Metallica’s ex-producer Bob Rock spoke in an interview with Decibel Mag and explained the difference between an engineer and a producer. Here’s the statement:
“Especially nowadays, it’s quite different. Back [in the ’80s], the engineers took care of recording the sonics, the technical part of recording. That’s what I did.
The producer, at that point, was the overseer, the direction guy, the guy who worked with the artist. As an engineer, I translated what the band and [Bruce] Fairbairn [who produced Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ wit Rock engineering] wanted to hear. That was the sonics.
When I made the transition to producer I realized I was bringing in more than the sonics. I was a musician, too. I was constantly working at it. I knew how to do it [the act of recording], but I really wanted to know how to do without interpreting somebody’s idea.
I wanted my own fingerprint. I don’t think I was the producer I turned out to be. Mike Fraser was my assistant throughout my years as an engineer. I eventually realized I couldn’t do both as I became a producer. That’s when I’d get Mike Fraser to help me.
In the ’80s, there was a certain sound that I got that people liked. I continued to develop that. That was part of my production. To be quite honest, each artist had a set of personalities. I had to deal with that. As an engineer, I could always be the nice guy, the guy who could hang.
As a producer, you have to consider budgets, time, dealing with the personalities, and the songwriting. There’s another aspect to making music, especially with artists’ personalities.”
Click here to entire interview.