Sylvia Massy told AMI that she thinks "Rick Rubin is the best producer out there", discussing her time spent in the studio with him as part of the latest magazine’s cover feature.
Massy has worked with Rubin on various projects over the years, including the Johnny Cash Unchained album, which saw Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers recruited to perform as Cash’s backup band.
“Rick is a genius," continued Massy. "It’s not necessarily because he knows the technical side, or that he’s a great musician himself. It’s because, really, what he is, is a fan of the music, so that’s his contribution.
"There are three types of producers. There’s the engineer-type producer, there’s the musician-type producer and then there’s the fan-type producer. Rick is the fan, so the first thing he wants to hear from a new artist is as much catalogue as possible. For some of his projects like the Chili Peppers record or System Of A Down, he would ask for hundreds of songs before choosing 24 that would be recorded.
"He’ll want to hear as much as possible even if they’re just clips of a verse and a chorus, because he’ll know right away by hearing a chorus if it’s got the hook that’s going to draw a listener in. So the first thing you want is material and that may take several months. In rehearsals he’ll spend time to get those songs arranged in a way that he thinks they’re ready for whatever the purpose of the recording is.
"It’s once you’re in the studio where I think Rick Rubin’s genius lies, in choosing the personnel, the facility and the players to all put into kind of a petri dish to see what happens. He knows what the result would be just by carefully choosing and manipulating the environment. He wins time and time again with his formula, no matter what genre it is.”