Two Drum Covers in Two Days

After a busy couple of weeks, I finally got the opportunity to sit down and do some meaningful drumming and recording some new covers.

I went back to the John Butler Trio well again and brought up my favorite JBT songs: I Used To Get High.

With this cover, I went ahead and played around with some new angles. I turned my kit around 180 degrees and moved the main camera to capture the view from the front. I took my second camera and placed it next to the floor tom looking up.  I then took my little web cam and placed it on one of the overhead mic stands to capture a view of the  hi-hat and snare.  After going through the whole recording process, I ended up only liking the angle that was on the lowest-quality camera (the overhead). I still had a lot of fun recording the cover and decided to go ahead and post it.

On Saturday I had some alone time after my daughter went to bed and did something that I had been wanting to do for sometime: drum while she was sleeping.  It turns out that she slept through the whole evening of my drumming, which made me happy – thus I decided to cover “Happy” by Pharrell Williams to celebrate my opportunity to drum some more:

I did some more tweaking of the camera angles and was a bit more satisfied with the result.  I’ll need to continue to adjust things for the next video a bit, as it looks like one of the cameras had a tough time focusing.

I’d love to get any feedback on the covers, the video, or anything else: I’d definitely love to hear from you.

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.