During GMA Week in Nashville, Jesusfreakhideout.com had the pleasure of grabbing some time with producer extraordinaire
Aaron Sprinkle - and front man of the band Fair - to discuss his production career, the upcoming Fair sophomore release,
and one of his most recent production projects, The Almost's Monster Monster...
This interview took place on: 4/22/09.
Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): So when you do production projects, how do choose
who you're going to work with?
It's kind of subject to my schedule, the band's schedule. And usually, bands approach me and then if I feel like it's a good
match, then I'll go with it. It kind of just happens sometimes, y'know? *laughs* Like, "This band wants to work
with you." "Alright, cool!"
JFH (John): You've worked on about 200 projects?
A lot, yeah. I think that's about right. I think I'd have to go back and count, but that sounds about right.
JFH (John): And you haven't gotten tired of it yet, huh??
Aaron: NO! Not at all. I love it! It's one of the only things I'm any good at. *smiles*
JFH (John): When did you know you wanted to get into production?
Aaron: I started doing recording and producing as a way to record my music. It wasn't really
something I ever looked at as a career option. Even for awhile when I was in Poor Old Lu, not really making any money
from the band and getting a few jobs where I was making some money doing recording, I still saw it as the hobby - the recording
part. Then everything just kind of flip-flopped on me. *smiles* I did learn pretty quickly after being in a band
on a label that the part I liked the most was making the record.
JFH (John): Really? Not even playing?
JFH (John): Is it the creative process?
Aaron: Yeah, there's something magical about being in a studio and I still get those same feelings now
as I did when I was making my first record.
JFH (John): Really? That's awesome! You can't say that about many jobs. What
was your first project that you produced?
Aaron: Well, the first few things that I did weren't really me, but whatever band I was in at the time.
Or friends that were in bands. That's actually really how it started. When I was 18, I had the opportunity to kind of work
out of the studio at my church. Friends started hearing about it and they were like, "Oh, do you want to record us?" And I
said, "Oh yeah! I guess I could do that?" It had never really occurred to me to do that. And eventually some of those bands
got signed - y'know, MxPx and Grammatrain, stuff like that.
JFH (John): Grammatrain? Did you work on their demo, or...?
Aaron: I did Lonely House.
JFH (John): Really?? That's definitely one of my favorite all-time records. Back then, I don't
think I really looked at the producer credits much, so I didn't realize you worked on that. Awesome!
Aaron: Yeah! That's awesome! So what happened was they were like, "You wanna do our record?" And I was
like, "For the label?! ...OK!" So that was kind of where it started. My band Fair just played a show with Grammatrain.
They did one show in Seattle and one show in Germany.
JFH (John): You're not working with them on any of their new stuff are you?
Aaron: No. Pete borrowed a guitar amp from me, but that's about it. *laughs*
JFH (John): Do you still keep in touch with the Poor Old Lu guys?
Aaron: Yeah! Well, Nick, who was the bass player, is in my band, Fair as our bass player. And he was in
my old band, Rose Blossom Punch too. My brother, I talk to all the time. I don't see him that often because he lives
way up in the boonies in New York. And then Scott, the singer, we keep in touch. I don't see him that much but we do
keep in touch regularly.
JFH (John): Now, you guys had gotten back together to do The Waiting Room,
do you think you'd ever get together again for another project?
Aaron: I don't know. We've talked about it. It would just have to make sense. We don't want to do it
just to do it. *smiles*
JFH (John): That's good. You don't want to do it just to do it. You usually can
tell when that happens.
JFH (John): And there's a new Fair record coming out, right?
Aaron: Yeah! We're real close to finishing it. It's hard with my schedule sometimes to fit it in, but
yeah, it's really close. It should be done by the end of the Summer.
JFH (John): Is there anything you're really excited about on that record?
Aaron: Yeah! I'm really excited about a little bit of different stuff that we did. I wrote a bunch of the
songs on piano which I don't do a lot of, so they have a little bit of a different flavor to them. There's a ton of keys
on the record. It's a little more dynamic of a record, I think. Some real mellow parts and some real rockin' parts. I think
it'll be fun. I'm excited about it.
JFH (John): So it's definitely a different direction than the first one?
Aaron: Yeah, I don't think it's going to throw people at all, but it'll definitely be a different
flavor of what it is we do.
JFH (John): Any particular songs you're excited about?
Aaron: Um, yeah... but I don't even know how many of them have names, so... they're all working
titles at this point. That's always how I do everything. *smiles* Naming the song is the last thing in
the process. There are two songs that are actually completely finished - mixed and everything - we'll be pre-releasing
those in some form or another in the next few months.
JFH (John): Do you have any favorite projects that you've produced? Any that you
like so much that you listen to them yourself?
Aaron: Yeah! I was actually talking to somebody else about that today. Jonezetta, Cruel To Be Young
is one of my favorite records I've ever worked on. Unfortunately, not very many people have heard that record. And it's
really one of those records that I actually listen to and am like, "Wow, I can't believe I was a part of that. I love
it so much." The new Copeland (You Are My Sunshine) record is definitely one too. Corey Crowder, Gold And The
Sand, I really like that record. There's a lot of records I worked on that I really like. Acceptance, Phantoms,
I love that record. But looking back on at least the last six or seven years, I feel really privileged having been able
to work with the people I worked with. Everything I like. It's always fun to go back and listen to something and go,
"Oh yeah! I forgot about that" or "I forgot about that little part that we did."
