Greg Saunier on Big Walnuts Yonder’s Big Walnuts Yonder
On its self-titled debut, released this past May 5, the indie-rock collective Big Walnuts Yonder fuses wild time shifts, explosive punk tones, and unhinged improvisation on ten electrified, cohesive tracks. The veteran group, comprising bassist and vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, the Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), guitarist and vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos), and drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), spent three days recording in 2014 after extensive discussions. “We’d been planning this meet-up for years,” Saunier explains. “So once we were finally all in the same room, it was just relentless, frantic energy.”
The group loaded its debut with heaps of frenetic chops, free-jazz-influenced ventures, and sharp, daring moments, including a jarring yet perfectly executed triplet metric modulation that opens the album. “I think shifting to a tempo related to the triplet can feel so cool and refreshing,” Saunier says. “Of course, if you think the timing is funny now, you should’ve heard my demo. I did it in GarageBand, [and] if you have RAM issues, then there’s latency, and the timing shifts around. When the guys heard the demo right before the session, I think they got pretty worried that they picked a drummer who didn’t understand rhythm!” Willie Rose
Anton Hochheim on Beach Fossils’ Somersault
“I feel bad,” Beach Fossils leader Dustin Payseur says, regarding the way the drums were recorded for the group’s first album in four years, Somersault. “We were all sitting there, staring over Anton’s shoulder, probably making him nervous, telling him, ‘Keep it like a drum machine, as minimal as possible.’ He did such a good job, though.”
Payseur should know. Though he’s widely recognized as the singer, songwriter, and guitarist in one of the most highly regarded bands to emerge from the Brooklyn indie-rock scene in the past decade, he’s a more than competent kit player himself. And he certainly seems to have chosen very well by hiring Anton Hochheim for Somersault. The drummer, whose busy schedule includes playing with the L.A. punk band Hit Bargain, the popular New York fuzz-pop act the Pains of Being Pure of Heart, and the duo Ablebody (with his identical twin brother, Christoph), is skilled at coming up with streamlined yet meaningful parts on short notice. “When Dustin sent me the demos,” Hochheim says, “all the tracks already had drums that were programmed or that he’d played himself. So he had a pretty precise idea of the feel on every song. But he was also open to ideas.”
In addition to the challenge of recording drums for a singer who knows what’s up behind the kit, Hochheim’s skills were further tested by the methods of producer Jonathan Rado, leader of the much-buzzed-about L.A. group Foxygen. “Rado likes to record all analog to tape,” Hochheim explains. “So there wasn’t the luxury of overdubs. I’d never worked like that before—it was really difficult.” [laughs]
And like Payseur, Rado had much to offer in the way of Hochheim’s parts. “My approach is pretty minimal,” Anton says. “But there were definitely parts in the recording process where Rado was like, ‘Let’s do even fewer fills.’ Then, ‘Let’s do a pass where there’s no floor tom at all.’ And he’d just take away a floor tom. Then, ‘Let’s do it without any crash cymbal,’ so all of a sudden there’s no crash on the kit. Oh, shit, my drumset’s shrinking! [laughs] But it was cool to not rely on muscle memory; it was very spontaneous. The whole process was pretty fun.”
More New Releases
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Christian Paschall with Maren Morris
The sticksman behind a rising country star talks touring and offers advice for up-and-coming players.
Nashville-based drummer and producer Christian Paschall is currently on the road supporting the country singer and songwriter Maren Morris on a tour that lasts through late September. Paschall’s solid feel, deep groove, and unwavering time have supported the rising artist on her 2016 tour with Keith Urban, a headlining trek earlier this year, and a slew of high-profile television performances, including a 2017 Grammy appearance where Morris also took home the Best Country Solo Performance award.
Live, the drummer and group bandleader employs loops to best replicate the production of Morris’s 2016 debut album, Hero. “I love playing with loops—I love the feel it imparts on the music,” Paschall says. “Modern production often utilizes loops and other programming, and to me those are different instruments from a drumset. If there’s programming on top of an acoustic kit on a record, I like to approach it that same way live. Having said that, if there’s a shaker track and I have a free hand—on ‘I Could Use a Love Song,’ for example—I definitely like to play that kind of thing rather than put it on a track.”
Originally based in Atlanta, Paschall relocated to Nashville and picked up work with artists he’d played with previously. And while the drummer maintains a busy recording schedule both locally and via remote sessions in his personal studio, he explains that being in a city with a substantial music scene helps bolster his opportunities. “As much as I hate to say it,” Paschall offers, “I believe that even in this day and age of the internet and remote recording, being in a music hub like Nashville or L.A. is necessary to build a long-term career in commercial music. Sure, there are exceptions to that. But most of the music we hear is recorded in one of those two cities, so it makes sense that that’s where the majority of the work would be.
“The internet hasn’t changed the fact that people still want to work with their friends,” Paschall goes on. “If I’m producing a record, it doesn’t make sense to have someone in Tulsa play guitar on it when my friend that I hung out with last night is a killer guitar player and lives here in town. That’s not to say that I never work with people outside of Nashville. I just think that if you’re an up-and-coming musician who wants to build a career in commercial music, move to Nashville or L.A., meet people, play with people, and come up in the industry with people. There’s plenty of work to go around.” Willie Rose
Also on the Road
Shannon Forrest and Lenny Castro with Toto /// Abe Cunningham with Deftones /// Tony Hajjar with At the Drive-In /// Lars Ulrich with Metallica /// Rick Allen with Def Leppard /// Steve Ferrone with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers /// Dominic Howard with Muse
WHO’S PLAYING WHAT
Mark “Lovestick” Falgren (Lukas Graham) has joined the Paiste artist roster.
Jason Marsalis (independent) is using Mike Balter mallets.
Ryan Van Poederooyen (Devin Townsend Project) is using Audiofly in-ear monitors.