Fifteen albums a year is an impressive track record for any established producer. Hutch Harris did it in his first year on the job.
As frontman of successful indie-punk band The Thermals, becoming a producer wasn’t really part of the plan. “It was something I’d never considered,” Harris muses, “then randomly three people asked me to produce records for them all at the same time.”
Working with engineer Victor Nash at Destination: Universe!, Nash, whose band Point Juncture, WA had toured with The Thermals 10 years prior, encouraged Harris to keep the records coming.
“Victor was like, ‘We should keep doing this,’” Harris recalls. “‘You can bring in artists and bands who want a record done. You produce, I’ll engineer.’”
The timing seemed right. The Thermals hadn’t released a record in more than two years, and in April, the group officially disbanded. “A lot of the business came from me just posting on The Thermals’ social media saying, ‘This is what I do now, and I have access to this studio.’”
Destination: Universe! is a cozy, science fiction-themed studio in a barn on the south side of Johnson Creek. “There’s probably a thousand or so paperbacks on the shelves,” Harris says. “That’s what he uses to deaden sound... piles of sci-fi novels!”
For Harris, workflow is everything. “These are budget records done quickly,” he says. “The band unloads, and we’ll have drum sounds and be tracking usually within an hour.”
At this pace, preproduction is essential. Harris encourages bands to make full demos before coming in. “Write, and then rewrite like I always did,” he advises. “Practice as much as you can, because it’s free. Anything you don’t do before you go into the studio, you’re paying for in the studio.”
One year in, Harris and Nash have already produced records for King Who, Scarves, The Permians, and solo efforts for two members of Summer Cannibals, including Jenny Logan under her Deathlist moniker. Here’s to the next 15.