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An awesome dude named Gabe Hagen is gonna sub for me on a dozen or so Owl City shows in the coming months. I was able to get some onstage footage at a show a few weeks ago (with a line in straight from my in-ear mix) to pass along to Gabe for learning the tunes. Below is one of the songs from the drum cam file…


– I was given a ton of creative freedom in deciding what my parts would be in Owl City live performances. It’s an interesting and fun challenge to figure that stuff out because there are a TON of rhythmic elements in the backing tracks. I want my parts have to make a worthwhile contribution to the song as a whole, but I have to be very careful that things don’t get muddy. This tune is one that I’m pretty proud with regard to the challenge of marrying my organic parts with the tracks.

– Apparently I’m not the star of the show as the lighting goes dark on me quite a bit. Hmmmm.

– The Anchorman sample in the middle is from my SPD. 

– Also in the shot is one Daniel Jorgensen on vibes and other instruments. So hot right now.

– The cymbal setup is all Paiste Twenty and Twenty Custom series (16 hats, 20 crashes, 22 ride). The kit is a backline Yamaha Maple Custom because it was a fly date and I couldn’t bring my RD’s, though the snare is my 6.5×14 RD black brass.

Another classic drum solo from another classic drummer… the legendary Joe Morello.


– Dave Brubeck’s famous tune “Take 5” has that title because the tune is in 5/4. So is this whole solo.

– The “1… & of 2” motif runs throughout the solo. Is that boring? Man, not for me. I like the approach of using a particular theme/motif for an entire solo so much more than randomly cycling through different ideas and patterns. The latter seems far more boring to me.

– Morello pulls the classic move-the-kick-drum-closer-because-it-slid-away-during-the-loud-part move at 2:13.

Being a good jazz drummer one day and then a good rock drummer the next day requires intentional head space toggling – or, the way I look at it, a multiple personality disorder.

I shot an impromptu lesson video at the Owl City show last night in Akron, OH.


– The sticking in the paradiddle sequence is the same throughout the rotation. It’s just RLRR-LRLL over and over. The thing that changes is which note you accent. That’s all. So don’t go shifting the entire sticking pattern by one beat… that’s a different deal.

– It’s important to keep a steady meter on the 1-6 exercise, but the 4-6 stroke parts are obviously WAY more difficult than the 1-3 parts. So you have varied degrees of difficulty all at the same tempo, which makes keeping the pocket almost the toughest part of the whole thing.

– Huge shout out to Vic Firth for giving me those “Chop-Out” practice pad sticks. They are amazing and totally changed my life, mainly because I don’t have to drag a heavy practice pad around in my backpack anymore. 

Papa Jo Jones (not to be confused with Philly Joe Jones) was one of the forefathers of the drumset, on the front lines of the instrument’s evolution. It’s cool to me that the drumset is young enough as an instrument for footage to exist of founders like Jones.


– Check out Jones’ performance faces. He’s making a lot of them, and NONE are the “oh wow I’m in so much pain because I’m such a deeply artistic person” thing that is so common currently. But somehow his playing is still cool. I’m not saying that his facial expressions here are any better than the artsy ones, but at least it’s clear that his expressions are coming from a performer’s mentality, rather than a pretentious mentality.

– Lots of old school jazz drum solos quickly become simply a rudiment demonstration. Jones uses plenty of rudiments, but always to form musical phrases. Playing rudiments is never the purpose of playing drums.

– Speaking of Jones’ phrasing, check out how “hooky” so much of it is. He’s demonstrating well what most guys are trying to describe when they wrongly use the term “melodic.” There’s a ton of storytelling going on in this solo.

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