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Old 06-08-2005, 10:09 PM
saturdaynightagain saturdaynightagain is offline
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Default John Shanks article - Some Jovi Related

Here is an article I saw posted at backstage. It is about John Shanks. I tried to bold most of the parts that deal with Bon Jovi. I may have missed some of the references though.

Saturdaynight

More Mr. Nice Guy: everyone wants to work with John Shanks, today's hottest producer.(Cover Story)




Billboard; 5/21/2005; Newman, Melinda



Call it the fear factor. Despite winning a Grammy Award in February for producer of the year and steering several multiplatinum projects, John Shanks admits that he is deeply driven by the belief that it could all vanish at any moment.

"I always think this is my last gig and I'm never going to work again and they're going to come pull me out of here and find out that I suck," he says. "So I might as well take good work when I can get it."

That explains why Shanks, 42, is a man who can't say no. The day after winning the Grammy, he was back in the studio at 11 a.m. with PlatinumWeird, Dave Stewart's new duo with frequent Shanks co-writer Kara DioGuardi.

In recent weeks, Shanks has also worked on projects for Santana, Jewel, Melissa Etheridge, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias and Sheryl Crow. When asked how he cleanses his palate between projects, he just shrugs and says, "I don't."
Yet those who work with Shanks say he manages to bring a non-formulaic freshness to each project, whether it be Ashlee Simpson's triple-platinum "Autobiography," which he co-wrote and produced; Crow's massive hit "The First Cut Is the Deepest"; or Kelly Clarkson's recent smash "Breakaway." (Shanks won his best producer Grammy for his work on those projects, as well as his sessions with Hilary Duff, Robbie Robertson and Alanis Morissette.)

"He's a rare combination of songwriter, musician and producer, but he also has a great feel of working with artists that's hard to find," Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine says.

Plus, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora says, "He's a great guy."

But Shanks is thinking it may be time to add another distinction to that list: label head.

Even though he spent 2001-2003 at Atlantic Records as VP of A&R, Shanks has avoided the lure of his own imprint. That is, until now. He'll admit to being "in talks" with some folks, but nothing is imminent.

He says he wants to be more involved with an album once it leaves the studio. "David Foster says it's like sticking [the CD] under the jail-cell door," he says. "You create this thing, and they take it, and it hopefully finds a home."

For now, Shanks' home is Hollywood's Studio C at Henson Studios (the old A&M lot). He set up shop here four years ago after deciding he did not want artists rummaging through his refrigerator or urinating on the toilet seat when they recorded in his home studio. He shares the space with his longtime engineer, Jeff Rothschild.

The walls and ceiling are draped in diaphanous Indian scarves. Any available shelf space is filled with books, while much of the walls are covered with black-and-white photographs, including two of John Lennon taken by Shanks' photojournalist mother. The look is bohemian bordello.

The scarf motif carries over to an adjoining room, where he and artists hang out and write, and there are also stacks of guitar cases, which hark back to Shanks' start as a touring and session guitarist. He still plays on many of the records he produces.

Shanks, who is low-key and affable, glows when he talks about music. He dissects a Pink Floyd tune with scientific precision, but then freely admits that there's an inexplicable magic that makes something a hit that can't be reduced to technical expertise.

He is also the antithesis of a music snob: "I like 'Sugar, Sugar' just as much as I like 'cranky_ladyes Brew,'" he says.

That openness endears him to his collaborators. "It is invigorating working with someone who is without cynicism and who genuinely loves music," Crow says. Shanks produced and co-wrote much of Crow's next two Interscope albums, the first of which will come out later this year.

LADIES' MAN

Maybe Shanks just hasn't met the right guy. How else can you explain his phenomenal string of successes with female artists, including Crow, Etheridge, Simpson, Morissette and Michelle Branch. Morissette says working with Shanks on her 2004 album, "So-Called Chaos," was "the most effortless and humor-filled recording time I've had in years."

However, even joking about the reputation he has as a ladies' man--in the studio, that is--takes away from the volume of work he has done with male artists, whether it be the upcoming Bon Jovi and Iglesias records or past projects with Robertson, Vertical Horizon, Chris Isaak and Unwritten Law.

"When I worked with Robbie, he said, 'You gotta get some testosterone back into this room!'" Shanks recalls.

But he says that for the most part, he has found the music that women are making more compelling than that of their male counterparts.

"I'd love to work with some amazing male artists," he says. "Hopefully, the music world will let them explore their vulnerable sides too. That's what I miss. I listen to Cat Stevens and think, 'This is so amazing!' or early James Taylor and Nick Drake. You're like, 'God, where is this [now]?'" At the same time, he feels his work with Bon Jovi and Keith Urban has allowed some male vulnerability to shine through. Etheridge jokes that she believes she broke in Shanks for the other women. Shanks toured with her starting in i988 and helped produce her i999 album, "Breakdown." They just finished three new songs for a greatest-hits package.

