Cosmic Rock

Today our guest on is world famous ace producer Jamie King. Jamie has been part of many excellent records over the years. We had a chance to interview him on his history, thoughts and more.

1.Hey Jamie, how are you today? Good to catch up with you.


Hey.  Good today!  Just too busy as usual.  haha


2.Tell us a little about your background. Are you from North Carolina and how did you get into music?


Yeah, I'm Winston-Salem, NC born and bred.  My dad (on guitar) and uncle (on drums) used to jam in our living room when I was like 4 years old and I was apparently really into and picked up drums from watching.  I was able to put a drum beat to my dad guitar riffing as a really young age so my parents got me a drum kit that a banged on.  I had a couple neighbor friends when I was like 7-8 that was a bit older than me and they introduced me to like Beastie Boys and Motley Crue, Iron Maiden etc.  Then finally Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Slayer at like 10-11 and I remembered that I could play drums so I got a drums set for Christmas and started in my musical learning. 


3.Any classic albums or concerts you saw back in the day that inspired you?


All the concerts I went to inspired me.  It made me want to get on stage and show people that I could play drums too.  haha  My first concert was Warrant and Firehouse.  haha  They were huge at the time and I saw how awesome it was to play for thousands and sound huge.  I always wanted to play drum in a coliseum just for the huge sound of it.  When I was like 13, I say some local bands play at a local venue that my dad took me and my guitarist.  They were called Perpetual Iniquity.  It was like Thrash night at the venue but this band had melody and singing and were more progressive and my guitarist and I were blown away.  We instantly love it and were inspired to be a more progressive thrash band.


4.You’re well known for your great acclaim as a producer/engineer. Did you play in bands as well and how did you get started producing and engineering records?


I played in bands all through high school and college.  I was in prog metal bands throughout high school that never did any real records or had any fans.  It wasn't until I join a heavy alt rock band called Tragic Seasons that I experience any fandom or success.  The band had no success before I join the band but I soon took the helm as band manager and producer and finally sort of stumbled into my calling as a producer.  I was able to get the bands sound more defined and get us a listenable record and learned to promote and such which helped the band pretty quickly develop a good local fan base.  That band was short lived due to a member with a problem so I took what I learned with producing and managing that band and applied it so a new "super group" of the best players and performers I knew in the area that didn't have drug problems.  We were a rather unique version of the popular at the time melodic nu metal stuff and quickly tapped into the rising trend to garner a really significant local fan base.  We were called Swift and are still active here and there to this day.  Although we negotiated deal with pretty much two the major labels other than Arista at the time, we didn't end up doing a deal with MCA (the label we decided to with) due to the economy collapse after 9/11 and subsequent "Digital Media Crisis" that following year.  I had been recording and mixing on boom boxes, then 4 track and then Adats from the time I started in bands.  I remember putting my boom box behind my drum kit and then pushing the guitar cabs and vocal PA closer to the boom box to create a more balance mix of our practice recordings.  haha  Started mixing with our live PA mixing board into the the 4 track I had later for better fidelity demos.  They actually sounded good enough at the time for other local bands to ask me to record them live on 4 track.  haha  I was probably 17 and 18 when I was doing this.  Once I got and adat, I really was able to get closer to industry quality sounds with that and our live PA.  The PA has a 16 channel mixer and some outboard EQs Comps and Effects units.  Would do live band and overdub vocals and guitar leads usually.   I started recording part time when I finally saved up and go another adat for 16 tracks so I could do real multitrack recording.  This is was I used to record the last of Tragic Seasons material and first of the Swift stuff and Between the Buried and Me's first record among loads of other local bands.  I think I had added an old Pro Tools TDM 888 system for editing by the time I did BTBAMS first record but it was pretty a live record with overdubbed vocals.  I guess I got into record as my recordings were good enough at the time to have other local bands want me to record them.  I was really just doing it on the side and planned to be a drummer for my band Swift for a career until I realized it wasn't going to happen in like 2001.  I decided to just record full time once I realized that we weren't going to do the record deal and such and things that luckily just be rolling with no real advertisement effort ever since.          


5.What are some of your favorite projects over the years?


It's tough to say.  Of course the BTBAM records and The Contortionist records.  Those bands are successful because they write killer stuff.  But also because they are great musicians and great people.  We have fun when we do their records.  There's loads of other lesser known records that I've done that I think are great too. Just too many to name.  haha  Tough to pick just a few.  haha


6.You are well known for heavy music genre, what records do you feel have really been ground breaking in your music history?


That's tough too.  I'd say my first record with Swift - Thoughts are Thought.  That's the first real 16 track record that I had done and was instrumental in my band's local success and really started getting business from other local bands including BTBAM.  BTBAM's Color's would be another turning point record for me.  I had just moved into my current house and basement studio and upgraded some gear and the band came in with that record and stuff just click with their material and my skill level so that It was one of the first records that I did from top to bottom that I felt had a "real industry" sounds and feel to it.   


