Thunderwood Sound is the little brick house in East Nashville where I write, record, and produce. Rather than being a traditional “for hire” studio, Thunderwood is a house-sized musical instrument—a creative, collaborative space that I share with friends, songwriters, and players I admire. Here we have the freedom to create from the heart, which takes time and patience. The fact that the proverbial clock isn’t ticking over our heads helps us to loosen up and enjoy the process. We take risks. We make art. We put our souls into the songs and don’t rush to pump out quantity at the expense of quality. Because to me, music isn’t a product, it’s an escape. A beautiful and inspiring place to go. I don’t want to just listen to a song. I want to experience it. Visually, cinematically. My favorite songs take me on a journey, and I want the music that comes from Thunderwood to do the same for you.
My own journey, the journey that brought me to Nashville, started in Saratoga Springs, NY. When I was eleven, I got my first drum set. Sure, I didn’t know what I was doing at first, but sitting in that seat, I immediately felt at home. I knew I belonged behind the drums. Years later, off at college, I found myself at a total loss in choosing a major. No standard career path interested me, but I was always playing in at least one band—and sometimes in as many as four. This brought me to a moment of clarity: If I had a shot at being really good at anything, it would be music! So I followed that path, which led me west to San Francisco where I eventually joined a band that some likeminded guys named Pat, Jimmy, Charlie, and Rob were starting up. Four years later, our band Train had our first hit song on the radio!
Early though I was primarily the drummer in Train, I knew I could write music, so I decided to start sending tracks to our singer, Pat. He took to this process right away, and from our second record onward I became a major contributor to a substantial portion of Train’s catalogue. I’d found my second purpose in the band. As I continued working with and writing music for Train, I also studied engineering and production. In the studio I watched our producers, including Brendan O'Brien, Martin Terefe, Gregg Wattenberg, Butch Walker, among others, learned from them, and contributed to their process. I realized that for me, what those guys were doing—producing!—was the ultimate gig.
Over the span of twenty years, Train sold millions of records, won two Grammys, toured on five continents, appeared countless times on TV, and recorded with incredible producers in world-class studios. Keeping any band going for twenty years is an accomplishment, and being fortunate enough to experience the music business’s highest highs was a dream come true. Train was a two-decades-long expedition of musical discovery and personal growth, and I’m so grateful to have experienced it.
Not long ago, I decided that my time in Train had finally run its course, and I retired from the band. I wanted to explore more genres of music, co-write with more artists, and do more production work. My decades of experience with Train gave me a rich education in songwriting, touring, production, and the ins-and-outs of the music business. The result of that hard work and education is this little red brick house in East Nashville.
Regarding my taste in music, a bandmate once told me, “Dude, you love everything!” It’s not that I love everything, it’s that I try to find something to love in everything. And I’m proud of that! For one thing, my generosity of taste, I guess you might call it, makes me a better producer. Because the most important lesson I learned from the studio gurus Train worked with is that the best producers don’t take over a project. They don’t impose their vision on an artist. Instead they nudge the artist toward being the best version of what they already are. A good producer will find that thing to love about an artist or song—and then nurture it.
Producing is an art. An art I’ve been studying ever since Train first went into the studio. As a friend of mine once told me, the guys who consistently make great music are the ones who keep learning new things. And now, in Thunderwood Sound, I have a room of my own, a place where I can experiment and hone my editing, arranging, and engineering skills. A place where I can take what I’ve learned about hook, melody, and structure and apply it to songs I believe in.
At Thunderwood I write and record with artists who create music because they feel it in their very blood and bones. Music is about passion, so we’re not wasting time on songs without heart and soul. Thunderwood Sound means making music that’s built to last.