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).
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.
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”.
When I first approached my toms about doing this, they were slightly hesitant. They giggled and said they had “experimented” with this type of stuff back in college, but that was “almost ten years ago”. I persisted, claiming they would be doing it for the sake of art. For the sake of melody! “Trust me”, I said. “I promise. No funny business. This is all on the up and up. It’s for my blog!”
Finally, three bottles of bordeaux later, they reluctantly agreed and allowed me to take them back to the studio. They insisted, however, that I couldn’t film it. I knew I still had a loophole. They said nothing about multitrack recording. “Fine”, I said. “Whatever makes you comfortable”. I dimmed the lights and pulled out some SM 57s. I then mounted both of them, providing just enough distance to prevent bleed, but close enough where I could still reach both of them.
We went at it for at least an hour. Trying various techniques. Placing things in unconventional locations. After a few rounds, we finally achieved what I was hoping for. And just in time. There was a knock at the door. Standing in the entry way to my studio was one of Boston’s finest. Apparently, my neighbors had called 911 and complained about the noise. I told the officer we were wrapping things up and apologized for the inconvenience. He was understanding, if not a tad bit jealous, and gave me nothing more than a warning.
In the end, the experience was even better than I had anticipated. I was able to capture the magic on tape and everyone involved was satisfied. I even let the toms spend the night in the studio.