As we find ourselves at the end of the month, I just wanted to remind those of you who were thinking about subscribing and downloading Volume II that the clock is ticking. In less than twelve hours from now, Volume II will be yanked from the shelves and replaced with the much anticipated and highly touted, Volume III. By subscribing before midnight (EDT), you’ll have the chance to download over 200 loops in the next 24 hours… all for the stupidly low price of $9.95.
For those of you new to the blog, here’s a preview of some of the loops inside of Volume II:
157_DeathCabbage – Indie rock meets your backyard garden. Poppy enough to get signed to Atlantic Records yet dirty enough to be welcomed in Williamsburg.
118_CoolQuest – A series of grooves and fills inspired by the one and only, ?uestLove. Afro and hair pick not included.
300_BeBop – What, you were just about to ask when I’d include jazz loops? Consider yourself served. Uptempo and aggressive bop for your inner Sonny Stitt.
96_Cowbell – I’m bringing cowbell back. As I previously mentioned, my favorite percussion accessory is now out of retirement and back on the dance floor.
129_Distorted Shuffle – Who said shuffles were just for blues bands? Step back from the speakers. This set of shuffles is about to kick you in the ‘nads and walk off with your girlfriend.
118_AfroCuban – The product of my collaboration with Bob Reynolds, this set of loops brings together the traditional Bembe patterns of West Africa with the slickness of a coked out LA session musician from the 80’s.
For today’s loop, I recorded the drums as dry as possible…. which means I brought out the t-shirts again and covered up half of the snare. I recorded this with the intention of distorting it during the mix… and a ringy snare with distortion can sometimes sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. My mix sounds more like fingernails on a dry erase board.
You might recognize these drums from the amazing intro music to my latest and shameless self-promotional video.
While cleaning up my studio and preparing for the big move, I stumbled across a folder of notes and lesson materials from my Berklee days. Inside this folder was everything from Max Roach solo transcriptions, to South Indian rhythmic cycles, to 4-way independence studies. Flipping through the pages of sheet music was like stepping into a time machine and being transported back to the grimey, unventilated practice studios on Mass Ave. Awh, the good old days.
While taking a closer look at the contents of the folder, one page of handwritten transcriptions jumped out at me. Quintuplet based grooves?? It took me a few minutes, but I finally remembered the source of the music. It was from one of my lessons with the great, Casey Scheuerell. I studied with Casey during my last two years of college and learned a tremendous amount from him. Not just about drumming, but also about the music business as a whole. We spent just as much time talking during our lessons as we did playing on the two kits he had set up in his office.
You Zappa Heads and prog-rockers will enjoy today’s loop. It’s geek funk to the fullest and should probably never leave the confines of your own studio. Loosely based on the above transcription from my lessons with Casey, it’s a 4/4 groove with quintuplets on the hi-hat and a 2+3 rhythmic phrasing. To make things easier for tracking to a click, I actually recorded this as a halftime groove in 5/4… just listen to the shaker for the 8th note pulse. Anyway, I’d like to see someone try to dance to it. Let the math rock begin.
It’s almost as if it were a sign from God. I was driving around earlier today, trying to think of something interesting to record and desperately scanning the FM dial for some inspiration. Then, out of nowhere, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Well, a ton of bricks drenched in obscene amounts of reverb.
“Is This Love” by Whitesnake. One of the penultimate power ballads of the 80’s, this particular track took “big drum sounds” to another level. I mean, just listen to that snare drum! I remember being 10 years old, sitting in my bedroom, trying to make my Ludwig Acrolite sound like that. Why wouldn’t it decay for twelve seconds after I hit it?? Did I need special heads? Finally, two decades later, armed with a bunch of mics and a plethora of plugins, I set out to achieve the Tommy Aldridge sound that had eluded me in my childhood.
For today’s loop, I set my kit up in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, taking advantage of it’s natural “big room sound”. I also placed a few ambient mics (wireless, of course) on two nearby satellites to help capture the overall “vibe”. All the while, a scantily clad Tawny Kitaen frolicked on top of my two 24″ kick drums. Just another day in the studio.
I’ve recently received a lot of requests for more reggae loops. Some via email, some via the comments section and some via the hippie who decided to camp out in front of my house and play his djembe all night. To prevent any sort of rogue drum circle from forming in my neighborhood, I spent the majority of today laying down new reggae infused loops.
I began by setting the click to 166 BPM and experimenting with different delays on the snare channel. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a trick I picked up from Stewart Copeland and can be heard on more than a few Police songs. The secret to making it really fit in the groove is to set the delay to a dotted eighth note and slightly filter the resulting notes. You can listen to Stewart explain this unique effect in this video (just forward to the 4:00 mark).
Today’s loop is a four bar phrase with one of Stewart’s signature tom fills leading into a crash on the “&” of beat four. And yes, you’ll be able to obtain the rest of the loops from this session when Volume III is released on August 1st.