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Breakdown of Making an Album: Part I

Article by Jayson Brinkworth // June 05 2012
Breakdown of Making an Album: Part I

Since I was in my early teens, I have always been a huge geek about knowing who played on what albums. Also wanting to know what gear they used, why they chose that gear, how they tuned the drums, how they came up with their parts, etc.

I was very influenced by the studio scene in the industry and bands like Toto, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Sting and many others. Maybe it was the fact that so many of the great players kept showing up on so many albums of different genres of music—Jeff Porcaro, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd, Jim Keltner, Bernard Purdie, Rick Marotta and others. This was singlehandedly the biggest influence I had in my playing, and I am very thankful to have been in that era when I was most impressionable.

I always thought it would be great to have a behind the scenes look at a recording project from one of the big guys. There is definitely more footage out there now with social media, but the drum geek in me still wants more! I would lose my mind if there was studio footage from Toto recording Toto IV and Jeff Porcaro talking about gear choices for the songs and the parts and tracking in the studio. What is an album you would love to get a behind the drums glimpse of?

I have recently had the pleasure of working with my very talented wife, Laura Roddick, on her latest project Soar. Although I have logged a fair bit of time in the studio with other projects, this one was obviously very personal as we wrote the majority of the songs together,worked out parts and arrangements and co-produced with our great friend Brad Prosko. I felt that I was able to really exercise my creative music muscle on this project from the drum chair and beyond.

My approach to the drum parts on these songs obviously came from what the song needed first, but I also kept in mind the education side of drumming, and the concept of sharing this information throughout.

I know there are a lot of ways to approach recording, gear, production, engineering and others things in the studio. This is just a glimpse into this project, my approach and details that went into making this music.

There will be seven articles in this series outlining each track on the disc. Also with each article, you will be able to download the original album track plus the track minus the drums. You can go ahead and learn the original part, but I would love to see you exercise your creativity and come up with your own approach to the songs. Also feel free to record a video of yourself playing one of the tracks and we will post it up on The Black Page site. (Maybe we could dig up some prizes to giveaway!)

I am very excited about putting these articles together and passing along drumming education in a bit of a different and hopefully inspiring way. Also, a huge thanks to Rawlco Radio for their financial support in this project. 

“I Forgot to Go” is the first track on LA Roddick’s CD Soar. This song started with a guitar hook that you will hear right out of the gates. Our approach on this was to combine rock/pop/dance, but the song quickly took on a life of its own.

Once we had an intro, verse and chorus, I had a crazy idea of using sounds from my Roland Handsonic and inserting a bar of 5/4 throughout the song. Once we tried it a few times, we realized it was a bit much, but we did keep a bar of 5 in the intro. We also processed the drum pattern I played for verse one, as you will hear.

I used my Yamaha 24” kick on this track and we used several microphones on the drum to get a huge sound. We used a Sennheiser 421, Shure Beta 52 and my Moon Mic to get the sound we were after. Micing and placement are so critical in the studio and we spent a lot of time on this with all of the tracks. You hear this kick sound in the intro on its own; it is a monster.

For the first half of the song, I was wanting to have a sound that was dry and punchy, but different than the drums were going to sound later in the song. I tried many options of hi-hats and snares, stacking drums on each other for sounds, etc. I decided my 15” Sabian Artisan hats and my 6 ½ x 14 Ludwig Black Beauty were the best choices for this song. The part I play in the first half of the song is just a straight two hand 1/16 pattern on the hats with snare on 2 and 4, kick is playing 4 on the floor (thus the rock/pop/dance reference).

The sound of this pattern is a bit different and this is because I stuffed half of a towel between my hi-hat cymbals and the other half was on the snare. The snare was tuned low and was very dead with this towel on it. Also the hi-hats couldn’t close tight, so the sound was very different from what they usually sound like. I also only used a 16 floor tom and two crashes stacked on each other for a staccato sound, as we wanted the sound to be very tight for this song. On this subject, we only set up what was needed for each song, so my kit was changing a bunch. This kept the tracks very clean and easy to work with in the mixing stage.

Once we hit the guitar solo, we removed the towel and tracked the drums wide open, as you will hear. We used close micing, but found the room mics were our best source for the sound we wanted. 

You can hear I overdubbed a tambourine part and the electronic scratch sound. The tambourine is a two measure pattern in the verses – measure one is on the 3 and measure 2 is on the 3 and the + of 4. These parts build as the songs progresses and they start flipping around at the end.

I also had a few ideas for guitar parts that were very rhythmic, almost like a percussion overdub in the approach. And, yes, that is me singing the very low parts in the chorus!

Murray Pulver was the guitar player who played the solo on this track. He came in to the studio with amazing ideas and just shredded it! You will love playing along with him rocking out.

So download the original track and the track with no drums. The track with no drums has click on the right side and is two measures of click before the guitar intro. Have fun, be creative and let your drumming instincts guide you.  

Click here to download the track with and without drums:




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About the Author
Jayson  Brinkworth

Jayson Brinkworth is an accomplished drummer, percussionist, vocalist, educator and writer based out of Canada. He is co-owner of the Saskatchewan music school Music In The House, as well as the founder of both the Regina Drum Festival and The Stickman Drum Experience.

Jayson proudly endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks, Evans heads, Impact cases, Kickport, Flix, Future Sonics and Mountain Rhythm. Visit Jayson online at www.jaysonbrinkworth.com.

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