Mike Carroll archive

Tag : drum grooves (2)

…At Last!

Categories: Media, Uncategorized, Video
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: January 18, 2014

This is my first video post in several months. A busy summer and fall schedule, and some much needed time off prevented me from producing any new videos. Now that I have recuperated and have some free time, I can start posting on a more regular basis. That is not to say that there isn’t much going on; The Dan Doiron Band is hard at work preparing for the International Blues Challenge taking place in Memphis, Tennessee. Back in October, we won a regional competition put on by the East Coast Blues Society, giving us the opportunity to represent the Maritimes in Memphis! We are very excited and can’t wait to give it our best.

On to the video! I did one on Steve Gadd for his Birthday early last year, but I focused more on licks and failed to capture the grooves for which he is best known. To remedy this, I decided to dedicate this project to his work on two Paul Simon tracks – ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ and ‘Late in the Evening’.

’50 Ways’ was recorded in 1975 and appeared on the album ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’. The groove Steve plays is unique, creative, challenging, and perfect for the song. There are many other videos on YouTube showcasing this groove, so I wanted to do so something a bit different. The studio track has a tambourine playing on the offbeats that gives the song forward momentum. After some experimentation, I found a way to incorporate the tambourine using an extra pedal to the left of the bass drum pedal that I played with my heel. This method proved to be a coordination nightmare, but one that I eventually conquered.

There is another point about the coordination obstacle that I’d like to make. After practising the groove for a time, I felt that I had got it to a point where I could record it. I set up my gear, pushed record, and 53 takes later, I had nothing useable. The problem was that I didn’t spend a sufficient amount of time committing the groove to muscle memory. I had to think too much to get through it, and when I have to think too much, the groove suffers. There is NO substitute for practise! I practised hard, took a few days off to let it sink in, took an inordinate amount of time to tension the pedals correctly, and tried again. The extra time I took to really nail it paid off as I got the footage I needed in seven takes.

‘Late in the Evening’ was recorded in 1980 and appeared on the album ‘One Trick Pony’. The second clip came together much quicker, as it didn’t involve as much coordination issues and I was already quite familiar with the African ‘Mozambique’ rhythm on which the groove was based. I did throw in an extra challenge for myself by switching the roles of my hands partway through. Another aspect worth noting is that Steve used four sticks to play the groove. The four sticks technique lends a certain percussive flavour the the groove, but is a killer on the wrists! Luckily, I got what I needed in two or three takes.

On the technical side of things, I used my Q3HD for the overhead view and the GoPro as the foot cam because the Q3 captures better sound. Unfortunately, the Q3 doesn’t have as wide a field of vision as the GoPro. Compounding this problem is that I neglected to notice that I had it zoomed in a bit. A good take always trumps a good camera angle I always say! Because I only needed an overhead view for the second clip, I was able to use the GoPro for that, with the Q3 positioned just below it to capture the sound only. The video was edited with Pinnacle Studio for iPad; an excellent program with which I am slowly becoming adept.

Still here? Apologies for the long-winded preamble. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Bonzo! 3 Famous Grooves…

The legendary John Henry Bonham would be 65 today. (May 31st, 2013) As the driving force behind Led Zeppelin, he influenced and inspired drummers with his groove, creativity, and unique sound. Every track he played sounded as if he knew it would be his last day on earth. His grooves are as clever as they are pounding, and serve as hooks to enhance the songs. He achieved his signature sound by using big drums tuned high. Every drummer alive owes him a great debt as he practically wrote the book on groove.

As a small tribute to his legacy, I have chosen 3 of my favourite grooves for this video. The first is ‘Good Times Bad Times’ from Zeppelin’s debut album. The second is ‘The Crunge’, from Houses of the Holy. The final example is ‘Fool in the Rain’ from In Through the Out Door.

I have been looking forward to this project for some time; mostly because it meant I got to dust off the Ludwig Vistalites that had been packed away for over a year. I always feel just a little bit of the magic of Bonham whenever I play them.

I decided to do some experimenting with this video and came up with some interesting results. I switched camera positions so that the Q3 was capturing an in close shot of my right foot and the GoPro (fastened to the ceiling with a magnetic tripod) captured the top view. Switching camera positions presented a few challenges; it proved difficult to get a good balance of all the drums with the Q3 placed on the floor. Also, the Mic in the GoPro pales in comparison to those inside the Q3, so I had to take great care in mixing the two together.

The first clip has some technical issues. There is a buzz coming from the floor tom that the GoPro picked up with remarkable fidelity. I had to use less of the GoPro audio to compensate, but it is still there.

For the second clip, I actually played along to the track because I couldn’t keep the form of the song in my head. It took a few takes to sync up my first note with Bonzo’s.

The third clip involved a little more experimenting. I mixed in more of the GoPro audio because it added a certain lo-fi-ness that I felt was appropriate. I also put both audio tracks slightly out of sync in an effort to make the drums sound bigger. I am happy with the result.

I ended up not using the video from the Q3 because it was kind of redundant. The GoPro video offers a great view of the feet.

I hope you enjoy my tribute to Bonzo. There will be more in the future! Special thanks to lighting assistant and swell guy Jonny Grant. This is instalment twelve in the ‘Drummer’s Birthdays’ series.

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