Getting good and solid drum sounds at home
is one of the most difficult things the home recorder can do. Getting the equipment you need to do it right is expensive and the time it takes to get it right is extensive. But if you have the time and money, and can figure out a technique that works, the plusses are many. Youll be in the comfort of your own place, and theres less pressure. You can relax and being relaxed is key to getting a good take.
Keith Dempster from New Yorks Ground Control Studio spoke about some basics when it comes to recording drums at home:
What are the first things you do when you are getting drum sounds at home?
Keith: Hide the bong. And hide all bonglike apparati.
Whats more important, good mics, or good preamps?
Well, the most important thing in home recording your drums is the room. The room dictates the drums' sound more than anything. If you want a big drum sound, you need a pretty live room. You want lots of reflection. People may only have a small room to use, or rooms that are carpeted. But there are still things you can do to liven it up:
Get three or four 4x8 foot sheets of plywood and put them up against the walls of the room. And place one on the floor, right in front of the kick drum. This adds reflective surfaces to that room.
Also, try the garage, if you have one. Try all the biggest rooms in the place. You want reverberation. Youll need to get long mic cords so the mics can reach your mixer.
Whats a special Keith micing trick?
Its not that special, but after youve micd the kit, tuned the drums, and there are no phasing issues, try putting an extra mic just outside the door. It'll catch additional ambient sound. Its nice to have that when youre mixing. It could give your sounds character.
Talk about phasing.
When two mics are picking up the same sound, the problem of delayed sound causes phase issues. Things get worse when outputs are added together at the mixing desk. When two signals are close in frequency and level but out of time with each other, there is a phase difference. The peaks of one signal are in time with the dips of the second signal and the result is a cancellation of the signals energy. Your drums sound weak. Someone told me its like someone pushing on a door at the same time another person pulls on the same door - it doesnt move.
To get around phasing issues in multiple mic set-ups the 3:1 Rule is used:
Two mics should be placed apart from each other at least three times their distance from the sound source. In this way, the sound waves that each mic receives are different enough to minimize phase cancellation.
There are a lot of jokes to be made here about the kinds of things one could find in Ben Gibbard's pants, but I'll keep it clean and just relay the basic information straight from Nick Harmer's blog:
So tonight in San Diego, Ben got stung by a SCORPION. Twice. I couldnt make this stuff up if I tried, file this under things that really happen on rock tours. Bens okay, if not a little shaken, but we were worried for awhile because the scorpion was a little guy and when it comes to the wonderful world of scorpions, the smaller the deadlier.
Read more about the incident (and see a picture of the lil' bugger) here.
(Thanks to Matt for the tip.)
The video premier of "Skeleton" by Abe Vigoda (via Pitchfork.tv):
Speaking of Abe Vigoda--the band's guitarist, Juan Velazquez, talked to Kurt B. Reighley for this week's story "A Big, Gay Roundtable." Reighley talked to a number of openly gay artists (also including members of Torche and These Arms Are Snakes) and asked them what it's like to be in "bands that don't speak directly to a queer sensibility or engage in lifestyle marketingespecially groups that make intense, heavy music and play to primarily young male fans."
Mainstream gay media overlooks these bands. Conversely, music journalists rarely talk about their sexual preferences. Brooks estimates "less than 10 percent" of Torche buffs know he's homosexual; before a recent European tour, one well-meaning supporter e-mailed Brooks to tell him how hot Swedish chicks are. If fans hear someone in Abe Vigoda is gay, Velazquez says they often guess singer Michael Vidal. "People make the assumption, because he is a soft-spoken, nice guy. And sometimes, I'm not. I can be pretty abrasive."
Read the story here. It's an interesting piece.
Abe Vigoda play Neumos tomorrow night with Diplo, Torche also play tomorrow night at El Corazon.
Meet the Beatles: The Beatles go digital, coming soon to a video game near you.
Neil Young Cancels Show: LA show called off out of respect for picketing union workers from the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
This Trial is Doomed: Phil Spector's retrial has been haulted due to juror injury.
