"I walk in and, like,
Three years ago, Rausch took a flier and left
Sunday, Rausch will get "all snazzied up" in his brand-new suit, join Wilson and their wives in a limousine, and head to
"I'm pretty excited. If I was just going as a bystander, I don't think it would be as much fun."
He's never been to the Grammys, and only once to
Like Swift, Rausch is only 24 but has amassed a precocious resume in a short period. He has worked on projects with Pink,
"I set goals for myself. I wanted to not punch another person's time clock by the time I was 25. I did that by the time I was 20 -- I was working for myself. And I was like: I want to win a Grammy by the time I'm 30 -- or at least be nominated. And I did it by 24," he said from his suburban L.A. recording studio.
Yes, he already co-owns a studio,
"He's really into aiming high and making sure he understands what my vision is," said Wilson, the
"He's serious about his work but he likes to laugh. He's conscientious. He doesn't get stressed out. His skill level makes it easy to forget he's in his mid-20s."
Impressed on Day 1
In 2009, when Wilson was still living in
Rausch and Ciletti hit it off on the very first day of his electronics class at IPR.
"He came up to me and said 'I need to be busy,'?" recalled Ciletti, who has worked with Hall & Oates, Pavarotti and Live Aid.
He was impressed by Rausch's mechanical skills and eagerness to learn -- he showed up early, stayed late and soaked up everything in between. Before long, Ciletti asked the new student to be his teaching assistant for a class Rausch hadn't even taken, and to work in Ciletti's equipment repair shop in
Wilson, too, was impressed by Rausch's technical acumen and work ethic, but had to teach him about studio protocol with artists.
"There were small things, like I used to fidget, or when I was working and I'd be thinking, I'd speak out loud quietly," admitted Rausch, who asked Wilson for critiques after every session. "Part of my job is being in the room but people don't know you're there."
Indeed, an engineer needs to be invisible but still very present. His task at a recording session is to be the audio expert -- setting up the microphones, adjusting the sound levels and capturing the music as perfectly as possible -- while the producer concentrates on the quality of the performances.
Rausch took Wilson's feedback to heart -- and his gigs with the ever-busy writer/producer haven't stopped.
The youngest child with three sisters, Rausch grew up in
He also spent time in the pole barn working on projects with his dad, a machinist and mechanical engineer.
"If his drums needed a part, they'd go to the shed and make it out of metal," recalled his mom,
A heavy-metal fan, Rausch was so fascinated by drums that he decided to go the home-school route for his senior year of high school so he could play with a
That experience sparked an interest in going to a music college to study drums. At the last minute, he switched to IPR to further his technical skills.
Engineering "is what I was made for," said Rausch, who now drums only in church.
Not to worry. Rausch has become part of Wilson's family. Rausch and his wife, Julie, who waitresses and develops training manuals for a chain restaurant, have spent their past three Thanksgivings with Wilson and his wife and two daughters. Rausch also house-sits for Wilson when he's out of town. And he engineered Wilson's second solo album, due for release this spring.
"He's a genuine, nice person. He's a gentleman," said Wilson, who will also get a Grammy if Swift's album takes the big prize. (All of the producers and engineers on album-of-the-year winners share in the award.)
A casual, bearded dude who favors jeans, T-shirts and casual Toms shoes, Rausch has learned how to make himself invisible in the studio but also when to speak up and how to interact with the singers.
Typically, Wilson spends a day and a half getting to know an artist, and writing a song with them. Rausch is usually summoned to the studio midway through the second day or on the third day for the actual recording. Even though the sessions are fast-paced, he gets to hang out with artists during downtime.
"Pink was a lot of fun," he said. "She has an amazing voice. She's very down-to-earth. She isn't full of herself and pompous like some people might expect. She's very nice, actually."
Swift recorded the song "Treacherous" and "
"She was exactly like you'd expect," said Rausch, who recently joined the
Even though both he and Swift were born in 1989, Rausch said, "I don't think of age anymore. All the guys I work with are, like, 20 years older than I am, but they all treat me as an equal. We're on the same playing field. I wouldn't say we're friends, but it's not like working for Prince. It's definitely more personal. You become part of their life for that period of time."
Rausch considers Wilson, Ciletti and other veterans he's worked with to be his "audio fathers." They, in turn, are proud of him.
"I never had any doubts that he'd do well," said Ciletti, who still corresponds with him regularly. ("John is a great communicator, but not a great speller.")
"He's a whiz kid," chimed in
"He's thoughtful. He's a people person. And he has humility. He reached out to me last week, and he didn't even tell me he was nominated for a Grammy."
Twitter: @JonBream -- 612-673-1719
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