Catching Up With…
This drummer, who’s famously fond of all things analog, puts his money where his mouth is on the Verbs’ latest release, a collection of old-school covers.
by Ken Micallef
The Verbs’ third album, Cover Story (Jay-Vee), was recorded in Steve Jordan’s home facility in New York City and at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios, where bands from the Beatles to U2 to Radiohead have cut million-selling tracks. “I was playing in London with Eric Clapton, so we booked time at Abbey Road,” Jordan tells MD. “I played this incredible ’60s-era Rogers kit that belongs to Jeremy Stacey. I over-miked the drums so I would have a lot of choices. We set up in the spot where the lads [the Beatles] sat. That’s why the drums sound great.”
“There’s something incredible in that room,” adds vocalist and guitarist Meegan Voss, the Verbs’ other creative half. “The decay on Steve’s cymbals lasts into next year. A lush, beautiful sound.”
But back in Abbey Road’s control room, the tones Jordan, Voss, and bassist Willie Weeks heard on the studio floor were missing in playback. “When I started to mix, the drums didn’t sound that unique,” Jordan recalls. “So we removed all the close mics and broke it down to the room mics—the far mics, the overheads—like I do at home. Then I heard the sound of the room, and it was magic. Magic!”
Drawing on Jordan’s vast production and drumming experience and on Voss’s gritty rock ’n’ roll vocals and guitar, Cover Story reimagines such hits as Badfinger’s “Baby Blue,” the Kinks’ “Till the End of the Day,” Clapton’s “Easy Now,” and the Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over.” Each song was stripped down to capture its essential melody, harmony, and rhythm, revealing the power of subtlety and careful interpretation.
Returning to his Knotek studio in New York, Jordan played a kit consisting of German ’60s-era Trixon Vox drums, Remo heads, and Paiste Traditionals cymbals, along with Elvin Jones’ 20″ K Zildjian ride cymbal and Greg Errico’s K Zildjian hi-hats. A Ludwig piccolo snare, Vic Firth Steve Jordan signature sticks, and one of Jordan’s three pairs of Elvin Jones brushes completed his arsenal. To capture this setup in its vintage glory, Jordan relied on his studio’s all-analog recording chain.
“Recording analog, there’s dimension,” Steve says. “But now, with everyone recording digitally in the box, it’s one- or two-dimensional—there’s no depth. With analog, your body reacts subconsciously. The sound hits you a certain way and you feel it in a certain way. To try to replicate that feeling, you’re being assaulted. It’s like a video game. It’s coming at you, as opposed to drawing you in. If you listen to enough music recorded like that, you’ll be agitated by the end of the day.”
The Verbs are currently recording Cover Story’s follow-up, Garage Sale, which will include original material built from time-trusted tools and well-honed instincts.