If You're Thinking of Getting Me a Christmas Present: The Get Up Kids' Four Minute Mile to be re-issued on pretty blue vinyl in December.
I'll Be There: Jermaine promises Jackson 5 reunion (with Michael!) for 2009.
Update: Michael Jackson has since debunked the rumor of a Jackson 5 reunion... at least one that involves him.
Aerosmith's Joe Perry has come out for John McCain:
We pretty much stay out of it, but seeing so many people come out for Obama, I just felt like What the hell, I might as well raise my hand for this side, Perry said from his Duxbury home.
The Bay State rockers have done a few fund-raisers for the Kennedy family over the years, but Perrys endorsement of McCain marks a first for the platinum-selling guitarist/songwriter. A lifelong Republican, he said he was inspired to come forward because of ringing McCain endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ive been a hardcore Republican my whole life, he told the Herald.
The McCain campaign is well pleased:
Of the rockers endorsement, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said: Joe Perry is an icon of rock-and-roll and a great American. John McCain absolutely appreciates his support.
This is the first time I've thought of the word "Aerosmith" since I accidentally watched part of Armageddon about a year ago.
There's good news on the Joe the Musician front, too: Joe the Plumber is not pursuing the country-music record deal that was offered to him:
"Joe the Plumber" seems to be creating a bona fide brand for himself.
But as to rumors that he's being pursued for a country music record deal, Joe Wurzelbacher says he doesn't know if the American people are quite ready for his crooning.
"I love country music, and I mean it's pretty much what I listen to from sun-up to sundown," he told FOX News on Thursday. "But as far as me being a country music star, I don't know. I don't think people are that deaf-tone out there."
Time will tell.
Two or so years ago, I wrote this about the video for A Flock of Seagulls' "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)":
The spaceship is at the edge of the galaxy. Its in hyper-drive. Stars and gas clouds appear, approach, and pass at the speed of light. Out here where no one can hear you scream, the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls, Michael Score, is suffering because he doesnt have a photograph of the woman he loves and will never see again. She is on Earth; he is in deep space. And the deeper he flies into the great abyss, the harder it is for him to recall her facethe end of her nose, the lids of her eyes, the flesh of her lips, the whole frame of her beauty.
Desperate, Score uses a computer to reconstruct her image. He types in a few instructions, and on the screen appears what very much looks like his lost love; he gets excited, he presses the print button, the image stutters out of the printerbut its all wrong, this is not how she looks like, his memory is failing him. Score crumples the printout and leaves the computer room with a type of grief that only astronauts can understand. If he had just one photograph of her, something to remind him, he wouldnt have to spend the rest of his life wishing, wishingwishing he had, before departing Earth, packed a picture of her into his suitcase.
...Only a small number of emotional situations can be worse than this: As the ship passes the rings and moons of Saturn, heading toward the limits of the solar system, suddenly you realizepatting your pockets, searching your bagsyou forgot to bring a photograph of the woman you love; the woman whose body, whose beating heart, whose life-breath will never be present to you again. And the space between you and her grows; and the stars are getting colder. [What sorrow can compare to] the galactic sorrow of a lovesick astronaut.
With "Wishing" in mind, I now want to consider not the video of the Cure's "Pictures of You"...
I've been looking so long at these pictures of
you that i almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you that
I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel
Robert Smith's sorrow in "Pictures" is the very opposite of Michael Score's sorrow in "Wishing"? Smith's problem is having too many pictures of the one he is missing. In space, Score is longing for just one photograph--even a snap shot, anything! On earth, Smith is tormented by an abundance of images.
What can we make of this? We can say that all the love-sick memory really needs is just one photo? Both Smith and Score would be happier if each had just one photo of the lover they've forever lost to time.
I totally thought this post was going to be about this song:
Playing In the Pocket with Eddie Bo!: New Orleans Rock & Roll, R&B, Soul, and Funk 1955-2007 (Vampisoul) last night, I came across Marilyn Barbarin & the Soul-Finders Reborn (which Mr. Bo produced) and had a mini-revelation. Check out the beginning of the song in the video below and ask yourself where you may have heard that catchy bit of scatting before.
