23 May 2011

Track by track - 12th Avenue (self-titled) - Why I played it the way I did...

This one is for the drummers, and for anyone else who might be interested in the writing and recording process of the drum parts on 12th Avenue's latest record.

Track 1 - "Walk on the Water"

The snare sound on this track came about by accident. After soundchecking the kit and getting a good sound to build from, we decided to record this track first. It was only the next day when we starting the next track, that we realised we hadn't hooked up the underside snare drum microphone. However, when listening to the song, we realised that it gave a nice industrial sound, so we kept it as is. The song features a fairly solid rock beat with fast paced fills. It was inspired by Josh Freese's drumming on Lostprophets' 2006 "Liberation Transmission". I was also listening to quite a bit of Paramore before recording this, which inspired quite a few of the snare-heavy fills.

Track 2 - "Wasting Time"

Lots of breaks and accents in this one. I planned a lot of the fills and breaks around the guitar riffs. The guitars also help to accentuate some of the drum parts through scratches and slides, which add another percussive element to the song. The drumming during the guitar solo is bit of a tribute to my favourite drummer, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). In fact, several parts of the song are very Bonham inspired. The use of the splash and china without any bass drum or snare, just before the last chorus, was kind of borrowed from the Seether track "Burrito" where John Humphrey does a similar sort of thing. In addition to my 10" splash, I also used an 8" splash cymbal for quicker decay.

Track 3 - "Sally"

A bit more of a blue/jazz inspired track, drumming wise. Most of the drumming you hear on the track came about by accident. I really just jammed it out with the band, as I couldn't remember which part came next. I was quite surprised that it sounded so good when I listened back to the take. I tried to keep a lot of the drumming fairly simple in this one, as the song has quite a bit of dynamics to it. We went for a bit of a deeper tone on the snare and toms on this song as well, which gives it a nice vintage feel. To add to this, I used a 16" thin crash in the last section of the choruses to give an older, more worn-out feel to the song. Again, there's a big John Bonham influence, as well as influence from Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters).

Track 4 - "Taking my Heart with You"

This is probably my favourite song to play on the new record and also one of the hardest to play live, especially when singing such high backing vocals. Amazingly, it was done in a single take. More Josh Freese inspired stuff happening here. It's also the only song on the record in 6/8 timing.

Track 5 - "Lost in Confusion"

Even though it's the most simple song on the record, it took me the most takes to get right. There's nothing too crazy going on in the song, but the straight-forward beat, along with the pumping bass guitar notes, drives the song.

Track 6 - "Nightmare"

This track has a lot of subtle effects and really nice offbeats that fit in nicely with the bass guitar work in the second verse. The choruses are straight forward, but build up to an epic climax. We used a lot of the underside snare mic on this track, which makes the ghost notes in the verse sound really great. The simplified fill at the end of the song actually came about by accident, as I miscounted the bars and thought the song was ending a bar later. The explosive reverb on the bass drum at the end of the song ends the record off really well.

My drum kit! Ain't she purr-dy? :)

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