Interview: Jason Mariani
Ojai, California-based producer and sound engineer Jason Mariani has not only earned a Grammy Award for his work with the British folk-rock group Mumford & Sons, but has also sat behind the controls for projects with pop singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins, blues singer/songwriter Joe Bonamassa, and all-purpose drummer Simon Phillips (Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Hiromi, Joe Satriani, Toto, The Who, Robert Palmer, Judas Priest, 10cc, Tears for Fears).
As if that’s not enough, Jason’s additional production, mixing and engineering credits include the pop band Supertramp and swing revival act Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, plus iconic blues and jazz/fusion guitarist Robben Ford. Most of the celebrated engineer’s artistry currently takes place behind the sound board at Carbonite Sound in Southern California.
As the analyst of the audio samples recorded with Attak Piks, Jason gained first-hand knowledge in what sets them apart sonically from standard flat picks.
Q: How unique are the Attak and Ambush Picks from a sound wave standpoint?
A: In analyzing the recorded files, I have to say it’s a pretty interesting phenomenon. The Picks actually brighten up guitars without the player having to go to an equalizer on their amp. It’s pretty cool.
Q: Was it at all surprising to you that no one had ever patented Picks like this before?
A: Oh yeah, I would’ve thought that someone had done it before. When Mark and Mike explained the concept to me, that was one of my first thoughts.
Q: Are you a musician as well as an audio engineer?
A: I don’t like to call myself one. I used to play keyboards in a band, but no, I consider myself just a straight-up producer, engineer, mixer and general button-pusher now. I found that calling the first time I walked into a proper recording studio. The way all the sound integrates, and blends together, just made sense to me. I sat down, and felt that somehow I already knew the language. Then it became my obsession.
Q: Really? You never played a stringed instrument?
A: No, but working with guys like Robben Ford, Kenny Loggins and Joe Bonamassa, it’s easy to develop an appreciation for the guitar. And to hear the difference the Attak Piks make.
Q: Are you from California?
A: No, I’m a New Yorker from Queens who came out west to work in Los Angeles, but the city didn’t sit well with me. Still, I never went back east. Ojai is about an hour north of LA proper, not far from Santa Barbara. It’s like a high-end little hippie town where a lot of name actors and musicians have their retreats. It’s a place people want to escape to, so it’s not hard to get artists to want to come here.
Q: What are the latest projects you’ve worked on?
A: Because of COVID-19 impacting concerts, we’re in the midst of building up a live shooting series. The last live stream we did was with Simon Phillips, who lives nearby. He was doing themed nights at a local club, and the last one was supposed to be a fusion tribute to Weather Report. So because they couldn’t do it at the club, we did a live audio and visual stream of it at the studio. And Simon had also co-written some things with keyboardist Derek Sherinian, who’d played with Dream Theater, for an audio project where they invited Bonamassa to come in and play guitar and sing.
Q: Is there one aspect of the Attak Piks that impressed you the most?
A: Yeah, that the Picks’ ridges are such a straight-forward and simple idea that nobody else had ever thought of it! That’s something we all strive for.