Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Other Side - Producer Jim Diamond

Producer Jim Diamond's name has become synonymous with Detroit "garage rock." His Motor City-based studio Ghetto Recorders has recorded some of Detroit's most popular bands among handfuls of heavy hitters from all over the U.S. and beyond. The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, Andre Williams, GLG's own The White Ravens, Electric Six.....and so, so, so many more Detroit acts. People from all over flock to the his studio to get the "Jim Diamond" sound that can only be described as a bit gritty, like the state of downtown and just very, well, "Detroit." People just know his style. Growing up in Trenton, Michigan, Diamond began playing in bands in 1978. Not just a few bands, this man is well versed. He has played bass, guitar and occasionally organ and sax in about a dozen bands including The Dirtbombs, Doop and the Inside Outlaws, and Bantam Rooster. His studio career began at Harvest Music and Sound Design in Lansing, MI in 1989 as an engineer. He opened Ghetto Recorders in 1996 and has become an iconic producer to any fan of Detroit music. (p.s. That's Jim being cheeky in the middle with the check)

1. How would you describe your role as a producer?
I would say that varies from band to band depending on what they want to do. Some people want a lot of input on everything, other people just want to bang it out and have you tell them when it sucks or not. My job is always changing.

2. How long have been producing?
I guess since I started engineering professionally in 1989. One of the guys I worked for way back, he always told me that bands want your input, that was a good lesson to learn. I am much more involved now than when I was beginning. Back then I was still trying to figure out the board!

3. Who/what albums are the some of the most noteworthy artists you've produced in the past?
The White Stripes, Electric Six, Dirtbombs, The Argentina, Andrea Alvarez. In Australia, Rocket Science. Andre Williams, Kim Fowley, The Von Bondies. I have a record coming out with power-pop legend Paul Collins later this month. Lots of underground people over the years and in different countries.

4. What bands are you currently working with?
Just worked on a record over the weekend with local singer/songwriter Jeni Lee Richey and the Great Tribulation. Recording in progress with Jason Stollsteimer ... he has a new group called The Hounds Below. Have records coming up this fall with Left Lane Cruiser and Hacienda, both on Alive Records out of L.A. Then looking like I'll head to Australia in November to do a couple bands down there in Brisbane.

5. Do you mainly work out of one studio or do you go where a band needs you?
I work out of my studio mainly, Ghetto Recorders, but when I travel, I'll go anywhere, as long as they have a tape machine to record to.

6.How do you know if you, as a producer, are a good match for a band?
Well, I have to like the music,that is first and foremost. They'll send me demos and I'll see which songs I like, stuff like that,we'll take it from there. Generally, people who don't like my work won't want me and I wouldn't like them anyways! I usually get a good fit.

7. What's the best piece of advice you'd give a band that thinks they are ready to record?
Practice and get your stuff down tight. Nothing worse than the band trying to learn the songs in the studio, it's an expensive rehearsal space! Get it down before you come in, then we can get creative.

8. What kind of inside experience does being a musician yourself help with producing?
That is huge, my experience as a musician helps every facet of producing. I know what will work musically, how to approach songs. I can't imagine producing records and not being a musician.

9. What's your favorite thing about producing?
It's like putting together a puzzle, hearing something take form, creating something from nothing, I love that.

10. What's your least favorite thing about producing?
Waiting around for bands to learn the song. People not being prepared.

11. In addition to the music you are working on, what albums have you been listening to lately? Does it ever effect your producing?
Very much... I have been listening to Jefferson Airplane, ....'60s San Francisco stuff. It changes all the time, I love music and am a fan first and foremost.

The Other Side highlights those talented and very important folks behind the scenes of the music that we listen to. The Other Side will feature producers, engineers, booking agents, band photographers, online radio DJs, etc. It's pretty awesome.