MD Online was recently hipped to drummer Zack B.’s fantastic drum cover of “The Hard Man Theme” from the ’90s Nintendo video game Mega Man 3. We asked Zack why he chose this particular track to cover, and he took the opportunity to share some tips on setting up mics and cameras for Youtube, and to tell us a little about himself.
“I really like ‘Hard Man,’” says Zack, “because it reminds me of some sort of James Brown song—I’m a lifelong fan—at a really fast pace. A few of my ‘go-to’ beats seemed to fit like a glove, so that made the song even more enjoyable to play.
“When looking for songs to play along to,” Zack goes on, “I try to find ones that either have simple drum parts that are easy to cover up, or no drums at all. Eight-bit drums don’t get in the way when playing along with a real drumset—they act more like a metronome, so I naturally started playing along to them.
“I grew up playing the original NES [Nintendo Entertainment System], and in particular, I was in love with Mega Man 2 and Ninja Gaiden 2. These games have 8-bit music that is so well composed, it’s nothing short of magic.”
Tips on Setting Up Cameras and Mics for YouTube
“When I started making videos,” says Zack, “I bought just a two-channel mixing board and one cheap condenser mic. I’ve found that the sweet spot for one-mic recording is about three feet in front of the kick, three feet off the floor, and a little bit to the snare side. For a two-mic setup, use one overhead mic and one in the kick. For three mics, one overhead, one on the snare, and one on the kick. Anything more than that, and you’re getting into stereo overheads and close miking.
“I’ve made a ton of recordings,” says Zack, “and listening back to myself play was a major turning point in my drumming. Being able to listen to yourself without having to focus on playing allows you to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. This is a huge wakeup call for most.”
About Zack B.
Zack, who comes from a musical family, began playing drums when he was seven years old. “My mom was a singer in a funk/gospel group when she was pregnant with me,” he shares, “and I was around music ever since I was born. I have two older brothers that also play drums, guitar, bass, a little piano, and of course sing. I never had a teacher, but I learned from an early age how to play the drums. I guess it’s more like you don’t need a swimming teacher if you are born into a culture that swims; you learn through immersion.”
Zack says that even though he’s gone through periods where he didn’t play for a few years, while I was traveling; when he settled down he bought a used kit and started again. “In the last three years,” he says, “I’ve become much more studious in regards to practicing and developing myself. The drums never let me down, they are always there for me, they do not judge me, and they are the perfect tool for applying my mind and body. For me it’s about the path, not the destination.
“I love the musical approach to life,” Zack adds. “I would rather be mentally wealthy than materially wealthy, any time.”
To learn more about how to create your own drum cover video, check out the March 2013 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, available now on iTunes/iOS and Android/Amazon. And for more on Zack B., visit his YouTube Channel or visit his Facebook page.