7.Do you have any new projects on deck you’d like to talk about?


I'm working on a mix for an upcoming Contortionist EP.  Amazing new tracks and a surprise track!   I'm working with some BTBAM stuff that's also on the somewhat secret side.  haha  I've got Soften the Glare in the studio tracking right now.  It's a project of Ryan Martinie (bassist of Mudvayne), Bon Lazago (of Gong) and my former drum instructor and drum master Mitch Hull.  I'm mixing a band called Howling Sycamore by melodic master Davide Tiso.  It's a real striped back minimal production editing just drum bass guitar vocal performance record that's a real breath of fresh air in the quite produced realm I'm often in.  The record has a guest solo from Marty Friedman (ex Megadeth) who is my favorite guitarist of all time so that's a pretty big deal to me.  haha  I've had more mixes jobs come in from Isreal, South America, and Australia, France.  Thanks to my infuential clients, I've gone world wide apparently.  haha 


8.Aside from music talk, any favorite books or films?


I don't read so no books ever.  Only info in manual or online as I need it.  haha  I just watch movies as I can.  Just whatever is available on Amazon Prime or whatever that seems interesting.  I def. tend to crave and prefer good sci fi.  But honestly feel like I'm enjoying more drama oriented stuff as I age.   


9. Do you have other creative pursuits than music?


Nope.  Just enjoy spending time with family.  I enjoy time outdoors.  Camping and hiking and such when possible.  Traveling for nature sightseeing.  I strangely enjoy doing manual labor outdoors these days.  Yard work and such.  haha  Cleaning up the environment when I can.  Righting wrongs of others to nature when possible. 


10.How do you feel music enriches your life?


Mainly it pays for my family and I's life.  haha  I honestly don't listen to much music other than the stuff I work on.  I get lucky to get a good amount of work that I actually enjoy listening to so I don't feel the need to listen to a lot of music outside of work.  I literally work 60+ hours a week most weeks so not much time for anything else.  I'm grateful that I'm able to do something that I still largely enjoy.  And it feel good to know that a lot of the music I'm a part of effect others positively. 


11.What is one life skill you think we all need to have?


Social skills.  Everyone needs to learn to be cool to other.  Whether we like them or not.  Treating others right and cool can take you far in life.


12.Thoughts on the music scene and world today with the madness of social media and current times?


There's some amazing stuff out there but it's more rare than ever.  And harder to find than ever with the media we all have.  Any one can do mediocre music and put it out there these days.  It's great for me as it's enabled me to have a career largely but it's probably bad for music.  The best music throughout history have been a result of a patron picking up finances and allowing the most talented to focus on the music.  There's less money to be made on music these days so less chance and/or motivation of the super talented and innovative to create best possible music.  A lot of modern music has been depreciated by production going to far with fakery and such.  It's hard to be impressed with all the potentially fake performances out there and the quantity of it.  What would have blown people minds 30 years ago is common and boring these days with the saturation of media.  And no money to be made making and selling music and driven live show prices to near insane levels. I even don't go to show anymore due to the price of some shows that I thought of attending.  The current monetarily valuelessness of music is all bad for the music and the music scene. 


13.What advice would you give a new artist who’s just starting out?


Try to innovate and create a sounds that you enjoy but is as original and good as possible.  And do everything to the enjoyable degree and no further.  The odds are that a living or success beyond will never be had so you should at least enjoy it.  There are no regrets that way.  Always have a backup plan working along side in the eventuality that things don't work out. 


14.How do you feel about the Carolinas and the scene there?


I don't think there is much of a scene here in the Carolina.  It seems like a lot of venues have shut down.  The scene was never great in my opinion due to poor treatment and management from venue owner/managers.  But it seem like there were more successful band and more people going out to shows back in my younger days in NC.  Most of the big acts and package seem to skip over us due to people not going to shows or promoters not picking them up.  Of course I could be wrong as I haven't been involved with the scene for quite a while.  There's a few new venues and reopening so hopefully things will get better soon.  Just takes better venue management and good bands really working to bring people out to see live music.  Talent is definitely in NC.  I do know that. 


15.Any other artists you’d suggest people check out?


If you like Metallica and like Deftones check out my bands new record!  haha  Swift - The Worst of All Things Possible.  It's actually quite old material but we finally finished it and put it out and will be doing a 20th Anniversary show this year.  As for new bands, check out Kaonashi.  King of hectic progish metal.  Pretty darn unique with story telling vocals and such.   


16.Any last words or news for your fans today?


Just thanks much to all of you that are interested in what I do.  It really does blow my mind that anyone would care.  haha  It truly means a lot.  I hope that I can share some real world insights here and there that can help other avoid some pitfalls and/or hardships that I've either endured or seen other endure.  Look for the real word info to help you move forward in life and not the idealism sugar coating that many serve up!  haha


Thanks Jamie and keep up the rock, G