Another mystery solved. Damn, that feels good.
-Mayor Nickels kicked off the Seattle City of Music event with an "informal" (and inaudible, since he was speaking at the foot of the Paramount stage without a mic) press conference. When told by someone close enough to hear that Nickels said "nothing substantial," the ever-quotable Dave Meinert replied, "Well, he's a politician." As soon as Nickels was done, the Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal" played, crystal clear.
-The theme of the night was to "grow" Seattle as a city of music, according to Nickels, who took the stage with a mic for what I guess was the formal part of the presentation. He said Seattle is a "great place to make music" and he wants to make it a "great place to make a living making music." He then rattled off a list of non-music-related Seattle based business, and told the story about his mom dropping him off for a date at a Rolling Stones concert. He claimed, dubiously, that "Austin has nothing on Seattle."
-The 12-year plan has three fronts: music education, music venues, and music businesses. The idea is to foster all three of those things, although the specifics of how to do that were still pretty vague.
-James Keblas argued that Seattle's strength was that it's "not LA or NY," to say nothing of Austin.
-Growing the music business in Seattle seemed to hinge on growing the wider economy, a rising tide and ships and all that, which is bad news given how the actual economy is going, although the guy from the chamber of commerce lost me when he started talking about "specialty beverages." He was one of three guys in suits, including Nickels, to invoke the word "soul" (not one of them accompanied the invocation with a black power fist, sadly).
-Tom Mara from KEXP told us that the station's CD collection could more than fill two accordion-style metro busses, and that he hopes to see it fill three someday.
-Megan Jasper from Sub Pop and Josh Rosenfeld from Barsuk were the first people to acknowledge that times are actually kind of grim for the music business right now, to say nothing of the wider economic meltdown. Returning to the theme of Seattle's exceptionalism, Rosenfeld said that there isn't another city where everything comes together as it does in Seattle.
-It really is bizarre to hear that voice come out of Vince Mira's body.
-The New Faces look like the Jonas Brothers and sound like Interpol. They'll probably be huge.
-Somewhat depressingly, the goal for music education is primarily just to restore all the programs and funding to historic levels. One speakers called music education a "race and social justice issue." The Seattle Rotary wants you to donate musical instruments to them to give to schools.
-The VERA Project's Dustin Fujikawa was probably the most engaging and animated speaker of the night, and he brought up some serious issuesgentrification, health care, a living wagethat I'm not entirely sure this plan can really address.
-Things were dragging on, so we skipped the last round of speeches, about music venues.
-The goals of the plan are great, of course, and, as a parasite on the music industry, I absolutely hope that Seattle remains and improves as a City of Music. But there was not much in the way of specifics last night, and it really seems like fostering music education and music businesses is going to be challenging in a time of economic downturn. There are some cost-effective things that could be done to make Seattle more hospitable to music venues, but most of them involve reversing the clampdownsnoise ordinances, nightclub stingsthat this very administration has initiated, or else things that are out of the Mayor and the City's jurisdiction, such as the WSLCB's puritanical regulations (in Austin, LA, and NY, I'm pretty sure you can drink a beer onstage). Still, there are some really good people behind this thing; I remain tentatively hopeful that some concrete good will come out of this.
-Oh, also, the official "Seattle City of Music" website that I couldn't get to load yesterday is up and running now, and while it's, again, long on goals and short on specifics, it has a more detailed list of, really, pretty inspiring goals than I was able to jot down from last night's speeches. Check it out.
Parts & Labor (playing the Vera Project tonight) got some love in this week's Underage column--Casey Catherwood examines the possibilities for tonight's show, given that Parts and Labor's new record seems to take their sound in a new direction. "Will they still be as grinding and grating as in the past? Will the more straightforward studio sounds of Receivers receive the old, noisy Parts & Labor makeover live? Or does the album signal a new direction for the band?"
Lou-Lou also perform tonight (at the Mix Gallery). In Data Breaker, Dave Segal describes them as "a Seattle trio who concoct low-budget electronic music that's playful and weird, but without coming across as contrived."
And from this week's Up & Comings:
Eagles of Death Metal
(Neumos) I'm normally immune to the charms of new American hard rock. But somehow Eagles of Death Metal have snaked their way into my cold, brittle heart. It could be because EODM have a sense of humor about their stock in trade in these post-postThis Is Spinal Tap days. They seem to be slyly winking with every lyrical sexual innuendo, machismo-laden riff, and clap-enhanced drum beat. The title of their new album, Heart On, exemplifies the band's gauche gumption. EODM's Jesse "Boots Electric" Hughes and Josh "Baby Duck" Homme put their manic, metallic, ZZ Toplike blues riffs through the Rolling Stones' sexily torqued rhythms, snarl and falsetto their way into your libido, and then make you sleep in the sonic wet spotwhich you do, gladly. DAVE SEGAL
Shudder to Think, the Dead Science, Capillary Action
(Showbox at the Market) Shudder to Think were something of an anomaly in the late-'80s/early-'90s D.C. punk/hardcore scene where they came of age and released a string of records for esteemed independent label Dischord. In a DIY world that forgave or even rewarded amateurism, Shudder to Think emphasized virtuosity, and frontman Craig Wedren sang with what was for their milieu an uncommonly refined, operatic style. Wedren successfully battled Hodgkin's disease, the band petered out in the late '90s, and since then he's released a solo album and contributed vocals to a dizzying variety of projects, from Mirwais's electro-disco cover of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" to Wet Hot American Summer's epic cheese-rock soundtrack to openers the Dead Science's recent Villainaire. This reunion is the band's first tour since 1998. ERIC GRANDY
Wild Orchid Children, Navigator vs. Navigator, Bronze Fawn, You.May.Die.in.the.Desert
(Comet) After being somewhat underwhelmed by my initial impressions of Wild Orchid Children's The Elephants EP, the band's set at Cha Cha during last summer's Block Party downright blew my shit away. Every member ruled his respective instrument, and the frayed-edges blues with grinding organ, unhinged vocals, heavy drumming, and impressive guitar work combined for one of the best acts of the whole festival. It doesn't hurt, either, that these dudes are some serious showmenfront man Kirk Huffman jumps and thrusts about with the best of them, and guitarist Thomas Hunter shreds like he's possessed by some otherworldly rock 'n' roll force. This band is destined to do great things. GRANT BRISSEY
According to this comments thread at Resident Advisor, Basic Channel/Chain Reaction/Burial Mix dub-techno pioneer Moritz von Oswald has suffered a stroke on a plane headed to Ireland for the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival, which he was headlining. Von Oswald is currently being treated in a Dublin hospital. We wish him all the best. Updates as they happen.
AC/DCs T.N.T.: A song embedded into the collective subconscious.
Through the cathodes and the wireless controller technologies, this woman stampeded into her arena of the sun. Aries God of War looked on, spitting blood, bellowing wolved tones, cowering in a corner.
The Wii bowler, woman of power, pulled from a tallboy, dragged from her menthol light, and vanished a Frito into the recesses of her mouth. She threw the motion of the controller forward, snapped her arm, and said, Im T.N.T., watch this explode. The ball lit down the lane, knocking over nine pins.
One pin was left standing. A lone, erect slave, hostage to the Wii bowler womans domination. She unleashed, God fucking damnit, these toy games. Then drew back the fulcrum of her arm and threw the second ball down the lane, which missed, whiffing way left.
Her faced reddened and she gently set the controller down. Usually Im the power load on this thing, she said sadly, usually Im dynamite. Im going to go home now.
With that, she was gone. She had tried to lay her claim but missed left. Bon Scott smiled down from the peripheries of what some call heaven. His claim, already laid, already taken hold. She would try again another day.
Also tonight, the Mayor's Office of Film + Music is hosting a press conference/concert at the Paramount Theater to announce its new "Seattle City of Music" initiative, a 12-year plan which, true to its comma/colon-free name, aims to solidify Seattle as a city of music, with grants for local musicians, funding for K-12 music education, and more (maybe they could make it legal for musicians to drink onstage). Greg Nickels will host the event. Blue Scholars, New Faces, and Vince Mira will perform. It's free to the public, but an RSVP is required. The official, not-loading-right-now, website is http://www.seattlecityofmusic.org/.
