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Howard Benson

Howard Benson
Born Havertown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Rock, heavy metal, pop, pop rock, glam metal, punk rock, post-grunge, hard rock, country
Occupation(s) Record producer
Instruments piano, synthesizer, organ
Years active 1986–present

Howard Benson is an American music producer and multi-instrumentalist.[1] Benson was nominated for the Producer of the Year Grammy Award in 2007 and 2008.


  • Life and career 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Major Label work 1.2
  • Production style 2
  • Education 3
  • A&R Background 4
  • Awards 5
  • Discography 6
  • References 7

Life and career

Early years

Howard Benson began playing keyboards in rock bands at the age of 13.[2] He attended college at Drexel University and studied engineering. During his years at Drexel, Benson took a year off and studied composition at the Philadelphia College for Performing Arts before graduating from Drexel with a degree in materials engineering. After graduation he moved to Los Angeles and worked for Garrett AiResearch, where he worked on aircraft such as the C-5s and F-18s.[3] At that time he regularly played with his band in small Hollywood clubs and when his band finally went into the studio with a producer, he was inspired to become a record producer.[4]

His first works as producer were two albums for hardcore punk band T.S.O.L. (Revenge (1986) and Hit and Run (1987)), but the first record he produced for a major record label was Bang Tango's Psycho Café in 1989.[5]

Major Label work

Benson states that discovering Pro Tools, in 1998 while working with Sepultura, was a major turning point in his career. He was asked to produce P.O.D.'s The Fundamental Elements of Southtown album in 1999 which then became a platinum-selling record.[6] In 2000 Benson produced P.O.D.'s multi-platinum-selling Satellite at Bay 7 Studios and since then he has recorded numerous multi-platinum-selling albums there.

Over the next few years Benson produced records from acts like Cold, Crazy Town, P.O.D.'s follow-up to the multi-platinum-selling Satellite, Payable on Death, and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge from My Chemical Romance. He later produced numerous multi-platinum records such as The All-American Rejects, Hoobastank, Flyleaf, Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Seether, Third Day, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace, Adam Lambert, Skillet, Santana and Caleb Johnson.

He now works exclusively at West Valley Studios, in Woodland Hills.[7]

Production style

"The main focus for me, you know, is on the songs, and the lyrics and the vocals. I don't let anybody in the studio when I'm doing vocals. I do them myself. No one's allowed in. That's like, to me, where I really get the impact of the record across. That's something that I didn't really pay attention to early on. I was like, 'Oh, I've got to get this great guitar sound, that's important.' It is important, but what's really important is the singing, the performance of the singer.[3] Benson has openly stated that he utilizes auto-tune in the studio and that those who don't are "nuts".[8]

He has also expressed the need for star power in an artist. "When I don't see that compelling element in an artist or an artist's message, that spark you need to be an entertainment star, it can be hard. You can fix everything else, but you can't fix that."[9]

Benson prefers to record in what he calls a parallel system: "We don't do one thing at a time. When we're doing our guitars and bass, a lot of the time we're recording vocals in another room at the same time. We constantly keep everybody working. So the songs are coming together all at once."[4] After the recording of an album he has usually brought everything to his home studio, Sparky Dark Studios, where he does the arrangements and adds harmonies and his own keyboard parts.

Benson has said that he is happy to jump genres in his work, going from pop to really hard rock, and everything in between. "I worry about the songs only. If you worry too much about genres, it'll cause trouble as they change so much and so quickly."[6]


In 2010, he established and teaches the advanced production class at Drexel University's Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. In 2011, he established the Howard and Monica Benson Endowed Scholarship Fund for students enrolled at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design.

A&R Background

Year Position Label
1994-1996 VP/Producer Giant Records
1999 Consultant/Producer Enclave Records
2001-2004 Executive VP, Sr. VP of A&R/Producer Elektra Records
2007–present A&R/Production Consultant Warner Bros. Records


Howard Benson has been Grammy nominated twice for Producer of the Year:

2007 for producing Hoobastank (Every Man for Himself), Flyleaf (Flyleaf), Less Than Jake (In With the Out Crowd), Three Days Grace (One-X), Relient K (Five Score and Seven Years Ago), Papa Roach (The Paramour Sessions), Head Automatica (Popaganda) and Saosin (Saosin)

2008 for producing Daughtry (Daughtry), Mêlée (Devils & Angels), The Starting Line (Direction), and Sound the Alarm (Stay Inside)


