New drum cover and more YouTube problems

It’s been nearly a month since I posted my last drum cover, and the busyness of work and life interfered with my goal of posting one drum cover per week.  I was definitely anxious to get another one out there and build momentum, but with the YouTube copyright troubles this one has given me, my momentum is all but dead.

I went and covered one of my favorite Muse songs, “Time Is Running Out”. I nailed it in the third take and am now to the point where editing the video has become the easy part.  I started the upload to YouTube only to find that my version got blocked in some countries – actually one country – the United States.

Confused, I searched for other drum covers of “Time” and found quite a few of them out there.  On one of the more successful ones, I noticed that he raised the pitch of the recording. I went ahead and tried the same thing and made Muse’s Matt Ballamy sound like a woman, but I was hopeful that I’d be able to get my video posted.  No such luck, it got blocked in the US again.

Frustrated, I was about to delete my video, but found that it was already getting a few views and even a comment from users in other countries, so I decided to leave it be.  I’m trying to dispute the blocking on the video, on the grounds that this video is for educational purposes for other drummers, but I’m not too helpful that my dispute will be successful.  We’ll see.

Look, I get that Muse’s record label and publisher is acting within their designated rights here, and that these drum covers are on pretty shaky ground.  What sucks here is that there’s some kind of double-standard with the same freakin’ song.  After already being burned by my Kanye cover, I’m pretty leery about putting in the work of practicing and recover a song, only to have it immediately flushed.  Seeing the number of “Time” drum covers that I can see, I assumed that the labels saw this as a promotional vehicle for their music and were happy to collect ad revenue from the videos. It looks like I was wrong.

I guess for now I’ll stick to the more obscure songs or spend some time which researching which labels are cool about covers.  However in the meantime, this process is royally broken.  By the time you discover the end result, it’s too late and you’ve already wasted your time.

Luckily my original video has found a home on Vimeo:

Vimeo has a really nice platform and some great tools, and my video may still be up because of their “security through obscurity” model – but YouTube is where I’ve been trying to grow my channel.  However, with half of my videos now crippled by these blockings – I don’t have much to show for it.

My First Drum Cover

January has been a month with not much free time, but for a glimpse of how I’ve been spending what little I’ve had, check out this video below:

Yes, I’ve finally recorded my first drum cover, using #41 by Dave Matthews Band. I’ve been excited to get into doing drum covers and open up a new chapter in my drumming.  Not only do I get a chance to apply my drumming towards some fun songs, but also this gives me a chance to learn about recording and video production.

For Christmas my family gifted me with a set of drum mics, along with the stands, mounts and cables necessary for recording.  I then got an audio interface (specifically a Tascam US-1800) to connect everything to my laptop via USB.  After getting a passable sound, I was eager to set out and record my first song. #41 is one I’ve always enjoyed playing and made a fun one out of the gate.  I set up a couple of mixes of the song: one with a click track identified, along with a mix with diminished drums – of which I found out was more difficult to make than thought. It turns out that it’s tough EQ’ing drums out of a mix without making the song sound empty.  Ultimately I tried to get the bass drum out of the mix, then diminish the rest. I think the results here were mixed.

I then set out to do some takes.  My goal here was to get something out quickly, so I did sacrifice a little bit of quality in terms of my playing and the ultimate mix.  If I were recording original music, contributing to a final drum mix, I would have spent a lot more time to do more compression and EQ’ing to get that perfect sound. For the purpose of these the video, I was pretty satisfied with the sound of my drums.

Next up was the video.  Using the Nikon D7000 that we bought for Clara last year, I mounted the camera on the tripod and used it as the primary camera. The video quality on the Nikon is pretty impressive, especially when stationary.  I then mounted a little web cam on a lamp to capture an overhead angle, outputting the video to another laptop. For my next video, I’m anxious to try some additional angles, as well as a different overhead angle. In this one, I didn’t like how my face was cut off half of the time.  I also learned the embarrassing lesson that I need to clean my room before recording again.

This process taught me a lot, and after doing some mental trail-blazing, I’m anxious to give another song a try.  I’d definitely welcome any suggestions or feedback.

Dave loves drums

As a drummer, you get used to gigs like this: You play out of your mind during a set, take a break and pretty much disappear in the room because no one watches the drummer and were likely focusing on the singer.  Luckily there are a few out there – like David Letterman – who spend their time watching the drums (if not the drummer).  Check this out:

The reason he asks if the drums are theirs is because a band will likely rent the larger equipment like bass stacks and drums if they had to fly in for the performance.  In other cases, bands will add these performance dates to their tours, and likely bring their own equipment.  I love how he comments on pretty much everyone but the singers.

New Drumming Pet Peeve: Backline Sharing

drumset

When it comes to drumming, I’ve had a busy couple of months.  At one time I was juggling four steady drumming gigs, and was looking at the possibility of adding another one.  Now with the baby coming, I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical from drumming – at least as far as gigging projects are concerned – to get ready for the new parent adventure.  Given that I’m going to have a little bit of musical downtime, I wanted to share some reflections from the road.

