Kent Slucher

Digging into some of the country and rock powerhouse’s grooves and approaches.

MD: There are two great fills you play at the end of the guitar solo in “Light It Up.” You mentioned that you really sit down and dissect Greg Morrow’s parts to make sure you get them right. Take us through that process. Did you slow this section down, call Greg for sticking tips….?

Kent: We usually get a rough setlist idea before rehearsals for the tour start. I’ll sit down with it and mentally go through the songs if it’s stuff we’ve done on past tours. But if it’s a new album cycle, we get new material to learn. In the case of “Light It Up,” I listened to the song several times. That drum fill came around, and I was like, “Whoa! Back that up!” I can typically learn the tune by listening several times, but that one was tricky. I actually texted Luke’s producer and asked him if he could send me Greg’s isolated drum tracks, which he was kind enough to do. One of the first times we were going to play that song was on an award show, so I didn’t want to mess it up in front of millions of viewers.

MD: You said it was tricky. How so?

Kent: The trickiest part of that fill is trying not to rush it and laying it back to make it feel right. The space between your hands and foot on that one means everything. I’d spend time in my drum room with a click playing that fill over and over, because it’s easy during the live show with the adrenaline pumping to rush it. So that’s what I’m most conscious of.

Check out Slucher’s first tasteful, syncopated tom fill around 2:29 in “Light It Up.”

Light It Up

And here’s a nasty lick coming out of the guitar solo that Slucher plays live around the 2:36 mark. Dig into the alternating combinations between the snare, toms, and bass drum, which are reminiscent of a classic Buddy Rich or Tony Williams lick.

Light It Up 2

MD: Do you have any preferred warm-up routines?

Kent: The two main things I do to warm up nowadays are getting mentally prepared and stretching. I don’t want to spend too much time right before the show on a pad or anything. I like it to feel nice and fresh when I sit behind the kit for the show. During the day, if we don’t soundcheck I’ll sit behind the kit and play a little bit. Or I practice on my pad during the day, but not before the show. Lots of stretching, though. My body doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to after three or four shows in a row.

MD: Your live playing exhibits great dynamic control. Could you explain how you’re able to do that in arena or stadium settings?

Kent: On this gig it goes from loud to louder. But honestly, I try to be conscious of lifting the energy from verse to chorus in each song. So even though I’m playing hard during the verses, I leave room to lift the energy during the choruses. Now, on a song like “Strip It Down,” which is nothing but sidestick, I’m laying back considerably. On the original recording it’s just a drum loop, so to give it more energy live I’m basically mimicking the drum loop with the live kit.

Here’s the laid-back, 16th-note groove Slucher plays live throughout “Strip It Down.”

Strip It Down 1

MD: Could you explain the pattern that you play during the third verse/bridge of “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”?

Kent: When I listened to the original version of that song, I tried to get it as close as I could to what Greg played while making it my own. I’m basically playing a cadence-type pattern on the floor tom, and on beat 4 I hit the snare. But I’m also keeping the floor tom groove going at the same time. And I keep the quarter-note pulse going on the kick.

Check out the opening floor tom pattern Slucher plays during the bridge.

Strip It Down 2

About halfway through this section, the drummer adds a snare accent on beat 4 while maintaining the previous rhythm.

Strip It Down 3