Year Artist Album
1986 T.S.O.L. Revenge
1988 Masi Downtown Dreamers
1989 Bang Tango Psycho Café
Pretty Boy Floyd Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz
Slammin' Watusis Kings of Noise
1990 Child's Play Rat Race
Sanctuary Into the Mirror Black
1991 SouthGang Tainted Angel
Tuff What Comes Around Goes Around
1992 Little Caesar Influence
SouthGang Group Therapy
1993 Motörhead Bastards
1995 Kilgore Smudge Blue Collar Solitude
Motörhead Sacrifice
1996 Motörhead Overnight Sensation
1997 Body Count Violent Demise: The Last Days
dBh "Unwilling to Explain"
1998 Less Than Jake Hello Rockview
Motörhead Snake Bite Love
New Meanies Three Seeds
Sepultura Against
Zebrahead Waste of Mind
1999 The Ernies Meson Ray
P.O.D. The Fundamental Elements of Southtown
2000 PAX217 Twoseventeen
Zebrahead Playmate of the Year
2001 Lucky Boys Confusion Throwing the Game
P.O.D. Satellite
Reveille Bleed The Sky
2002 Blindside Silence
The Buzzhorn Disconnected
Crazy Town Darkhorse
Cold Gone Away
Skindred Babylon
Switched Subject to Change
2003 Adema Unstable
Cold Year of the Spider
Depswa Two Angels and a Dream
Hoobastank The Reason
P.O.D. Payable on Death
Systematic Pleasure to Burn
2004 Blindside About a Burning Fire
Grinspoon Thrills, Kills & Sunday Pills
My Chemical Romance Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
Papa Roach Getting Away With Murder
2005 Acceptance Different
The All-American Rejects Move Along
Fefe Dobson Don't Let It Go to Your Head
Flyleaf Flyleaf
Theory of a Deadman Gasoline
The Used & My Chemical Romance Under Pressure
The Starting Line Based on a True Story
Trust Company True Parallels
Vendetta Red Sisters of the Red Death
2004–2006 Fefe Dobson Sunday Love
2006 Daughtry Daughtry
Head Automatica Popaganda
Hoobastank Every Man for Himself
Less Than Jake In With the Out Crowd
Mêlée The War (Alternate Version)
My Chemical Romance Desert Song
The Panic Channel Blue Bruises
The Panic Channel Half Hearted
Papa Roach The Paramour Sessions
Saosin Saosin
Three Days Grace One-X
2007 Apocalyptica Worlds Collide (Only "I Don't Care) "
Mae Singularity
Mêlée Devils & Angels
Hawthorne Heights Come Back Home
Relient K Five Score and Seven Years Ago
Seether Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces
Sound the Alarm Stay Inside
The Starting Line Direction
2007–2008 Hawthorne Heights Fragile Future
2008 Gavin DeGraw Gavin DeGraw
Meriwether Sons of Our Fathers
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Lonely Road
Theory of a Deadman Scars & Souvenirs
Third Day Revelation
Zebrahead Phoenix
2009 Kelly Clarkson All I Ever Wanted
Chris Cornell Long Gone
Creed Full Circle
Daughtry Leave This Town
Dead By Sunrise Out of Ashes
Flyleaf Memento Mori
Halestorm Halestorm
Hoobastank For(N)ever
Allison Iraheta Just Like You ("Don't Waste the Pretty")
Adam Lambert For Your Entertainment
Meg & Dia Here, Here and Here
Orianthi Believe
Single File Common Struggles
Skillet Awake
Three Days Grace Life Starts Now
2009–2010 Fefe Dobson Joy
Hawthorne Heights Skeletons
2010 10 Years Feeding the Wolves
Allstar Weekend Suddenly Yours
Apocalyptica 7th Symphony ("Broken Pieces" and "Not Strong Enough" only)
The Maine Black & White
Ryan Star 11:59 ("Breathe" and "Start a Fire" only)
2011 3 Doors Down Time of My Life
Art of Dying Vices and Virtues
Black Stone Cherry Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Blindside With Shivering Hearts We Wait
Kelly Clarkson Stronger
Daughtry Break the Spell
Emphatic Damage
Saliva Under Your Skin
Theory of a Deadman The Truth Is...
2012 Electric Touch Never Look Back
Flyleaf New Horizons
Halestorm The Strange Case of...
P.O.D. Murdered Love
SafetySuit These Times
2013 RED Release the Panic
Skillet Rise
We as Human We as Human
Scott Stapp Proof of Life (Scott Stapp album)
2014 Rascal Flatts Rewind
Caleb Johnson Testify
Theory of a Deadman Savages
2015 P.O.D. The Awakening
Escape the Fate Hate Me


  1. ^ "Interview, HitQuarters Jan 2006". Retrieved Nov 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ [1] Hit Quarters, January 30, 2006
  3. ^ a b [2] Crusher Magazine, November 2004
  4. ^ a b Grammy-Nominated Producer Turns Tracks Into Gold Mix Online, Feb 1, 2007
  5. ^ Feature "Howard Benson: Producer" Crusher Magazine; November 2004
  6. ^ a b [3], May 4, 2011
  7. ^ "Gear: Howard Benson's Round-the-Clock Rock". Billboard Magazine. June 1, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Producing Hit Records". Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  9. ^ [4] May 2012
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