Discipline and Feel
by Jeff Potter
Doug “Cosmo” Clifford stamped his signature groove on the roots-rock/country/R&B mix of Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of the biggest hit makers of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Along with original bassist Stu Cook and several other seasoned vets, Clifford continues to tour with Creedence Clearwater Revisited, bringing beloved CCR classics to fans around the globe. The November issue of Modern Drummer contains an extensive feature story in which Clifford details CCR’s beginnings and rise to fame, and discusses some of his greatest tracks. Here we ask Cosmo whether modern technology and roots music can coexist today.
MD: Keeping with its rootsy approach, Creedence always recorded as live and naturally as possible. The Americana scene is booming today, but technology has dictated recording techniques more than some artists might like. Can that threaten the inherent nature of roots music?
Doug: It’s the humanness that will suffer. Creedence started practicing in the garage as kids. We cut our teeth in the clubs. By starting together as thirteen-year-olds and going through formative years—the things teenagers go through, puberty right up through divorces—it made for a unique bond personally and musically. Now some guys are making records on computers and have never even played a club.
I’m glad that we were disciplined enough as young guys to keep the playing simple and treat music the way it should be—sticking to our guns and not falling into the traps of the latest fads. I’m very proud of that.
Also, our work ethic was very good. We were always straight and sober whenever we played. What people did in their homes was their own business. But whenever we weren’t working on an album, we would use the time to jam every day for three to four hours. A lot of songs came out of that. We didn’t always get credit for it. But everyone brought something to the table.
The discipline to come in and jam kept us focused. Once we had an album figured out, we would work on those songs for a couple of months before we went in the studio. So by the time we went in, we’d be able to knock out an entire album, including the mixes, in only two weeks.
MD: Creedence Clearwater Revisited has become a very successful new chapter. Congrats. You deserve to enjoy such an enduring legacy.
Doug: We’re having a great time. If your readers like Creedence, they’re gonna love this band. Come and party with us!
Doug Clifford on Record
With Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)
Bayou Country (1969)
Green River (1969)
Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
Mardi Gras (1972)
The Concert (recorded live at the Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California, January 31, 1970)
With Creedence Clearwater Revisited
Recollection (recorded live on tour in western Canada, 1997)
For much more with Doug Clifford, pick up the November issue of Modern Drummer magazine, or download a digital copy at the iTunes Store.