bill bodkin interviews Life Of Agony guitarist Joey Z about his studio, Method Of Groove, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month …
It was a frigid January evening at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J. Hanging out in the press room was quite a sight. Friends and family of the band Life Of Agony were hanging with various members of smaller, independent bands. All were abuzz about the big return of the legendary hardcore and heavy metal band to New Jersey.
In through the door burst LoA’s guitarist Joey Z. After delivering hugs and platitudes to his friends, he immediately turned his attention to a group of goateed dudes drinking beers. This was the band Misery, a group that Joey had been helping record their new record at his Brooklyn-based recording studio Method Of Groove. With the same glee and excitement that he had spoken about performing that evening he spoke with about Misery’s new record. The transition from being a musician to being a producer was evident.
For the last five years, Joey Z has been helping bands like Misery try and help make their dream of making music come true. He’s been their producer, their coach, a collaborator and even a silent member of the band. The passion he has for live performance has been equaled for his passion for being a producer. Yet, local up-and-comers aren’t the only people who frequent Method Of Groove. Some of the current titans of hard and heavy music have come through to record music at Z’s studio.
Recently, Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin sat down with Joey Z to discuss Method of Groove Studio, becoming a producer and some of the bands he’s championing.
BB: Why did you want to own and operate your own studio?
JZ: Well, there is definitely many reasons. First being, I simply always loved the environment. Recording has always been an exciting time for me. Getting the right sounds and tones, ripping through a killer performance, the grind of making everything turn out just the absolute best that it can. It is such a creative time. I knew that if I had my own pro studio, I’d be able to accomplish a lot more as an artist, and also begin to pursue a second career as a producer. It can be a very tough industry, and a large percentage of musicians have to work a second job. I just can’t ever see myself wasting time just working some job I hate being at. I’m living and breathing music, and it’s exactly what I’ve always planned to do.
BB: What do you, as a studio owner/engineer, bring to the table?
JZ: Years of experience, knowing the needs of an artist in the recording environment, the knowledge I’ve gained working with more than a handful of the top producers and engineers out in the field, patience, having the ability to distinguish great tones as opposed to good tones and having a keen sense when it comes to being convinced by a performance. I work with not only my ears, but a large part of my decision making comes from my heart. I know when something feels timeless and when it doesn’t.
BB: Where did you learn how to mix and produce records?
JZ: You learn something new every session. Even the top guys that have been doing this for 20 years or so will admit the same thing. If you ever “stop” learning, it’s probably time to move on to something else. I believe all the years that I’ve been recording records as an artist, I was learning, absorbing. I was very lucky to work with a bunch of respected producers such as Don Gilmore, John Travis, Greg Fidelman, Phil Nicolo and Rick Parasher. I did some schooling at Pro Media training in NYC where I learned Pro Tools inside and out, but the only true way to learn is to just do. It’s the countless hours of recording and mixing, discovering what works and what doesn’t. You begin to develop a style, and what seems to yield the best results for you. Every project I take on seems to push me to try something out of the box. I like this because, you realize there are so many ways to get there. You just have to have patience.
BB: Your studio is a haven for hard music. In the last five years, have you had any truly strange or completely outside-the-hard-music-world bands record in your studio?
I wouldn’t call them strange, but I have recorded some different styles in there. Whether it was a female with just an acoustic or piano, or a bunch of percussionist from a different country, it’s all music and it’s all welcome. Naturally, I do find that most projects that roll through are in the rock, metal and hardcore genre, since I come from that scene myself.
BB: What projects are being worked on at Method Of Groove as we speak?
I’ve been very lucky to be really busy and have had such killer bands and artists record with me already. I’ve had Sworn Enemy, Sick Of It All, H20, Vehement Serenade and even Anthrax in there. Right now, I’m excited for The Misery record to drop which we finished last year. I’m helping some friends out and playing some guitar on The Greatest Fear stuff. I have Low Road coming in next month, which features Mario from Sirius Liquid Metal on vocal. I’m recording a band from Canada called Sin Dealer. I have the band Wrench coming back in April, and there is a project called Goodbye Ghost in right now which features members of Agnostic Front and Skarhead.