections of mics and outboard gear.
He was also glad to have a space where his numerous instruments and amps can be put to good use. “I’ve been collecting instruments for 20 years, and when you hire me to produce a record, you get all of my stuff, too,” he says. “Something I realized quickly when I started as an assistant at Sound City is that to help artists realize their vision for their records, you need great-quality gear, and you need variety. You need a Telecaster and a Les Paul, and an SG and a Strat, and maybe a Flying V, too.
“The same goes for snares or cymbals. I’ve probably got a hundred cymbals. We might be recording and one of the cymbals is rubbing with the key of the song, so you need to switch that. There’s notes in all of that stuff.”
Raskulinecz shares engineering duties in his studio with Nathan Yarborough. Since the studio went online, Raskulinecz has produced Mastodon’s Grammy-nominated album Once More Around the Sun, Rise Against’s Wolves, Korn’s Serenity of Suffering, and Ten Years’ album How to Live as Ghosts. “Ten Years is the first band from Tennessee that I’ve ever recorded in my career, and I’m from Tennessee,” he says.
• Nick Raskulinecz Mentors Students at The Blackbird Academy, Nov. 21, 2013
• Evanescence: Goth Rockers Bring in Electronic Stylings for Self-Titled Outing, by Blair Jackson, Oct. 1, 2011
• Foo Fighters Double Up for "In Your Honor," by Maureen Droney, Aug. 1, 2005
• Alice in Chains: The Sonic Massiveness of Black Gives Way to Blue, by Bud Scoppa, Sep. 1, 2009
Black River Booming
The studios at Black River’s Sound Stage Studios, including Front Stage, Back Stage and Ronnie’s Place, continue to be booked for tracking dates with the likes of regular clients Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt, Kid Rock, Keith Urban and many others.
In an effort to promote new revenue streams and make up for the shorter-term bookings, Sound Stage has been busy in other areas of music and recording, building relationships with streaming companies, labels and publishers. Recently, Sound Stage was dubbed the home of Nashville’s Spotify Singles program, hosting acts such as Anderson East and Langhorne Slim.
The relationship with Spotify began at AES five years ago, when producer/engineer/studio manager Nick Autry hooked up with Spotify’s chief engineer, William Garrett. “We met at an event in New York and became pals,” Autry says. “When he took over at Spotify’s studios, he introduced me to Bryan Grone. They asked us to record the acts that wanted to work in Nashville, and I jumped at the chance. Every session is different, and every one of them is treated like we’re making a record, which is what we’re doing. We have some huge artists coming up for this. I truly love the diversity.”
Meanwhile, the Black River Stage at The Well—a venue built by Black River in partnership with Lipscomb’s College of Entertainment and the Arts—provides content for the company’s YouTube site, Sound Stage Studios Live. “We look at this as an extension of our studios,” Autry says. “Live music is still the heart and soul of our town, and to have a place where we can contribute that aspect of the business is important.”
And there’s still more from the label side, home to Kelsea Ballerini, Abby Anderson, Jacob Davis, Hannah Kerr, Josh Wilson, where Black River Entertainment launched a new Americana imprint. Autry spent the past year helping with A&R and producing the first act signed to the new venture, Carolina Story.
“I work for such a great company,” Autry concludes. “Gordon lets us be creative and live our dreams. I firmly believe that when people walk into our complex, they see and feel the joy we get in being there. We’re small, we’re close and we care about the integrity of audio and great songs!”
• Black River at Sound Stage Announces Front Stage Renovation, Aug. 25, 2011
• Nashville Skyline, January 2009, by Peter Cooper, Jan. 1, 2009
In the Studio
Southern Ground Studios
Studio manager/chief engineer Brandon Bell shared some recent sessions and updates from the home of the Zac Brown Band, Southern Ground Studios. In Studio A, with its custom API Legacy Plus console, Atomic Instrument soffit-mounted Reactor main monitors were added in November, and Atomic SixTen speakers were installed in Studio C in August.
Visitors to Southern Ground included Carly Pearce recording in Studio A with producer Busbee and engineers Lowell Reynolds and Konrad Snyder. Michael Franti was in with producers Ben Simonetti and Niko Moon, and of course the Zac Brown Band worked on their latest, Welcome Home, with Dave Cobb producing and Bell engineering. Pictured here is the Zac Brown Band with Darrell Scott, in session for the previous LP, Jekyll + Hyde.
Related: Southern Ground Studios: Zac Brown's Production Home on Music Row, by Barbara Schultz, May 1, 2014
House of Blues
A handful of the recent sessions at House of Blues: T Bone Burnett producing Steven Tyler, engineered by David Leonard; Norbert Putnam producing Mac Davis, engineered by Casey Wood; frequent studio partners producer Joe Henry and engineer Ryan Freeland working with the Milk Carton Kids; the Band Perry self-producing with engineer Owen Lewis; and Marty Stuart with producer John Carter Cash and engineer Chuck Turner. Pictured are Stuart with House of Blues owner Gary Belz and B3 legend Booker T. Jones.
