Recording Connection grad Eric Gonzalez lands job with major L.A. producer!
While learning in a real recording studio can certainly give you the connections to find a job, so can taking your own initiative. So when Recording Connection student Eric Gonzalez approached the end of his apprenticeship (externship) with Derek O’Brien at DOB Sound Studios in Santa Fe Springs, CA, he didn’t wait for the connections to come to him—he started actively Googling as many Los Angeles studios as he could, and emailing music producers and engineers all across the Southern California area.
One of the producers to respond? Warren Huart of Spitfire Studios, a veteran multi-platinum producer for acts like Aerosmith and The Fray!
Huart, who also happens to be a Recording Connection mentor, decided to give Eric a shot by letting him help out in the studio. Eric jumped at the chance. It wasn’t long before he found himself assisting on recording sessions with other legendary producers like Jack Douglas (Alice Cooper, John Lennon) and artists like Slash and Ace Frehley. Eric says working alongside major producers helped hone his skills even more.
“You have to be on your game every moment,” he says. “You have to be observant of everything with someone like Jack in there…It’s really interesting seeing how they work with an artist, how they phrase things and how they can just mold, and get what they want and what they know would really work, and in the end, the artist is just like, ‘Wow that was amazing. I love that.’”
Then came the moment of truth, when Warren called Eric in and offered him a permanent paid job! “I was working hard to get hired, but I wasn’t expecting to get hired right away. I knew I had to prove myself,” says Eric. “Warren came in and wanted to have a little chat with me. My heart was pounding because I had no idea what that would mean…When I got the news, I was relieved knowing that I’m staying, and just completely excited because this is my first real job in this profession.”
Many Recording Connection students wind up getting hired by their mentors; others get recommendations for other studios. But Eric picked up one of the most important things we teach: landing the gig is up to you! By taking matters into his own hands, he wound up connecting with one of the leading music producers in Los Angeles and landing his own job at his studio. Eric’s advice to other students?
“Once they’re done with the program, if they don’t happen to get a job at that studio they’re apprenticing at, don’t stop,” he says. “Don’t be discouraged because of that. There’s many reasons why they wouldn’t get a position…[so] do what I did. Google studios. Send them emails. Because who knows? That one email can be that one that lands them a job.”
No student exemplifies this truth more than Recording Connection graduate Eric Gonzalez. As he came to the end of his apprenticeship (externship) with mentor Derek O’Brien at DOB Sound Studios [http://www.dobsound.net/] in Santa Fe Springs, CA, Eric scoured the Internet and began emailing all the Los Angeles-based producers and engineers he could find. Little could he have known at the time that this would land him a job as an assistant engineer for one of the industry’s most acclaimed music producers, working with rock legends like Slash and Ace Frehley.
Eric’s journey into the music industry stems from a love of music in general. “I’ve been a guitarist for about 12 years,” he says. “I’ve been bouncing between a ton of bands I’ve played in. The musicianship is there for me, which definitely helps. Audio engineering, I dabbled in it a bit before going to Recording Connection, but it’s once I got to Recording Connection that I really understood it, which really gave me the hands-on.”
Given his own interest in punk rock, Eric found an instant connection with his mentor Derek O’Brien, a one-time drummer for legendary punk band Social Distortion. “That was a blast, especially me being into punk music and hearing his history with punk music,” says Eric. “Working with Derek O’Brien really set me up and really, really prepared me for how it’s really going to be.”
Eric’s own sense of personal initiative kicked in early on, and he immersed himself in the process. “I’d never touched Pro Tools [before],” he says. “The school definitely helped me get engaged with Pro Tools and that, of course, got me going. Once I was done with the school, I was just going and going learning Pro Tools even more, working my butt off, trying to record whatever bands I can, even if it’s recording myself…I would just get my little interface, all I need is my guitar, maybe an amp, mic or just direct in, and just start recording a bunch of things and just start editing it and having some fun. All of that, every single part of it, really helped me get where I am right now.”
And where is he “right now?” Interesting story, that.
Once he finished the program, instead of waiting for connections to come to him, Eric once again took the initiative, searching for L.A. music producers on Google and emailing as many of them as he could. One of the producers to respond was none other than Warren Huart, owner of Spitfire Studios and multi-platinum producer for artists like Aerosmith, The Fray and Daniel Powter. As it turns out, Warren also happens to be a Recording Connection mentor and one of RRFC’s biggest advocates, so there was an additional, unexpected connection. Warren gave him the opportunity to help out in the studio, and before long, Eric found himself assisting on sessions alongside other legendary producers like Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Miles Davis, Alice Cooper), and working on projects with icons like Ace Frehley and and Slash, as well as up-and-comers like Disney Channel star Lauren Taylor (of Best Friends Whenever). To Eric, watching these producers work has only enhanced his learning experience.
“It’s really interesting seeing how they work with an artist,” he says. “How they phrase things and how they can just mold, and get what they want and what they know would really work, and in the end, the artist is just like, ‘Wow that was amazing. I love that.’…Of course, you have to be on your game every moment, you be have to be observant of everything with someone like Jack [Douglas] in there.”
Eric’s passion and commitment to learn soon paid off, as Warren came in one day and offered him a paid position as an assistant engineer!
“I was working hard to get hired, but I wasn’t expecting to get hired right away. I knew I had to prove myself,” says Eric. “So [one day] I was in the studio, and Warren came in and wanted to have a little chat with me. My heart was pounding because I had no idea what that would mean. I wasn’t expecting that at the time, and when I got the news, I was relieved knowing that I’m staying, and just completely excited because this is my first real job in this profession.”
Warren Huart has some good things to say about his new assistant engineer, as well: “The bottom line is he was he was doing everything it takes for me to notice him and find him invaluable,” he told RRFC. “And for people that work for me, I tell them all, you’ve just got to get to that point where I just can’t imagine not having you around. And that’s really what he did.”
Even so, Eric is clear that he still hasn’t “arrived” just because he’s got a paid gig.
“Even though I’m hired, I’m still learning every single minute I can,” he says. “I’m still in training. I’m still learning the console. I’m reading the manual from first page to last. I’ve gone through it twice. I’m going through it a third time right now. I’m not done learning, and I’ve got a long way to go.”
And he’s not just learning the gear; Eric says he’s also learned what it’s like to do business in this profession. “Yeah, it’s business, but you’ve got to have that closeness, that friendship, and that trust with the artist that you have to build very quickly,” says Eric. “You can’t just sit back and expect the artist to be talkative and let the artist talk to you. You, yourself, have to be the one that engages with the artist…Yeah, there’s business to it, but you’ve got to understand that everyone’s passion is pretty much working together to make this magic. It becomes less business, more fun, mixed with just a lot of talent…I didn’t expect it would be this much fun working 12-hour days.”
Now on staff at a world-class recording studio, Eric credits the Recording Connection for giving him the opportunity to learn in a real recording studio. “I don’t think I’d be where I am right now if it wasn’t [for] everything I learned at Recording Connection,” he says.
But Eric will also tell you there’s more to the story, because his success has come not just because of the opportunities offered by the Recording Connection, but because he made the most of those opportunities and took charge of his own future. His advice to other students says it all:
“Whatever you learn from the school, whatever you learn from a studio you’re apprenticed/externed at, go home and apply it. Work on whatever you can,” he says. “Once they’re done with the program, if they don’t happen to get a job at that studio they’re apprenticing at, don’t stop, don’t be discouraged because of that. There’s many reasons why they wouldn’t get a position…Do what I did. Google studios. Send them emails. Because who knows? That one email can be that one that lands them a job.”