The Knoxville News-Sentinel

23 February 2003

Bearden Grad To Be At Grammys

Wayne Bledsoe

Record producer Nick Raskulinecz may or may not walk away with a Grammy tonight, but there's no doubt he'll be picking up a gold record soon. And he knows just what he's going to do with it.

"I'm going to give it to my mom," Raskulinecz said from his Los Angeles home.

The Bearden High School graduate produced the Foo Fighters' album "One by One," which includes the double Grammy-nominated song "All My Life." The track is up for both Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song and has already sold the 500,000 copies required for Gold certification.

Now an established record producer, Raskulinecz was raised in Knoxville by his mother, Susan Gresham, who now lives in Oak Ridge. Many local bands, including Raskulinecz's own Hypertribe, spent time in Gresham's garage, which served as Raskulinecz's first recording studio. Raskulinecz gives much credit to his mother for supporting his musical aspirations.

"Let's just say that I couldn't get my car in my garage for 12 years," Gresham said.

She said she was worried about her son's aspirations, but she helped him get loans for equipment, which enabled him to learn the craft that now serves as his living. Raskulinecz's grandfather, George Raskulinecz, pitched in $2,700 so his grandson could buy his first 8-track recording deck.

Among the Knoxville bands that Raskulinecz produced are Teenage Love, Sandbox and Superdrag, and his garage-produced demos made up the basis of Superdrag's first major label album, "Regretfully Yours."

Raskulinecz credits working with all the Knoxville groups as teaching him how to get along with a wide variety of people and working with Superdrag as truly setting him on the road to being a professional producer.

"A lot of bands in Knoxville didn't really know what a producer is supposed to do," Raskulinecz said. "(Superdrag singer- songwriter) John Davis did. When I started being able to help John Davis realize his visions of his music, that's when I began to think I was really pretty good at this."

Raskulinecz was also finding success in his band Hypertribe, which he joined in 1993.

"We used to draw pretty good crowds," he said.

However, when the crowds began to get smaller, the band decided it was time to move on. Raskulinecz and his Hypertribe co-members moved to Los Angeles in 1996.

He got his first break by way of fellow Knoxville expatriate, Bearden High graduate and Weezer member Brian Bell. Weezer was recording at Sound City Studios, and Bell called Raskulinecz to tell him the studio was looking for an assistant. Raskulinecz went to the studio and was hired that same day.

He started at the bottom, making coffee and running errands - not exactly challenging for a guy who had done as much production and engineering work as Raskulinecz had done. Still, Sound City was one of the top rock recording facilities in the country - a place frequented by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick and many other rock artists. It was also the studio where Nirvana had recorded the classic "Nevermind" album.

Raskulinecz said he worked at the studio every day for 2 years. After his shift he'd hang out and watch recording sessions. Eventually he was able to help engineer recordings. His first engineering job was on a Petty session:

"It was like, 'Oh my God. This is it. This is why I came to L.A.!' "

Raskulinecz said that he learned from the producers and engineers who worked at the studio as well as the heavy hitters who passed though.

"It was like going to school and getting paid for it," Raskulinecz recalled.

Yet getting a look inside the business disillusioned him at the possibility of going further with Hypertribe, and he quit the band.

Engineering and mixing jobs led to jobs as a producer.

Two major events occurred to Raskulinecz in 1999. He married his longtime girlfriend, Amber Hope, and he met Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl.

Grohl was recording a project at Sound City.

"I ended up engineering it, and we became friends," Raskulinecz said.

In 2001, Grohl asked Raskulinecz if he'd be interested in spending some time at Grohl's home in Virginia to produce the new Foo Fighters disc.

"I produced and engineered it all at his house," Raskulinecz said.

He called Grohl "a dream artist" to work with because Grohl is interested in all aspects of the disc and can play every instrument.

After "One by One" was finished Raskulinecz went on a European tour with the band to record material for a live album, expected to be released later this year.

Raskulinecz has several other projects that have just been completed or are in the planning stages. He's just finished work on albums by Danzig and Rancid. And he may produce material for upcoming projects by Jimmy Eats World and the Hives. He and Grohl are also planning to build a recording studio and possibly start their own record label.

The success of the Foo Fighters album and the Grammy nominations have put Raskulinecz on a new level.

"It's taken seven years, literally working every day, 15-hour days," Raskulinecz said. "This is, like, the reward. Everything is sort of turning into reality. I can actually say I'm a record producer. It feels good."

Raskulinecz visited his grandfather, the same one who had given him money for his first recorder, in January, just a few days before he died. Raskulinecz told he grandfather that the album might be nominated for a Grammy. His grandfather had had misgivings about Raskulinecz not earning a college degree.

"Just to hear him say he was proud of me and say that giving me the money for that 8-track was the best thing he ever did," Raskulinecz said. "That really meant a lot to me."

As far as going to the Grammys, Raskulinecz said he is going to try to stay calm.

"It's huge," he said, "but it's not going to totally hit me until I'm there. Ever since my old band days I try not to get too excited - so many things don't happen."

Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444.

Caption: (Color) Knoxville-born record producer Nick Raskulinecz takes a break from producing a new CD by Rancid at Grandmaster Studio in Hollywood. The Raskulinecz-produced song "All My Life" by the Foo Fighters is nominated for two Grammys.ANDREW ALEKEL SPECIAL TO THE NEWS SENTINEL; DIGITAL PHOTO NOT RETAINED IN LIBRARY

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