Off The Record
Choice Cuts From Paramore and Exhibit A
By Ken Micallef
As with his previous solo records, Rubin played all of the instruments on the New Regime’s Exhibit A. “This is a natural progression from my first two albums,” he says. “A couple songs have a riffier, bluesier feel, so organic sounds and natural recording suited those the best. Then I went rawer on a few songs. ‘Know How It Feels’ is very stripped down. By contrast, I extended the electronic aspect in a song like ‘Daydream,’ where the heart of the song is a loop that I programmed.”
Whether Rubin is recording with the New Regime or Paramore, his drumming sounds massive, which has as much to do with his aggressive playing style as it does miking and production choices. “I like having as much of the ambient sound as possible, though you need close miking to cut through a mix,” Ilan explains. “I pride myself on being a hard hitter but having the finesse and detail required for any gig.”
Rubin’s work with Paramore brings out the more metal/punk side of his playing, from the heavy ska and killer tom fills on “Now” to the Stewart Copeland–meets–Keith Moon juxtapositions on “Daydreaming.” Rubin handily maneuvers through multiple section changes and rhythms on “Part II,” creates a provocative tom-based groove on “Proof,” and follows unusual vocal phrasing with snare drum accents on “Be Alone.” Throughout, his drum parts are as memorable as the band’s great songs.
Given the chance to dictate his drumming in the New Regime, you’d think Rubin would put the kit at center stage, but his rhythms are more streamlined on Exhibit A. “Don’t Chase It” is one such example, featuring a basic groove that’s adorned with subtle drum-corps-style snare rolls. “Daydream” contains both programmed and acoustic drums and sounds like Depeche Mode collaborating with blues guitar legend Albert King. Then on “No Traces,” Rubin supports soaring vocal harmonies and riff-heavy guitars with a funky bell-based groove.
Starting on page 56 are transcriptions of select beats from Paramore and Exhibit A, along with comments from Rubin regarding the conception behind his parts.
After the first chorus, there’s a re-intro that leads into verse two, and that’s where I play triplet stuff on the hi-hat. They said, “We want something with busier hi-hats,” so I summoned my inner Stewart Copeland. I improvised, and they liked it. (1:24)
Whether I accent on beat 3 or use more of a 2-and-4 feel is up to the band. They’re the songwriters. My job is to create something they’re happy with. With all of the fills, I just play and improvise. I don’t like to do anything too busy. (0:26, 1:30)
There are a lot of different drum parts in this song, which evolved after the drum tracks were recorded. But they enjoyed the busy, chaotic parts and fills I played. They said, “Keep building and get busier, and then go overboard.” I tried to play as powerfully as possible. (3:31)
This song has a pretty simple tom-based groove with 2 and 4 on the snare. (0:22)
The snare drum accent in unison with the vocal was the band’s idea. That’s one of those things you can imagine sounding very rigid, but it flowed pretty well. (0:42)
THE NEW REGIME
“Don’t Chase It”
I’m keeping straight 8ths on the hi-hat and then adding swoops, which is one of those things that you don’t notice but keeps things moving. (0:16)
From the point where the live drums come in, I’m filling in the electronic pattern with the acoustic kit. (2:52)
The feel and style of the beat in this song is like a Bonham-ized version of Ginger Baker’s groove in Cream’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.” I’m playing straight 8th notes on the bell. The performance is swinging, but it’s still beefy and hard hitting. (0:03)