Special Report by Greg Prato
Although best known for his work with hard rock/heavy metal artists (GUNS N' ROSES' Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion, MEGADETH's Rust in Peace), producer Mike Clink's next project will be a break from the norm - the roots rock-y Shelter Dogs.
But that said, the band certainly has its metal roots - guitarist MARK CIMINO has supplied guitar on the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT album Addicted (as well as on the DVD box set, By A Thread: Live in London 2011), singer DANNY COOKSEY was previously a member of the group BAD4GOOD, and none other than Mr. Townsend himself drops by to lend a hand on bass and backing vocals (as well as co-writing a song, 'Past Be Gone').
So far, a single from the group has been released, 'Take Me Home' (available via iTunes here
), but a full-length debut has been completed as well (which is the same title as the single). Recently, Clink spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about working with Shelter Dogs, the single and forthcoming album, as well as tips for up-and-coming producers.
BraveWords: How did you first come in contact with the band, and what were your initial impressions of their music?
Mike Clink: "Mark and I have been friends for years. When he lived in Los Angeles we worked together on several projects and when he moved back to New York we stayed in touch. A little over a year ago Mark called and asked if I would listen to a couple of songs that he was working on. I’ve known Mark as a great guitar player but as I listened to the first song he sent me I was a bit surprised by what I heard. Pleasantly surprised. I don’t believe that I was the only one who expected more of a guitar oriented record but this song had the great guitar parts but included vocals and a melody that was perfectly suited for the song. I was impressed by what I heard and knew he was on to something that I wanted to be a part of."
BraveWords: How was it working with the band?
Mike Clink: "Mark and his musical partner, JOHN BERTSCHE, worked on the tracks from New York, sending me updates on a weekly basis. If I heard something that I felt would fit the song better or that was not appropriate, I would talk to Mark and state my case. Here in Los Angeles I took Danny into the studio to record the vocals. We went through each song with the intention of beating the vocals that he worked on at home and I believe we did with the exception of one. My role was to make sure that nothing fell through the cracks and that each song ultimately was as good as it could be throughout the project ending with the mix."
BraveWords: What are your favorite songs from the album?
Mike Clink: "I’m probably best known for my work as a hard rock or metal producer but I love a song with dynamics and a good melody. What is cool about the record is there is no material I would consider to be a B-side, all the songs are worthy of a listen. If forced to pick a favorite or two I would go with 'Lost' and 'Up To Speed.' Both songs are centered around an acoustic guitar and in my world I’m more than likely to produce something with more of an electric vibe. I usually enjoy listening to something a little more 'laid back' after a long day in the studio."
BraveWords: A single has been released, 'Take Me Home,' and a full album has been recorded but not issued yet. Is the band shopping the album around to labels? Any idea when it will be released?
Mike Clink: "Stay tuned for further developments. So far I’ve only taken the record to one label, a major that one of my friends has an A&R position at. He’s really interested so we’ll wait and see how that pans out. Things can move slowly in the corporate world but the band is being impatiently patient. I’m not interested in sending it out in a cold call fashion so if the first attempt at finding a home falls short we do have a few more labels that would be a good fit. Regardless, look for a second song to be released in the next few weeks."
BraveWords: What advice would you give an up-and-coming producer?
Mike Clink: "This is a topic that I could spend a week discussing but I’ll try and reduce the conversation to a few comments. Hone your production skills but don’t ignore basic people skills. You can be the best producer in the world but if you can’t get an artist to understand what you are trying to accomplish, the job will go to someone who can. Secondly, you need an expertise in areas unrelated to music production. In this day and age I would recommend having knowledge of how the business works and an understanding of how a record label operates. If you know more than the guy next to you that’s an advantage you can use."