EMURG’s Unsung Heroes Series: Justin Rimer
EMURG delivers once again with another exclusive interview with an artist that has had a profound impact on the music scene. Continuing in our ” Unsung Heroes Series”, EMURG gives readers a glimpse into the life of guitarist/musician/producer Justin Rimer. Justin’s resume ranges from producing and playing for the band, 12 Stones, to being one of the co-founding members of the band Breaking Point, but exactly who is Justin Rimer and why do we consider him an unsung hero in music? Luckily, EMURG had the opportunity to sit down with Justin and find out that he’s just more than another figure that slings a guitar on stage….
EMURG: Can you give our audience a little info about who you are and your history as a musician?
Rimer: I got my first guitar when I was about 12. To say life changed then is an understatement…. I immediately started playing in bands at the age of 13. In my first band all we did was play covers of The Misfits, Samhain and Danzig. By the age of 15 I was playing in an all original punk band called Faust. We used to play the world famous Antenna club in Memphis and made our first record and would sell the cassettes at our shows and in the high school halls. Purely about making the music and enjoying playing without any worries of what we now know as the “music business.” Those were the good ole days! At the age of 18 I moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to go to college for Music and Video. I played in numerous death metal bands down there and went on my first national tour in 95′. The south Florida metal scene was amazing to say the least. We were a very tight family and had a blast. Fast forward to 1999, I had moved back to Memphis working at a local music store and started the band Broken, which would eventually become Breaking Point. Breaking point got a record deal and we toured and had the time of our lives for about 6 years. I then joined 12 Stones and made records and toured with them for about 6 years. Those years were absolutely insane and wonderful to say the least.
EMURG: How did you get your start in the music business? Is being a musician something that you always wanted to do as a career?
RIMER: While attending music college for engineering back in 92′, I had the opportunity to work in a studio located in N. Miami called Outline Studio. This is where I really learned what the recording and producing process was all about. I was a fly on the wall for years just soaking up every bit of knowledge I could. We made some great records down there and the experience I gained was priceless… After I had made it back to Memphis, I got an entry level position at the world famous Ardent Studio’s. When I say entry level, I really mean entry level. I did everything from taking out the trash daily to tarring the roof! All the meanwhile soaking up any bit of knowledge I could with every chance I got. I finally made my way into the Studio there as an assistant and was fortunate enough to watch the masters make hit records. I was even the assistant / fly on the wall for the first 3 Doors Down record among many other hit records. I’ll never forget one night after 3 Doors had all left, the engineer Matt Martone and I were there cleaning up tape or something and we had just been working on “Kryptonite” and “Loser.” Matt and I looked at each other and just knew that this was going to be big. Very big… Within a few months after this they were the biggest rock band out there….
I always wanted to be a professional musician. Knowing that the odds are tough, I knew that Producing records would be the next best thing… I never stopped making music and working on my dream though.
EMURG: You’ve played with such bands as 12 Stones and Breaking Point. How did you get your start in each band and what was it liking playing in each band?
RIMER: While I was working at Ardent Studio’s, we had the band Broken (Breaking Point) going full speed ahead. We were always playing shows and promoting our band any and every way we knew how. There was no social media back then, so the days of going to every street corner in town and posting your flyers was alive and well. Ardent saw some potential in us and gave us a Spec deal to help us record our debut EP. Once I had the finished product in hand I went and met the local program director Rob Cressman with the bold idea of maybe getting some airplay. We already had a buzz going and a few labels peeking their heads in to see what was going on. I had a meeting with Rob one day and as I was about to ask him if he could maybe give us some spins, he stopped me before I could even get it out and said ” Justin, I’d be glad to spin your music.” After this day we went to #1 on the stations playlist and began selling out every venue we played. It was truly amazing.. We eventually signed with Wind Up Records which was an amazing label. Still to this day I don’t know another label like that…After making 2 records, good success at both Active rock and Hot AC radio and touring our butts off, we called it quits as a band in 2006. I had become a staff writer basically for Wind Up Records at this point and got the call one day to write and co Produce the new 12 Stones album. Paul McCoy, Skidd Mills and myself spent countless hours writing and making a great record. After it was done Wind Up offered me an A&R job. 12 Stones needed a guitar player as well. I had become so attatched to the record we made that I opted to join 12 Stones and chase my band dreams once again. A hard decision to say the least, but it’s what I had to do… We made 3 albums together and toured relentlessly. It was wild…
EMRUG: You have had a strong presence within the music industry as a great composer/musician and you have further extended your talents with co-owning your own studio, “CrossTrax Studio”. What led you to go this direction in your career and what has the experience been like for you?
