Anyone knows Rick Rubin's work process?

lightningsmith

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I've heard many bands said he's not present most of the time e.g. Velvet Revolver changed to another producer due to that. Nevertheless, he produced results.

I'm not a recording artist but I'm curious of his work process, if anyone knows.
 

TubeStack

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You can see him working with The (Dixie) Chicks in the Shut Up And Sing doc. There's a great part where he's listening to song demos to pick ones to record for the album, and he turns to Natalie Maines and says matter of factly, "So you're going to rewrite these lyrics."

I've also read stories about him bringing a bed into the studio and laying in it with a mic while he gives feedback to the band.

Also remember Billy Gibbons mentioning to an interviewer that he had an upcoming meeting with Rubin and that they were probably going to sit on a cliff edge and look at the sea, or something along those lines. :)
 

lightningsmith

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There was a documentary series on Showtime called Shangri-LA that, while not an exhaustive overview of his working process, gives some great insights into his sense of things that likely frame it.
Also remember Billy Gibbons mentioning to an interviewer that he had an upcoming meeting with Rubin and that they were probably going to sit on a cliff edge and look at the sea, or something along those lines. :)
 

RevDrucifer

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It seems to be different depending on the artist/era. Either that or we never get the full picture when one particular artist describes working with him and he’s just all over the place.

I get the idea that he likes working with people that don’t need their hand held and he’s not overly interested in the sound aspect, but rather the material itself.
 

RevDrucifer

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I prefer producers that are interested in the sonic aspect - creating guitar tones, textures, layers, dynamics, harmonies etc.
Me too, by far. Music production has actually taken over performance for me as far as what I like to spend my time doing. I quit my last band over differences in opinion over how our music, specifically, my vocals (I was only singing in the band, not playing guitar) were mixed. I decided I wasn’t going to leave my efforts in the hands of other people anymore and built a small studio in my house. It‘s my favorite thing I’ve ever done as a musician and no one gets to tell me how much delay I can or can’t use.
 

lightningsmith

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It seems to be different depending on the artist/era. Either that or we never get the full picture when one particular artist describes working with him and he’s just all over the place.

I get the idea that he likes working with people that don’t need their hand held and he’s not overly interested in the sound aspect, but rather the material itself.
It does vary a lot. Holding their hand and overseeing are different though. I just wonder if being absent most of the time doesn't compromise his and the artist's shared vision of the record.
 

RevDrucifer

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It does vary a lot. Holding their hand and overseeing are different though. I just wonder if being absent most of the time doesn't compromise his and the artist's shared vision of the record.
I know Corey Taylor from Slipknot wasn’t thrilled about it.
“When it came time to work with Rick, he just wasn’t f*cking there,” Taylor said.

“He had six different projects going on, it felt like. It’s, like, ‘Oh, I’m working with U2 now.’ And I’m, like, ‘We’re still in the ****ing studio, dude.’ Honestly, it wasn’t until we finished the vocals at his house that I saw him more than once a week.”

In praise of Fidelman, meanwhile, Taylor said: “To me, he was the other producer… [Rick was a] nice guy, absolutely nice guy, however, Fidelman was there soup to nuts with us, man. He was there from sometimes six in the morning till four in the morning, I mean, every day, when we needed him.”

In an strong-worded comment during a solo show in 2011, Taylor slammed Rubin’s contribution to Slipknot‘s 2004 album Vol.3 (The Subliminal Verses) and said the process had only been made possible by engineer Greg Fidelman.

Taylor reported at the time: “Rick Rubin shows up for 45 minutes a week. Rick Rubin would then lay on a couch and have a mic brought next to his face so he wouldn’t have to move. Then he’d be like, ‘Play it for me.’ And he had shades on the whole time.

“I respect what Rick Rubin has done. But the Rick Rubin of today is a thin shadow of the Rick Rubin that he was. He is overrated, he is overpaid, and I will never work with him again as long as I f*cking live.”
He was a little more soft-spoken a couple years later though-

But the vocalist has had a change of heart in the intervening years – he tells Apple Music: “I’m going to be honest. I think it was more on my end than it was on his.


“He works his way and he always has. I was not used to working that way. I was a young guy, freshly sober.

“Being a singer and being sober, ‘I need your attention, Rick! I need it!’ So that was me being young, unsure of myself, needing the guidance – which I got from Greg Fidelman.
 

bonga

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The way I see it is this:

Bands who hire Rick Rubin often do so when they either want to go in a completely different direction or wants breath of fresh air to what they're used to. Or, it's bands that basically have the end goal of a commercially successful record in mind. Correct me if I am wrong, but Rick Rubin has produced many successful records that appeal to a wide variety of listeners.

However, he hasn't exactly been lauded for what he brought to the records from a sonic perspective. In fact, he has been one of the people blamed for the loudness war.

In summary, I think hiring Rick at this point is one of those things that definitely has a financial or record company perspective in mind. I don't think anyone's saying, "I love the sound of that album, hence, I am going to want to work with Rick." It's always great songwriting, or a mega successful album.

Contrast that with Bob Rock. I've heard several times that Lars Ulrich heard Dr. Feelgood and that's what resulted him in being drafted for the Black Album. And I must say - sonically, Dr. Feelgood and also the Black Album SOUND amazing.

Just my $0.02...
 

jmoose

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I have second hand stories from 2 LA engineer buddies who've worked with him... Will have to come back here when I have time.

Rick is more of a "big picture" guy then a small details hyperfocus type...

He's also not an engineer of any sort. He's not going to run the console or help you plug in a bunch of pedals & cook up a guitar sound.

If that's what an artist needs he's not the guy.
 

Tomo El Gato

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However, he hasn't exactly been lauded for what he brought to the records from a sonic perspective. In fact, he has been one of the people blamed for the loudness war.
He has been, in a sense. Part of Rubin's production esthetic is getting things stripped down to a bare minimum, where you can hear the performers simply playing the music. Especially as things started shifting from the overproduced 80s to the 90s, it was a breath of fresh air.
 

Big'Uns

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I didn't particularly like his approach with Metallica. I get that it was time to go in a different direction from Bob Rock, as he had become more of a friend/5th member of the band type of relationship and maybe too comfortable. But the whole "pretend you're teenagers in the garage trying to win people over" kind of thing is misguided for a bunch of guys in the 40's who were obviously well beyond that. As a 46 year old man right now I have no desire to reconnect with my teen years and it's simply not possible to recapture my mentality from that time. In short, he was asking for arrested development. And the whole "everything must be in E standard" maybe wasn't such a hot idea to put on a singer like Hetfield......as he struggled to sing those songs live at times.
 

John Quinn

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I don't know what to think - when he's on a record it gets results - but he barely part of the process. I think this whole come in for an hour a week - is stupid. I think that his standard approach doesn't inspire confidence.
Maybe I'm just biased.
 




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