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The great Matt Chamberlain, delivering this week’s lesson in killing pocket…

This is the first single from Eric Clapton’s new record, and apparently it’s the only track that Chamberlain plays on, but the rest of them are split between the likes of Abe Laboriel, Steve Gadd, and Jim freaking Keltner. So… it’s, um, not going to suck.

To top it off, Clapton heads out on tour soon with none other than Steve Jordan. He knows how to pick his drummers.

I had a Twitter conversation with some friends a few months ago about Pearl Jam’s debut record, Ten. I had been told by a few trustworthy sources that session great Matt Chamberlain had played drums on that record, ghosting then-drummer Dave Krusen. BUT… I hadn’t listened to the album for some time. I listened to it all the way through on the plane yesterday and I am now comfortable officially stating that Krusen DID play on Ten, as the liner notes state. Or maybe it wasn’t Krusen, but it definitely was NOT Chamberlain. The sound, the feel, the ideas… they don’t square with everything else I’ve heard from Chamberlain.

So, if you’ve ever heard that rumor, or if I’ve even told you that rumor… I don’t think it’s accurate.

Carry on.

So I watched this earlier today.  It’s not BAD or anything, but I have to say, I’m kinda disappointed in it.  The Q&A isn’t great, and the soloing seems a little aimless.  I mean, I still love Matt, and I’m glad whoever recorded this 10 years ago finally got around to posting it, but it just let me down a little.

Decide for yourself…

Lately I’ve been day dreaming about expanding my studio snare line up, and I really want to check out the stuff Johnny Craviotto makes.  He originally worked for Drum Workshop but now does his own thing, and his specialty is solid-shell drums (a thick sheet of wood steam-bent into a single-ply drum).  Although a handful of companies produce solid-shell snares (including RD), I believe he’s the only guy producing solid-shell kicks and toms.

So I was browsing the Craviotto site earlier today, and the stuff looks pretty sick.  All kinds of wood options (Ash, Walnut, Birch, etc), all solid-shell construction, and all very impressive.  Equally impressive is the list of artists who endorse his company, including two of my favorite players: Chris McHugh and Matt Chamberlain.  Chamberlain’s bio had a link to his personal website, and I remembered it being kinda cool from visiting it a few years ago, so I clicked on it and explored a little… and that’s the reason I’m posting right now.  Under the “recording” tab is a list of mics and other studio gear Chamberlain uses in his home studio set-up, and if you scroll down about halfway you’ll find the most incredible list of kits/snares I have ever seen.

Let’s just say I’m trying REALLY hard to not covet that stuff…

I can’t get enough Matt Chamberlain, as many of you already knew.  Here’s a great audio interview from a Seattle music scene blog (Chamberlain is based in Seattle).  It’s a few years old but still totally relevant and helpful.

HT: Brett

I am sitting in the 7th Street Entry right now, listening to this band called The Daredevil Christopher Wright. I have to say, they are very cool. Eccentric, but cool. You should check them out if you ever get the chance.

So, I’ve been on this Chris McHugh kick lately.  Man.  Just love that guy.  The recent Keith Urban record is killer, and same with the last two Rascal Flatts records.  However, after much listening, I’m still liking the self-titled Owsley record as mt favorite Chris McHugh performance, as well as Keith Urban’s previous album (Love, Pain, and the Whole Crazy Thing), and I included both of those records on the AEDSK list.

Anyway…

This post is just a presentation of a theory I have after listening to Carrie Underwood’s 2nd album, Carnival Ride.  McHugh plays on that record, which is of course why I’ve been listening to it lately, and why I’ve taken to theorizing about it.  However, the interesting thing about that record is that Matt Chamberlain plays on it too, but the tracks aren’t labeled as to which drummer played on what.  The liner notes read simply, “Drums: Chris McHugh, Matt Chamberlain.”  So, I’ve spent a ton of time trying to decifer which drummer is playing on which track.  Actually, my 4-year-old daughter Betty really likes Carrie Underwood, so the truth is I’ve spent far more time than I care to admit listening to Carrie Underwood.  Let’s just say I know both her albums top to bottom from memory.  And… after all this listening… I’ve come to a conclusion about who is drumming on each track.

