It is a well-known fact that the “the Fifth Beatle,” Sir George Martin (not to be confused with the fine gentleman who kills off all of your favourite characters in the fantasy series, A Song of Fire and Ice), played a huge part in the success of The Beatles. His influence and contributions were immense, as he knew the band and their strengths and weaknesses intensively. He is a fine example of how a good producer can make or break a band.
A producer plays a big part in the development of a record and overseeing the tracking, mixing and production of a record. A producer’s role is not limited to just supervising the project. A lot of producers play an active role by performing on the record and giving the record an artistic direction. Usually, he is assisted by a sound engineer who helps in tracking and another person who is responsible for mixing the tracks, but a lot of producers have been known to do it all themselves. Knowing what an important part the producer plays in the success of a record/band, let us take a look at some of the best producers in rock today.
Number Five: Rick Rubin. For a lot of people, this list starts and ends at Rick Rubin. One of the most influential and celebrated producers of the last 2 decades and well known for his stripped-down approach, Rick Rubin has produced some of the most well known records including Californication, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Seasons in the Abyss, System of a Down, Audioslave, Minutes to Midnight, Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses and many, many more. He has also worked with artists outside rock such as Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Eminem etc. However, he has been criticised lately for his part in the loudness war for his production of Death Magnetic by Metallica and 13 by Black Sabbath and for not being involved enough in the recording process.
Number Four: Bob Rock. Although Bob rock is most often associated with Metallica, he has produced records for a diverse range of artists, including 3 Doors Down, Simple Plan, Aerosmith, Michael Buble, and Bon Jovi. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and produced one of the most widely-sold albums of all time, Metallica (more commonly referred to as The Black Album) by Metallica. He is also an active musician and played the bass on Metallica’s “St. Anger” and live for a few shows between the departure of Jason Newsted and the joining of Robert Trujillo.
Number Three: Brendan O’Brien. Brendan O’Brien is a unique producer as he likes to mix and engineer the records he produces, making him one of the very few who excel at all three. He has worked with some of the biggest names in rock, including Pearl Jam (Lightning Bolt, Backspacer), AC/DC (Black Ice), Killswitch Engage (Killswitch Engage), Audioslave (Revelations), Velvet Revolver (Libertad), Rage Against the Machine (Rage Against the Machine), Soundgarden (Superunkown) among many more. O’Brien is known for being highly involved during the recording process.
Number Two: Butch Vig. Butch Vig produced one of the most important records of the last 25 years, Nevermind by Nirvana. His production played an important part in defining the lo-fi grunge sound with overdubs and multitracking. He has frequently collaborated with Dave Grohl and has worked with bands such as the aforementioned Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Muse. He also plays drums for the alt-rock band Garbage.
Number One: Andy Sneap. Andy Sneap is a Grammy-nominated music producer who is one of the torchbearers of the new wave of metal producers. He may not be as well known as the other people on the list but is highly in demand by heavy metal bands for his meticulous and multi-layered approach. He has produced for the likes of Megadeth, Exodus, Testament, Arch Enemy, Nevermore etc. He is highly regarded for his mixing and mastering skills.