IPlayTheDrums.com


How Do I Play The Drums?
Eddie Bayers . . . Nashville Session Great



FF     So, I wanna ask you, what's your earliest memory of playing the drums?

EB     My earliest memory was actually in high school. Even though I was being trained as a classical piano player. You know, I think all of us as musicians, and you can probably relate as a drummer, probably somewhere along the way in your background you picked up a guitar, you know, and messed with that. So it was really just a second thought, even though piano was my primary instrument. So, that was the earliest, but not professionally, that didn't come til much later.

FF     So, as a child you didn't bang on drums or anything, just high school?

EB     Yes.

FF     Far out.

EB     It wasn't anything formative, it was just something to do. It wasn't like piano, obviously. Studying classical music was a little bit more focused.

FF     So, how did you get started really playing the drums, did you start noodling around at first?

EB     Yeah, exactly. Because of being classically trained, and obviously... notated music being a premise of that, drums was almost a release, because it was the only thing I didn't have to learn, of course there wasn't any rudiment that I was going to adhere to, it was something to beat on, to bang. So, I enjoyed that because it was obvioiusly adverse of what I was studying, and I was able to be free in expression, the drums.

FF     Did you get into a band right off the bat, or did you just go in a room somewhere with headphones and play to records? What was next, after the initial noodling?

EB     I had two groups that I was in in high school, one that I played keyboards with, and one that I played drums with. So, I did find a band to be able to work in. But I mean in high school, you know, that's what it is, you play dances and stuff like that.

FF     How long from when you first sat down on drums and said, "Hey, this is interesting", to being in that first band?

EB     Maybe a year. And of course, the commerciality of the music, it was more feel anyway, like it is today. So it wasn't anything really that had to be considered, because I didn't consider it a primary instrument, it was just something like, "What the heck, I'm just gonna feel this music, play it", so... that's what I did.

FF     Just... for fun.

EB     Right.

FF     Do you happen to know some of the songs you were playing when you first started?

EB     Probably, "She's Not There", "Love Potion #9", and a lotta James Brown...

FF     Known for his drummers.

EB     Yeah. Um... Wilson Pickett stuff, "9 And A Half", "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay", a lot of those songs were pretty much... you know, I spent, even though my dad was a fighter pilot in the Navy, he retired in 1958, so I spent a good, you know, seven years in Nashville, because, pretty much being stationed all over the world, we didn't have anything you could ever consider "being home"... My mother was from Tennessee, so, when he retired, that's where we went to, and I stayed there for about seven years, and then I moved up to Philadelphia, and... still played a (Hammond) B3, and piano in a band up there, just toured around like crazy.

FF     So, you had your high school band... when did it become obvious to you that it was something you wanted to do as more than fun, what was the "Ah-Ha!" moment, if there was one?

EB     Pretty much then, not on drums, just being able to play in a band, to express music.

FF     Ok. But, as a drummer, why did the drums overtake all that classical training?

