Russ Long's journey to the top of music and entertainment didn't happen overnight. The acclaimed engineer and mixer has worked with Dolly Parton, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Wilco and Sixpence None the Richer, lent his talents to Hollywood productions and the GRAMMYs. On the Creative Spaces Podcast, Russ pulls back the curtain on his inspirations and envy-worthy Dangerland studio.
Note: Following are excerpts from the full interview with Russ Long. The interview was conducted by Kevin Booth, Auralex director of sales. Robb Wenner, Auralex director of artist relations, produces the podcast and jumps in with questions. To hear the full interview, subscribe to Auralex Creative Spaces on your podcast platform of choice. The full transcript is available here.
...the business degree really helps, because you're an independent owner. You're an owner operator from day one.
Yeah. It's crazy how important the business is and especially because so many creatives, I don't think are natural business people, so it's good to learn that stuff. And we've all known guys who are great musicians. Who've made tons of money at certain points in their life, but are completely broke because they've done such a terrible job of managing their personal business.
And I can't say anything. I mean, and you don't naturally learn business where, I mean a great musician... I mean, it's great if he gets a college degree in music performance or whatever, but chances are, if he's a great musician, he can be a great musician without even studying it in school, you know? And, and whether you would, I mean, maybe there's some exceptions, like if you're going to be a symphony player or something like that, but as far as playing in a rock band or, or, or being a session musician, there's no differential between the guys who went to college and the guys who didn't.
They were looking for you to identify a backup plan. You didn't have one.
I mean, I guess I did... due to the fact that I could have went and applied for a job, like I said, that required a business degree. But yeah, I didn't really have a backup plan. I mean, I was, I was doing it.
Is there anyone throughout that period that you started to admire kind of modeled yourself after? 'If I'm going to do this, this is who I want to work like?'
Well, yeah, there were a lot of people. I mean, there was never one specific person that put me, took me under their wing or whatever, but there was a guy named Lynn Peterzell, who was a great engineer in town. And for some reason he took a liking to me and, and gave me a lot of work. I mean, pointed me to a lot of people. And my only real studio job ever was at a studio called House of David working for David Briggs. And he (Peterzell) got me that, and he hooked me up with a lot of singer-songwriters. And, sadly, he (Peterzell) had a heart attack and passed away while mixing a Dolly Parton record. I mean, he had a heart attack over the console...
...Which also taught me about needing to take breaks and not working yourself to death, because he was definitely, I mean, he was amazing, but he also never stopped, you know? And I didn't know him super well, but I mean, he really helped me a lot, which was great. And there were, I mean, there were a lot of engineers that, that was the thing I loved about Nashville is everybody felt like they were helping each other. I mean, I had guys that I went to college with Steve Bishir or Joe Baldrige. I mean, John Painter, who's more of a musician than an engineer, but is also an engineer, but these guys, I mean, it wasn't competitive like they were trying to get your gig. They were like happy when they could throw something your way that they couldn't do. It was a positive work environment in Nashville.
Yeah. I think that's, that's very unique to Nashville, compared to like Los Angeles or New York, very much more competitive. And I'll say the word cutthroat, but you know, it, when I moved to Nashville, I immediately noticed that people were not out to get your gig. They were there to help you out.
Yeah. I think it's just the kind of the relaxed vibe and people thinking what goes around, comes around. And if I treat somebody well, they'll treat me well in return. And I mean, I even remember I worked for this guy, Mike Lawler, who's a keyboard player. And he had a songwriter and he, I was his keyboard tech and also engineered all of this stuff in his, his home studio, his songs he wrote and everything. And he told me, I remember cartage coming to pack up his gear to take to a session. And he was always really nice to the cartage guys and the guy left and he goes, you always want to be nice to everybody in the business. Because you never know when they're going to be hiring you. And it's true.
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