About Rob Graves

 

Rob Graves is an American songwriter and producer residing in the greater Nashville, TN area. While the Maine native is best known for his work with the multiple-Grammy nominated rock band Red, Graves has produced and written for a number of artists all over the country, garnering nine Dove award nominations and three wins.

Graves recently signed an exclusive worldwide publishing deal with EMI New York and has already landed multiple uses within the company. After ten consecutive #1s with Red, Graves recently landed his 3rd top ten active rock song with All That Remains “Hold On,” with the song still climbing.

While Graves’ primary instrument is guitar, it wasn’t always that way. “I spent years switching from instrument to instrument and I really thought I’d decided on drums – and then when I was about 14 I discovered guitar and it was all over. At Berklee (College of Music) I studied every instrument in the book, but for me it was always about guitar. Then I began learning about songs and song structure and how productions were put together. I was lucky enough to get into computer music at a young age when the technology was just evolving, so recording and writing digitally has always been second nature to me.”

After a year at Berklee, Graves finished his education at a more traditional liberal arts school, majoring in pre-medical biology and theology. “Yeah it was a strange path to take but there’s really no set road to becoming a producer. We all have our own way.” While in college, Graves was constantly sought out to produce demos for other bands and artists on campus. “I really couldn’t escape it, music just chased me down.”

So what was it that eventually brought him back to accept his calling to music?

“I’d have to say it was the passing of my younger brother, Logan. He was only 5 years old and had a brain tumor. It hit me so hard. I realized – everyone is dealing with all this grief in their own way, and all I wanted to do was write about it. To me that was most cathartic, but more importantly I realized I could influence the way people were feeling through my music and lyrics. From that I learned to pull from my emotions and put it into every song I write, or every note I play.”

After graduating and making the move to Nashville, hooking up with his former Berklee mate Fred Paragano (now owner of Paragon Studios in Franklin Tennessee) it didn’t take Graves long to find his way into the heart of the industry. “Yeah it was crazy. It was like I moved there on a Monday and was working for labels on Wednesday. I hadn’t even unpacked my gear yet before I was hired. I really hit the ground running.”

After a couple years of success in the pop world (Natalie Grant, Joy Williams) Graves realized he wanted to make a change. “I saw how easy it was to get locked into one genre here. The first thing I landed was a song on a Joy Williams record, and then I became known as ‘the guy that did teen female pop.’ Sure I love doing pop music, but I’m also a rock guy, and I knew that no record label was going to hand me over a rock band based upon the work I’d done in the pop world. So I had to do it myself.”

Enter Red.

“I used to lease space at Paragon [studios] in Franklin and I met an intern there named Jasen Rauch. I could tell he was a really talented kid and we got along, but he moved on to other things like all interns do. We stayed in touch and one day he asked if I wanted to hear his new band and give him an opinion. It turns out, that band was Red.

“It was really perfect timing for all of us. I was looking for a rock band to produce, they needed a lot of direction so I signed them to my production company and we started working together, writing songs, recording demos. We spent a lot of time making it as perfect as we could and finally ended up with a few fully produced master recordings. We were offered a record deal almost immediately and after 2 Grammy nominations, we really haven’t looked back.”

Now known equally for his rock (Red, All That Remains) and pop (Natalie Grant, Kerrie Roberts) work, this is exactly the way Graves intends to keep it. “I never want to get locked in to just being the “pop” guy or the “metal” guy. Music is bigger than that. It’s all about songs and what those songs mean to people. To me that transcends genre.”

And has it been challenging to work with such a variety of artists?

“Every project presents new challenges of course, but at the end of the day, we’re just trying to make great music. I want to be able to give all artists exactly what they need, rather than steamroll them over with my specific methods. A band or artist may just need a push to get from good to great. Fine. Others need me to write the bulk of their music, that’s fine too. Still others need help defining that sound that’s going to make them unique. I want to be able to meet them where they’re at and help them realize their vision as an artist, whatever that may be. It might even be just not getting in the way of the greatness they’re already achieving – the point is every artist is unique and needs something different from me.”

“Granted sometimes it can be a bit of a mind-bender going from genre to genre – I remember this past summer working with All That Remains, doing this really heavy material, and then later that same night working on an orchestral arrangement of ‘O Holy Night’ with [Provident Recording Artist] Kerrie Roberts. It can be a bit startling to switch gears like that sometimes, but ultimately I love it, because it’s that exact variety that keeps me at my best.”

Traditional commercial music isn’t the only scene on the horizon for Graves who just landed the Electronic Arts game “Crysis 2” trailer, and who is also slated to score two films in 2011. “I always want to keep pushing and challenging myself, and luckily I’m surrounded by a great team that keeps presenting me with the right opportunities. I’m really excited about what the year has to offer.”

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