EB     Well, they didn't. Not at that point. All of this was still a sideline situation. So I stayed primarily on the keyboards, even when I left. The swap, when I came back to Tennessee in 1973, what happened was, my keyboard, being the primary thing, I was looking for a job, I didn't have any money, you know how it is, you go into town, I looked around, I heard there was an audition at a place called the Carousel Club, in Printer's Alley in Nashville, and I went down to audition, to take the gig on piano, and Larry Londin was the drummer with the band. It was a little quartet. But I didn't know who Larry was, I had no knowledge of him whatsoever, because, in my past years, I wasn't really into it enough to know who this guy was... one of the greats in our industry. But anyway, I went in and auditioned, out of all the other people, Larry came up and says: "You've got the gig." And I didn't know the significance til a few months afterward, and I realized who Larry was, but... during that time, I was so inspired by him, playing live with him, and watching him. I mean, I probably spent more time watching him play, I mean, I was obviously doing my job, but I would watch him, I was just so inspired by his playing, and I just mentioned, I said, "You know, Larry, I messed around with drums and everything, and I would really like to learn more about it." And so, being that we pretty much... that quartet played in between main acts at the Carousel, and he always kept a little practice pad upstairs, and we'd go up there in between our sets. And, he'd show me a few things here and there, and actually, being that he was starting a drum store with his wife, he was also endorsing a lot of drums, at the time he was an endorser for Pearl, he got me my first set. And probably a year after working with Larry, I quit, and I found out there was an audition for a Top 40 band down the street, at a club, and I auditioned and I got that job. So, that's when I really made that change (from keys to drums). But it really worked out with the diversity, because, obviously playing at night, nightclubs and everything, and I knew what was going on in that town, which was primarily, to really get into everything, it would be by playing sessions. So, knowing that, I had gone around looking for work, and I'd heard about things, and I'd asked about things, and the band I was in was one of the most popular bands, when I was a drummer in one of the Top 40 dance clubs. So, I started meeting a lot of people who would frequent the place, and there were some people imbedded in the industry, and I asked them, I said, "Man, I'd really like to get into studio work". And somebody came and said there was a new studio just starting up, and it's called Audio Media. There's four guys that own it, and they're just opening up the doors right now, they're actually building it in a house, you know, just gutting it out, putting in a studio and a production company. So, I happened to walk in after I found out about it, and I was talking to them, and at the same time, my partner and I had been together for many years, his name is Paul Worley, who runs Warner Brothers Nashville at this point, we both came in at the same time, both starvin', outta school, just wanting to do it. Those guys said, "Look, we don't have money to pay you", and we both elected to say, "You don't pay us, we just want to learn this." Or, more than that, "If things start happening, then you can pay us."

FF     A valuable nugget of information.

EB     Yeah. So, we elected to do this. And that's what we did, we hung in there, I guess it took about a year, because we still had other jobs, I had my job at night... but started helping that company get off the ground, and then they started really bringing in... not mainstream music, but some great accounts. They were really go-getters, I mean, they were businessmen. They created a lot of sound-alike accounts, they created jingle accounts.

FF     Is there a way that you could put your finger on what the difference was between your nightclub playing, and when you said, ok, I want to be a studio player?

EB     I get that asked a lot, and I think a lot of people have a stereotype about a live player and a studio player, and the truth is... if it's you, or me, and we're creative people, whether we're playing live, or in the studio, is irrelevant, it's a matter of creativity. Because in a lot of cases now, and it's not meant to be demeaning, if there's a guitar player that works for an artist, or bassplayer, who's just in their band, has to learn the record that the artist went in and recorded, with (other) musicians, they have to learn all the signature licks, and the feels, and everything off of what that record was. Only to serve, obviously, if that's the record, and the effort that came behind the artist that they're working with. And then it's just a matter of, could that live band, or any of the candidates in that band, could they have gotten in the studio and created the same things? You know, spontaneous. That's the main difference I see.

FF     So, some artists use their own (live) band, but not many.

EB     Right.

FF     Any little tips or tricks, is there a mindset, or do you just play the same?

EB     I never thought about it til somebody asked me about it.

FF     So, did you go into the control room after a take, listen to yourself, and just learn as you went?

EB     Well, I think a lot of it too, was just, sometimes it was tenacity, and not even thinking in that mode, you know, it was pretty much a situation where I'd go play live at night, and then I'd go play in the studio... and I didn't consider either one... I was playing. You know, the only difference was obviously the procedure was different, because, when you got in the studio there's music to learn, and music to record, and you probably need get in there and edit it, or do whatever you have to do to record it again, and obviously get the effort that everyone's happy with. So that's a different thing, obviously, it's not amything like live, where you play something, and what you played is gone, so you go to the next one. That's the only thing that I felt was different.

FF     So you didn't hit differently, you weren't asked to (unintelligible) your hi-hat occasionally...

