Category: Rock

In The Toms Tonight

Loop #136

While I might not use single-headed toms with Pinstripes (I stick to the coated Ambassadors), one two three things that Phil Collins and I have in common is our love for Gretsch drums…. and gated reverb. Lots of gated reverb. Also, coincidentally enough, we both have major butt-chins.

With the toms on my bebop-sized kit (18″ kick, 12″ tom & 14″ floor tom) cranked up high, this four bar loop is a somewhat hypnotic, tribal pattern ending with four 16th note flams on the snare (with the strainer turned off).

Phil Collins

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90 BPM

With Coffee

Loop #135

I’m not even sure if Trent Reznor drinks coffee (he strikes me as the type that might consume it by the gallon), but assuming that he did, and that he happened to spill that coffee all over his console while mixing some drum tracks, I think the end result might sound something like this. Angry, yet precise, odd meter drumming crushed all of the way down to 5 bits. Black. No Sugar.

And while I’m on the topic of NIN, here’s a great interview regarding the making of the epic 2005 industrial/electronic/punk/funk/rock album, “With Teeth”.

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99 BPM

Drums Wide Open

Loop #132

This is what it sounds like when you take a drum groove with no muffling (even on the kick) and run it through a completely overdriven Brownface amp.

Not just for guitars

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108 BPM

Get Out Your Hacky Sack

Loop #127

Take a little bit of Sublime, mix it up with a dash of 311, and you’ve got yourself some serious stoner-funk-reggae. This particular genre requires one very ringy, high-pitched snare drum, some off-beat hi hat skankin’, and an extra large brownie.

Crunchy grooves, brah!

Here’s a four measure loop that will make patchouli oil ooze from your speakers.

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78 BPM

7 Days

I’m not referring to the lame Sting song (ok ok, I admit I like it… relax), I’m talking about the seven days I just spent on vacation in Mexico. Without going into too many details (most of which, I can’t really remember anyway), my wife and I just returned from a much needed getaway to Tulum. A place where the sun is hot, the beer is cold and the tacos are cheap. In other words, my Heaven.

Watch out for the Green Fairy

Loop #126

To celebrate the return from my seven day vacation, I decided it would be appropriate to record a series of loops in 7/8. Here’s a two measure snippet from today’s session, the rest of which, will be made available to my loyal and extremely good-looking subscribers on April 1st (not a joke).

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135 BPM

Lez Zeppelin And The Importance of Ghost Notes

Last night I had my ass kicked by a bunch of girls. Lez Zeppelin, the all female Zep tribute band, came storming through Boston, rocking a capacity crowd at The Middle East. I should have been prepared for what was to take place. My good friend and former bandmate (and current Lez Zeppelin bassist), Megan Thomas, contacted me a few weeks ago, telling me about her latest musical endeavor and inviting me to their upcoming Boston show. Megan is an amazing musician, so I knew she would nail all of the classic John Paul Jones bass lines. What I didn’t know, however, was how well everyone in the band would nail EVERYTHING. Especially the drummer.

Lez Zeppelin
Lez Zeppelin

With a 26″ Ludwig bass drum, 15″ Paiste 2002 Sound Edge hi hats, and a massive gong behind her kit, drummer Leesa Harrington-Squyres not only had the exact set up of the late John Bonham, she also had the same incredible feel and power. From the aggressive and sloshy intro of “Rock and Roll” to the odd-time stomp of “The Ocean“, Leesa channeled the spirit of Bonzo and flawlessly reproduced every back beat and fill in the Zeppelin catalogue. From the ghost notes to the sextuplet bass drum riffs to the massive pocket, it was all there.

Loop #121

Today’s loop, while not a direct copy of any particular Bonham groove, highlights the same underlying ghost notes found in many of his beats. In this case, the notes appear directly after the 2 and 4 of each backbeat, almost giving a sixteenth note type delay effect on the snare.

Editors Note – No mudsharks were harmed during the making of this loop.

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88 BPM

Snow Day

I had intended to spend most of today locked in my studio, laying down all kinds of new loops, guzzling a few gallons of coffee and writing my usual “top-notch” commentary… but that didn’t happen. Boston’s first blizzard of the year had other plans for me. Like shoveling snow all afternoon. Awesome.

Boston Blizzard

Loop #116

I did manage to crank out one quick session before the day was over. While I was breaking my back, digging out my driveway, I was listening to Radiohead’s classic album, “The Bends”. I forgot how much I loved the drum sound of “High and Dry”. Specifically, the slapback type reverb that sits so tastefully in the drum mix. With a much more angular groove, I took this same approach when mixing down today’s session… if even a bit more indulgent in the delay.

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83 BPM

The Soundcheck

Those of you who have ever toured or played your share of local gigs will probably be able to relate with the topic of today’s post – the soundcheck. A horribly mundane, necessary evil of live performing, it’s one of the least glamorous and exciting parts of being a musician. Between the piercing feedback in the monitors, the jaded soundguy who is still pissed about getting dropped from Metal Blade back in ’89, and the stale stench of beer and puke wafting throughout an empty venue, it’s an hour of my life that I’d rather spend watching T.J. Hooker reruns.

Hammersmith Apollo Soundcheck
Hammersmith Apollo Soundcheck

Loop #114

After slowly and repeatedly hitting each individual part of my kit for 15 minutes, this is one of my “go to” grooves for a typical rock/pop soundcheck. A driving, straightforward beat that utilizes every drum (along with some eighth notes on the hi hat) it gives the engineer a chance to dial in and balance the entire kit. It also sounds a lot like the intro to “Unskinny Bop”.

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91 BPM

Dipster

Loop #113

Dipster. A groove with origins stemming from deep inside the PBR-soaked clubs of Williamsburg. On the surface, it may sound like a rather straight ahead dance/rock beat, but it is actually a sonic melting pot of culture; Ironic mustaches, American Apparel, trust funds, Vice, David Fridmann. They all, in one way or another, contribute to the dipster DNA. So, what are you waiting for? Download this loop, load it up in Logic, set up some mics in your bathroom, and record a song that pitchfork will approve of.

She must be listening to some dipster grooves
She's down with the dipster.

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98 BPM

The Grinder

After putting my stomach and liver through “The Grinder” (aka Thanksgiving), I figured it would only be fair to do the same with my loops. Digging into some of the other new features in Logic 9, I discovered just what I was looking for: a virtual distortion pedal appropriately named “Grinder”.

Freshly Ground Beats
Freshly Ground Beats

Loop #110

Today’s loop takes what was once a pristinely recorded, 16th note-heavy funk groove and runs it through the digital equivalent of something you’d find behind your local meat counter. Pending any FDA recalls, this loop should be safe to consume, as long as it’s stored in a cool area and cooked thoroughly before serving.

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109 BPM