"I take it as a compliment that I taught him how to respect the ladies," she says. "He has always treated me with respect and never said, 'You can't do that because you're a girl.'"

Moreover, Etheridge feels Shanks fosters a welcoming environment. "It's rare," she says. "What he does is create a space where we're able to experiment."

Shanks says he works best with artists who feel, as he does, that the studio is hallowed ground. But when they don't share that feeling, or when he's working with acts who "need to go through the barbed wire and the mud just to feel like they've done what they're trying to get to"--and they try to take Shanks with them--he says that's when he reminds himself, "You just have to shut up and take it and do your job."

"Really, I'm very tenacious. I can take a lot of pain," he continues. "There have been a few that I wanted to walk out on, there have been a couple. I almost got into a fistfight with somebody. They were inebriated, it was three in the morning, and they were sure that I had erased something on purpose and they wanted to get into a fight, and I said, 'I'm not going to go there with you.' "

Then there is his role as therapist.

There are artists "where I have literally gone out into the room and hugged the singer because they're crying because the lyric is so heavy. I've been a witness on people's divorce papers and literally signed them. I've tried to get somebody sober. I've canceled sessions because someone is not functioning as well as they should. I've done it all."

And when someone does show up too wasted to work, "I'll just say, 'Let's not do the vocal tonight, and you can go,'" Shanks says. "If that's more important to you, then you go do that, but I relate to that because I've been through all that. I was a knucklehead when I was in my 20s too."

Shanks' story starts earlier than that. He grew up in New York, relocating to Los Angeles when he was 17. By high school, he was playing guitar in Teena Marie's band. His own group, Line One, would play local clubs. "We would save up $200 and go print up posters, and Saturday nights, we'd grab the staple gun and hit Sunset Boulevard," he says. Line One worked its way up to the Friday-night house band at the Troubadour, but Shanks ultimately decided his talents lie in working with others instead of leading his own band.

JOHN OF ALL TRADES

Because of his range of talents, Shanks finds himself brought into projects at different mix-and-match levels: as a songwriter, a songwriter and producer, or just a producer (and most recently, as a mixer). But he admits it is difficult to hand off a song to another producer, as he did after he and Urban co-wrote Urban's country chart-topper "Somebody Like You."

"Sometimes it can be [weird]. You know, it depends upon who's watching the kids," says Shanks, who is published by Warner/Chappell and managed by Tim McDaniel. "Then I heard Dann Huff was producing ["Somebody Like You"], and I was like, 'Oh, that's great!' And then you get the song back and it's like opening a present."

Urban says that at first he worried about writing with another guitar player, "but John is so damn good and versatile. He comes at rhythmic and layered parts very differently than me, yet it's totally complementary to what I do," he says. "Just his presence helps me create in a way that's different to other people I write with. He recognizes what you're naturally good at and helps you be right at the center of what you're doing."

Even though Shanks laughs that he often gets paid more to write and/or produce three songs on a project than to do an entire album, his preference is to helm the full project.

"Those are my favorite situations, whether it's a male or a female artist, because it's very intimate," he says. "It's very creative because you have these blank canvases to create from."

Also, there's often less pressure in creating a whole project instead of a few songs. "Then we're trying to write the single where I only get two or three songs on the record and I'm competing with the best writers and producers out there--you know, the Max Martins," he says. "So it's very competitive."

When producing an entire album, he has discovered that magic can be found in the tracks that are never considered for singles. "There's that last song, 'Undiscovered,' on Ashlee's record. It's now going into a movie, and there's a song that almost didn't happen," he says. "So that's what I love, when the little song makes it over the hill."

If working with newbies like Simpson often means helping them find their voice, working with veterans provides its own opportunities. With Bon Jovi, it was encouraging the band not to shy away from its past.

"I sit down with them and try to write a song that I would like to hear from them as a fan. I said, 'I want the big chorus, I want the big 'Living on a Prayer,'" says Shanks, taking on the urgency of a coach giving a halftime pep talk. "'I want that because I want you guys to win. Big drums, big guitars, big harmonies. Let's honor who you are, let's not pretend. There's nothing wrong with that.'"


Unlike some producers, Shanks doesn't come with a specific sound. "You know, I'm always told I'm in a service business and, at times, that's frustrating, but it's true," he says. "At the end of the day, it's their name on the record. And 1 think that's why I can jump around and work with different artists, because I'm very conscious I'm making their record. I also think, coming from being a session player, I can play a lot of different styles."