EB     I think if there was anything pertaining to what you're saying, obviously you're going to hit differently, because you got headphones on, and you're hearing a cue system, you're hearing instruments in your head, comparatively to when, if you're working live and you're hearing the ambience of a live room, the monitors that you have, and those kind of issues do... you're gonna play with either more intensity or less intensity, depending on how loud the information is getting to you. But it's not going to make you play differently as far as the dynamics and the things that you create within that song. You know, whether it's just a fill, going on into a chorus, or, you and the bassplayer have worked out a kick drum pattern, a bass pattern for verses to choruses, you know what I mean? There was always this mindset that there was a difference, but I believe that just comes down to the player. I've never really understood... and I think more from drummer-world, where you and I come from... I don't think that that's as relative as it is when you get to a guitar player, or keyboard player, and the reason I say that, somebody tells you and me, why don't you fill the front of the song, (sha-kak-kak-kak-a-boom-dah), and you do something, but that's not anything like, if you heard Drift Away (sings guitar intro) you know, that's Reggie Young, wrote that. Or, the Box Tops, The Letter... he did the front of that record. Or Hooked On A Feeling, BJ Thomas, he (Reggie) did that sitar part. So, a lot of those issues are a little bit different when a producer asks you, "Hey, we need an intro for this song." You and me, are you kidding? We know all the licks to all the songs, long, short, whatever. But I think by melody, it creates a signature lick, it's a whole lot different. What I'm getting to is, when it comes to a live player being different than a studio player, the only way it would be different is if you took the live player in your band... and you took him and you put him in that scenario with a producer, and the producer asks that guy, "Give me a signature lick for this song", what's he going to come up with? And that's what kind of separates that world. It's not their groove, and everything like that, but it's where they're creative.

FF     I hate to get so specific on you here, but upstairs at the club, with Larry (Londin), and you were working on a pad... what was he showing you?

EB     I tell you what, he pulled out a lot of different books for lessons, and I was honest with him. I said, "Larry, I really don't wanna know the rudiments, I mean, I'll take basic rudiments from you..."

FF     So that was his approach...

EB     Yeah, he was saying, "You really need to learn this", and I basically said, "Larry, I...", because at that time I really had nothing to lose, I said, "I'm your keyboard player"... So I just said, "I just wanna beat these things. I just wanna feel this music."

FF     Groove.

EB     And he said, "Ok, that's fine." He said, "I'll just show you some basic patterns that'll help you to coordinate left-right hand." Because you need that, when you go from different hi-hat, snare licks to the bell of the cymbal, that's rudiments, you know... And you DO need to know that. And I understood. As I went on, there were things that naturally applied, but not anything where I strictly just got on a pad and learned all these chop licks, you know...

FF     It's not for everyone.

EB     It's not, and I don't think I would want people who read your article to misunderstand me, because I'm NOT demeaning that. I'm saying it depends on where your focus is, what it is you want to achieve. For me, one thing I realized when I first heard records from James Brown, Wilson Pickett... Otis Redding, you know... and even getting up into the Motown era, Stevie Wonder, stuff like that... I realized that this wasn't a particular format for needing to know rudiments, per-se. These were grooves, just make things feel good, and I realized, if this is all I ever had to strive to do, this is really great. Because I really love playing this.

FF     There's a whole gamut of different ways [to go about playing drums]... it's not a strict rulebook. Every drummer I talk to has a different take on it. I was talking to Dennis from the Smithereens, who's an old friend of mine, and he said the way he learned about the drums was, his parents would plop him in front of the TV when he was a kid, and he grew up listening to Hal Blaine, and Shelly Manne, and that's how he got started, listening to TV. So, everybody had a different experience... So, did you start playing open-handed when you started playing drums?

EB     I was cross-handed.

FF     You were cross-handed. What made you change?

EB     A motorcycle accident.

FF     No kidding?

EB     What happened was, a guy pulled out in front of me, and my left hand, on the handlebars, took the impact of the hit. And it shoved the hand back into the wrist. And it crushed the... navicular scaphoid... the pivotal bone in your wrist, and the problem was, it's one of the hardest bones in the body to heal. So, I really had some months off, and I was going into debt. I did have enough support around the community at that point, this is 1985, to put me on, they were even signing my name to cards and stuff like that, they were also bringing me into some co-production kind of things, my close producer friends.

FF     To keep you and your family eating.

EB     Yes. The thing that was incredible though, was that, during the time that I was in a spike cast, and no sooner they took me out of the spike cast, and loosened up, this hand still had to stay in a spike cast, because of that right there (gestures to limited wrist motion). Every month they would take it off to see if that bone was healed, and it wasn't healing. This went on months and months and months, so finally I just resolved to saying, look, these two fingers and the thumb were the only fingers out of the cast. So, I actually put the stick in between those two, and I was playing like that, just for the hi-hat. Because, one thing the orthopedist said, the guy who did the surgery said, my left hand now, will never be able to take the impact of the snare. So I just went, well... (shrugs)

FF     Wow.