I think Chamberlain only plays on track two, the radio single called “All-American Girl.”  That’s it.  The rest of it is McHugh.  I’m saying this because only “All-American Girl” exhibits any Chamberlain-esque playing, and all the other tracks have very signature McHugh moments.  Feel, tones, patterns, sequences, fills… these two players have VERY finger-print characteristics, and I’m pretty confident at this point about my ID-ing track two as the only Chamberlain track.

So, my theory is this: the whole record was tracked in Nashville with McHugh (and all the other usual suspects for A-list Nashville records).  Then, “All-American Girl” was discovered last-minute as a viable song for the record, and it was deemed necessary to be included.  McHugh wasn’t available for the session, so Chamberlain did it.

Makes sense, right?  I think so.  Give it a listen and tell me what you think.

It’s time to get back at the blogging.  Yep.

To start things rolling again, let me turn your attention to Matt Chamberlain’s website, which I just spent a few minutes browsing.  It completely rules.  I visited his site a few years ago and it seemed boring, but just now I noticed all the pictures on the home page news feed. Tons of super cool shots of his set-ups in studios and live.  Disclaimer: fellow gear heads will get the most out of this.

I Found this cool Bill Frisell video just now. It features the great Matt Chamberlain on drums, so it’s probably from the Floratone tour from a few years ago. For my money, it doesn’t get any better than Frisell and Chamberlain together. Love it.

In a pop/rock studio environment, the tone of your snare is the biggest factor in establishing a particular vibe or feel for a song (as far as the drummer is concerned). The entire sonic landscape of your groove will change as your snare tone changes. A rimshot is a great way to capture a vibrant and energetic sound… but that’s not always what you want. For example, the current “new face” on the female pop scene is Sara Bareilles, with her single “Love Song.” Matt Chamberlain played on that track (a player I greatly admire), and his snare is a big, fat rimshot with tons of life. However, track 7 on that disc (“Between the Lines”) is a totally different snare tone. Chamberlain used a dark, papery sound on track 7, with a lot less “crack” and a lot more “push.” It’s most likely a different drum entirely, but odds are it’s also heavily doctored.

A drummer will do a lot of weird things to a drum in the studio in order to capture the right sound. Here’s a few of the “weird things” I do from time to time…

1) Newspaper. Throw a couple sheets of newspaper on your drum and just let them sit loosely on the head while you play. It’s a cool vintage sound that muffles some of the ring (depending on how many sheets you put on there). Notebook paper works too… but newspaper has a slightly different sound to it that I like better.

2) A towel. Or maybe a T-shirt… or a pillow case. They all have different thickness so try each one – my favorite is the pillowcase. Cut it up so it’s only 1-ply (but large enough to cover the whole drum) and then just drape it over the drumhead. This is another “muffled” sound but it’s characteristics are totally different than the newspaper.

3) A block of wood. More muffling with a different sound quality. I totally stole this from Steve Jordan when I saw him doing it on his DVD, “The Groove Is Here.” I’ve tried it a few times and it works great. Grab a somewhat thin piece of wood (like a 2×4 or something… maybe 6 inches long) and set if up on the top portion of the head (close to your rack tom). Tape it down a little so it doesn’t bounce. Guys will often use their wallet for a similar sound, but the wood block has it’s own vibe.

4) Your keys. Seriously… your car keys or something. This is another idea I picked up from my former teacher Dave King. Just set your keys on the head off to the side. It’s a really cool “synthetic” sound, like a drum machine or something. This same idea can work with a small tambourine.

5) Splash cymbal. This is one that I discovered on my own and it totally rules. Get a small splash (6-8″) and set it on the head off to the right. Then play the drum off to the other side, a little left of center. A really cool techno sound happens here, and you can mess around with hitting the splash itself from time to time as an accent.

Try each of these out for yourself… they all have different results and you should get a feel for the personality of each one.

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