If you’ve spent any time reading the liner notes of classic ’90s rock albums, there’s a very good chance you know the name Michael Beinhorn. As one of the era’s top record producers, his credits include some of the best and most popular records of the decade: Soundgarden’s Superunknown, Hole’s Celebrity Skin, Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, Soul Asylum’s Grave Dancers Union, and many more.
In a way, it was all a happy accident for Beinhorn, who got his start in New York City’s avant-garde music scene in the early ’80s. But after he co-wrote Herbie Hancock’s electro-jazz smash hit “Rockit,” Beinhorn became an in-demand producer, getting his big break in rock by working with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their commercial breakthrough, 1989’s Mother’s Milk.
From there, he worked with some of the biggest personalities in alt-rock. Beinhorn is a warm conversationalist, and he was happy to tell stories about the making of some of his biggest projects. He discussed the struggles of making Superunknown, the awkwardness of dealing with drummer-related drama on Celebrity Skin, and whether the chaotic party atmosphere of Mechanical Animals ever got in the way of work.