Indie Rock Drum Tips + REX Files

Some things to remember next time you play drums in an ‘indie rock’ band:

– The more your snare drum sounds like a cardboard box, the better.
– Never, and I mean never, mention those Dave Weckl albums you owned in high school.
– You’re going to look like a total douche in those skinny jeans no matter what you do. Just deal with it. Or you can always go the Tommy Lee route.

Fabrizio Moretti - The Strokes
Fabrizio Moretti - The Strokes

Loop #55

For today’s loop I played a pretty typical “indie rock” beat. A semi-limp left hand, no fancy business on the ride cymbal and just enough groove to make the girls dance. To take some of the extra sheen off, I re-amped the drum bus and turned on the bit crusher.

And for some exciting news: Starting tonight, I’ll be including REX files of every loop. Tell all of your DJ friends to start dropping in some “Gruss” at the clubs.

Preview Here:

[audio:110_indybit.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (195MB)

Get the .wav file here.

Get the .rx2 file here.

110 BPM

Phoenix

I first became a fan of Phoenix after hearing their track, “Too Young”, in the 2003 movie, “Lost in Translation”. I was struck by how tastefully this French band combined dance grooves, rock guitars and pop melodies. Typically, this blending of genres is a recipe for disaster (apologies to The Bravery) but Phoenix pulls it all together in a very refreshing and musical manner. Perhaps it’s all of the coq au vin and Bordeaux?

To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, check out this clip of their recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.

phoenix

Loop #54

Today’s loop is heavily inspired by Phoenix and their approach to combining a pulsing, dance beat along with the grittiness of a rock groove. To achieve this sound, I used a lot of gating on the individual tracks, some sub bass on the kick, and an amp simulator on the overheads.

Preview Here:

[audio:121_phoenix.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (75MB)

Get the .wav file here.

121 BPM

The Car Game.

If you happen to be following me via Twitter, then you already know that today’s loop was at the mercy of God… err radio programmers. See, I decided to play a game of sorts. I declared that I’d base my loop off of whatever song was playing on the radio when I started my car. It’s sort of like playing Russian Roulette… without the guns and bullets.

It could have been ugly. Knowing my wife drove the car last, the dial could have been left anywhere. I expected the worst. Some Creed. Perhaps some Carrie Underwood. You just never know. I guess that’s the excitement.

To my joy, as I turned the key, I heard a familiar drum beat. Some super slick production. And vocals that had a slight hint of Mouseketeer. Awh yes, it was Justin Timberlake’s, “Like I Love You”.

The Neptunes
The Neptunes

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like this song. Actually, I own the album. Produced by The Neptunes and Timabland, it’s a surprisingly funky and soulful debut record for someone who used to look like this.

Loop #48

For this loop, I decided to slow things down just a bit and leave a little more space. The tuning and production is very similar, with lots of high pitched, ringy snare drum and a dash of heavily compressed room sound mixed in.

Preview Here:

[audio:110_JT.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (82MB)

Get the .wav file here.

110 BPM

Flaming Hot Dance Beat

Sorry for the delay in today’s loop. I’ve been at the ER all night receiving treatment for third-degree burns to my scalp. Nobody told me I shouldn’t use Nair on my dome.

Rough Night.
Rough Night.

Loop #42

File this one under The Walkmen meets Dizzy’s Party.

Preview Here:

[audio:152_dparty.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (62MB)

Get the .wav file here.

152 BPM

Old is the new New

There’s recently been a resurgence of the classic “Motown Sound” in modern music. Artist like Jamie Lidell, Amy Whinehouse and one of my favorites, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings have been infusing their twenty-first century tracks with both the production and feel that came roaring out of Detroit in the early 1960s.

sharon_jones_and_the_dap_kings-100_days_100_nights_b

Loop #41

This loop is dedicated to the legendary Uriel Jones who sadly passed away last week. If you want to learn more about Uriel (and the history of the greatest rhythm section ever), then I highly recommend watching the documentary, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”.

Uriel Jones and James Jamerson
Uriel Jones and James Jamerson

Preview Here:

[audio:130_mtown.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (85MB)

Get the .wav file here.

130 BPM

Double the Snare, Double the Fun.

