Monday, January 6, 2014


IF you're a fan of extreme music, you will know the name KURT BALLOU. He is not only the iconic guitarist of one of the most influential metal/hardcore bands of the past 20 years, Converge, he has also produced some of the best albums of the genre (Converge's Jane Doe, Nails' Abandon All Life to name a few) in that timespan as well. If you hear any of today's top bands in the extreme metal scene you'll hear Ballou's influence. Coming up this year Kurt will be spreading his knowledge about recording and producing with a series of online courses. Recently we were able to reach out to Kurt and talk to him about recent projects, influences and pick his brain about producing. This is indeed a very special "ME"TAL 101 conversation, enjoy!

HMT: When you were producing Nails - Abandon All Life, did you have any sense that it would be such a popular album? Even Max Cavalera is wearing a NAILS tshirt in his latest Soulfly video.

KB:  Yeah, I had an idea that Nails would make a big impression.  Todd writes killer riffs and has a great work ethic, so I knew people would hear about it.  Plus they found a way to bring somewhat of an existing sound and scene to a whole new audience.  

Critically acclaimed album by Nails "Abandon All Life"

HMT: Converge's Jane Doe, is considered by many (myself included) as one of the most influential hardcore/metal albums of the last 30 years. Who would YOU consider to be the most influential band in the hardcore/metal scene in the last 20-30 years?

KB:  Probably Black Flag.  They were a big inspiration to just about every aggressive music sub-genre.  They melded elements of hardcore, punk, metal, noise, prog, and doom in ways that previously seemed impossible.  Much like Nails has done, they brought sounds from one arena to another and showed fans and musicians of varying tastes what their common ground could be.  

Album of the year (2001)/decade (2000s): Converge's JANE DOE

HMT:. How does coming from a background in bioengineering translate to what you do as an Musician and producer?

KB:  The medium is different, but the idea is sort of the same - tinker with shit until you get it right.  

Kurt in studio with Code Orange Kids
HMT: I hear that you will offering recording courses online in 2014. What is the most important lesson you've learned throughout your own career as a producer?

KB: Always use your ears, always follow your instincts, and don't discount anyone else's ears or instincts because they don't line up with your own, or because of their inability to communicate them. Everyone has valid opinions so keep your ears and your mind open.  

HMT: Converge has recorded recent split's with Dropdead and Napalm Death, who would you love to work with either as a musician or producer in the future that you haven't yet?

KB:  I dunno.  Anyone that is great at their craft.  Off the top of my head, I'd say The Melvins, Pissed Jeans, Superchunk, Slayer, or Big Business.  

HMT:  Lastly, when can we expect a new Converge album or EP?

KB: No plans as of yet, but I've been writing riffs.  Something will happen some day.   


For more information about Kurt's online courses on production and recording click on the link below.

 Also check out some important links/contacts pertaining to Kurt and Converge below.



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