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Album of the Week #11 was a great record by Matthew Perryman Jones called Throwing Punches In The Dark, featuring Nashville session/touring drummer Andy Hubbard. Hubbard’s playing on Throwing Punches totally rules, and it turns out he’s a super cool guy too. A friend of mine named Alex Young recently interviewed him about the record, and Hubbard has a lot of great insight for studio players. Here’s how the interview went down..
1. What do you think is the best method for getting that vintage, “dead” snare sound? I use a lot of tape and a t-shirt for the dead sounds and most of the really deep fat tones are a Yamaha Anton Fig snare.
2. How do you approach hihat volume in a session, and the problem of hihat bleed in other mics? The producer made it very clear when we were getting to know each other that he does not like a heavy right hand. I tried to use subtle changes in hihat sounds to lift certain sections of songs, and I rarely ever use the tip of the stick. I try really hard to blend the sound of the whole kit, focusing on kick and snare and not burying them under hihat. The hats on the record, by the way, are old old old 15″ Zildjians, and they’re really thin. They’ve never worked in live settings, but I take them to every studio session for sure.
3. What’s your favorite snare for wide-open rock? I like a 5.5×14 Yamaha Paul Leim, 5.5/6.5×14 Yamaha Manu Katche, or a Ludwig Acrolyte.
4. How do you choose a groove for a song? Well, it’s a mixture of input from the artist, producer, and my own instincts. I listen a lot to the strumming patterns of the scratch guitar tracks.
5. Do you compose fills on the fly or pre-meditated? I guess it’s a mixture of planned licks and just feeling the vibe and going from that.
6. What recordings have been most influential to your playing? Jeff Porcaro on Donald Fagen’s “The Night Fly,” and Carlos Vega’s playing with James Taylor and Vince Gill.
7. Do you have a different philosophy for studio playing than you do for live playing? My philosophy for both is to be as professional as possible, to listen to EVERYTHING around me, and to be as present as possible. The approach is different though, in terms of preparedness. I’m always more “prepared” for live stuff.
8. What are some other records you’ve played on? (that you’re proud of…) Well, Throwing punches is my favorite because the whole record was built over the drum tracks that I did with Matthew on acoustic guitar. Nothing else came into the picture at all until drums were done. I’m also proud of a couple of the tracks from Ron Block’s last solo record, a Garrison Starr tune called “No Man’s Land”, and Fernando Ortega’s “Storm” and self-titled record.
9. What’s your opinion on being a multi-faceted player vs a highly specialized player? I just want to be a working musician, so I like the diversity and the opportunity to not turn down a gig because I can’t play it. But I also see the danger of spreading myself too thin… so I end up not being REALLY good at anything.
10. Are vintage Ludwig drums overrated or everything they’re made out to be? I sure love the ’66 or ’67 Ludwig that I played on Throwing Punches! It’s the only kit on the whole record… it records really nice.