By Nicole Hanratty
March 10, 2013
When Hurricane Sandy hit, the media spotlight turned to famed musicians like the Rolling Stones, Jon Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney who headlined benefits and contributed to albums with proceeds donated to the victims of Sandy. But the story of those who have done so much to generate relief funds goes deeper than the rock stars who made the headlines. Creating an album takes a village and many helped quietly in the background like music mixer Brian Scheuble.
Who is Brian Scheuble? Post song writing, post studio production, albums head to music mixers and in the music mixing world Brian Scheuble is known as the best of the best. He’s the “go to” guy in Los Angeles for recording and mixing and is frequently flown around the country to bring his talent to other studios. The list of people Brian Scheuble has worked includes the hottest names in the industry: Elton John, Stevie Nicks, John Mayer, Marilyn Manson, Jon Bon Jovi, Ringo Star, Train, LeAnn Rimes, Zac Brown Band, Dishwalla, Jason Mraz, Need To Breathe, Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, Five For Fighting, Matt Nathanson, Stone Temple Pilots, Herbie Hancock, Fiona Apple, Nine Inch Nails, Ice Cube, and Don Henley.
Scheuble is also known for taking on projects he believes in with unknown and start up artists which is why it was no surprise to see him donate his time to the Sandy relief efforts.
It was a thrill to have the opportunity to interview this music industry rock star whom is gracious, humble and friendly. I spoke with him on the phone a few months back and asked him a bit about his contributions to the album Songs After Sandy that includes songs by Paul McCartney and Dave Stewart, his work with Indie band Slim Kings and how the music industry has changed.
Nicole: You are sort of known in the industry as the best of the best. You’ve worked with a lot of amazing people.
Brian: [laughs] Yeah, yeah, it’s been a good career. I hope it’s not over, but I think one of the things I’ve always enjoyed and I still try to do this, is that I work with a lot of different types of music. I’ve done a lot of Jazz, I’ve done a lot of Rock bands, I’ve done a lot of singer songwriters, I’ve done R&B, I’ve done Hip Hop. It always kind of keeps me fresh and also I work wherever I have to go, which also keeps me fresh. I’m not locked into one particular thing. Mixing too, I will mix at my place, but if somebody feels like they want me close by then I will come to them, which is fun.
Nicole: Do you have a favorite artist that you’ve worked with?
Brian: Wow, that’s rough, they are all so great in their own way. I mean I have people that have become friends from those days. I would say JR Richards from Dishwalla is just a really cool guy, who I’ve recently gotten back in touch with and I’ve done some work with him recently. There are a handful of people that I find to be really special. Everybody that I’ve worked with, it’s always a good thing, when I think of them I feel like it’s a long lost friend, so it’s a pretty awesome thing.
Nicole: So you create a pretty intimate experience when you are working with someone.
Brian: Yeah, you’re with them every day and you are with other people in the room. It feels like a team, because you come in every day and you’re sitting in the same room … a song is an emotional thing. A lot of times it’s a personal thing, so you’re kind of diving into their lives to try to make their vision come to life a CD, or MP3, so it’s a very intimate sort of setting.
Nicole: What are your top three favorite songs that you’ve mixed?
Brian: I would say; Need to Breathe “Something Beautiful” is probably one of my favorites. Gosh, I would say Brett Dennen’s record that I did for him a couple of years back was great. The Dishwalla record, I really thought that was a fantastic record, but it got messed up by the labels. I would say those would be my top three.
Nicole: Is there an artist right now that you are listening to? What’s on your playlist?
Brian: Well, you know what’s on my playlist is all the stuff that I mix. A lot of times what I do to keep myself fresh is I have three different artists going at the same time. …I’m constantly listening to the artists that I’m working with. Occasionally they will send me a record, or something that they really like, so I’ll listen to that to kind of see what they are hearing in that, to see if I can make it apply to what they are doing, but it’s funny you asked that… My son likes scary music, so I’ve been listening to a lot of scary Classical music.
Nicole: Wow, he’s got good taste.
Brian: He has very good taste, I know.
Nicole: Okay so you have Classical music on your playlist, other than Slim Kings is there another Indie band that you are working with right now?
