Q&A with Acclaimed Music Producer Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden, Korn, Marilyn Manson)

michael beinhorn with logo

Grammy-nominated record producer Michael Beinhorn has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry over the years, overseeing the production of landmark albums from the likes of Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, Marilyn Manson, Hole, Soul Asylum, Ozzy Osbourne, Mew, Social Distortion, Violent Femmes, Herbie Hancock, The Bronx, The Golden Palominos and Black Label Society to name just a few.

His recordings have achieved combined worldwide sales of more than 45 million albums, and he is one of only a handful of producers to have two separate recordings debut in Billboard’s Top Ten in the same week, with Marilyn Manson’s “Mechanical Animals” (#1) and Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” (#9) which also earned him a 1998 Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year.

Now Beinhorn is turning his attention to a new venture, offering pre-production to musicians and bands– services that up until now might have been out of reach for most developing artists.

Beinhorn recently sat down with us to answer some questions about what motivated him to start his new business.

Q: What made you decide to launch this new endeavor?

A: Mainly, necessity. Most of the musicians I encounter these days who want to go into a recording studio have absolutely no idea that they will drastically improve their end result if they simply take enough time beforehand with a trusted third party to properly assess and optimize what they’re going to be recording. So, not doing pre-production has become the new normal, but having worked for nearly 40 on records where pre-production was mandatory, this notion seems completely irrational. And, of course, the biggest influencing factor here is money- the economics of “the new music business” (put in simplest terms, an artist generally has no budget to record with and must consequently get his work recorded as quickly as possible). The problem is, without pre-production, an artist who has a bunch of songs he wants to record will only know if they’re any good once he’s recorded them since, he hasn’t had a chance to see what’s working and what isn’t. With all that in mind, I decided to offer this service to artists who need it the most. I did it because it’s vitally important and artists will be able to make better recordings as a result.

Q: How can artists benefit from your pre-production services?

It’s very simple. By receiving detailed analysis and input from a trusted source, artists experience a perspective on their music that they could never get otherwise. This is incredibly empowering and can help an artist in making objective decisions about his music down the road. They also wind up with a complete and solid blueprint for the recording they will be making with total clarity and no stones left unturned.

Q: What do your services entail? How does the process work?

The process starts with me listening to demos of music that the artist plans on recording. From there, I go through all of it in great detail and determine how it can be improved. I come back to the artist with my notes and the collaboration begins from there. One side benefit is that once the artist has my initial ideas, his brain gets a major jumpstart and he’ll usually come back to me with a whole slew of new ideas and extrapolations on what I gave him. It becomes a very inspiring exchange which goes back and forth a few times (generally three or four) and concludes either with the artist being ready to record his music or with me rehearsing the artist and then him being ready to record. It’s all incredibly basic, logical and cost-effective (since all the work is done remotely over email and/or a video conferencing app such as Skype). I know this process works because I’ve incorporated the exact same method on every recording I’ve done over the past four decades with seasoned pros and beginners, alike.

Q: Production services are generally expensive. What makes yours cost-effective?

This service has been designed to be accessible for individuals with every variety and size budget. Although pre-production is intensive and time-consuming, by doing most of the working and interacting via the internet, it can now be done relatively inexpensively. Also, because the pre-production portion is treated separately from the physical recording, less time is spent engaging directly between the artist and myself (which also makes the service less expensive).

Q: Do artists need to live in Southern California to enlist your services?

Not at all. Because the majority of the work is done remotely, artists from all over the world can use these services as they wish.

Q: How would an artist know when they’re ready to bring on someone such as yourself?

Often, artists will feel that they’ve gone as far as they can go on their own without outside input, or that they’re not feeling challenged creatively by the people they’ve hired to produce and help them improve their music. These are reliable indicators that an artist is ready to engage this type of service.

Q: You’ve worked with so many successful musicians and bands. What is one bit of advice you can offer developing artists that would love to achieve that level of success?

The best advice I can offer to any artist is that hard work- drive, diligence, focus and absolute dedication to their craft- will benefit them more than anything else. These days, artists are under so much pressure to wear a variety of different hats- those of marketer, promoter, manager, social media maven, etc. While that has value, so much emphasis has been placed on these things, it has become easy to lose sight of what truly exemplifies an artist- their uniqueness, their talent and their ability to express themselves singularly through their music. At the end of the day, all the social media skills in the world won’t help an artist write better songs.

***

Jonathan Davis of Korn talks with Revolver about working with Michael Beinhorn: https://www.revolvermag.com/music/jonathan-davis-reveals-his-favorite-and-least-favorite-korn-albums

Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast in Billboard, on her love of Hole’s ‘Celebrity Skin’ (produced by Michael Beinhorn): https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/8471952/hole-celebrity-skin-20th-anniversary-best-coast-bethany-cosentino-personal-essay

About Michael Beinhorn:

Michael Beinhorn has lived his life in the pursuit of artistic expression, first as a visual artist, then as a performer, and finally as a record producer.

Forgoing a promising career in medical illustration, Beinhorn began his musical endeavors in 1979 as co-founder of the seminal New York musical collective Material. The group’s singular style and strong artistic personalities led to their producing their own recordings out of necessity. As the band rose to prominence, in 1980 they were approached by Brian Eno, collaborating on the track “Lizard Point” from Eno’s acclaimed recording “Ambient 4: On Land.”

In 1983, Beinhorn co-produced Herbie Hancock’s landmark recording, Future Shock, which included the groundbreaking cut “Rockit.” The song, co-written and co-produced by Beinhorn, would become Columbia Records’ most successful 12-inch single ever, selling over three million copies and winning a Grammy in 1984 for Best R&B Instrumental Recording.

After departing Material in 1984, Beinhorn’s production career began to reach new heights. His work on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ breakthrough albums “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” and “Mother’s Milk” was instrumental in propelling the band to stardom.

Beinhorn gained a reputation for producing a number of “high watermark” albums that have helped to define the careers of a diverse range of artists, including Soul Asylum, Hole, Soundgarden, Ozzy Osbourne, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, Social Distortion, Korn, Golden Palominos, and Mew.

In addition to producing, arranging, engineering, co-writing, and performing on many of his projects, Beinhorn’s attention to detail and tireless pursuit of sonic excellence led him to develop and commission the first two-inch eight-track Ultra-Analog multitrack tape recording format.

In 2015, Beinhorn authored the book “Unlocking Creativity: A Producers Guide To Making Music and Art”, published by Hal Leonard.

He continues to inspire the artists he works with to excel to greater heights, with an unwavering commitment to sonic exploration and creative excellence.

michael beinhorn b w

T

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: