Hi, Modern Drummer readers! My name is Sean Donaghy, and I am the drummer for Wild Rompit, a folk-inspired rock band out of Philadelphia. We recently released our CD Spirit Moves, so I thought I would talk about tracking drums and some of my practices that may be helpful or dumb. You are the judge.
Brandon Bost, the guitarist and producer from Wild Rompit, records all of the music we put out as well as a bunch of other projects I have been lucky to be a part of (Lucy Stone, D&M, W.C. Lindsay). Since we do everything ourselves, we have the freedom to experiment with all kinds of different techniques, whether it be mic placement, drumhead choices, playing styles, etc.
One of the most important things for me going into the studio with any band is maintaining and getting to know your gear. I am a member of the C&C drum family and know my kit’s particular voice, what heads and cymbals to use, and so on. If you are familiar with the ins and outs of your drums prior to a session, it will be easier for you to get your desired sounds and not waste time in the studio.
The most daunting part of recording can be tuning. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the heads that are perfect for your drums, which can change every session. I have been partial to the Remo Vintage Emperors (clear for live and coated for studio). I tune very low, almost to the point of the heads wrinkling. There is a lot of stuff out there that can help you tune, whether it’s the Drum Dial, Snareweight, Moongels….
I don’t really use dials and the like. Just gaff tape. And I find the best way to get the truest tone out of a drum is to tune the drums higher then you would normally like, letting it sit, and then tuning it down to your desired tuning. I usually tune to pitches to avoid having the drums resonate with each other.
We just wrapped drums on a new song with Feedback Loop where we muffled the snare with loose pieces of paper (thanks for this one, Justin). With an extremely detuned snare and a few pieces of paper, you get a fat and low sound with added crispiness, courtesy of the paper. (I use college-ruled or graph paper for any paper snobs out there). I also do a pizza slice technique on my floor tom, which I got from C&C. Cutting an old head into a pizza slice and then taping it to the drum gives it that very dead, vintage sound, even if you want to tune your drums high.