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Where Are They Now? Logan Mader of Machine Head, Soulfly

Naki, Getty Images

If you know metal, chances are you know the name Logan Mader.

In under 10 years, he’s transitioned from journeyman metallurgist: guitarist for Machine Head, Soulfly and the lesser-known Medication to being one of the most respected names in metal production. Yes, his Simpsons Sideshow Bob-styled green dreadlocks of yore have been shorn for some time. These days he’s the mild-mannered, sober and disarmingly friendly for someone who received his tutelage in the company of a Burn My Eyes era Robb Flynn.

Logan currently lives and works out of his studio nestled in the Hollywood Hills where he also tends to five youngsters whilst churning out records from likes of Gojira, Dommin, Five Finger Death Punch…the list goes on. Talking to the guy, he’s a quirky mix of hyperkinetic idea-man and low-key metal dude.

Actually, the right temperament for a producer spending long days in the company of folks like DevilDriver‘s Dez Fafara, Fear Factory‘s Dino Cazares or Max Cavalera.

Noisecreep recently sat down with Mr. Mader, 42, to talk about his past, present and just how he’s making a pretty indelible mark on metal history.

What have you been up to these days?

I got to work on some amazing projects in 2012. There was Fear Factory, Periphery, Bleed From Within, Incite and Bonded By Blood for Earache. I also worked with some of the developing local bands around LA including Consume the Fire and 9 Electric. I was also one of two composers on a new video game, that’s coming out around the beginning of 2013. I’m not allowed to say what game it is right now but it’s a pretty big game. It was a lot of work but really fun – really different than making an album for a band. It allowed me to involve a lot of the talent around the metal scene in LA. Nita Strauss (Iron Maidens) did a solo on one. Johnny Death from Before the Mourning did some rhythm tracks and some leads. Bill Hudson (ex-Cellador) did some guitar tracks and Ralph Alexander did a lot of the drumming.

What else? I had two more kids. I had twins – the second litter is here. That was in February. They’re 10 months now. It’s amazing – a little boy and girl to go along with the triplets who are three and a half years old now. It’s not boring around here at all. I also built a studio at home this year and Fear Factory was the first band to be in there. It’s been busy and awesome. No complaints, really.

It sounds like 2012 was an amazing year for you.

I think the new studio has magical powers. The minute I opened my doors, work just started flooding in. 2011 was one of the slower years. Working with Channel Zero was the highlight of the year. I love Mikey (Doling, ex-Snot, Channel Zero guitarist) – I’ve known him for so long. That band is really great. I got to go to Belgium for a couple weeks and do some tracking. The record actually went gold in Belgium, which was sick.

You’ve produced and mixed records with Five Finger Death Punch, DevilDriver, Cavalera Conspiracy, Gojira and many others. Have there been any truly unforgettable moments that have happened in the studio?

One that really stands out was setting up for the first Cavalera record. Igor and Max had not played together since Sepultura broke up. The plan was to complete the songs that Max had wrote while they were recording. We got things set up, got them in there and they started playing ‘Refuse Resist’ and the room just caught on fire. It was a sick metal moment. I wish someone had filmed it. It was really a great moment in Sepultura’s history. Those guys have this amazing chemistry. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t played together for years and that they hadn’t rehearsed before going in. It was immediate back-on-full-blast amazing.

Did being the former guitarist in Soulfly help you while producing the first Cavalera Conspiracy album?

It definitely helped make everyone in the room feel comfortable in the room. I think Max felt good and comfortable coming in; which is always one of the most important things in the creative and studio process. It felt like I was working with an old friend which I think helped things go smooth and easy. There was a real great live feel going on. No click track on the drums. All the guys in the room just finishing the writing and arranging right there on the spot. We captured the live energy. It was a little different than the way I usually work but I just went with it because Max and Igor have that chemistry. It’s almost better that way than confining things to tempo maps.

As a member of Machine Head’s first line-up, what do you think made that band so special?

There was definitely something powerful and organic happening chemistry-wise and timing-wise back then at the beginning of Machine Head. It was the first band I ever played in. We were writing music for ourselves: with no agenda. Yeah, we wanted to be a successful band and turn it into a successful business but there was no pressure, no deadlines, and no record label. We were doing it for the pure love of metal. You can’t ever go back to that. Once that first album cycle was over it was a totally different world. For me it was a little bit hard to settle back into participating in the songwriting with Robb and Adam for writing the second album. I was feeling a lot of pressure. It was a very different environment in my brain – I think for everybody else too.

