Hey guys, Frank Godla here from the NYC band Meek is Murder. We’ve recently completed our second full-length album, Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters, with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge) at Godcity Studio. Thinking back on the process is what led me to the topic I’m talking about on moderndrummer.com today.
In recent interviews we’ve often been asked about the gear we used for the recording process, and while I’m happy to share the setup I played on the new album (12″ and 16″ Tempus toms, a 22″ C&C bass drum, a 14″ Godcity snare), it’s really the ergonomics of the setup that I spent more time thinking about. Se up ergonomics is something that affects all drummers, but less than half of us actually practices or thinks about it effectively.
Coming from more of a metal background, I used to be one of those guys with a rack full of toms and cymbals for days. Aside from the obvious nuisance of getting on and off stage without a drum tech, I really wasn’t thinking about how to utilize my set efficiently, because I was more concerned with being metal. I find that many metal drummers are more concerned with how their set looks to the audience than how it feels to themselves. It’s the reason you’ll find drummers who re-align their set to the right in order to fit a second (dummy) kick drum they’re not playing, or adjust their natural playing stance so they can turn their toms at a completely flat angle. Risking the comfort of playing to look cool is pretty silly, when you think about it.
When Meek is Murder started, I was really stoked to challenge myself with a completely new style of playing, but I really wanted to approach this with a new setup as well. What I’ve found over the years is that drastically reducing my set down to a four-piece kit with one crash, a hi-hat, and a ride has not only made life easier on the road, but it forced me to notice some of the details in drumming itself—things like creative phrasing, how to use a single cymbal in more ways than one, and once again the ergonomics fine-tuned to how I personally hit.
Whether you play a four-piece drumset or a Terry Bozzio museum collection, I urge you to really think about how you hit a drum, how your stick falls off a cymbal, and where the strain in your legs begins when you reach an intense double kick pattern. Even though there is no right or wrong answer, dive into the science of making your drumset work for you, because at the end of the day what really matters is your playing, not how your drums look on stage.
You can start with something as simple as adjusting the height of your throne in three different positions. It may surprise you how much of your playing is affected by sitting really low, like Dave Lombardo, then really high, like Mike Portnoy. When you do find your sweet spot with each piece of your set, mark it or memory-lock it, but never stop trying new things. These differences, no matter how slight, could be something that drastically changes your playing forever.
For more with Frank Godla and Meek is Murder, go to Facebook.com. To watch an exclusive Modern Drummer video of Frank Godla playing “Our Hope/Our Home” from Meek Is Murder’s new album, Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters (out October 22), go here.