EB     Yeah. So, for that time, just a whole desperate attempt... I just started working out my left hand as my hi-hat hand. And when you've got 8 1/2 months, you can do it. Desperation helps too.

FF     But at first, maybe it was a little awkward, no?

EB     Well yeah (laughs) Or, even if I was to switch back. Sometimes I can do that, it's really strange. I can go back to conventional playing, and it changes the feel.

FF     That's an unbelieveable reason for doing that, out of necessity. That's very interesting, because a lot of cats probably do it because it opens them up to being able to work more openly.

EB     There has to be some ambidexterity if we're going to do it (drumming) in the first place, you know...

FF     But I think we sink into habits. When I switched from traditional grip to matched grip, that was an adjustment for me. But I knew that in the long run, I was going to like it better, because... first of all, I had heard that the whole reason for traditional grip was because of the way the marching band (snare) drum is slanted away from the body. And I just instinctively knew that this (matched grip) was going to be better for me in the long run, as far as working my way around the drums... I just felt a little clumsy hitting a cymbal on my right side with my left hand in traditional grip. Maybe it was ok for snare, but... So, that was an adjustment. Anything like that, where you're changing up, where you're making a conscious decision to... you know, it's like Tiger Woods recently changed his stroke (apologies for not knowing anything about golf), and apparently it was a bitch for him at first, but then he came back better than ever, and he knew, and his coach knew, in the long run this is going to be better, but, you're going to have to break that bone and re-heal it, so to speak. But for you, that's an amazing reason for going to open grip. And God bless you, that you're all right.

EB     Well, it (the cast) came off after about 8 1/2 months, and man, it just started working from that point on. Obviously it limited me... anything technically I had learned and was able to achieve (the old way), I can't do. But, that was OK, as long as it took care of meat and potatoes.

FF     Do you still start a fill with your right hand?

EB     No, left.

FF     I think Ringo did that. I think his toms were backwards, even though he was righty?

EB     Really?

FF     There was something... I'll have to look into that. So... you start the fill with your left. That was a whole learning curve, then.

EB     How to make a fill work out so that you'd feel comfortable at the next beat. Like, wherever your downbeat is, on the "one", after you're filling in from beat three and four, obviously your lead hand is going to get you into it, and it has to work out somehow. But then it became second nature, not a thought at all, it was just natural.

FF     Right. Um, was there a time where you didn't play with a click, and then one day they asked you to play with a click?

EB     Well, yeah... And that's usually the lay of the land, you know, it started off with not (using a click). Most of the early records I did, like the Urban Cowboy thing, and Anne Murray's early records, and stuff like that... The producer clocked you, by bars. Or several bars, by second hand, or even a stopwatch. And what he was doing that for was, he was, he was knowledgeable of editing, so, if he took three or four takes, he would want to make sure that the choruses, and the verses and everything, had pretty much around the same area (of tape). If so many bars equal 10.3 seconds, then he knew, and he would test the song as it went on, to see if it held to that. Just like editing movies, in a way. Then, after that, I said, if you're going to be doing that thing, well, guess what? Now the Linndrum has come out, and we'll start clicking that, then. And we started using that, but the problem was the clock in a Linndrum was so laboring. And that's the thing that's also an illusion, that people don't realize, that each clock mechanism is like a watch. Like, my watch trying to keep time with your watch by second hand... They're not going to be in sync. They're two different clocks. And early on, that's how some of these sequencers were. So, there would be the click on the old Linndrum was different from clicks that subsequently came out.

FF     Well, I know someone (Don Smith, engineer for Keith Richard's X-pensive Winos and Cracker's Gentleman's Blues) who swears by the Linndrum because it does half BPM's... you can go 128, or 128.5.

EB     Without having to double the tempo (and subtract 1 BPM) and use that.

FF     So, if someone asked you, "How do I play the drums? How do I get started?" What would you say?

EB     Obviously we need to clarify, are we starting from scratch, not knowing anything about drums?

