Korn drummer Ray Luzier moved from Los Angeles to Nashville in 2014. “I can live pretty much anywhere I want because I only meet the other members of the band on airplanes,” he says. “We’re an L.A.-based band, and I fly back there quite a bit to do records. But we tour so much that we’ll just meet up whenever the tour kicks off.”
A home studio was a paramount consideration for Luzier while house hunting. “When I first started looking at houses, I looked at the spaces that realtors referred to as a ‘common area’ or ‘bonus rooms’ for my drum room,” he says. “In the house that we ended up choosing, I figured that area could be soundproofed and then one bedroom could be earmarked as a control room.” Luzier estimates his drum room to be about 300 square feet, while his control room is about 80 square feet.
Home studio design can vary tremendously. Some are equipped for full band recording, while others have just enough space for a miked-up drumkit and a laptop with Pro Tools. “I knew my drum room would have multiple kits,” says Ray. “My thinking was that if an artist hired me, I’d be able to match his or her vibe by choosing one of those kits equipped with the right gear. I wanted to be able to go from a wide-open John Bonham sound to a really tight cocktail kit all in the same room.
“To get three full drumkits in this room,” he continues, “I had to spread things out a certain way. I knew I needed some help, so I got Robb Wenner from Auralex to come in to balance out the sounds. It was important to me for the drum room to be live sounding, and it had to have a vibe. I want to feel inspired when I sit down to play.”
When asked about what had to be done to dial in the sound of his drum room, Luzier explains, “The first thing we did was to put the drums on Auralex HoverDecks. That didn’t change the sound dramatically but helped knock down the open floor sound. After that, we added bass traps and diffusers. If an artist wants me to get a more closed-in sound, we put some of those around the kit to create a smaller room.”
When it comes time to record his drumming, Luzier would rather bring in an engineer than try to do everything himself. “I know I’m not that good behind the board, so I’ll hire an engineer that really knows what they’re doing.” Before anything gets tracked, however, Ray makes sure that his drums sound great in the room. “The more you do right from the get-go, the less you’ll have to do in post,” he says. “The choices you make, down to the type of sticks you use, have to t the style of music that you’re playing.”
Luzier’s mic choices feature some standard items, as well as some unique alternatives. “The snare mics I’m using are pretty standard,” he says. “I have a Shure 57 on top, but I usually put a Shure 58 on the bottom. You don’t see that combination often, but I love it. The 58 gives some rattiness along with the good crack from the 57. I always have Shure 98s on my toms. For the cymbals I use a mic made by Oktava, which is an inexpensive Russian brand; they cost about $150 each. They have a nice, glassy shimmer, so I don’t have to EQ them. I also have a relatively inexpensive Groove Tube room mic that sounds really great.”
Each of the three bass drums in Ray’s setup is miked differently. “I have three bass drums in my main kit,” he says, “a 22″, a 24″, and a 26″. Ordinarily the 24″ is wide open, and I’ll use an AKG D112 on the outside head to give it a big Bonham-esque boom. Then for the 22″, I have a Shure 98 laying inside the shell and a D112 on the outside. I have some padding in there as well to help give the drum a nice pop.”
For mic preamps, Ray takes a pragmatic approach. “The kick and the snare mics are really important to run through good preamps,” he says. “If you have a great pre for the kick and snare, you can kind of get away with whatever you have for the other drums.”
Digging into the drumset itself, Ray calls special attention to one particular piece of gear. “My favorite piece of equipment is my Sabian 21″ Rock ride,” he says. “I’ve been using it for years, both live and in the studio. Engineers love it. There’s washiness to it as well as a distinctive cut. And the bell is amazing. I take that with me everywhere.”
Drumset: Pearl Reference Pure series in Scarlet Sparkle Burst (14×26, 16×24, 18×22 bass drums; 14×20 gong drum; 8×8, 8×19, 9×12, 8×13, 14×14, 16×16, and 18×18 toms; 10×6 and 14×6 tube toms; 6×10 side snare)
Snares: 6.5×14 Pearl phosphor bronze, 5.5×14 Pearl Reference brass, and 8″ LP Micro
Cymbals: Sabian 14″ AA Rock hi-hats, 15″ Paragon hi-hats, 10″ HH splash, 10″ prototype bell, 21″ AA Rock ride, 18″ AAX Studio crash, 19″ AAX Dark crash, 20″ HH Raw Bell crash, 18″ HHX O-Zone crash, 16″ Radia China on top of 15″ HH Medium hi-hat bottom, 15″ Radia China on top of 14″ HH Medium hi-hat bottom, 12″ Chopper, and 18″ AA Medium Chinese
Accessories: LP Ridge Rider cowbell, Vic Firth Ray Luzier signature sticks, and Jerry Harvey Audio in-ear monitors
Drumheads: Remo Emperor tom batters, Emperor X or Ambassador X snare batters, Powerstroke P3 bass drum batters