Rimer: I always knew one day I would hang up my hat as a touring musician and become a full time Producer. I was beat up from the road and had given everything I had to the point of exhaustion. An amazing friend of mine had built the beginnings of a studio in Memphis years ago and one day I went to check it out. This place was amazing. He gave me the opportunity to start my business here and build this into a killer studio. To say that I’m blessed and forever grateful doesn’t even do it justice. I’m now a year and a half in and booked up for months now. All the roads I have been down have led me here. To wake up every day and go to my studio and make amazing music is a dream come true. I’m making more music now than I could have ever imagined.
EMURG: What is a typical day like for a musician such as yourself while out on the road or in the studio? Is it the typical rock star life that everyone believes or is there more to being musician than what meets the eye?
Rimer: Ha! “Typical Rock Star life” is something people have no clue about. There’s amazingly gratifying days of being in bands and then there’s the reality of being away from your children, friends, family and everything you know just to eat Ramen noodles everyday and live in a van or bus with 10 other guys. There’s nothing glamorous about this. Trust me! I wouldn’t trade it for the world though. Every experience you go through out there on the road is some of the biggest life lessons you can learn. Now that I’m in the studio it’s usually 6-7 days a week working 12-15 hour days. It’s hard work on both sides of this, but if you truly love music then you’ll definitely never work a day in your life.
EMURG: Who inspired you to play to become a musician? How did these influences push you to become the musician that you are today?
Rimer: Every band I grew up listening to has inspired me in so many ways. You take a piece of every song and band out there that you love and apply in one way or another in your own music. I truly think that’s the beauty of music. It’s something that is passed on and shared that touches peoples lives in a way that nothing else on this planet can do. The producers and engineers that I watched for years making hit records have been a big influence on me as well. Producers like Paul Ebersold, Skidd Mills, Matt Martone,John Hampton, Jim Gaines, Jim Dickinson, Greg Wattenberg, David Bendeth and the list could go on and on, of how these guys have been my mentors and taught me so much. Having my songs mixed by master like Chris Lord Alge, Tom Lord Alge, Ben Gross, Johnny K, Jack Joseph Puig, Mike Shipley, etc. has also been an amazing learning experience for me. I’m truly grateful for all that I have learned from these masters. Too many to mention but I use the knowledge they have passed on to me every day.
EMURG: At the end of the day, what do you hope to contribute to music as a musician?
Rimer: When you’re on the road and a fan comes up to you and tells you your song saved their life or helped them get through something that they couldn’t have gotten through without your music is what it’s all about to me. Music moves people in ways that is unexplainable. When my clients are freaking out over the magic we must made in the studio that day. That’s what music is about and how I know I’m doing my job effectively. I’m nearing almost 150 songs published now and there’s no end in sight. I just wanna make music that moves people and will live on forever. 8. What are your views concerning the music industry in regards to musicians making a name for themselves? Is it a business worth getting into as a career? Why did you choose to become a musician?
If you love music and you’re willing to do anything it takes to make this your life’s calling and profession, then by all means go for it!! Anyone can make it, but you have to be willing to sacrifice. Being a musician is not a normal life. There’s absolutely nothing normal about it. Focus your energy and skills on being an individual. Don’t worry about what people might think. Creative freedom is something that lives within you and no one can take that away as long as you don’t let them. I chose to be a musician a long time ago and have no regrets. Making music is something our souls need as musicians. Don’t let anyone stop you.
EMURG: What is the best piece of advice that you can give musicians who are trying to break into the music industry?
Rimer: Practice. Write. Practice and then write even more. You’re biggest knowledge in music in any form comes from your experiences with music. Don’t let anyone bring you down or tell you it’s impossible. Anything is possible. Especially with music….
EMURG: What is on the horizon for you as as not only a musician, but as a producer in 2013-2014?
Rimer: CrossTrax is slammed making records over here. We have a lot of records coming up in 2014 and made some really great ones in 2013 that are about to break out. I’m currently producing the new Full Devil Jacket record. This band is back and coming out swinging. Its been a pleasure making a record for a band I was always a fan of.
I finished a record a few months ago for a band called Trash the Brand. This is definetely the most unique rock record I’ve ever made. This band is about to blow up. Stay tuned.
Another band I have produced recently was Another Lost Year. It’s the first record I made here at CrossTrax and they’re already achieving radio success and touring relentlessly. They’re up on deck to be making their new record soon.
My first pop artist about to come out of here is Babak. We just shot his debut video and this guy is insanely good. Full length will be out soon on CrossTrax Records.
Lots of other solo artists and bands I’m working on. So keep your eye out for CrossTrax!! Big things coming. Bands can hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org about Producing, writing or mixing. Cheers!!