FF     Let's start there. Let's answer that question first. Like a kid says, "I'm interested in drums, but I don't know how to get started."

EB     Well obviously you need to check your local area, for a music store, drum shops or something like that... They're always going to employ or have somebody that comes in by the week that does teach, and usually those people are pretty knowledgeable about where to start, and the beginning aspects of it. Or, if it's something that you've already dabbled in, maybe your dad got you the set of drums, you've already started messing around with them, then it's a matter of... I guess, being true to yourself, and I mean, are you really playing? Or is it something where you need some structure... And that's the most important thing, and that's where you need some objectivity first, you need to go into a place where some guy does teach, and he can listen to you play, and he can tell you where you're at. I'm sure in your or my case... sometimes it's just in you. And as soon as you sit down, everything somehow just seems to work. Whether it gets as intricate as what you know now, maybe there was something there, just a groove. You were already grooving.

FF     And on top of that, the desire to sit down behind drums for hours on end, was something that, as a kid... I just liked it.

EB     Right. And I know the story, and I'm sure you do too, I mean, there's a lot of parents... a kid wants to play drums, you know, and they get him a set, and you see the set for sale in about six months...

FF     Sure.

EB     But that's ok, the weeding out process, nobody really knows at that age, depending on the age... if they're really going to feel this, or if they're going to have the passion for it. Because I don't know any drummers that have been around as long as you and I have... It was passion that got us here. Because we still love it. Every day there's nothing greater than getting behind a set, playing music, playing with other musicians, sharing all that kinship, you know, feeling that feel between everybody.

FF     It's another form of family.

EB     Yes. That's what it is. So, I guess the getting started process... for one thing, I don't know how old some of them who would be reading this would be, but I'd say, the first key is: find a good instructor at a music store.

FF     To take a look at you, and maybe throw a few things at you...

EB     Yeah, I think that's important. And if not that, I don't know in what community some of your readers are, sometimes they know people who are prominent musicians in the area, and they can really give you the coordinates to find, well, there's this music store, or that music store, and there's a guy over here that teaches, and I know that guy. Sometimes it's best even to find that, because sometimes you don't know who you're getting. Sometimes it can just be like going back into the hard nosed school of technique and, you know, the grindstone of it. But now I think we have a lot of great drummer instructors who encompass the mainstream music and the commerciality of it... because they know, more than not, that's what you're going to be going for. That would be the initial part of it anyway.

FF     Cool. Yeah, I remember my first drumset, well... my father was a drummer. And, when I was 8 years old, he was trying to teach me rudiments in the basement, and I could hear my friends playing ball outside. And I had no interest in it at that point. But, he had forced me to sit down enough times that I sort of knew my way around a pair of sticks. Then, when I was 15, and I was walking down the street, I heard this wailing guitar coming out of a garage, and I wandered up... Some kid with really long hair, and headphones on was playing along to a Hendrix record. You couldn't hear the record, you just heard him wailing in his garage. And I just introduced myself. And that was what got me interested, and when I said, hey, we should form a band, you know, and he goes, "What do you play?", and I was like, "Well... drums." And even though I hadn't embraced it up til then, the seed was planted. So then what I did was, just put headphones on and started playing to records. Because I was a a little snakebit by the whole experience with my dad. And what he wanted was... "And if I had only listened to him when I was 8 years old, and learned all those rudiments, well, things would be different for me." But, you know...

