Rick Rubin: My Life in 21 Songs

From LL Cool J to Kanye West, Slayer to Tom Petty, Johnny Cash to Dixie Chicks, producer reflects on more than three decades of challenging music's status quo

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Danzig, "Mother" (1988)

James Hetfield and Cliff Burton from Metallica were the ones who told me about Glenn Danzig's previous band, Samhain. I'd seen the Misfits earlier in the punk days, but they said, "You've got to check out Samhain. They're the coolest band now."

I loved Glenn Danzig's songwriting. I sat in on a rehearsal with Samhain, and I realized the guys couldn't really play. It felt like it would be hard to record them and make it all it could be. So I asked Glenn who his two favorite drummers were, and he said Phil [Taylor] from Motörhead and Chuck Biscuits. So we called both, and Chuck wanted to do it. So we got Glenn's favorite drummer, but when he played with the other members of Samhain, it became more apparent that we needed more than a new drummer. So we held auditions and ended up finding John Christ, the guitar player. This became Danzig.

Glenn wrote all the songs, including the majority of the parts, other than maybe the guitar solos. Although sometimes he even wrote those. He had a very clear picture of the songwriting. I remember Glenn being really excited about the song "Mother" and telling me that, content-wise, it's one that he'd been wanting to do for years and just never really found the way to do it. For him, it was a breakthrough in writing. I remember when we were recording, Glenn had laser-beam focus on all the parts. It was so much fun hearing him sing it. It was a trip. That song has got such a great vibe, and he's such a great singer.

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