Indeed, Iovine says one of the keys to Shanks' success is "he's someone who is big enough to understand which side of the glass is important. He's not putting himself in front of the artist, which a lot of producers do."

He also can't put himself before the label executives who hire him. Shanks pauses for a long time when asked how he navigates record company politics: "I've argued with Clive, I've argued with Tommy Mottola. I've had disagreements with Jimmy Iovine and Jordan Schur," he says. "When I've felt it was a noble and just cause, I will fight for what I believe in, and I think they respect that."

But Shanks is savvy enough to know that respect comes because he is a proven hitmaker. "I deliver for them. I know what's expected of me--coming in under budget, making the experience great for the artist, working as quickly as possible, being amicable to [their] notes--It's my job to do that for them, or they're going to hire someone else."

As someone who prides himself on always finishing within or under budget, the trend of decreasing studio budgets has affected him in a surprising way: "I went through a period last year where certain people were cutting food out of the budget, and I literally had to call up business administration people or presidents of record companies and say, 'You don't understand: If the Starbucks is flowing and Baja Fresh is flowing and the artist is fed, they're going to sing, they're going to write.' I swear, it's all about the food. That's a big lesson I learned."
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Old 06-08-2005, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
...With Bon Jovi, it was encouraging the band not to shy away from its past.

"I sit down with them and try to write a song that I would like to hear from them as a fan. I said, 'I want the big chorus, I want the big 'Living on a Prayer,'" says Shanks, taking on the urgency of a coach giving a halftime pep talk. "'I want that because I want you guys to win. Big drums, big guitars, big harmonies. Let's honor who you are, let's not pretend. There's nothing wrong with that.'" ...

This sounds good to me

Thanks for posting
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Old 06-08-2005, 10:23 PM
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Great article. Thanks for posting!

I really can't wait to see what he's done with Bon Jovi, I really think Bon Jovi need a great producer to bring their best out and it looks like they've got the best in John Shanks. They had that from Slippery trough to These Days and as much as I love Crush and especially Bounce, I really feel if they had have worked with a kick-ass producer like Bob Rock on those two albums then they could've been vastly better, and they are pretty damn good anyway.



Phil
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Old 06-08-2005, 11:24 PM
RyanBounce04 RyanBounce04 is offline
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"I sit down with them and try to write a song that I would like to hear from them as a fan. I said, 'I want the big chorus, I want the big 'Living on a Prayer,'" says Shanks, taking on the urgency of a coach giving a halftime pep talk. "'I want that because I want you guys to win. Big drums, big guitars, big harmonies. Let's honor who you are, let's not pretend. There's nothing wrong with that.'"


****ing right.... That just pumped me up! I can't ****ing wait!

Ryan
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Old 06-09-2005, 03:31 AM
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I hope tha's true.
HOPE being the key word.
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Old 06-09-2005, 04:58 AM
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From reading that, the new album sounds promising.
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Old 06-10-2005, 02:28 AM
jovifaith jovifaith is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanBounce04
"I sit down with them and try to write a song that I would like to hear from them as a fan. I said, 'I want the big chorus, I want the big 'Living on a Prayer,'" says Shanks, taking on the urgency of a coach giving a halftime pep talk. "'I want that because I want you guys to win. Big drums, big guitars, big harmonies. Let's honor who you are, let's not pretend. There's nothing wrong with that.'"


**** right.... That just pumped me up! I can't **** wait!

Ryan
me either......now im getting really excited about it
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Old 06-10-2005, 05:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanBounce04
"I sit down with them and try to write a song that I would like to hear from them as a fan. I said, 'I want the big chorus, I want the big 'Living on a Prayer,'" says Shanks, taking on the urgency of a coach giving a halftime pep talk. "'I want that because I want you guys to win. Big drums, big guitars, big harmonies. Let's honor who you are, let's not pretend. There's nothing wrong with that.'"


**** right.... That just pumped me up! I can't **** wait!
Wow.. It will be great if it's true.
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Old 06-10-2005, 08:05 AM
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Just remember "Bounce" and how "pumped up" you all were.

I'll wait untill September to see if it's any good.

Ice
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Old 06-12-2005, 03:19 AM
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I have some real faith about Shanks and his album with Bon Jovi.

I've listened to the latest album by Alanis Morissette and he has done a very good job. Also, some Pop artists like Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson and even the Backstreet Boys had different and more power sounds in their recent records. I'm not kidding. Very effective work in their style.

I'm just waiting what is capable to do with Bon Jovi: Make them recover the old fashion sounds, lost with Crush and Bounce. And improve Richie's work guitar. I hope that we listen guitar solos and big chorus in the new album.
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