JFH (John): You don't have to name names, but I actually spoke to a producer last year
who actually said he had some projects he'd worked on that he didn't like. Do you have any of those?
Aaron: Honestly, I can say not for a long time. Yeah, not for a long time. I think it's a combination
of just being really blessed with really talented people wanting to work with me and having a lot of people that want to
work with me so I can pick and choose the things that I really want to work on, so that's cool.
JFH (Amy DiBiase): Do you ever commit to doing something with friends but then
realize once you get into it, "Wow, this is going to be really challenging," because you thought maybe they had a lot more
to bring to the table, so that when the project finishes, you had a huge impact.
Aaron: Yeah! There's definitely been projects that are more that way. Every project is different in how
prepared people are and what they're bringing to the table. It's hard for some bands. It usually kind of comes to fruition
on their second record because they're touring for the first time - and they're touring a lot - and go, "Oh my gosh! We
need to make another record but we don't even have any songs! A couple riffs or whatever, we don't even know what to do!" But
everybody that works with me kind of comes to me for different reasons. Some people really want a TON of input, a co-write,
and play a ton, and sing even, and other bands come to me for kind of a different reason - to just kind of oversee and
make sure their vision is what ends up being the final product.
JFH (John): Do you mind when they come to you for a lot of insight?
Aaron: No, it's fun! I think that's one of the things that keeps it interesting - all the diversity
and the different roles I play, the different aspects of it. It's really fun. And I try to keep it fun. If it wasn't
fun, I wouldn't do it. I mean, I wouldn't have been doing it this long! I didn't make any money for the first ten years
that I did it!
JFH (John): It wasn't just a job.
Aaron: No! It was the opposite of a job for awhile there! *laughs* So you gotta keep it fun
and you gotta do different types of music. All different things, y'know? Like the record I'm doing out here, that's why
I'm here, is the new Almost record. That's just gonna be so fun. They were like, "What if we all left our comfort zones
of where we live and went somewhere else and kind of camped out somewhere and make the record?" It just sounds really
fun. I'm going to be here for two months.
JFH (John): How's that coming along? What are you guys doing on that record?
Aaron: We haven't even started it yet! I just got here last night. I start Monday.
JFH (John): Oh! OK *laughs* Well, what kind of ideas do you hope to do?
Aaron: As far as different from the last record?
JFH (John): Yeah.
Aaron: Well, for one, it's a real band now, more than it was. Before, it was just Aaron [Gillespie] and I in the
studio. And this time around, he's got a band. They've helped with some of the writing even. And we really want to capture
a band feel on the record. So that'll be fun. Some of the songs are a little different.
JFH (John): Yeah, the first one had a little bit of a 'solo artist with a backup band'
feel to it, but it was still good.
Aaron: Yeah! Totally! I mean, I think for the fact that it was all him, other than a couple little things,
a couple little guest spots, it sounds pretty cohesive. It doesn't sound too disjointed and solo-like, but this
will, I think, be a lot different when you really listen to it. It will have a different feel to it.
JFH (Amy DiBiase): Do you ever help produce any of the music videos that artists
you work with put together?
Aaron: Not so much the [concept videos]. I've worked on some live videos, as far as engineering and editing,
cleaning stuff up. I've worked on that before. And then sometimes I have to do a different edit of a song for a video
if they want a shorter version. I'll have to do that kind of stuff. But pretty much, I just get to watch the final
JFH (John): Is there a different kind of project that you've been itching to do, but have
yet gotten a chance to do?
Aaron: Yeah! I would say there's a few. I mean, before I really started working in the capacity that
I am with Tooth & Nail, I actually had worked with quite a few female artists and I really haven't done much of that.
Eisley's pretty much it and I've really only done a couple songs with them, so that's something. I listen to a lot of
female artists, and I would love to do more of that.
JFH (John): Anyone in particular that you've heard and thought you want to work with her?
Aaron: There's a band that's really new and young that I'm trying to get to work with right now that
would be really awesome. They're called Poema. And they're from New Mexico, I think. And I'd love to work with
Eisley again. That was fun.
JFH (John): Which of their stuff have you done?
Aaron: I did a song that ended up on their last EP before their full-length but then it was also on
that full-length. It was remixed and put on the full-length. And then I did another song that was like an iTunes-only
single or something. But I've known them for awhile, since like 2001 or something. And then I'd also love to do like a real-deal
JFH (John): Cause of Corey Crowder?
Aaron: Yeah, I just really like country music.
JFH (John): Really? I wouldn't expect that from Seattle...
Aaron: Yeah, I'd like it to be more old school in the sense of not super modern country. Just really
good songs. Even more than Americana, [but] actual, real country. That would be really fun.
JFH (John): Well, you're in the right place for it!
Aaron: Yeah! *laughs*
JFH (John): Do you have any prospects?
Aaron: I have no idea when it comes to that. It's a whole scene that I don't really know anything about.
There's little pockets of it, even in Seattle there's a little country scene of local bands. That's it's own little thing.
Aaron Sprinkle's latest production project, Monster Monster, by The Almost, releases everywhere music is sold on November 3rd.