https://soundcloud.com/behindthekit/episode-46-jon-mattox

Behind The Kit is great podcast talking with professional drummers about their journeys in music. I was thrilled to be a guest, and we discussed lots of topics related to drumming, composing, recording, technology, and the business of music.

Visit the Behind The Kit Podcast site for more interviews and conversations with musicians who happen to be called drummers.

 

 

Found some 2006 footage of a NI Vokator ‘drums processed by vocoder’ experiment. Tonight re-assigned midi to Waves Morphoder and this was the result. Groove is 11/8 or 4/4 + 3/8. I wish they would bring back Vokator.

In layman’s terms, these are some pretty weird sounding drums.

 

While setting up for a drumming session, and a bit under the weather from allergies, this rhythm appeared. It felt odd (as in odd time) while playing it, but, it turns out it is a syncopated 2 bar pattern in 4/4 time.

The video starts on the ‘one’ and the snare beats land on “2”, “4+” (first measure), and “3” (of the second bar).  Then the next day, I started hearing the snares on “1+”, “4”, and “2+”. However it is felt, it really is a 4/4 pattern. My composer friend Eric Goetz hears the fist snare on “1”. Perhaps you can decide where the “one” is.

This rhythm is currently under investigation, and I’ll post some final thoughts in the future. For some reason, I keep thinking that Jon Hassell, had some unconscious influence on this.

 

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After the Experimental Composer/Percussion Workshop among the massive amounts of drums and percussion, I found a beautiful hang drum sitting there looking lonely. I picked it up, started playing, and some magical sounds came out. I had always wanted to play one, and now I must get a few. A wonderful instrument.

Recorded in light challenged conditions with an iPhone 5.


 

The dark humorous clip above is from the movie Whiplash featuring Miles Teller. He’s a drummer getting hammered by a band leader about tempo, that elusive skill that musicians (especially drummers) strive to perfect and control. Time is everything for a drummer and it can be difficult to control in stressful situations like this one, on stage when you can’t quite hear the other musicians well, or in the recording studio playing with “scratch tracks” – recorded musical parts that can often be rushing or dragging themselves.

In college, I rehearsed and performed with the Orange Coast College Big Band, and the bandleader, Doc Rutherford, used to scold drummers. Myself included. It was ALWAYS about tempo. In the middle of a song he would frantically wave his hands to signal the band to stop. Looking straight at me he would say things like “DRUMS! you are dragging!, Keep up the TEMPO!”. Slapping his hands on the 2 and 4 with the force of a gunshot, he would get my attention and keep me focused. The older horn players next to me chuckling and laughing sometimes just added to the stress.

It was a good ass kicking for a young cocky rock drummer. Doc was never quite as intense as the Miles Teller clip above thank goodness, but he did have a passion for jazz, playing with the right feel, and authenticity. Doc helped make me and many other musicians become better because he did care, and wanted us to learn.

While I don’t think that aggressiveness is the best motivational strategy, working with people that have a passion for their work, and know what they want, can push the inexperienced to new performance levels. Throwing chairs is not best method though..



An experiment replacing the snare with a 14″ floor tom, an octoban played with the left foot, and no proper high hat. Featuring FMP percussion and Istanbul Agop cymbals. I often get inspired by different setups, mixing things up a bit, and seeing what happens. This groove appeared soon after setting up a 26″ Gothic Radius cymbal which compliments the toms. Technical note: This was the first time had used Michel Joly modded Oktava 219 mics on the toms.

A quiet groove that I can imagine someone like Jon Hassell or Brian Eno layering some soundscapes on top of.

 



Any day that I get a call from Roy Burns is always a great day. I’ve known Roy for many years first as a teacher, which turned into a mentor, which later turned into a friend.

On this occasion, he called to let me know that some footage of his drumming with The Benny Goodman Orchestra had surfaced on YouTube. This is a rare treat since this was from an age before everyone was recording concerts with smart phones.

The song is “Sing, Sing, Sing” recorded at the World’s Fair in 1958. Roy was in his early 20s at the time and his drumming is spectacular!


 

A bit of a soundcheck before laying down some drums for the score of “Little Paradise”. Douglas Pipes was the composer, and he was looking for an open, dare I say ‘jazzy’ type drum sound for his music. There were no close mics used, just 2 room microphones and a mono overhead mic.

This is the kind of studio drumming that I enjoy a lot – oragnic, dynmaic, and real sounding tracks. You can hear some of the finished cues that were used in the film in this post.


 
Hand technique is like anything else. Use it or lose it.

Before jumping into composing or recording, most mornings I’ll run through some sticking exercises, rudimental drumming, coordination patterns, and sight reading to keep in shape.

The above video features improvised flams and flam taps, and few other rudimentary bits. Traditional flams, especially in drum lines, are usually played with a firm military execution. I prefer the Steve Gadd approach where he injects feel into rudimental based grooves and fills.

Most objects usually speak out rhythms and patterns to me as I’m doing these sound design sessions, and with two of the water heater panels in front of me, this rhythm emerged. It will inevitably end up on a future piece of music. Captured by my son on an iPhone:



One man’s trash is another man’s excuse for a sampling session. After dismantling our old water heater (we upgraded to a tankless system), the old enclosure panels were screaming to be heard.

I talked my son and his friend into helping me out, and I quickly put them to work. Grabbing my trusty ‘hazard mics’ (a pair of Tascam TM-78s), and some long Canare mic cables, I pushed record in Pro Tools and let the sampling begin….

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The kids had fun banging on metal and making lots of noise.

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I of course got to be a kid too, and smashed up some metal and also created some thunder:

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