What I Say...
I like to really get to know the musicians I work with.
If you're the same way, here are a few of my thoughts about music, the recording process, and life in general. Some are important, and some are not....but they are all undeniably me.
1) MUSIC IS A TEAM SPORT
In my experience, the very best recordings happen when everyone involved clearly understands their role, and is laser focused on the big picture...not their individual performance.
While recording, some musicians seem to want to show the world every last trick in their musical arsenal. (Yes, I'm looking directly at YOU, drummers!) But while the occasional flexing of musical chops can be a great thing, it can often be a massive detriment to the process of recording solid, cohesive, and powerful recordings. In other words, personal egos should never be a part of the process.
2) YOUR MUSIC...YOUR CHOICES
While working with other musicians, differences of opinion will happen. It's simply the nature of the creative process. If I have an opinion about the way I think something should sound during the process of our working together, I will absolutely let you know. (After all...my clients DO hire me for my expertise!) But it is with the complete understanding that these are YOUR SONGS, and ultimately your opinion is the one that truly matters.
I make every last decision regarding the music I record and release. And I strongly encourage you to do the same with yours.
3) MUSICIANSHIP IS ONLY HALF OF THE JOB
Working with other musicians can be tricky. Musical ability can be utterly useless without dependability, promptness, a proper attitude, and the ability to communicate well; fortunately, these are the areas in which I excel the most! My fellow musicians find me to be relentlessly positive, easy to communicate with, and obsessively organized. And while these aren't the traits of your average "rock star," (whatever THAT means these days) they have allowed me to become an integral and trusted part of many musical families.
4) VARIETY IS WHERE IT'S AT
I have a vivid memory of being a teenager inside of my local record store. After an extremely long time of staring at the large wall of cassette tapes, an employee came over and asked me if I needed any help. As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized how ridiculous they must have sounded...
"I only have $10 and I can't decide which album to get...King Diamond or Enya."
An easy way for musicians to explain the sound they're after is to cite other artists. When this happens, having a deep appreciation and knowledge of a wide variety of styles makes it much easier to discuss these things. So, when an artist tells me the sound they're trying to achieve is similar to Killing Joke, or Billie Eilish, or King Crimson, or Måneskin, or The Sundays, Or Ho99o9, or Parliament/Funkadelic, or The Bee Gees, or....Enya, for that matter...not only do I know what they mean, but I have a good idea of how to achieve that sound for them.
(For those of you playing at home, I can't seem to remember which cassette I chose.)
5) EMBRACE THE CHANGE
Back when I was first learning to play the drums, the majority of my contemporaries viewed drum machines as the enemy. They were seen as something to be feared, because they were coming for the jobs of all of the “real” drummers. I, however, immediately fell in love with them!
So, while my drumming buddies were analyzing drum legends like Neil Peart, I was programming drum machines and rudimentary keyboard sequencers; and then figuring out how to integrate live drums with the patterns I had created. And while they were learning every new drum fill from the latest Dream Theater album, I was trying to figure out how to get my live drum performances to sound more like Public Enemy.
To me, new technology has always represented endless ways to be even more creative. And while there is no right or wrong way to be a musician, being able to utilize newest ideas and technology has been instrumental in allowing me to continue to move forward in the music business.
6) TECH TALK IS BORING
My least favorite question is "What kind of gear do you use?"
(Followed closely by "Who are your drumming influences?")
Every single minute spent discussing the mundane details about gear is one minute I'm not able to create.
Horrible music is created every single day on the best gear in the world. And some of my favorite albums of all time were recorded on gear that was utter garbage. It's not about equipment, it's about expression.
7) GREY IS BEAUTIFUL
I adore playing drums live AND drum programming; but for me, the real beauty happens in that unexplored grey area where those two worlds intersect. Can you make programmed beats that sound sloppy, like a drummer who is drunk? Can you play a drum kit in a way that sounds like it's been programmed? Can you make it impossible to tell where the machine ends and the human begins?
The answer to all of these questions is yes. If you’ve had enough practice.
Is it a word? I don't know. But the term seems to perfectly encapsulate my feelings.
Songs are sacred, and the singular purpose of my drumming has always been to serve them to the best of my ability; and once I began producing and mixing music, it became even MORE evident how important this truly is.
9) DO IT!
There have been spans of years at a time when I was not actively making my own music.
I simply can’t say this enough. When it comes to your music, if you find yourself hesitating for ANY reason, you’re making a mistake. DO IT!
10) THE UGLY TRUTH
Ever since I was a kid, I have had varying degrees of obsessive compulsive tendencies...and lots of them.
The truth is, I only had 9 items in this list, and I DESPERATELY wanted for the list to include 10 items. So here it is. Pointless, and yet extremely satisfying :)