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.
Here’s a four measure loop that will make patchouli oil ooze from your speakers.
Here’s my loop response from the following request:
“I’d like something that can go behind a slow acoustic guitar without taking over.”
I immediately thought of Russ Kunkel’s brush-ballad playing from those early 1970’s James Taylor records. I tuned the snare down nice and low, kept the groove nice and simple and rounded things out with a bit of reverb.
I’ll admit, I started off today’s recording session with a rather uninspired wank-fest. Not really sure about what to play, I inevitably ended up doing some mathematical-fusion-funk-jazz grooves that only Kenwood would appreciate. Then I discovered a new reverb plugin. A plugin so magical, it inspired me to play a plethora of 70’s, heavy duty, straight up rock beats. The kind of drum grooves that make you want to do disturbing/illegal things with mud sharks.
While I’ve been able to mix and edit in my studio since I moved in, today was the first day that my kit was mic’d up and ready to record. I’m actually set up in a temporary room inside of my house (my wife loves this) while I figure out how I’m going to wire up and properly soundproof the carriage house. Are there any electricians in the New England area who will work for beats?
My current tracking room is much livelier than the one I was in prior to the move. With lower ceilings and hard wood floors, it’s a lot LOUDER and brighter than its predecessor. Over the next few days, I’m going to focus on taming some of the harsher frequencies and acoustically tuning the space. Until then, it’s great for laying down grooves that are supposed to sound raucous and dirty.
Today’s loop pays homage to “Check Your Head” era Beastie Boys. I opened up the snare and went for the ringiest sound possible while depending heavily on ambient room mics to capture the entire kit. During the mix, I took the stereo drum bus and used a pitch shifter to lower the overall loop by four semitones. This really beefed up (I promise to never used that adjective again) the sound of the groove while retaining the original tempo and feel.
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.
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.
Have you heard a Zeibekiko groove before? I hadn’t… until this morning when I received this email from one of my readers in France:
First I do appreciate your blog, it’s fun to read, well written (even if, being a french reader, I’m not the best judge…), with nice loops… My drumming moment of the day (I’m not a drummer).
I would like to share a rhythm that fascinates me. No reason for that, but it does… Some years ago, a greek friend of mine lent me some greek music : pop singers, traditional from islands… and a CD of rebetiki songs. One rhythm caught my hear : straight, firm, slow, but kind of unstable, in a pleasant way. It’s called zeibekiko, and it’s a 9/4, 60bpm, divided as follows : eqe qq eqe qqq (e=eighth, q=quarter), in a 4+5 division… I love this 9th beat.
If you want to listen some :
Firm, slow and unstable? Sounds like a job for me. I’m always up for a challenge (especially when it’s an odd meter), so I decided to take a stab at laying down a Zeibekiko groove. After listening to a few songs online and eating three pounds of baklava, I figured I’d approach it from a more contemporary angle. I used the kick and snare to outline the basic rhythmic cadence and filled in the rest with sixteenth notes on the hi hat. If you’re having trouble identifying the downbeat, just listen for the shaker. If you’re still having trouble, have a few shots of ouzo.
Normally, going out to lunch isn’t a big deal for a high school student, but my school had a “closed campus policy” and even employed a full time security guard to make sure kids weren’t leaving the premises. This made the noontime adventure all the more exciting… almost like a prison break.
It was a process that involved reconnaissance, agility, patience and courage. Crawling on our stomachs, diving behind cars and hiding behind bushes. If it wasn’t for that scholarship to Berklee, these lunchtime escapes would have been the perfect gateway to a career as a Navy SEAL.
Once we safely made it into the my friend’s Land Cruiser (we would always take his car since it had the loudest stereo… complete with 12″ subwoofers), we’d roll down the windows, crank some Rage Against The Machine and taunt the security guard as we peeled out of the parking lot, making our great escape.
To make sure I was recalling the details of these adventures accurately, I just emailed one of my old cohorts to do some fact checking. I believe his response sums things up perfectly:
“We went to buy that album the day it came out over lunch. Look it up, but I would bet a few bucks that it was 4/16/1996 (Evil Empire). I remember one of the songs getting quiet (like all of them do), and all of us looking at each other knowing they were about to kick some a**.”
Sneaking out of school, eating bagels and kicking some a**. This is what my senior year was all about.
This loop goes out to all of those kids back at Valley High who are still fighting the man, breaking out of school for lunch and driving around in luxury SUVs.
One of my good friends, a fellow drummer and former classmate, offered me the chance to ‘babysit’ his cymbals this week. He was going down to New Orleans for Jazz Fest and, knowing that I was busy recording a series of loop packs, was kind of enough to loan me his vast array of cymbals.
When I set up to record today, I felt like a kid in a candy store. I had two cases FULL of various cymbals to choose from. Everything from Sabian HH crashes to Zildjian A Custom hi hats to Bosphorus rides. I love my own collection of cymbals, but it’s always exciting and inspiring to play with a completely fresh set up. It’s amazing how the inherent tonalities of a new instrument can completely change your approach to performing.
I set up two of the Boshporus ride cymbals and immediately found myself immersed in up-tempo bebop and way-out-there fusion for the next hour. I recorded everything and saved it on the external drive. I then realized I needed to crank out a loop for the blog….
I’ll admit, this loop sounds like I’m banging my right hand on a trash can lid… but it’s actually one of the nicest sounding ride cymbals I’ve ever played. You’ll get to hear its true sound soon. There are several gigabytes of grooves which I’ll be editing, mixing, rex’ing etc over the next week. For now, I give you the low-fi, filtered, dirty, bad babysitter version.