Yeah, I know I haven’t been blogging much this week. It’s because I’ve been locked up in the studio, chugging gallons of Red Bull, snorting several kilos of Fun Dip and editing hundreds of drum loops, all in preparation of the November 1st release of Gruss Loops Volume VI.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was the best series of loops I’ve ever created… if not, in the history of the internets. From South Indian frame drum grooves to super tight James Brown-inspired funk beats to uptempo bebop loops that would make the hair (and needles) on Charlie Parker’s arm stand up, this loop pack has it all.
While perusing the homepage of this site earlier today, making sure everything was in order, something jumped out at me: A major gap in my tempo categories! How did this happen? How have I not recorded anything between 260-300 BPM?? That’s prime wanking territory. I’ve spent years perfecting paradiddles and triple flama-ratama-dingdongs in the this range, yet I somehow neglected to record anything for this blog. I immediately went up to my studio, set the click track to 285 BPM and got to work.
The second-fastest loop yet to be released, today’s groove kicks of my new tempo category with some straight up bebop playing in the vein of Max Roach and Vernel Fournier. A four bar phrase with brushes on the snare drum, this uptempo jazz groove is one of many that I’ll be releasing in the next loop pack.
When I started this blog back in February, people thought I was crazy. They said things like, “Why would you just give this stuff away?” and “You’ll only keep it up for a while. It sounds like an ass-load of work.” Well, nine months and 100 free loops later, I’m still going strong, cranking out the beatz and poking fun at certain drummers. Now, on such a momentous occasion in the history of drum loop-centric blogs, I figured it would be à propos to take a moment and recap some of the highlights (and lowlights) of ryangruss.com
February 2nd, 2009
My inaugural blog post. Outfitted with some new mics, a WordPress account and Logic Studio, I record and post my first drum loop for free, public consumption. With this scrappy, funk-rock, hop-hop, indie sorta type beat in the vein of Tom Vek (with a bit of extra gain), I quickly establish my unequivocally opaque identity in the world of drummer/bloggers.
February 24th, 2009
A few weeks into my little endeavor, word about my site begins to spread around the blogosphere and my daily visitor stats start to show signs of life. Remixes and collaborations from readers all around the world begin to fill my inbox and the comments section of the blog turns into a peanut gallery of sorts for producers, engineers and musicians from both ends of the professional, intellectual and creative spectrum.
A writeup in electronic music authority, CDM, really sets things into motion and I soon find myself scrambling for extra bandwidth as my site begins crashing from too much traffic. It was official. I had created a monster. Well, a monster for music nerds looking for specific types of drum loops.
March 3rd, 2009
I begin stretching out from the more traditional funk and rock grooves and post the first of many odd-meter loops. Fusion musicians everywhere flip back their mullets and rejoice. I also begin supplying the loops in WAV format.
Pretty much totally unrelated to drum loops, I tell the first of many bizarre, mega-celebrity-encounter stories.
June 1st, 2009
Due to an overwhelming demand for more grooves, fills and styles, I begin a subscription service where members can download over 100 new loops (all in WAV, AIFF, and REX2 files) every month. There is peace in the loop world and people are happy. My house also stops getting egged.
I sit here, typing this “look back” blog post while trying to watch Entourage at the same time. Vince, why did you let Drama bring that horse into the house?? Oh wait… yeah, drum loops. Umm, so yeah. The first 100 have been pretty amazing and I’m excited to see where the next 100 takes this blog. I’d like to thank all of you who come by on a daily basis and keep me inspired with your comments and emails. I’d also like to send a special thanks to my subscribers. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to afford that extra Jaguar in the garage. I kid, I kid! It’s actually just a Maserati.
Other than Herbie’s shirt, this might be the hippest thing to ever air on a late night talk show. Sure, they don’t really have a chance to stretch, but these musical spots are usually confined to 3-4 minutes.
When I heard the heater click on in my house today, I knew it was finally time to play my Eckerman frame drum. You see, this particular drum has a calfskin head and during the more humid months of the year, the head loosens so much that the drum is practically unplayable. Now, with the air crisp and dry, and my furnace cranking out some heat, the drum has naturally tightened up to its optimal tuning range.
For today’s loop, I used a brush-in-the-left-hand technique that I learned while studying with Jamey Haddad. This allows me to achieve a high pitched, snare-like effect with one hand while pulling out the lower bass frequencies with the other. This groove is a pretty straight forward 4/4 pulse but I also recorded a bunch of South Indian inspired beats for the subscribers. Ta Di Gi Na Thom anyone?
While I’m not a big fan of packing up everything you own, moving it into a new place and then unpacking again, it does tend have its little rewards. Like rediscovering items you forgot you even possessed. In this case, that item is Joe Henderson’s incredible 1979 album, “Relaxin’ at Camarillo”. I had purchased this record back in high school while going through my “must own everything Tony Williams ever played on” phase and somehow managed to lose track of it after 10 years of continuous moving from apartment to apartment in NYC.
Not only is Tony’s playing on this album mind blowing as usual, this record was a significant musical discovery for me because it introduced me to the fantastic drumming of Peter Erskine. Occupying the drum seat for half of the album, a 25 year old Erskine definitely holds his own alongside another legendary jazz musician, Chick Corea.
Today’s loop (and bonus pack for subscribers) was inspired by the opening track on Relaxin’ At Camarillo, “Y Todavia La Quiero”. Based around an 8 bar vamp, this song not only showcases Joe Henderson’s huge sound and improvisational genius, but also Peter Erskine’s knack for driving a band with dynamics, groove and his trademark musicality. Blurring the lines of latin, funk and rock, Peter takes the chops he honed while in Weather Report and pushes this quartet into new musical territory.
Subscribers, click on the picture of a scantily clad Erskine (you non-subscribers are really missing out… trust me) below to download the bonus pack containing 10 groove variations and fills (each in WAV, AIFF, REX2 formats) from this session.