First and foremost, I’ve uncovered my new drumming pet peeve: backline sharing. Like most things on the road to Hell, this is based on the good intention (usually made by people who are not drummers).  For those that don’t know, backline sharing is when drummers, bass players (and any other instruments with bulky gear) are asked (or in my case, volun-told) to share their gear for a multi-band bill.  Whether you’re on the one doing the sharing, or taking part in someone’s shared gear – this is a lose-lose situation.  Like I said, this decision is usually made by someone who doesn’t play any of these instruments, thinking only of how they can cut corners and minimize the transition time between bands.

The bottom line is that as a drummer, I have spent a considerable amount of time and money to get the sounds that I feel best compliment my playing style, as well as the type of music that I’m playing that evening.  This was culminated from many hours spent in the drum shop finding that perfect cymbal or snare drum head, then going home and determining the exact placement of each part of your kit.  When you’re asking your drummer to backline share on someone else’s kit, you’re unknowingly saying a big “Efff you” to their musicianship and the time they spent to getting their instrument to sound the best for your music. 

I understand there are certain exceptions (like school drum sets) where you’re not playing on your own kit, but I often equate that to driving a car: I can drive someone else’s car and get around for the most part, but when it comes to understanding how the car corners, brakes and maneuver in tight spaces – you want your own vehicle. The same goes for drumming. If you’re asking me to give my best (often to help us earn money), let me cook with my own ingredients.

It’s bad enough to be asked to share someone else’s instrument, but when you’re asked to do the sharing: you’ve taken it to a completely worse level.  All that I said about putting in the time and effort to get the perfect sound out of your kit, is not a cheap process – and now you’re asking me to entrust my kit to someone who I’ve never met before and likely won’t see ever again?  Seriously? In one of my first bands, one of my band-mates was goofing around on my kit and busted up my brand new Pearl Eliminator pedal, with no offer to help rectifying the situation (luckily the pedal was under warranty and Pearl was great about fixing it), but from that point on I decided to go against the lessons my parents taught me – (when it comes to my drums,) NO SHARING!  Now while I’m watching the opening act, rather than mentally preparing for the music I’m going to play, I’m now fixated on the stranger playing my drums and cringing at the possible damage that’s being inflicted on a prized possession.

So memo to band-leaders: you’re thinking that you’re doing us a favor with us lugging less gear, but lugging gear is part of drumming – I’m more than happy to deal with it.

House Drumsets [why they suck]

Last night Greenfoot played a show over at Herman’s Hideaway (for which I’ll offer some additional thoughts in a later post).  As part of the “New Talent Showcase”, one of the important stipulations were the two dreaded words drummers hate to hear “House Drumset”.

I cringed when I heard the news, and after playing the set last evening, my dread was justified.

I understand the reasons why venue owners and concert promoters want to use House Drumsets.  When you have multiple bands in one evening, you want to do everything to ensure bands get on and off the stage quickly.  Having a large piece of equipment remain stationary makes sense, especially when the drums have mics attached to them.  However, I can guaranteed that the person who made/promoted that decision is not a drummer.

When I’m asked what it’s like playing on a house drum set, I give the analogy of driving someone else’s car in a race: Yes, you’ll be able to drive the car and you know where the gas, brake & steering wheel are, but you don’t know the intricacies of this car. You don’t know how it accelerates, how it breaks, how it handles around curves.  The same things goes with drum sets.  It bothers me that people wouldn’t fathom telling guitar players to play on someone else’s guitar, yet have no problem telling drummers they have to play a drum set that gets pounded night in & night out.

This particular drum set appeared to have a 10″, 13″ & 16″ with Pinstripe heads torque’d pretty high.  What this means is that they were “ping-y” and “ring-“, a stark contrast from my darker ebony heads that produce a warmer tone that works with our music.  In addition, I had to grow used to 3 toms pretty quick, a departure from my 4 toms.  It doesn’t help that I flip the order of my two rack toms – the non-standard configuration probably a bad habit, but it’s what I’ve grown accustomed to.  In my bass drum I have a pillow, which produces a more muffled sound, while allowing a good bounce response.  The House Drumset had no such pillow, and it took an adjustment.

The policy allowed us to bring in our snare drum, pedals & cymbals. At this point, the only thing that was left of the drum set was the bass drum and three toms – which makes me wonder how much time was really saved. 

What owners/promoters don’t understand is that if you give them a staging area to set up their gear off-stage, a good drummer can get their drum on stage and ready to go in roughly the same time it takes a guitar player to set up their amp, pedals, and tune their guitars.

When I was in high school, I played on a foreign drum set each and every day – but school drum sets are different than House Drumsets.  With school drum sets you typically get a period of time to be acclimated to the kit before you play it at anything meaningful.  With the House Kit the sound check is the first chance you get to sit behind the kit.  To borrow a line from A.I., “We’re talking about practice, not the game”.  I’m all about rehearsing on another drum set to help save time – but when you’re essentially putting on an audition it’s pretty lofty to expect drummers to be in their elements in a kit they just started playing.

Like I said, I understand House Drum set may make sense to some, but it doesn’t make sense to drummers.