December 30, 2014 The man behind the music: Remembering Rick Parashar
Coming of age in the 1990s was an interesting time. It was a time when the Hair Metal craze was dissipating and a new era of Rock was born seeing the return of a stripped down approach with out all the glam. Among the acts to usher in this new generation were none other than well recognized names like Mother Love Bone, Blind Melon, Temple of the Dog, Alice in Chains, and most definitely Pearl Jam. These bands may have the locality of Seattle, Washington in common, but the real defining characteristic was that they all had record producer Rick Parashar working with them.
Born on December 13th, 1963 in Seattle, Washington, Rakesh “Rick” Parashar and his brother Raj were always about the music. Having worked together in their basement recording studio since their teens, Rick and Raj finally opened their own facility in 1985. The 5,000 sq. ft. space with white brick walls and hardwood floors is known as the famed London Bridge Studios. It was the home of multi-platinum albums such as Temple of the Dog’s self-titled debut in 1991, Pearl Jam’s legendary Ten in 1991, Alice in Chains’ Sap in 1992, Blind Melon’s self-titled debut in 1992, among leading releases of the decade. With Rick Parashar behind the console, many would argue that these albums were a driving force that put the Seattle music scene and Grunge Rock at the forefront of America.
To the average person Rick Parashar was the man behind the scenes which received little fame for his work, but the fact is without his guidance and experience some of the era’s most impressive Rock tunes such as Alice in Chains “Would?,” Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow,” and Blind Melon’s “No Rain,” may have sounded entirely different. As a record producer and engineer, Rick Parashar did more than simply guide, he also helped these bands create with his musical talents contributing organs, percussion, and Rhodes Piano on Pearl Jam’s tracks “Jeremy” and “Black” adding a darkened and haunting feel to the songs. Extremely accomplished, his reach did not stop with Seattle based acts and in 1998 he worked with San Diego, California Punk Rockers Unwritten Law, producing their first charted album of their career. In 2001 he was behind now international Rock leaders Nickelback’s breakout album Silverside Up, to which he received a Grammy nomination. A year later he worked with 3 Doors Down on their sophomore platinum selling effort Away From The Sun. These albums solidified Rick Parashar’s place as the premier Rock producer of the time. While these are some of his most well-known pieces of work, perhaps some of his best work came with Alternative Metal bands of the time getting their feet on the ground. Some of those highly impressive albums, less known to the mainstream, was U.P.O.’s 2000 debut No Pleasantries, Anyone’s 2001 self-titled debut, Stereomud’s 2001 debut Perfect Self, Epidemic’s 2002 self-titled debut, and Outspoken’s 2003 debut Bitter Shovel. These records all had their own unique sound and the production was warm which left listeners new sounds and textures to discover which each listen.
Rick Parashar’s work was not anywhere near done though as he remained active into the late 2000s working with the likes of Bon Jovi and 10 Years. Sadly, on August 14th, 2014 Rick Parashar was taken from this world at only fifty years of age due to a pulmonary embolism which resulted in a blood clot in his leg that moved up into his lung, restricting the blood flow from his heart. Shocking to his family, friends, those which have worked with him through the years, and those in the music industry, the loss is tremendous for all. This year has been a hard one in the music world. Whether it was Jack Bruce of Cream, Tommy Ramone, Johnny Winter, Joe Cocker, Ian McLagan of Small Faces, or Wayne Static of Static-X, these men helped shaped Rock-n-Roll for generations to come. Though the musicians are due the credit for their talents, the producers in many cases are forgotten about. Their influences on music scenes, discovering talent, and helping bands hone their craft often goes unnoticed to anyone but the bands and the industry itself. When going to pop in that favorite Rock album from the past two decades that provoke so many memories, be sure to read the liner notes, chances are Rick Parashar’s name will be there.
Rick Parashar’s touched many that shared the record studio with. Below are a thoughts of list of musicians which worked with him through the years:
“Rick was involved with production on the first Stereomud record at London Bridge studios in Seattle. Upon meeting for the first time, I knew we were working with a true professional. The overall tone that surrounded him was calm and collected, yet, still sharp and attentive. He was open to hearing all ideas, and never once had an ego that could kill the mood. When not recording, while on breaks, he always had cool stories, and nice things to talk about. Rick will go down in history as one of the best at his craft, and left behind a catalog of records that could easily back that up. He will be greatly missed among his friends, colleagues, and family.”
– Joey Z, Stereomud guitarist
“When U.P.O. got our record deal on Epic Sony they asked me if I had any ideas on whom I wanted to produce the record and amongst very few, I named him, as I was a fan of the Work he did with Alice in Chains, Chris Cornell, Temple of the Dog Pearl Jam, basically all the “Grunge” Seattle Music that was happening at the time, He flew to LA we met and hit it off pretty good. In 2000 when it came time to record U.P.O.’s No Pleasantries (which spawned #5 Hit Godless as well as “Feel Alive) that is where we went, London Bridge Studios, and it was a great experience. He and his Brother Raj were both very kind and we stayed in the house where some of the bands would stay while recording there, He also co-produced our second album The Heavy in 2004 which never really got a chance to flourish. He will be missed not only by myself, but all the U.P.O. family; Chris Weber, Ben Shirley, and Tommy Holt.”
– Shawn Albro, U.P.O./Hopes Funeral vocalist
“I recorded with Rick back in 2002 with my band at the time called Epidemic. Not only was he brilliant at producing, but he was great fun to work with! I think we were the only band that truly challenged his foosball skills. Learned a lot things from him that I’m still using to this day. Very sad news when I heard of his passing on.”
– Bruce Bouillet, Epidemic guitarist
“For me working with Rick on the Anyone record was like my final master class in producing. We developed a very close friendship and he completed my knowledge in the art of producing. He really brought out the best in my vocals at that time and pushed me to be fearless and expressive, to forget the technical aspects and just emote. Rick and I were both extremely opposed to digital manipulation and we avoided all the new tools at that time, such as auto tune and protools and recorded the record on 2″ tape. As a result the Anyone record has an extremely raw, organic sound that was an authentic representation of the Anyone live sound. Above all, Rick was a generous and nurturing force and I will miss him.”
– Riz Story, Anyone vocalist