Without a television in the house, my television-watching habits have been reduced to an occasional late-night visit to Hulu.com, a website filled with streaming feature-length films (mostly terrible but not without a few gems), tv programs (The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert!), and scene clips of the movies you'd rather watch than the ones you're being offered.
In the thick of Halloween fever last night, I longed for some really cheesy gore. So I was happy to discover Hulu had perhaps the finest video stink, Troma Film's classic c-class horror flick, The Toxic Avenger. I was revisited to a time when I was the mildly-retarded mop boy mocked by testosterone-fueled jocks, who fell into an open drum of toxic waste and became the ultimate freak to fear. It's a movie that's almost impossible to fall asleep to.
Coincidentally, there's another Toxic Avenger that's almost impossible to fall asleep to, French DJ The Toxic Avenger. Tonight, he'll make an appearance at Chop Suey along with Franki Chan as part of the IHEARTCOMIX USA Tour 2008 (really just an excuse to distribute more of those free Scion mix CDs they recently took part in making). Toxic Avenger's music is as hastily put-together as the Troma film of the same name, with little-to-no acting. It's hyper-French-electro that makes you feel a little deformed, and like you've suffered years of abuse in just under an hour.
Hiphop producers have sampled the shit out of Steve Miller Bands music. Go here [scroll about halfway down] and witness whats likely just a fraction of the songs augmented by the choicest bits from Steve Millerwhom Miles Davis once dissed as a no-playing motherfucker.
But! Notice anything missing? Nobodys used Livin in the USA. Huh.
The songs first 60-some seconds are begging for somebody to spit fire over. Does hiphop move this fast anymore? Not so much, really, but it would be lovely if mugs (or even Muggs) upped the tempo once in a while. Anybody still remember those fantastic early Brand Nubian or Son of Bazerk records? Or Fu-Schnickens, even? Jeez, I hope so.
Anyway, this blues-rock segment from Livin in the USA of which I speak has aged very well. I bet it would sound amazing in a new rap context. Paradox!
What other song features the word "paradiddle"? None. Future Of the Left wins.
Not Going to Prison After All: Shocker! Barenaked Lady frontman escapes jail time and felony charges.
RIP Terrin Durfey: The bassist for Boilermaker (who more recently played with Pinback and the Jade Shader) has died.
Best Special Edition Packaging Ever?: The "Mega Deluxe" packaging of the Flaming Lips' Christmas on Mars will come with popcorn!
Springsteen Cancels Halloween: And blames his "catastrophic success."
Cambodia Gets Their Rock Opera: After a long-standing ban of performing arts, the country's first rock opera opens next month.
Daddy's Girl: Britney Spears will be under her father's control, indefinitely.
Christie's Goes Punk: Rare punk rock memorabilia is featured in the famous auction.
Or "Real Band? Fake Band?" pt. 2:
Frightened Rabbit are pretty much the epitome of a "real" band: they began as the solo-acoustic pub act of Scott Hutchinson before his brother Grant and others joined making them a full band, they all play guitars and drums (although, it should be noted, there is a keyboard onstage and evengasp!a laptop), and Scott sings like every chorus is ripping his heart out, his voice pealing up and away from him, straining as though he's about to burst into tears or maybe flames, like he "really" feels it, man (think Bright Eyes with an accent and more triumphalism). Their best songs build into these fucking huge choruses, all stomp and ringing electric guitars and Scott and Grant howling in harmony. And you know what? I'm a sucker for some of that "meaningfulcore" shit, and I'm totally taken by Frightened Rabbit. These are songs built for bigger rooms, bigger things, and I'm pretty confident they'll get there. Highlights of their set included "The Twist" and "I Feel Better."