Brian: I’m working with–well it’s actually not an Indie band–but Katey Sagal, I’m mixing her records. She’s the actress that used to be on Married with Children, she was the mom. She was actually a singer first and she actually sang backup for Bob Dylan for a long time and then she did her own records. She’s always done records, but she got into Married with Children and now she’s on Sons of Anarchy. She’s the mom in that show, which is incredibly popular. She sings very Americano kind of records, which is really awesome. I’ve been doing her records and I’m also doing this other kid. Caleb is his name and I met Caleb one time just to kind of have a meeting and talk. He’s unbelievably good. He’s a lot like Need to Breathe, just a very passionate singer. So I’m mixing his record as well and it’s just so incredibly powerful. I’m also mixing this very talented singer-songwriter Dan Bern. I love Dan. There is also a trio from Brooklyn. They are just like a real raw Bluesy Rock band with a lot of attitude, which is fun for me. I kind of get to stretch out in that respect.
Nicole: I would think that would be fun to go the route where you are keeping your hand in all different pots.
Brian: I think it helps me in a lot of ways. I don’t get stuck and I can look at things … because there is no one over me watching me mix, or listening to what I’m doing, this way I can step back from it and kind of listen to somebody else. I can have it on in the car when I’m doing other things and all of a sudden I’ll get an idea because I hear the song in the background. I think it’s good.
Nicole: The charity projects, Songs for Sandy …you’ve done a few. Do you want to tell me about some of the ways that you’ve donated, or given back?
Brian: Yeah, 9/11 I was in New York and so I did a song with Stone Temple Pilots for 9/11, which was really awesome.
Nicole: What song was that?
Brian: It was a Beatles song, Revolution. They did a video too, it’s pretty cool.
Nicole: There was a band that was opening for Stone Temple Pilots, maybe not at that time, but in the last year, or two, called Jetstream. Did you ever listen to them?
Brian: I’ve heard of them. I like them, they’re really good.
Nicole: So you did the song with Stone Temple Pilots and you were going to tell me the next one you did.
Brian: A long time ago I did something with the Special Olympics through Interscope Records, back when Interscope was pretty new and then the LA riot, I did a mix for somebody who was in charge of it. They kind of became quite a fiasco, but the intention was for this to be for the LA riots, to kind of be a positive song for that. I don’t know if you remember, but a while back there was a thing called; Take it Back for recycling, U2 and BB King and quite a few artists that were really behind the whole recycling thing, so I did something for them as well.
Nicole: So sometimes you record as well?
Brian: Yeah, I do it all, but I think just because of the way things are nowadays, I just wind up mixing a lot more. I think primarily because I mix a lot and I’ve been doing it for a long time and mixing just seems to be the natural progression and I love mixing. I have a six-year-old and I can kind of carve out time for him as well, but if somebody called me to record I’m always there. I love to record, because it’s fun. You’re in the room with all the guys, you’re creating, you’re getting ideas going. It’s like a team, whereas mixing it’s generally just me and maybe a producer, or the artist. It’s a lot more sit down and let’s do the work.
Nicole: How did you get started in the music industry?
Brian: That’s pretty funny. I was laid off of my job. I had moved out here from Illinois and I was going to a local college actually doing the day and taking music classes and different things like that. I had an evening job and the job laid me off for the second time, while I was taking guitar lessons. I just happened to look at my records and I noticed that there were studios down the street and I just wandered into one and got a job right away and once I saw what the guys were doing in the room I knew that was it, I was hooked. It was by chance really.
Nicole: Isn’t that amazing?
Brian: It is. I guess you could say I was following my passion.
Nicole: Tell me a little bit how you feel that things have changed.
Brian: Well with Slim Kings, I’ve been making their records, the last couple of records that they’ve done and they are an Indie band that kind of financed their own records, that’s sort of the state of the media these days. A lot of indie bands come to me and I mix it via internet, which is awesome, it’s really great. If I have to I’ll do a video link so that we can see each other, or they can be present. …It’s mainly changed because the record companies I think are putting more money into more Pop records than they are in development. A lot of the more artsy records, things that are trendy, or even the people that are Pop are finding their own financing, because they don’t want to give everything away. They usually have a little less money. They can’t afford some studios and they can’t afford sets of musicians, so they find creative ways to record and do the overdubs, in a less monetary way. When I mix a record I don’t go to a studio I mix it at my place, which is free of course. So I’m basically charging them for my time. It’s kind of different in that respect. In the old days you would record and overdub and mix everything in the studio, which can be very expensive, depending on where you go of course. Nowadays independents don’t really want to have studio, they just feel like when they are mixing a record they just pay the mixer, so it’s changed from that perspective. I actually really like it. There’s a lot of great music out there and I love working with independent projects, just because I’m dealing directly with the artist and the other people that are involved, so for me it’s pretty cool.