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Well I recorded my drummer this weekend. Anyway, here is my horror story, and if any of you drummers out there think i'm being to harsh, let me know...

Firstly, I wouldn't call myself a drummer, but I am somewhat expirienced. I wanted to start learning drums, so i'd practice at the studio I worked at, then eventually went out and bought a kit. Tama Rockstar Custom (fusion size). It's perfect for recording, big kick drum (18x22), smaller toms(10, 12, 14), and wooden snare(14). I always get wonderful recording sounds out of this kit, the small toms are punchy, have alot of attack, and when tuned lower, still deliver the goods. It's my expirience that larger toms sound like cardboard, and can ruin a mix.

So, my drummer is cool using my kit, since i have the heads tuned nicely, and all. His kit is a Pearl Export. He decided that my 14" floor tom isnt big enough, he wants to bring his 18 for "extra low end." Ughhh... I explained to him smaller toms sound better... blah blah blah. "Nah man, i want the extra low end." Fine, i let him use his floor tom.

Then, he says, "yo, before each song, can you a scratch guitar track for me so i have something to jam to?" I say, "Do i really have to hold your hand and walk you through each song? Don't you know the songs? I mean, you count your measures, right?" He replies, "well yea, but it's easier." I am against this for one reason, scratch guitar tracks are scratch tracks, and even though it will be to a metronome, the playing might be a little sloppy and you get the idea.

Then, in every song, he'd say, "well the verse feels normal, but the chorus seems a little fast." I explained that a metronome keeps time, and if he isnt with it, then it means he isnt keeping time.

Eventually he decides he doesnt like the metronome, and wants to play to just the guitar. His feelings "since the guitars are done to metronome, if i follow the guitars, it will be on time." Obviously, this isnt true, distorted guitars are going to be much harder to follow. But of course, I am willing to allow this, and waste more time, cause he wants to at least "try it." Of course it doesnt work...

Finally, he decides that he wont do any fills where i play a solo, that match up with the solo, cause that part feels too slow, and when he plays it on time with the metronome, he cant do it right. Funny, the rest of the song was ok, and i always told him he speeds that part up, but he didnt beleive me.

So, during the writting of one of our songs a few months ago, i said, yo learn this rythm, i want the kicks to follow, it doesnt sound like they do. He said, "dude it fits... just cause im not following every kick, that doesnt mean its not right." I said, "just cause your playing at the same tempo as me, it doesnt mean we're playing the same song." So he decided to ignore me. So we went to record this song, and hes playing to it, and stops. I say, whats wrong? He tells me, "i didnt know you were playing that. It doesnt sound right with what im doing." at this point, im so angry i say, "just play the damn song and take out the kick wherever it doesnt fit. I tried to explain this to you when we wrote it, but instead you said, "dude it fits"".

Wherever he ****ed up, he wanted me to cut and paste, and "just do it on new tracks." I tell him "no, a solid drummer should be able to play the song they wrote, at a steady tempo." Keep in mind, this is a metal band, no crazy fast playing either. 4 minute songs at max. Its groove beats, basicallyt like rock. Nothing fancy.

And the two songs i let him do without the metronome came out like crap.

bottom line...
Using his floor tom against my recommendation ruins the mix. It sounds like a damn cardboard box. His cut/paste attitude makes mixing a song a job. His "it fits" attitude ruined a song.

and shouldn't a solid drummer be able to play a beat at any tempo?

Please do pick apart everthing I wrote here. I am hoping that maybe i'm too picky or something, cause i do think i sound harsh. But i can't help but to feel right. So if someone disagree's, kindly let me know. HELP.

Sincierly,
::Frustrated, and possibly looking for a North Jersey metal drummer...::
 

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well you are being hard on him. Musical inability can be just that. At the same time have you tried getting someone elses opinions on the songs? Sometimes playing around the beat sounds better, he is after all a drummer and you a guitarist. Look at the solo for hot for teacher it sounds great but its completely out of time. Just trying to give you some options. I still dont know how to count right. If I knew how to use a metronome I would practice with one but ive never really dealt with anyone who knows how the damn things work
 

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Well, there's nothing wrong with scratch tracks. Back when I was playing more, we always recorded with the drummer to get down the basic drum tracks, it also gave us a point of reference for recording our parts later (if necessary). Sometimes the scratch bass track would be useable too, depends on the bass player. This was the analog days too, so we didn't always have (or were too lazy to make) a click track on the 8-track machine, especially when there are time changes in the music. Now, with computer recording, it's too easy and should always be used.

But, your drummer should be able to play the songs, and keep the tempo. If he has problems, he should be practicing at home with a metronome in his ear. It sounds like practice and preparation are some of the problems, and unfortunately they are common problems. Drummers are the backbone of a band, they have to be tight. You can't play around a beat until you can play on a beat.

