Producer Martin Bak: From Metallica Stage Drummer to Global Inventor
Witten by: Sherrilynn Colley

Producer Marty Bak owner of SLR Studios in Windsor, Canada started his music career around the age of 9 when he started dabbling with the drums and formed a band. Later he conquered the guitar, developing a great feel for riffing out and song-writing. Bak began to write songs with his band and they recorded them with producer Glenn Fricker at Spectre Media. He instantly became inspired, falling in love with the process and investing in gear. “I never really thought of making a business out of it until local bands heard my recordings and hired me, it basically spiraled, band after band until I became a full-time record producer.”

One of the highlights of his career, and the catalyst for his interest in music, was getting called up on stage to play drums for the last song at a Metallica show in front of 30, 000 people. Bak reveals, “It was definitely a life changing moment.” Another career highlight was recording a song with Interscope artist Billy Raffoul for a Sony PlayStation game. Bak also co-wrote a song named “Get Me Out” with the rock band No Resolve, “Our song received over 50 million streams.” Bak adds, “I also mixed and mastered professional musicians like Tony Franklin the Fretless Monster (The Firm/Robert Plant) Matt Bissonette (Elton John) and Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Star) when I mixed and mastered Christian Vegh’s last two albums (Mi5-Universal Music Group). One of the most recent highlights was mixing an upcoming single for a major label band called Sick Puppies.”

When I asked Bak who he would like to produce if given the chance he chose Papa Roach. “Those guys emerged in the music industry SCV-pics2-216x300-1in 97’ and have been grinding ever since.” He loves that this band reinvents themselves after each album, either with song-writing, or production. “It seems that they’re always evolving with and moving beyond current production standards.” Bak explains, “I’m definitely a nerd when it comes to new sounds and production tricks, so if I ever had the opportunity to collaborate or produce their band, I would certainly give their sound an edge.”

His advice to young producers wanting to enter this field: “Be absolutely sure that you want to pursue music for a living, almost to the point that you’ll die trying to succeed in the industry.” He adds, “there’s lots of competition out there, you have to be willing to sacrifice your social life in order to potentially leave a mark and earn a living.”

Has COVID-19 affected his career and the way he does business? He has definitely slowed things down and he hasn’t had any clients in the studio. Bak has been taking on lots of remote production/mixing/mastering services. “As bad as most of the world’s situation is, my career and the current technology that’s available allows my business to run safely and stay afloat during these catastrophic times.” His hours have changed as well -instead of working 12-16-hour days, he is only working 5-10 hours. “This allows me to see my family and my life now has a healthier balance that I should try to keep once the world is back up and running.”

His advice for aspiring producers or musicians trying to create music at home, is to use this pandemic period of disruption to hone their skills while there are limited distractions. “We are affected by social distancing, you can really build your sound, expertise in the industry and knowledge base of production/software. There may never be another opportunity or gift of time like this to focus, improve and create, so turn off your phone and get to work!”

Bak was positive when looking to the future and feels that artists and producers are going to get even better at a younger age. With software becoming more advanced and easier to utilize, he predicts more artists/producers will learn the craft and begin pumping out music faster than ever. “The downside is that this market will be saturated with people creating music that is bad and shouldn’t be out there whether it’s the song-writing, mixing and/or production.” However he is confident that “the cream will always rise to the top.”

This producer is confident that musicians will survive because you will always need a human to play a part in most songs. “There are some groups out there that have only a few instruments on their recordings, but the live shows will ALWAYS require musicians to perform.” He adds, “musicianship may slow down in the studio, but there will always be room for them in the live scene.”

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Bak feels there’s an upside to everything, especially in music. “With COVID-19, and billions of people locked in their homes during quarantine, streaming numbers are through the roof both in music and movies.” He points out that, “movies have many songs or clips of songs throughout their duration, so every time someone watches a movie, that artists/songwriters collects a royalty for their placement.” With fair compensation song-writers can do well. Bak states that “You have to adapt quick to survive, and that means always researching and keeping an ear out for new software/sounds. Leave your ego out of it and always strive to improve your craft no matter what.. even if you win a Grammy award.”

Bak uses some of his COVID down time to develop other products to help improve music production. His first invention the “X-Clip (dual microphone clip) went world-wide and is used by pro musicians and iconic studios. SLR teamed up with Royer Labs in Burbank California to design a microphone mount which will also be available across the globe at stores like Sweetwater, Guitar Centers, Long & McQuade, Musicians Friend and more.
SLR Studio’s success is enhanced by Bak reputation as one of the easiest and nicest producers to work with and it shows in his optimistic belief that for every negative, there is a positive in this world. “Yes, this pandemic has affected many lives, but shortly after this has passed, you’ll see an influx of newer/better ways of living along with improved technology and efficiency that will help make not only our industry but the world a better place to live in

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