Kevin Churko, Canadian musician, sound engineer, songwriter and record producer, was honored in the "Recording Engineer Of The Year" category at this year's Juno (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards) gala dinner and award ceremony held last night (Saturday, March 26) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Churko won for his work on the OZZY OSBOURNE tracks "Let It Die" and "Life Won't Wait" from the legendary heavy metal singer's latest album, "Scream". Churko co-produced, co-wrote, engineered and mixed the entire CD, which came out in June 2010.
In a September 2010 interview with SoundOnSound.com, Churko stated about the songwriting and recording process for "Scream", "[Former OZZY OSBOURNE guitarist] Zakk [Wylde] and Ozzy also started work on what was to become 'Scream', but then Ozzy made the choice to stop working with Zakk. He hadn't found another guitarist yet, and not to let work grind to a halt, he asked me to come up with things. So I wrote many rough outlines for songs from scratch, and he would listen to my ideas and tell me what he liked and didn't like and what he was looking for. He'd write melody lines and lyrics to my ideas, and other songs started with melody lines and lyrics he had developed on his own, to which I'd give him feedback.
"The way we worked together was very interactive. Ozzy knows what he wants and he can instantly tell whether something is good or not. He wasn't there the whole time while I was working, which was great, because he could come in with fresh ears and tell me whether I was going in the right direction or not. Adam Wakeman was also very instrumental in the earlier writing process of several songs. We'd fire ideas at each other via the Internet.
"Writing, recording and mixing the album took one and a half years altogether, but we were not working all the time. Ozzy wrote his autobiography, I did records with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and IN THIS MOMENT, we both went on holidays, and we both did a lot of other things during that period. Sometimes I'd work alone at my studio. I don't like calling the material I recorded at this initial stage demos, because I don't believe in too much pre-production. In many cases, the best things happen early on, and I really try to capture those moments, rather than do things time and time again and eventually end up with something stale.
"The process was that once we had an idea, I'd play a scratch drum track and I'd then overdub other instruments to get the idea across. I'm not a great guitar player or piano player, but I can fool around enough on these instruments to give Ozzy an idea of the track. As soon as we had some kind of scratch sketch going, Ozzy would start to hum some melodies, which I would record. We'd use that as a rough guide to further develop the beds. Ozzy's actual vocals were laid down probably midway through the whole recording process. As soon as we had a final lyric and melody, we'd record some solid vocals and then I'd build everything else around that, sometimes replacing or changing what we had done earlier.
"Obviously, the vocal is the most important element, and I like getting a good vocal take early on. Everything else has to be designed to support that. Once we were confident of the song structures and arrangements, and once we had the map for each song, we got the band in to give the tracks some love. Even though we ended up replacing many things, if the original ideas sounded good, we kept them. Of course, the players would change their parts as they felt appropriate. I particularly encouraged Gus G. to get involved in that way, and both he and [Rob] Blasko [Nicholson, the band's bassist] really came prepared and gave it all they could. I'm sure it was an unusual situation for Gus to be in, but he selflessly and graciously worked hard and laid down some great tracks."
Ozzy previously said about Churko, "[Kevin is] a great guy for me to work with, 'cause he plays a little bit of everything — of every instrument — and he's good to work [with] in the studio."
An in-depth interview with Churko about the making of "Scream" can be found at SoundOnSound.com.
A "Scream" EPK (Electronic Press Kit) in which Ozzy and Kevin talk about the making of the album can be viewed below.