Of course, I'm just a guitarist so what do I know.

Sniper,
Are you serious about using a metronome? They are easy, you can buy a cheap electronic one for around $10, turn the tempo knob to the desired tempo, then play making sure that you are with the beat. If you don't have a metronome or drum machine, I highly recommend it, it is pretty much a necessity for good timing.

Roger
 

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Post a recording.

From your note, it appears he's lacking practice and uses "attitude" and "feel" to get away with it. I have gone into a recording studio with only my sheets with me. Sure as hell felt like I was a real musician. But, I was always more comfortable playing with a bass and a click. My feeling is that you need to practice more as a band before recording the pieces. It doesn't seem like he knows the songs enough yet (maybe). My advice would be to record your practice sessions live, then do a critique of that, make changes, practice practice practice, get it down, before going to the studio.
 

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On some Tuesday nights I go to a place called the Exit In for a weekly show called "Western Beat". Usually there are around 6 different bands that perform and the entire show is recorded for syndicated broadcast. Most of the bands use the same kit, same mics and same settings on the console, but the difference in drum sound is profound. The really good drummers just make the kit sound studio. My point is that, when in the studio or live, there is nothing that can make up for the absence of a talented and experienced player... on any instrument. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have. If you are picky enough and your drummer tries hard enough, you can make it better, but you might piss him off and he'll walk.

I have to work really hard to make myself sound good. When really good players track in my studio, it makes post production so easy, but I am still not giving up on myself.
 

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Ibateur said:
Post a recording.

From your note, it appears he's lacking practice and uses "attitude" and "feel" to get away with it. I have gone into a recording studio with only my sheets with me. Sure as hell felt like I was a real musician. But, I was always more comfortable playing with a bass and a click. My feeling is that you need to practice more as a band before recording the pieces. It doesn't seem like he knows the songs enough yet (maybe). My advice would be to record your practice sessions live, then do a critique of that, make changes, practice practice practice, get it down, before going to the studio.
He's SO right !!
You should make loads of recordings of your practice sessions (we even used to use a single crappy overhead mike) and don't even think about going into the studio with those tunes until you have lived with the demo recordings permenantly on your car stereo for 6 weeks. You all need to know the songs inside out, upside down and backwards before you waste time and money on studio arguments.
Once your band is as tight as a mouses ear you can all play along woth whilst the drummer records his parts and you should find everything will fall into place from there.

Ben
 

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rgr said:
Well, there's nothing wrong with scratch tracks. Back when I was playing more, we always recorded with the drummer to get down the basic drum tracks, it also gave us a point of reference for recording our parts later (if necessary). Sometimes the scratch bass track would be useable too, depends on the bass player. This was the analog days too, so we didn't always have (or were too lazy to make) a click track on the 8-track machine, especially when there are time changes in the music. Now, with computer recording, it's too easy and should always be used.

But, your drummer should be able to play the songs, and keep the tempo. If he has problems, he should be practicing at home with a metronome in his ear. It sounds like practice and preparation are some of the problems, and unfortunately they are common problems. Drummers are the backbone of a band, they have to be tight. You can't play around a beat until you can play on a beat.

Of course, I'm just a guitarist so what do I know.

Sniper,
Are you serious about using a metronome? They are easy, you can buy a cheap electronic one for around $10, turn the tempo knob to the desired tempo, then play making sure that you are with the beat. If you don't have a metronome or drum machine, I highly recommend it, it is pretty much a necessity for good timing.

Roger
I have a metronome but unfortunately i dont currently know how to use it. I dont know how to count or play around the beat, i just play by ear and it comes out thats all I know. Alot of people tell me im a great guitarist even one of the best theyve ever heard *this is their opinion not mine, i think i suck but to each his own* but i know I have MAJOR issues with keeping time well, i would describe the way i count much like eddie van halen says he does, which means i just go purely from feel, and even though it works I would like to get myself up the level of timing that say petrucci has or alan holdsworth.
 

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Eddie also played classical piano, has an incredible ear, is incredibly talented, and his feel (timing) is totally in the groove (at least in the old days).

The basics of subdividing notes in 4/4 time (90% of Rock and Roll) is:

Whole note: 4 beats (or ticks) per note
Half Note: 2 beats
Quarter Note: 1 beat
Eighth Note: 2 notes per beat
Eighth Note Triplet: 3 notes per beat
Sixteenth Note: 4 notes per beat
Sixteenth Note Triplet (or Sextuplet?): 6 notes per beat
32nd Note: 8 notes per beat

See if this article helps some, http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/32. Then apply these subdivisions to practicing scales, arppeggios, etc... (articles on these also at www.ibreathemusic.com.

