Due to deadlines, Nate Morton wasn’t able to complete his behind-the-scenes journal about his unique job drumming on the hit television talent show The Voice before his cover story was published in the June 2014 issue of Modern Drummer. Here’s his final entry.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Tomorrow and Sunday we have our first onstage run-throughs for the first week of the live shows. This season has already had its fair share of outstanding performances, but once the live shows start everything gets exponentially more amped. At this point we’re down to only twelve singers. That culling of the pack means you’ve already got the best of the best. Moreover, by the time the live shows start, each of those contestants has been involved in some seriously intense vocal training and has received tutelage from people in this industry who are among the best at what they do. Additionally, the live shows mean the level of production of each performance also escalates—dancers, strings, choirs, crazy stage sets, pyro…and that might all be in one number! Then there’s the fact that it is a live show.
What you play hits the airwaves just like that. There’s no “fix it in postproduction” at this point. Not that there’s ever been much call for the band to do that anyway, but I will admit there’s definitely a difference in the energy level of the live shows and in the room; the heightened adrenaline level is palpable.
The band’s positioning changes as well. This is the part of the season where band members are sometimes featured downstage during the performances. And even when we’re on the bandstand, that’s different, because for the live show we set up on the band pod. The stage for the live shows is a theater in the round, so the band pod is actually surrounded by audience members, as opposed to previous rounds where the band is obscured behind set pieces. Even though you may not see the band pod on camera that much more, the fact that there are audience members eight feet behind us means it feels much more like a live concert.
As I write this journal entry, the physical magazine has already been assembled and by now we’ve already seen a photo of the cover. The amount of positive feedback has been amazing. I don’t even know what to say. To me, I’ve just always done what I’ve done, and I’m blessed and fortunate that it’s gotten me where I am. The idea that anyone might benefit from me sharing any knowledge or insight I might have gained is perhaps the most gratifying thing of all.
Sometimes people say, “Man, I’m stealing all your licks.” And to them I say please steal away. I didn’t invent any of it. My longtime drum instructor Grant Menefee used to say, “Anything you play has either already been played or will be in the next five seconds.” That’s not to suggest there aren’t unique voices in drumming, and it doesn’t discount individual musicianship. What I understood was that we don’t own any of it. We all take in influences—musically, philosophically, environmentally—and the result is what we put out there.
Music is a language. Even though we might all be saying something different in a unique way, ultimately we all have the same vocabulary at our disposal. If I get to be a conduit through which other players hear this or that and choose to incorporate it into what they do, well, that’s pretty amazing. I’ve always only ever tried to make music, and that’s what I’ll always strive to do.
Click here to see what’s in the June 2014 issue of Modern Drummer magazine featuring Nate Morton of The Voice.