3 Artists Produced by Brad Wood After He Worked with Liz Phair

Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville is one of the most celebrated albums of the 1990s, and it was a perfect representation of the indie rock ethic. Phair would widen her circle of collaborators on future albums, but for her first and best-known album, it was close to a true solo effort. None of the songs were co-written, and Phair did not rely much on other musicians to record the songs. But if anyone besides Phair is associated with Exile in Guyville, it’s Brad Wood. He not only produced Phair’s 1993 debut album but also performed all of its drum parts. Wood played a variety of other instruments as well, including bass, guitar, organ, and percussion.

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Wood would go on to produce or co-produce three other albums for Phair—namely Whip-Smart (1994), Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998), and Soberish (2021). He has produced numerous other artists, too, including several based in Chicago like Tortoise, Red Red Meat, Tar, Seam, The Lilacs, and his own band, Shrimp Boat. Wood wasn’t limited to producing bands in that scene, and some of the other albums he produced or co-produced achieved greater commercial success than Exile in Guyville. Here are three of the other artists that Wood has produced besides Phair, and they are among the most notable ones he has worked with.

Veruca Salt

Fresh off the success of Exile in Guyville, Wood wound up producing Veruca Salt’s debut album American Thighs due to one of the band’s two singer/songwriters being in the right place at the right time. Louise Post showed up at the offices of indie label Minty Fresh Records with a cassette of demos, just as label head Jim Powers was looking for a band to fill a suddenly vacated spot in a local arts festival. Powers was impressed by the songs and booked Veruca Salt to play the show. About the same time, Powers had made an arrangement with Wood to produce seven singles, including B-sides, for Minty Fresh. Rather than produce a series of singles for different artists, Wood proposed to use his entire allotment of songs to make a Veruca Salt album.

The final result, American Thighs, included the song that has become Veruca Salt’s signature, “Seether,” as well as the modern rock hit “Number One Blind.” Veruca Salt would move on to make their follow-up Eight Arms to Hold You with Bob Rock, but they would work with Wood again for their 2015 comeback album Ghost Notes.

The Bangles

After a decade-long hiatus, The Bangles began touring again in 2000, and shortly thereafter they began work on their fourth studio album Doll Revolution. After a difficult experience working with David Kahne on Different Light and then shifting to Davitt Sigerson for Everything, The Bangles brought in Wood to co-produce Doll Revolution. Instead of making it in a studio, they recorded it in a rented house in Beverly Hills, California, adding to a more relaxed atmosphere than the ones they experienced with their two biggest albums.

Drummer Debbi Peterson told Modern Drummer she appreciated working with Wood, a fellow drummer. Said Peterson, “I alternated between a really deep metal snare drum and a couple of wood ones. … [Wood] had a couple of amazing snares, so it was fun to experiment during recording.”

While Doll Revolution did not attract the same level of attention that The Bangles’ pre-breakup albums did, it did register on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, peaking at No. 23. The single “Something that You Said” charted in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

The Smashing Pumpkins

Frontman Billy Corgan approached Wood to co-produce The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1998 album Adore, and it became one of the most commercially successful albums the producer had worked on. It’s one, however, for which he had a limited impact on the final product. Corgan fired Wood midway through the sessions due to what he perceived as a lack of attentiveness and enthusiasm. On his LiveJournal site, Corgan bemoaned that he and Wood had not been on the same page, writing that his experience was like “trying to convince somebody their meal tastes better than it does.”

Upon firing Wood, the band left Chicago and finished the album at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, with Corgan doing most of the production. Flood, who had co-produced the Pumpkins’ preceding album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness with Corgan and Alan Moulder, was brought in to do some production work in the latter stages of making Adore. The album fell far short of the success achieved by Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but it still reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and received Platinum certification.

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