Audeze talks with producer, songwriter and musician Zach Hord

Zach Hord is a producer, songwriter, touring guitarist and session musician based out of Kansas City Missouri. Having worked in genres from metal to gospel, Zach loves finding the right sounds for the right situations.

 

 

"I love these headphones! I wish I would have bought a pair 10 years ago. Mixing with them has been so helpful. They are honest to the reality of what you’re listening to." - Zach Hord
Here's our chat with Zach:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Producing my wife's debut album “Giants & Monsters” was such a blast and such a labor of love. We both worked so hard trying to make each second of the music interesting. Using little tricks like turning on a different reverb every 8th snare hit or just ridiculous things like that. Sonically I’m very proud of how that album came out in the end. The true test for me is if I still want to listen to a record top to bottom after it’s all said and done, and I still feel that way about Giants & Monsters.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

My main role on most projects is to be a compass. Funny sounding I know… But I like to believe that I can keep a room of song writers or musicians focused on the main thing. So in a songwriting session, keeping the lyrics very focused, heading in the same direction the whole time. Or in a production, keeping the main point or emotion of the song consistent and in the forefront all the way through.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I started playing bass around the age of 12. My father was a bass player in the 80’s.. long hair, make-up, the whole thing… I had no idea about any of this until one day he pulled out his bass and started playing and dancing. I immediately wanted to try! A couple months later, my dad took me to my first concert. Kiss and Aerosmith. CHANGED MY LIFE! I told him I wanted to do that when I grow up and I’ve been enjoying the journey ever since.

Growing up I feel so fortunate about the limited amount of music I had access to. My family would take trips to the lake every weekend, which meant 7 hours in the car. The only CDs we had were Aerosmith, Shania Twain, The Beatles, and REO Speedwagon. Just on repeat. I knew every word, every note, every weird push. I honestly do believe this was so crucial for how I hear music now. The production on those Aerosmith and Shania Twain albums are just amazing!

Fast forward to around when I was 16 years old, iPods became a thing. I had access to even more music and just listened constantly. Would come home from school and the first thing I’d do is crank my huge stereo to things like Demon Hunter or Avenged Sevenfold but would also gladly welcome some Eminem or 50 Cent in as well. Such a fun time to be alive at that point. Music was very accessible and I had nothing but time to listen.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

My Father is definitely one of my biggest heroes and champions towards my music career. He always made sure I had access to either lessons or the gear I needed to get up and running. Fortunately, if he bought me a piece of gear, I had to work to pay him back, which I think was an important lesson. It made me have skin in the game. I have seen so many young musicians not cherish what they have or were given because they didn’t have to work to get it. Guitarists can be guilty of this just in general... Always looking for that next piece of gear instead of really owning what they already have.

I’ve also had so many great mentors in my life. So many kind people that wanted to help either get me gigs, bring me along with them, or just let me borrow gear. That truly is the great side of music. The family.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

One of my biggest hurdles is balancing being creative when there are too many opinions involved in a project. I love working on a production with about 1-2 other people. So when you have a idea you think is awful, one guy can be like “Dude! Don’t delete that, that was awesome!” But anymore than 3 people in a room, a decision that should only take a second of thought, turns into a 30 minute theological debate. This gets multiplied when there are execs pulling the strings as well... But it is a part of the game and something we all have to learn to get better at.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

I am constantly using my Fractal Audio Axe Fx 3. I’ve had Axe Fx’s for over 10 years and I’m just so used to the work flow at this point.

Virtually every production I do will have Native Instruments Massive or Xfer Serum. As much as a Les Paul feels like home, these instruments feel like home at this point as well.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

Music is fun.

In the thick of doing music as a job, there will be times of falling in and out of love, at least for me there has been. But you have to remember the “why” that caused you to go down this path of music. In those moments when things seem like a job, at the end of the day, you’re working on music, and that is fun.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I’ve always loved throwing on headphones and zoning out. Letting the music take me somewhere else. I really do think that is one of the coolest things about headphones.

Typically, I throw on headphones when I’m tracking or trying to hear bass frequencies my room just doesn’t handle well.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them so far?

I love these headphones! I wish I would have bought a pair 10 years ago. Mixing with them has been so helpful. They are honest to the reality of what you’re listening to. I’ve been using them to mix my wife Michelle Hord and my new pop rock side project we’ve been working on called MORD. What I hear in these headphones is what I hear when I listen back in the car or home stereo. Finally no surprises!