"*this is their opinion not mine, i think i suck but to each his own*"
Yeah, same here, I think if we ever become "happy" with our playing we quit growing.

Good timing is critical to being able to play well with others.

Hope this helps,
Roger
 

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Everybody hates cut and paste drummers. If the guy can't do it, just get someone who can play.

Or play yourself.

Whatever works.

Life is too short to take on the unnecessary babble with terminal fools.

But you're not alone in the universe. Check out http://www.mixerman.net and his diaries recording the band "Bitch Slap". Tragic, but hilarious.
 

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sniperfrommars1 said:
I have a metronome but unfortunately i dont currently know how to use it.
Seriously, if you, as you claim, don't know how to use a metronome, give up on playing an instrument. I'm not saying it to be mean.
 

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He's SO right !!
You should make loads of recordings of your practice sessions (we even used to use a single crappy overhead mike) and don't even think about going into the studio with those tunes until you have lived with the demo recordings permenantly on your car stereo for 6 weeks. You all need to know the songs inside out, upside down and backwards before you waste time and money on studio arguments.
Once your band is as tight as a mouses ear you can all play along woth whilst the drummer records his parts and you should find everything will fall into place from there.

Ben
+100!

Record every rehearsal! pick 'em apart and work out what little nuances sounded better this week than last week - what works and what doesn't.

One thing we discovered doing this is how much everyone over plays - the music is servant to the lyrics/melody, and you find that when you really analyse what you are playing, it has to be stripped down to a much more basic and open track than what you play live - if you have any doubts about that have a listen to "Walking on the Moon" by The Police - sure, it ain't metal, but it's one of the finest recorded pop songs in the last 50 years, and the restraint in the playing is just phenomenal!

Here's another thing - if you are recording digitally - insist on playing to a MIDI click track - it makes editing a million times easier, and it means if you so desire, you can add MIDI generated tracks in a snap - if you play off feel, I guarantee that your timing will be all over the place, no matter what it sounds like at the time - and in a worst case scenario where you have to replace bar 21 with a copy and paste from bar 93 (which you tend to do more often than you might think!), you just can't do it, because the song has changed tempo completely in the intervening 72 bars! If your drummer can't play to a click... well..... what can I say?

Like Ben said, when you are sitting in a studio arguing about click tracks at $400/hour, you really are wasting your money, proving to the engineer and producer that you are amatuers, and demonstrating that you just haven't done your homework! We always record scratch tracks by the way (with all players playing to a click track!), but they are just a memory jogger, and get deleted as the tracking goes on.
 

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We recorded the band all together when we did our pro CD years ago. then went back and dubbed lead tracks and extra keys and vocal. But the ryth tracks were done 1st or second take... live. if you know you're material, why not. it saves a bunch of time/money. if you don't know your material, stay the heck out of the studio.
 

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i agree with the fact that you should be very well practiced before going into the studio. back in the day, i'd read articles about rock bands who would talk about going into the studio without anything even written! can you believe it? i guess it's different if it's your own studio, but this is on their dime and time is money.

when my old band was considering making a demo and going into the studio, we practiced like hell. another great idea that really tightened us up is to have the click play through the p.a. during practice. play once through with the click so everyone can hear it and then play through again without the click. of course it will feel very good once the click is turned off, but you are instilling good time throughout the song.

i was in another band where we went into the studio (and not very prepared unfortunately, but it wasn't my decision) and the drummer decides on one song that he wants to play it without the click after we've already done a few tries with the click. well, we oblige him. later on, when the engineer is trying to place the best takes, he accidentally mixes the takes that were done with the click with the ones that were done without. to make a long story short, it was a f'ing nightmare and all because of a bunch of bs about not being able to get the right 'feel' with a click.

my personal belief is that playing to a click is essential to the growth of a musician. you HAVE to be able to play in true time and, if you're good, it should not effect your groove. knowing where the beat is and having good time allows you to make decisions to play on top or behind the beat, retard a certain section or have complex time signatures that sound tight. some people naturally have good time and some of these people will tell you practicing with a metronome is pointless. well maybe for them, but trust me, most musicians i've encountered do not have this natural gift and need the metronome.

anyway, sounds like you need a new drummer because you two have different philosophies on how to write songs and record. sounds like you can do much better and he can find a bunch of guys who just want to play with 'feel'. lol.
 

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Lets look at it from a different perspective. He may not be such a great drummer, his timing may be out etc etc etc. Do you enjoy playing with him? It doesn't sound like you do. Being in a band is about team work and that can extend to supporting your band mates when they struggle with certain aspects of their playing, attittude and committment. Talk to him about your concerns - REALLY talk to him. The timing may be out etc however the feeling and groove from a 'happy' band enjoying the music may provide a better end result. If this doesn't work and you guys can't move on.....it's time for you to move on too.

- Wolfram
 
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