photo of Elliot Scheiner from Grammy.com
2011 MusiCares Person of the Year award honoring Barbra Streisand
23 Grammy nominations, 6 wins, 4 Emmy noms & a win with the Eagles. An honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music & I’m just getting warmed up! Elliot Scheiner is a Legendary WOW factor producing & engineering some of the most talented artists of the last 4 decades: Foo Fighters, Queen, Eagles, Sting, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Beck, Flaming Lips, Phish, REM & too many more to mention here.
Check out my Q&A with the man behind the music. Read on to find out why when "Hell Freezes Over" it’s true inspiration & why there’s no faking in TRUE performance.
photo from Wikimedia.org
5 Quick Stats with Elliot Scheiner
Electric Slide or The Lombada?
Best Makeout Song ever written?
Jukebox or The DJ?
The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Plaid or Argyle??
You are one of the most respected engineer’s in the industry. Your ability to translate an artist’s objective into a true work of art is legendary. Was music always second nature to you? And when did you find your magic in the mix?
I’d like to believe that music was always in my blood. My mom’s brother was a great musician from the swing band era. He played withBenny Goodman and also the Dorsey Brothers band. My mom was a hobbyist musician. I was a drummer and beat around in a bunch of bands while I was growing up. Even did a tour with Jimmy Buffett. In looking back on my career I think I really started to understand what mixing was all about after I mixed AJA for Steely Dan.
Tell me about your beginnings at A&R Studios in the rockin’ 60’s. How do you feel about the evolution of recording since those early days & the current state of Rock N Roll?
I started working at A&R in late 1967. Back then most artists were still working in 4 track analog. The studio had just acquired it’s first8 track machine and everybody was just sort of experimenting with what to do with the 4 extra tracks. I had the good fortune to grow up with learning how to record using mostly mic technique. The rooms at A&R had consoles that were formerly used for broadcast and then later altered to use for recording. No eq or compression on the console. Each room at the studio had a pair of Fairchild’s and a pair of Pultecs.The tools have changed enormously since then and has given the ability for almost anyone to record. I believe that 90% of the people that use DAW’s have no clue of what engineering is really about. Younger artists seem to be taking the easy way out and use the electronics to do what a singer might have struggled with prior to digital recording. Obviously being able to tune a vocal performance and change thephrasing has made every singer sound like a genius. Don’t misunderstand, I like using the tools but I mostly still like working with a live band in the studio and encouraging real performances from an artist. I’m a hired gun so I’ll do what an artist wants but don’t necessarily find it very exciting. There’s something about getting a band to make it happen live. That feeling of creating a recording that happened spontaneously can’t be found with plugins. Unfortunately,due to the way the music business has changed it’s nearly impossible for young bands to achieve this. The one thing that has remained consistent is the love that musicians have for making music. Even though there’s not the money that there used to be with making albums, there is still great energy and enthusiasm for trying to get to that level of stardom.
Your discography includes some of the most talented artists of the last four decades. Hits Galore. What are some of your favorite mix memories & where do you find most inspiration?
I have mixed quite a few albums over my career that I truly love. The ones that stick out the most in my mind are the albums that took weeks and sometimes months to finish mixing. Aja & Gaucho stand out in that regard. Those records were made when money was never an issue.The studio would be locked out for a month at a time and you didn’t think about anything other than what you were doing during that period.The mix was something you weren’t sure you’d get when you came to work but the process of trying to get there was what was most enjoyable. I was always inspired by an artist and their music and that is still true today. Unfortunately the challenges that existed then for an engineer don’t really exist anymore.
You are the mixer of 3 of my favorite albums of all time. Foo Fighters In Your Honor, Foo Fighters Skin & Bones and Nirvana Unplugged in New York. How do you choose projects & have you ever been a fan BEFORE you became the mixer?
Of the 3 albums you refer to that you love, mixing the acoustic disc of “In Your Honor” was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had.
It’s always such a surprise to get called to mix something for someone you’ve always admired and thought you’d never get a call from. This was one of those albums where I was a fan before I worked with them. Another example was when I got the call to record, mix and co-produce the Eagles “Hell Freezes Over”. Those are the kind of projects that make me love what I do. To be honest, a lot of the time it’s not about me choosing a project. It’s more about an artist choosing me.
Thank you for choosing to make beautiful music Elliot.
You are a True Inspiration…