EB     Well, maybe this is just off the beaten path, but it was a great perspective for me, many years ago, I had a great... Part of the family of the Judds, ok... when Wynona went on her own, there was an opportunity there that I had... an unfortunate opportunity because something went awry with her drummer and her. And she fires this guy mid-tour, so... Being that I had worked with her since she was 19 years old, her management called me and said, "Eddie, we're really in such a bind, you need to come out here if you can." And I said, "Well, I can't leave the studio." And they said, "That's ok, we'll fly you everywhere." So, they sent me a list of the show, and I charted everything out and I learned it, and I just went out and started playing with them. But then, after a period of time, I realized that this was taking up valuable time from me, because I'd been in the studio, and I can't really jeopardize that. So I told her, "What I'll do is, I'll audition drummers, I'll find your drummer." As to what you were just talking about, that really gave me a great perspective about whether you should have done that or not, and what I'm going to say is that... I know a lot of the drummers who came in to get that job, they needed work. They'd already worked with high profile artists, but the artists weren't working any more. Some of them, it was a whole different genre, some of them was a genre that actually encompassed... where technique would really work, it'd be fine. But you were talking about Wynona, who was just a hard groove, pretty much meat and potatoes woman, and the stuff that she does, pretty much R&B music. Or even rock music. So I had three days with a lot of different drummers. I could name their names, and you would know who they are. The thing that really was a great lesson for me was that even though some of these drummers were known as great drummers, but when they came in to play her music, which really called for straight... just feel... the other drummers translated what they thought was energy by doing chops. And if you can imagine one of her songs, just a straight ahead R&B song, No One Else On Earth, and it was amazing how this guy would even, tastelessly throw in some of these chop licks... and of course, while I'm groovin' along, he would throw it in, and I'd jerk back, and I'd just go... "What? What'd you do that for?", you know? But this was their, I guess... definition of what they thought that was. Which, maybe the knowledge of that didn't serve them there, they could have had a good, high paying job. Rather than thinking, all that technique that they learned was going to be something where they're gonna go, "Whoa, this guy's great!" It wasn't, they didn't get chosen. The guy that came in was a guy named Steve Potts, who was just a straight-ahead R&B drummer, and he was playing with Booker T... Still plays with Booker T. But he's just that kind of solid, and I tell you what, it didn't take me a verse and a chorus to just go, "That's your guy."

FF     How many had you been thru when you...

EB     Oh, twenty, twenty two.

FF     You went thru twenty, twenty two people before you said, that's the guy.

EB     There was that many that had different slants on what they thought... energy, first, and groove was. And then the rest of it was, you know, "I'm groovin' along here, but I just can't stand it. All these rudiments that I learned, I just gotta throw some of 'em in here..." And lose the job. So I guess what I really need to convey, which I do all the time, because I go to North texas State and Berkeley, and I'll teach there, the main thing is, don't be subjected to any music first, but understand what you're going after, and make sure you understand why that music is the way it is, and not the way you think it oughta be, or what your interpretation of that is. Because that's where you really lose it. You need to really listen to how that record was recorded, and not think that you're going to innovate on that at all, because you're not. They chose that, because it's a hit record. And it doesn't discount, yes, you should know everything, if you have the capacity, and if you have the money and everything to get in your schooling, learn all that... that's a great foundation. Then you're really not stifling yourself because you could work in a pit orchestra somewhere, a Broadway play, you can do anything.

FF     Nothing wrong with being versatile.

EB     There's NOT. And it's a great foundation even if you're doing it along the way after you've already put yourself into the work force. But, the most important thing is, understand where that is applied, and where it isn't.

FF     Know what you're going after.

EB     Yeah. So, with you, I can't say that learning all these technical abilities... for one reason, that's not in you. What's in you is groove. And I know more than not, that's going to be more called for.

FF     Well, the thing that I try to focus on when I want to improve myself is, to make that groove better. Because, I figure, you can take, you know, five different drummers, and just unleash them on the basic rock beat, which on this site I call "Rock 1", because they used to have this organ, and it had a cheesy "pre-drum machine" drum machine, and it had a button called Rock 1... that's the beat everything's based on. Unleash five different drummers on that beat, you're going to get five different interpretations.

EB     Absolutely.

FF     So, what's wrong with being the best you can be at a groove.

EB     You know what it is though? I've always found you need to let go? Because the best you're going to be is what's in your heart. Truthfully. When you're not thinking... that's going to be who you are, and that's going to give the individuality, and that's going to make you different from me, but still, we're as good as each other. because obviously, you can hear me on thousands of records, but I'm not doing anything you can't do. The difference is, you could come in and play... it would be your feeling, your heart would be on that, Frank. That's the beauty of it. And I think sometimes, the only thing that gets in the way is thinking, you know? You just play, you play from your heart. Obviously there's things you gotta learn...

FF     My guitar player in Cracker, Johnny... he always says, you think, you stink.

