Producer and engineer Eric Corne began his career as a musician in Winnipeg, Canada before he bounced for Toronto. In 2004 he made his way to Los Angeles and landed an engineering gig at Mad Dog Studios, run then by Dusty Wakeman (Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams). There he was privileged to record with the studio’s Neve 8088 that featured the coveted flying faders. Corne worked his way up to lead engineer and soon segued into production. He sharpened his skills under industry legends Eddie Kramer (Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix), the late David Bianco (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan) and, of course, Wakeman himself. He’s since worked with artists including John Mayall and Walter Trout.
A healthy vibe in the studio has always helped Corne draw the best from an artist. “A big part of this job is mental,” he asserts. “You make people comfortable with you on a personal level and make sure they’re focused on the character of the song and the emotion it’s trying to convey.”
Corne always prefers to begin with the song. Moreover, the way that he records often lends itself to the occasional studio miracle. “I want to be sure that a song’s skeletal structure is as sound as it can be,” he explains. “Once I have the chord structure, melody and lyrics in place, I start to think about instrumentation and casting. My favorite way to make records is to bring everybody into the studio at the same time and record live. It’s better because people have the ability to riff off of each other and the song becomes greater than the sum of its parts. That’s where the real magic happens.”
John Mayall has been an unstoppable force in the industry for more than half a century. Superstars such as Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and John McVie were birthed into the business by way of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Like many collaborations, Corne’s and Mayall’s came about in part through connections. “I’d worked on records with former Bluesbreakers member Walter Trout,” Corne recollects. “John guested on a few of Walter’s records. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to always be recording. That was a major factor in landing the Mayall record. When [John] sauntered into the studio, I ran into the control room and hit record. When he was done playing, Walter asked if he could play it again. John said, ‘I could never do that again. Didn’t you get it?’ Everybody looked at me and I gave them the thumbs up.”
Corne’s Forty Below Records was established after he found himself working alongside countless gifted sidemen. He felt that their contributions often went unrecognized and that he could help. “It was around the time that the Funk Brothers movie [Standing in the Shadows of Motown] came out,” he recalls. “It was like we had our own little Funk Brothers here. If I could find the right artists, wouldn’t it be cool to make records with them? So many musicians don’t know what to do once a record is complete. It’s heartbreaking as a producer to see a great one die on the table. When I had the opportunity to release John [Mayall’s] A Special Life, that was when things really elevated.”
Corne’s Happy Songs For The Apocalypse was released earlier this year on Forty Below. When Music Connection spoke with him, he was nearing completion of John Mayall’s Nobody Told Me. He was also poised to begin work on Walter Trout’s new record.
Contact Eric Corne / Forty Below Records, [email protected]