Producer Crosstalk: Nick Raskulinecz

Nick-RaskulineczWPNashville-based producer and engineer Nick Raskulinecz’s career began in Knoxville, TN. Hungry for higher stakes, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1995 and landed a runner gig with famed Van Nuys, CA, studio Sound City. But the decided flash point in his career came when he ran into Dave Grohl in the parking lot of Mates, a North Hollywood rehearsal space. They’d worked together previously and Grohl asked if he wanted to help with One by One. Raskulinecz has since relocated to Nashville where he now runs his studio Rock Falcon. In addition to three Grammy wins, he’s been nominated for an additional 16. Bands he’s worked with include Foo Fighters, Rush and Mastodon.

Last year Raskulinecz established his studio in Nashville, a city virtually synonymous with country music. But jumping genres was never his aim. “People think because I’ve moved to Nashville that I’m going to start doing country records,” he explains. “Everybody asks me that. But I’m still going to do rock & roll. I’m not changing my game at all. I didn’t tell anybody except my close friends and manager [about the move]. For a few years, people thought I still lived in California.”

The decision to return to his native state came one day while in his kitchen in Los Angeles. He’d heard something online about music piracy and it raised the question of where he really wanted to be. He was also at a point in his career where he didn’t have to be in L.A. “My wife and I are both from Tennessee, so it was partly a family thing,” he recalls. “At the same time, I knew that Nashville had a rich history, great studios and a great airport––the whole pro-level infrastructure; everything I needed to do my job. As soon as I saw Blackbird [Studio], I knew that there was a place I could work.”CrossTalk_RedBox

Perhaps the biggest challenge of his career was working with Foo Fighters on One by One, his first major project. “That was the record that started everything,” the producer recalls. “It’s what I’d been working for since I was a teenager; the record that would do it for me. The challenge was to prove to the world—mainly Dave’s [Grohl’s] manager and label—that I deserved a shot; that they should take a chance on somebody who’d never produced/engineered a record at that level. That got me to where I’m talking to you now.”

Raskulinecz produced Alice In Chains’ 2009 album Black Gives Way to Blue, the band’s first studio record since 1995 and the death of Layne Staley in ‘06. Facing such a situation can be uncertain ground for any producer and Raskulinecz was cognizant of the inherent challenges. “There was lots of courage, lots of fear and a lot of unknowns,” he says of the album production. “That whole record was a big question mark––would the fans accept Alice in Chains with a new singer? As soon as I heard the demos, I had no doubt that people would love it. We had to make a great album. And we did.”

These days he’s busy with multiple projects including the Hold Steady, Bush and relative newcomer Sleeping With Sirens. “This band is about to explode,” he asserts. Also notable is his production of Mastodon’s latest record Once More ‘Round The Sun. Meanwhile, Raskulinecz feels that his best work still lies ahead of him. “I haven’t made my Dark Side of the Moon yet,” he notes.

Contact Frank McDonough, frank@mcdman.com