Related: Memphis Meets Music City at House of Blues, by Tom Kenny, May 1, 2009
Ocean Way Nashville
Evanescence recorded their first album in six years, Synthesis, at Ocean Way Nashville. Orchestration and conducting of an orchestra contracted by Nashville Music Scoring were handled by David Campbell. Co-produced by Amy Lee and Will Hunt, the album was engineered by Nick Spezia with assistance from Jasper LeMaster. Pictured here are Campbell, Lee, Hunt and Ocean Way director of operations Pat McMakin. More recently, Maddie and Tae worked on their forthcoming UMG album with co-producers Derek Wells and Jimmy Robbins, engineer Ben Fowler and assistant Josh Ditty.
Ocean Way also hosted scoring sessions for a number of hit videogames, including Fortnight, Destiny 2 and Call of Duty WWII, with a score composed by Wilbert Roget and recorded by engineer Nick Spezia with assistant Jasper LeMaster.
• On the Cover: Ocean Way Nashville, April 27, 2010
• Ocean Way Recording's Allen Sides, by Blair Jackson, Feb. 1, 2011
• Nashville Scores! Ocean Way Lets the Game Industry in on Music City's Best-Kept Secret, by Tom Kenny, Sep. 1, 2013
Live at Sound Kitchen
In addition to scores of recording and mixing sessions, Sound Kitchen hosts concerts in its Big Boy studio. Pictured is Kellie Pickler Live in Concert for Dodge Ram Trucks. Other recent performers include Dustin Lynch, Saving Abel, Twenty One Pilots, and 3 Doors Down doing a benefit concert for local veterans charity We Are Building Our Lives.
• Sound Kitchen: Watching the Dough Rise, by Dan Daley, July 1, 1999
• Weston Entertainment Joins Forces with the Elefante Brothers, Aug. 25, 2003
Uno Mas Studios
Engineer Doug Sarrett, who works out of his own studio, Uno Mas, has been in demand on high-profile projects for his strings-recording sessions. Sarrett’s recent work includes three projects with co-producers Ryan Tedder and Brent Kutzle: U2’s Songs of Experience, and forthcoming albums from OneRepublic and Paul McCartney. String arrangements were by Brandon Collins.
Larry Sheridan of Parlor Productions had Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood in the studio this year, working on content for Brooks’ Sirius radio station and Yearwood’s TV program with engineer Matt Allen while the superstar couple’s Allentown studio is being renovated. Producer Paul Worley was also in, working with Lady Antebellum. Parlor also counts the Make-a-Wish Foundation among its clients; the photo here is from a wish-fulfillment session for a family who wanted a song written and recorded about their daughter, Gwendolyn.
• Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Creative Transformation, by Lisa Horan, Dec. 6, 2010
• Confessions of a Small Working Studio—The Hidden Value of Interns, Oct. 26, 2009
There’s always stellar work going on at Blackbird Studio. Some recent sessions include Al Sutton producing and engineering Greta Van Fleet with assistant Jason Mott. Linda Perry produced Dolly Parton in Studios A and D; Ernesto Olvera and Blackbird owner John McBride engineered, and Mott, Allen Ditto and Sean Badum assisted. Kelly Clarkson was in with producer Jason Halpert and engineer Steve Marcantonio. And George Massenburg produced a session with artist Don Cherel, engineered by Kazuri Arai. Mix also covered Blackbird sessions for The Mavericks’ latest, Brand New Day; pictured here are Mavericks frontman Raul Malo with producer/engineer Niko Bolas.
• Blackbird Studio Names New Manager, by Matt Gallagher, Nov. 19, 2015
• The Blackbird Academy: A New Type of School with an Old-School Mission, by Tom Kenny, Nov. 1, 2013
• Blackbird Studio, by Tom Kenny, May 1, 2008
St. Paul & the Broken Bones were in Sound Emporium working with producer Jack Splash, engineer Phil English and assistant engineer Zaq Reynolds. The McCrary Sisters (pictured) worked with producer Scott Billington, engineer Steve Reynolds and assistant Rachael Moore in Studio A. Kasey Musgraves sessions were produced by Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian and engineered by Craig Alvin, who was assisted by Zack Pancoast. Musician/composer/producer Matt Rollings produced Blues Traveler; David Leonard engineered.
Related: Nashville's Historic Sound Emporium Studios Installs and API Legacy Plus, July 22, 2014
Recent visitors to Watershed Studios include The Martins with producer Gordon Mote and engineer Eric Legg, Don McLean with producer Mike Severs and engineer Jim Dineen, and Steve Grace and Randy Delbridge with producer Mark Burchfield and engineer Ronnie Brookshire. Pictured during the Grace/Delbridge sessions are John Hammond, March Burchfield, Wanda Vick Burchfield, Brent Mason, Grace and Chris Barnes.
In March, Platinum artists Rackajam traveled from Budapest to complete their seventh album in four years at Prime Recording. All of their albums made at Prime were engineered, produced and mixed by Derek Garten and mastered by Grammy-winner Joe Palmaccio at his studio The Place … for Mastering. Garten says, “Everything was tracked in one room, in most cases in one take. There were almost no overdubs except vocals; four-part harmonies were done live in one room.” Garten is pictured on the far right with the band.