It doesn't hurt that just about any banter at all sounds grret in a Scottish accent, and Scott's banter was actually pretty charming: He (rightly) complained about our city's asinine law against having a drink onstage, suggesting that Chop Suey install a beer-spraying fire hose in the bar so that he could get beered without actually having a drink onstage; he then joked that there was plenty of booze onstage it was just already in his belly (which, to the point, Seattle's law doesn't actually keep drunk people offstage, just drinks), adding that his water bottle was "pure vodka, as well." Until "world-class" Seattle fixes this puritanical shit, we should prepare to be the laughing stock of fucking Skelkirk, Scotland (population 5,839). Introducing one song, Scott noted happily that he no longer has to write the letters of the keys down on his keyboard anymore. Apparently, there was another Scotsman in the audience, and some of Scott's banter was directed to him, as was one song dedicated. Another song was dedicated to a couple of strangers that gave Scott a pre-show hug in the bar. Between that sort of thing, the huge applause for every song, the people visibly singing along in the crowd, and what Scott described as "Jesus Christ, there's the closest we've ever come to a mosh pit," it was pretty clear that the crowd last night loves this band.
This isn't the best quality live video of the band (and it's not from last night's show), but I think it gives the best impression of both Scott's winning stage manner and the band's sound, so:
Still, though, it was a smaller crowd than the Crystal Castles' sold out all-ages show down the street at Neumos, and the Crystal Castles are almost your stereotypical "fake" band: they were conceived as little more than a joke, they allegedly rip off unknown chiptune artists' creative commons tracks, they in fact ripped off the visual art of artist Trevor Brown (they supposedly did this unwittingly), their live show, although now aided by a live drummer, could pretty much be just Ethan Kath "pressing play" and Alice Glass shrieking and swinging a strobe light around. And yet, they were playing to a very real sold-out crowd; I guess the kids didn't get the myspace blast about the importance of authenticity and guitars.
Not to get all "but I was there" about it, but, well, I was there on Crystal Castles long before they played a Seattle show (I even, as if anticipating this week's discussion, proclaimed them "not a band"hilarious), and I've seen them every time they've played here except for the last time, when they opened for fucking Nine Inch Nails at the Key Arena (I was on the lookout last night for true, black-blooded goth-industrialists, but I didn't see any, sadly). Which is only to say, that even though they're just now selling-out their own headlining show at Neumos, to me it seems (wrongly, apparently) like their moment has already come and gone. Don't get me wrong, I still think the Crystal Castles have a handful of killer songs"Love & Caring," "Crimewave," "Magic Spells," "Air War," lots, reallybut I was perfectly happy hanging back in the crowd and letting the kids have their fun up front (and the kids really were tearing shit up; the whole place was pogoing wildly, the floor bouncing up and down like a trampoline). That was, until a friend of mine showed up who I think had never seen them before and dragged me into the crowd, where the enthusiasm was infectious enough to make me forget about whether or not the band's moment was up or what I was going to write about them today and just enjoy the show. Whatever the novelty or authenticity of Crystal Castles' spectacle last night, those songs still sound plenty fresh on the dance floor or the mosh pit or whatever that was.
Collie Buddz plays again at Nectar tonight. Good news for those of you who missed his show last night with Rise of the Revolution and DJ Collage. (Read up about Collie and DJ Collage is My Philosophy and Data Breaker, respectively.)
See Me River, Great American, Blind Pilot
(Tractor) See Me River boasting several popular local music veterans in the backing bandis a vehicle for Seattle singer-songwriter Kerry Zettel's earnest, strummy tunes. Their second album, Time Machine, was released this summer, featuring Zettel's deadpan lead vocals among delicately arranged baroque-pop elements. Also from Seattle, Great American deliver harmonies and midtempo twang-lite with clear voices and lovely beards. Portland's Blind Pilot also released their debut album 3 Rounds and a Sound over the summer. They made the bold choice to hitch their gear to their bicycles and pedal up and down the interstate. Blind Pilot started small, but now have a rotating roster of live contributors; up to a dozen musicians can be found onstage. Maybe they use tandem bikes? MATT GARMAN
Need more? Find everything else in our online calendar.