My backline tech with Sara is a dude named Kris Mazzarisi, a great drummer in his own right and a killing tech. A week ago in St Louis he set up a GoPro on the overhead mic stand combined with a line out from my ear pack and out came the footage below.

This kind of thing is super narcissistic, but I know a lot of people enjoy it. And I assume if you’re bothering to click on the link (let alone read my blog) then you might enjoy it also. I watched some drumcam vids from Lester Estelle a few weeks ago that blew my mind. Go check those out when you’re done here.

A few notes about this video:

– This is the first tune of the show, and I included the show intro… because I made it. I took the piano/strings/perc stems from the album version of the song we’re playing and cut them up to create layers of energy while we enter the stage. That was a fun thing to do, and it was even more fun to hear a track I made echo through the cool venues that we’ve been playing.

– I’m in charge of all the tracks in Sara’s show (which I why I have the stems) and so I dictate the specifics regarding click track and count-ins and what not. That’s my daughter Suzy counting in the first verse of the tune. She does all the count-ins because she’s my daughter and I’m in charge. Ha. Also, the click doesn’t have any accent to it because I’ve always preferred to hear every note of the measure equally, and I don’t need the click to tell me where beat “1” is.  

– The mix is a direct copy of my in-ear feed (with a little bit of crowd mic during the intro), which is why the drums and click are so hot. Chris Morrissey, Sara’s Bassist, is straight down the middle of the mix, but his vocal is panned hard left. I don’t know why it’s so loud – I’ve never really noticed that before making this video. I should do something about that. Sara’s piano and vocal are also straight down the middle but not as loud, and that’s partly because they come through so much in the house mains. Also panned hard left is Misty Boyce on keys, but her vocal is panned hard right, as well as guitarist Rich Hinman. Our two cellos are panned right and left, Cara Fox and Claire Indie respectively.  In addition to all of this are some minimal tracks: a light tambourine loop that comes in and out, some string reinforcements, and a few big floor tom and clap hits.

– Yes, I’m wearing a bow tie. 

– The snare is my 5×14 Canopus ash shell cranked pretty tight, but the key ingredient to the tone is the goat toenails, which hang from the rack tom hoop via a magnet. That way they stay in their place on the far side of the drum head while still sitting there and muffling the way they’re supposed to. My tech Kris thought of that. He’s smart. When the tune is over I just pull the magnet off the rack tom and stick it to the hihat stand until I need it again. Genius.

– The album version of the song doesn’t have any crash cymbals but rather uses some metal pieces falling to the ground as a “trashy” sample. That’s why I use the ride stack above my hihats, which is a 22″ Traditional light ride with a 21″ Dark Energy mk1 ride on top of it. Stacking cymbals is a big fad right now so it’s cool to have a reason to do it, but Sara’s music definitely provides a REAL reason to use stacked cymbals, instead of just doing the trendy thing for trend’s sake. The other cymbals in the rig are explained here.

– At the very end of the video you can see Kris helping me with a snare change going into the next tune (my RD 7×14 walnut stave). I start the click right away so Sara can dive into the piano part whenever she wants to. That song doesn’t use tracks so there isn’t a count off to worry about.

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