I’ve been using two snare drums in my live set-up for the past several years. Typically, I’ll use a smaller, higher pitched drum to the left of my hi hat (usually my 10″ Premier) and a bigger, fuller sounding 14″ snare as my primary drum. This gives me the option to switch up textures from song to song or within the songs themselves. For example, I might use the 10″ snare during the verse section of a song and then move to the 14″ during the chorus to help open things up.

Two snares in London.
Two snares in London.

I’m definitely not breaking any new ground with my two snare set up. This has been a technique used for years by a variety of touring drummers. Try catching Steve Jordan, Matt “butter is the magic carpet to flavour” Chamberlain or Shawn Pelton in a live setting and odds are that you’ll see more than one snare up on the drum riser.

Loop #35

Today’s loop is a twist on the double snare approach. I used my 14″ brass drum for all of the back beats while using the smaller auxiliary snare for timbale-esque fills.

Preview Here:

[audio:98_2snares.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (36MB)

Get the .wav file here.

98 BPM

Bring on the aliens.

Tonight’s loop started off as your typical meat-and-potatoes-brushes-on-snare-write-some-folky-or-cheesy-funky-shit on top style beat:

[audio:103_wtfb.mp3]

I quickly became bored with it. Does the world really need another folky/cheesy funk beat? I’ve already given you about 10 of them.

I started tweaking the mix with various Logic plug-ins and then I finally stumbled on this little gem:

the wtf? filter
the wtf? filter

They call it the “Spectral Gate” but that name sort of creeps me out. It makes me feel like I should throw on some Nike high tops and wait for aliens to show up. I prefer calling it the “wtf? filter”. Perhaps Logic will consider this name change for the 9.0 release?

Loop #30

Bring on the aliens. And listen to this while you wait.

Preview Here:

[audio:103_wtf.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (57MB)

Get the .wav file here.

103 BPM

One for the Hippies.

Get those djembes out! If you’ve ever met me, then you know there’s nothing I love more than a good drum circle. Take a large group of hippies (preferably ones that haven’t showered in at least a week), light some incense and place them in a public park. Give them a wide assortment of hand percussion and lose yourself in hours of endless tribal drumming (with origins that stem deep into the suburbs of Boulder and Santa Cruz).

Masters of Rhythm.
Masters of Rhythm.

Loop #27
Inspired by a rare Phish b-side, here’s a loop you can really jam to, brah.

Preview Here:

[audio:108_dcircle.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (33MB)

Get the .wav file here.

108 BPM

Kick and Snare.

That’s all I’ve got today. My right hand is still gimped up and I’m in the middle of upgrading my studio with more RAM.

mo' ram, mo' loops.
mo' ram, mo' loops.

Loop #20

On this loop, I was going for a sampled, dance vibe (but on a live kit… with one hand). To achieve this, I cranked up my 6 1/2″ x 14″ brass snare and taped one of my LP jingle sticks to the batter head. I loosened the heads on my 22″ kick as low as they’d go (without wrinkling) to obtain as much attack and low end as possible. I placed a Shure SM57 in the far corner of the room and combined this track with a bit-crusher to add some dirt. I then gated and compressed each individual drum track until some club kids with glow sticks started to knock at my door.

Preview Here:

[audio:tambosnare.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (57MB)

Non-Logic fools, get your .wav files here.

120 BPM

Business in the front, party in the rear.

Back before Michael Jackson was hosting questionable sleepovers, hanging babies over balconies and serving up Jesus Juice, he released a string of classic albums. My favorite of the pre-Wacko Jacko era is, without a doubt, his 1979 release, “Off the Wall”. You don’t need to slip me a funny drink to enjoy this record.

off_the_wall

The drummer responsible for the infectious grooves on Off the Wall is John “JR” Robinson. Not only am I a fan of JR’s playing, we also have a few things in common:

1. We were both born and raised in Iowa.

2. We both attended Berklee College of Music.

3. We both sported mullets back in the day.

John "JR" Robinson

Loop #10

Today’s loop is a hat tip to JR with a post-mullet twist. A 16th note pattern keeps things moving while an AutoFilter and a touch of distortion add some sonic coloring.

Preview Here:

[audio:sholo.mp3]

Download the Logic session here. (33MB)

110 BPM