EB     Absolutely, he's absolutely right. And you can tell when people are thinking. The only other thing I can say as far as what you're saying... yes, you can do that, but then there's also, sometimes the fortunate or unfortunate circumstance of you being put into a group of musicians... and what do you do, when a guitar player drags? Or rushes? You know, how do you interpret that? A lot of times that's going to throw your own groove off, because, all of a sudden, you've got something counteracting your groove. And that's why, when a band gets together and becomes a band, that's great. Because, there's a chemistry there, they can increase and decrease tempo all they want... it doesn't matter, it just has their groove. Creedence Clearwater, the Beatles, all these bands...

FF     The Stones are a prime example.

EB     Well, that's one of the best examples.

FF     Just go ahead and TRY to make that sound with a band.

EB     And you can't, because that's the individuality of him. And that's the beauty of it. And I think we'll back up a little bit, what you were talking about several minutes back... where the click finally became important was, with all the editing aspects of what people were doing, they found out that a producer and engineer want the benefit... if you're going to go in and do an effort of a song, what we see in the studio, he'd like to get four, five, six takes of a song, because he can edit between each one of them. If there's a click there, obviously you can do it. If you just started every song without a click, and just played the thing, they're all so... innately different.

FF     Unless you're Al Jackson Jr.

EB     Right. Who just played one thing, and he played it good. But I imagine in most scenarios, with everything they're going to do in the new found land of Pro Tools, Innuendo, and all those formats of digital recording, peopple have already mastered that, so they know how to create virtual recording, which... you're basically recording one take, over another take, over another take, and it's just like, as they're overdubbing on it like that, and let's say you played a different fill in each one of those takes, well, they're going to be able to go down inside, and see which one they like. If they find one three back, they can bring it up to the first.

FF     I remember back in the day, I used to, just as a matter of course, I would leave the room when they would pull the razor blade out to edit the tape. I'd be like, "I don't wanna see this, I just did five takes, gave my heart and soul, now comes a razor blade, and I'm walking out. I'm going to the soda machine." But now it's just... An interesting side thing I noticed... people are sort of... spoiled? I don't know if spoiled is the right word, it's like, nowadays, I think people are used to metronomic time, on the radio and stuff like that. It's almost become neccesary. Not just for editing purposes, but because I think people hear the differences now, in tempo.

EB     They know it if it has been so quantized that it is... but the thing I found about a good quarter note click, or even an eighth note click is that, all four, five takes are going to be different. Because, you're not playing to a sequence, I don't recommend that unless they want a sequence in it, but if there's not one... everybody's going to feel that center of beat in a different place, in a different time. That's the beauty of just playing to a generic click, and not letting it do anything else. Each one of those takes will have an individual feel. So it does work out that way, and you do get the best of both worlds.

FF     I find it interesting that, sometimes when I'm working with somebody that isn't used to a drummer that plays with a click... they'll say, "Isn't it going to be stiff?", something like that, and I'll say, "You know, a classical pianist can play to one of those old style metronomes, you know, with the swinging arm? And there's nothing robotic about it." I mean, at first, I would say to a young drummer that is intimidated by a click... because, when I first started playing with a click it was a little intimidating to me. Um, I was used to going where my energy wanted me to go... I also find nowadays, I like to do a little trick that sometimes engineers don't like... but I have a foot pedal, an on-off pedal? Which will allow me, if I feel like rushing into a chorus...

EB     You can do it.

FF     I can do it. And I can get back on track.

EB     Yes.

FF     But, I find that... I'm exploring that fine line of, like... do you turn the click on in the beginning and play the song all the way to the end, or do you let things... I've listened to some stuff where, I've clicked out for learning songs, like some Dave Edmunds stuff? All the choruses are 1 BPM faster than the verses. Consistently. I'm not sure if that was... done on purpose. That it "lifts".

EB     Well, you can do tempo maps. A competent engineer, producer, they can do that.

FF     So, that's what's going on there.

EB     Oh, yeah. And it can be done within the mix. Pitch and time, now, there's a capability of taking any section that you highlight, and increasing it... then you'll never notice anything different other than, it just came up just that little bit.

FF     Hey, it's been great talking to you.

EB     You too, Frank.



BACK TO INTERVIEWS


HOME