You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Matt Chamberlain’ tag.

I’ve been meaning to resurrect my weekly “music news” installments (Mews), and this week has some cool Mews-worthy happenings, so the timing feels right. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the return of the Mews…

– Thom Yorke announced today on the Radiohead blog that his solo project, to which he added official band members just last year, now has an official name and will be touring the US this Spring.  deadairspace

– The awesome free music website known as Noisetrade just got much more awesome.  Go check out the changes, and get yourself a bunch of free records while you’re at it.  Noisetrade

– To all the haters: Erykah Badu apparently used Twitter to clear some copyright permission issues with Paul McCartney earlier today.  See people?  Stop making fun of me for having a Twitter account.  I’m telling you, it’s helpful on a lot of levels.  Pitchfork

– Speaking of Twitter, Matt Chamblerlain just tweeted that he played the drums on the new Of Montreal record.  Apparently they just completed the tracks, which Chamberlain is calling “a crazy-funky-psychedelic-drum extravaganza.” Nice.  Chamberlain’s Twitter

– Nickleback lost their popularity contest with “a pickel,” and lead sing Chad Kroeger isn’t happy about it.  Comcast

– Editorial:  We just decided on a date for a clinic I’ll be giving at New Hope Church.  The day is March 13th, is open to everyone, and will center around playing drums in a church environment.  The cost will be low and maybe even nothing, so I’m hoping we can get a good group of guys who care about drums in worship services to come out for the clinic.  I’ll post official details here soon.

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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.

I’m going a different direction for Album of the Week this time around. Instead of a record I’ve been listening to lately, I want to turn everybody on to an older album that had a huge role in shaping me when I was younger: VS, by Pearl Jam. I got this album when I was 13, and even now (15 years later) I still love it.

VS was Pearl Jam’s second record. Ten, their debut recording, was a huge international success, selling over 12 million copies. In line with Eddie Vedder’s typical “anti-establishment” style, the band went a completely different direction for their sophomore release, recording an album with much more raw and aggressive songs and a less “produced” sound. Compared to Ten, the VS album had no real radio singles, and the band produced no music videos for any of the tracks. It is all the more impressive, then, that VS sold over 7 million copies and is commonly cited as the “fan-favorite” in Pearl Jam’s discography.

The best part of this record is the energy. I actually can’t think of a rock record that has more “pump-up” from track to track, and yet keeps the songs somewhat diverse and artistically interesting. The drum performances on this album, recorded by Dave Abbruzzese, were the single most prominent influence on the early formation of my view on what a “rock” drummer should sound like. The most notable examples would be “Go” (track 1), “Daughter” (track 3), “Rats” (track 9), and “Leash” (track 11). My all-time favorite Abbruzzese track is a B-side from the VS sessions, called “Alone” (which can be heard on the Lost Dogs B-side compilation).

I should say at this point that, after studying the drumset for 15 years since first hearing VS, I don’t think of Abbruzzese’s performances on these tracks as perfect. In fact, I find new “flaws” every time I listen to it. That’s the way it works – you grow as a musician and, over time, things that once seemed amazing become less and less impressive. However, I will still always cite this recording as a huge part of my early development as a drummer.

For those of you who haven’t seen Episode 4 of the video lesson series, “Go” (the opening track of VS) gets a shout-out as a great example of the “4 on the snare” groove.

Sidenote: I have a love/hate relationship with Pearl Jam’s drummers. “Ten” was ghosted by studio drummer Matt Chamberlain, and Abbruzzese played on both “VS” and the third Pearl Jam record, “Vitalogy.” I am a big fan of both Chamberlain and Abbruzzese, and these guys really helped to shape Pearl Jam’s sound. But then, after the Vitalogy record, Vedder fired Abbrusseze and got ex-Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons. Then, after Soundgarden disbanded, Vedder picked up Matt Cameron, who remains the Pearl Jam drummer today. In a rare moment of printed criticism, I will boldy state that both Irons and Cameron are awful… in fact, I can’t decide who sucks more. Probably Cameron actually, who has been in Pearl Jam for ten years now and has only gotten WORSE.

Mike Portnoy… maybe compensating for something? #yeahIsaidit

When I was young I had a cymbal set-up with hats, 2 rides, 4 crashes, 2 splashes, a bell dome, and 2 chinas. I thought I was the bomb… and I had a ton of fun experimenting with all those different sounds. Now, however, I run hats with a ride and 1 crash… sometimes 2 if the situation requires it. I think the main difference is that over the last ten years I’ve been able to refine my understanding of the role of a cymbal.

The biggest issue is knowing when to NOT play. For instance, listen to “One Headlight” from the Wallflower’s first record Bringing Down The Horse. Notice anything? Matt Chamberlain doesn’t hit ANY crashes… or ride for that matter. It’s hats and hats only for the entire track… and the cool thing is that most people (even drummers) don’t notice the lack of crashes until someone else points it out. Just listening to that tune is a great lesson on knowing the role of a crash.

I started exploring this idea in high school when I would intentionally take parts of my kit away and try to play with the limited set-up that remained. Maybe just kick/snare/hats… or just kick/toms/ride… or whatever. I enjoyed the creativity that came from forcing myself to play a stripped-down kit… and I began to discover how many different sounds could be pulled from only one cymbal or drum.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not trying to say that having a lot of cymbals is automatically bad. The only real problem with it is temptation. Honestly, how often does a bell dome REALLY fit in a song? Answer: not very often… maybe once in your band’s entire show. But for most drummers, simply having the bell dome set up on the kit makes you want to hit it. You’re trucking along on the tune and you notice the bell dome sitting there and you think “oh… I haven’t hit that in a while…” and then you force the issue and play it in a spot where it doesn’t belong.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with a bell dome. You just have to know when to show some restraint and NOT hit it. An example of this would be Jack DeJohnette in the Keith Jarrett Trio. His set-up is almost unforgivably excessive for a jazz context, but you would never know it from just listening. He’s not hitting anything that doesn’t need to be hit, and the discipline and musicality he shows in having all those cymbals and not hitting them is incredible. He just uses what he needs and it rules.

SUMMARY: Put as many cymbals in your set-up as you want… but prioritize knowing when to NOT play them.

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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