Producer/engineer Brian Moncarz gives off the best vibes. Why wouldn’t he, when he’s found that sweet spot where true talent is grounded in pure love for music and a commitment to lifelong creative growth? Mentored early on by his good friends Bob Ezrin and David Bottrill, Moncarz progressed from musician to mixer and producer, eventually building his own studio, Rattlebox North in Toronto, where he works today. He’s centered in the world of rock, but sometimes leans toward roots, blues, punk, and aggressive rock, the common thread being his desire to push great musicians to reach the outer limits of their creative capabilities. He’s achieved this goal many times over, collaborating with the likes of Our Lady Peace, Fantastic Negrito, Bleeker, Circa Survive, The Trews, The Tea Party, and Secret Broadcast. A mentor to others, Moncarz has seized the opportunity to give back, teaching production and mixing workshops at Toronto’s Ryerson University.
Moncarz’ approach to getting the best performance from a band is uncomplicated and unfussy. “I just want to do, and I don’t want anything to slow me down when I’m trying to be creative in a room,” he says. When it comes to studio gear, Moncarz appreciates versatility but leans toward single-purpose tools. “I think that at this point in my career, I’m comfortable coaxing sound out of anything, but some pieces are a lot easier to coax sound out of than others.” And, he knows how to keep things fresh. “I’m very much a creative soul, so I like shaking things up and trying to do things in new and different ways all the time.” And then there’s Moncarz’ signature sonic authenticity, which he gets from tried-and-true faithfuls, including the Manley Massive Passive EQ. “Now, that’s the sound of my mix,” he says. “Other things come and go on the mix bus pretty regularly, but that one always stays.” The Massive Passive has an organic element that speaks to Moncarz. “It’s probably the most musical EQ that I’ve ever worked on,” he says. “I almost primarily use it for mixing situations, because I do spend a lot of time with it, and I love just turning the knobs and listening to how the music plays back. It’s so musical; it almost feels like playing an instrument. From the bottom end to the top end, you can do so much, open up the mix; whether you’re boosting or cutting, it has such a desirable sound.”
The Massive Passive’s reliability has earned Moncarz’ trust, allowing him freedom to continually explore new sounds. In his rock n’ roll world, he counts on the Massive Passive for both power and beauty, and it never holds him back. “I will say that I hit it very hard; I’m pretty heavy-handed with it,” he says, “Usually, if you look at the gain structure, it’s up pretty high. Usually, each band is above ten.” He doesn’t do much cutting with it, because he likes the sound it imparts. “Whatever will get me really nice harmonic distortion is usually what I go for.”
While the rest of us look forward to more great work from Moncarz and Rattlebox North, the Manley Massive Passive will be there for the ride. “There’s not a mix that I’ve worked on in eight years that doesn’t have a Massive Passive on it, and I’m being 100-percent honest,” he says. “Every time I try something else, I always go back to the Massive Passive. I can’t say enough good stuff about it. It’s one of the most magical boxes, to my ears.”