Watch Machine Head’s ‘Davidian’ Video

None of you guys ever anticipated Machine Head becoming that big.

It was completely surreal. One thing led to another. The first tour we did was Napalm Death and Obituary in America, which was pretty awesome and immediately after that, we were out with Slayer as main support all over Europe. We got to Europe and the UK and the whole world there knew about us and loved it. Surreal is probably the best way for me to put it. And fun.

Why did you leave Machine Head?

I wanted to do other things in music creatively. Ultimately, I wanted to get into what I’m doing now, behind the scenes as a producer, songwriter, mixer. I really didn’t know that at the time specifically. I just knew I had to go. There are a lot of stories you could go into about the whole thing but I just felt like it was time for me to go.

After Machine Head and Soulfly you started another band called Medication (with Whitfield Crane from Ugly Kid Joe and Roy Mayorga from Stone Sour/Soulfly) that was pretty short lived. You put out one record on Locomotive Records and pretty much broke up. What happened?

During the time that that band was writing and putting itself together, I was already transitioning into being a producer and engineer. I was working at a small studio in Hancock Park at the time for pretty much no money just learning engineering and recording technique. I did a lot of the production for Medication, just learning as I went. Then on top of that we had Bill Kennedy producing and overseeing everything. I learned a lot from him on that record. At that point I really knew where I was going. I was going behind the scenes and into the studio and I focused all my efforts into building up my equipment and doing every little demo I could get my hands onto just to sharpen my skills and spread the word out about what I was doing.

It took a couple years before I was getting steady work freelance. Roadrunner United was where it took a jump. I ended up working on one of Dino’s songs. He was tracking with Dave McClain and Roy Mayorga in the same studio where I had my place. The next day he asked me to do some guitar tracks on the song so I took the track over to my place and did some guitars and then I did a rough mix and everyone ended up really liking my mix which they used for the album. It was for the song ‘The End’ with Matt Heafy, Nadja (Puelen), Roy and Dino that was the first single from the album. That was actually a big moment for me, too. That put my production work on (Roadrunner Records A&R supremo) Monte Conner‘s radar – he was overseeing and approving the mixes for that album. I’m pretty sure that led to Monte putting me in the studio with Max to do a cover song for a Metal Hammer Marilyn Manson comp. I hadn’t seen Max since I left Soulfly seven or eight years before. That went really well and that led to the Soulfly and Cavalera records.

Watch Medication’s ‘Inside’ Video

Shortly after that you did the first Five Finger Death Punch album, The Way Of The Fist. How did that come about?

Five Finger Death Punch was one of those unsuspecting things I did. Zoltan was funding it himself. It was their first album and it just took off. It was a pretty great success story.

The last time you played guitar onstage was the Roadrunner United show in New York in December 2005. Do you miss playing live at all?

No. I don’t miss it. I’m so happy, fortunate and thankful that I got to do what I wanted to do – which at the time was all I wanted to do. I think I had my fill of that. In the last ten years now it’s been more important to me to sleep at home every night and be with my family. With my home base here in LA I can work on projects from all over the world. I’m actually mixing a lot of bands from Europe, South America and Australia that just hit me up. These are bands that are doing it themselves. They hit me up on Facebook mostly. We work out a deal and unfortunately I never get to meet ‘em.

Diversity is the key for me. Being an artist, that one band your in has to go the distance if it’s really is going to be the rest of your life and career. That’s why I’m so proud of Machine Head. It’s pretty amazing what they’ve been doing on this album and the last album to reach a higher peak and really carve their place out as one of the most iconic metal bands in history. They’re doing more than they ever did before and we were pretty big when I was in the band.

Watch Logan Jam at Roadrunner United Concert

Is there a dream project or band that you would love to work with?

Yeah, there’s a band called Metallica! [laughs] You ever hear of them? It’s not something I really think about but I do get excited to work with big names that I’ve looked up to and been a fan of their music. That’s really inspiring for me. Actually, one project I’d kill to work on is Max Cavalera and Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan‘s new side project. I worked with Greg on a song when Max brought him in to do a vocal on Soulfly’s Omen record. Greg’s vocal delivery in the studio sounds legitimately terrifying and life threatening. I’m expecting something sick to come out of that collaboration. All I want for Christmas is to work on that album!

What’s next for you?

Something I’m really excited about in January that I’m not allowed to talk about! [laughs]. Another Channel Zero record. Some mixes for some indie bands including Dagoba from France. I actually have the end credits song in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s a very cool credit for me and was a fun project to work on as the lyrics are from the perspective of Leatherface. Totally violent and graphic. Good times.

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