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Rich Redmond

Interview by Sean Mitchell // December 11 2012
Rich Redmond

To me it’s the old adage of the concept of edu-tainment. You should always be teaching people something that they can take with them, but do it in an entertaining manner. People have really short attention spans—including myself—so, you know, you really have to have some sort of positive message or spin, and I think everybody has something unique to offer.

This week's interview is our good friend Rich Redmond. As always the interview has been transcribed below for your reading pleasure. Make sure you Like, Tweet, +1 or Comment below ... we love to hear from you! Happiest of holidays from The Black Page!

 

Hey, everybody, Sean here from The Black Page talking to my friend Rich Redmond. We finally met—known each other for four years, e-greeted a million times—and finally met. Since last we talked, four years ago now, you’ve probably advanced your career more than anyone in the drumming community: the Crash Course for Success; the Jason Aldean gig, selling out Fenway Park in 7 minutes!

Country music is the new music of the people. It knows no boundaries, as far as age and sex. It’s fun, and I’m glad to be part of that ride. 

A friend shared a video recently. He said, “You have to check out this drummer. He has to redo a track, and he writes it out and tracks it in one take.” So he shares the video with me and I said, “Dude, I know Rich! He’s a beast!” 

That’s funny. I appreciate that. That’s my friend Craig Zarkos; he’s a great drummer and producer. He’s into filmmaking now and he’s in some bands—one of those guys that does a little bit of everything. He’s in San Diego and we became pals when I was there to do Crash Course, and he said, “Hey, man, you know that charting system you use? Show everyone how you do that. I’m going to play you this song for the first time, you’re going to hear it; we’ll have the camera over your shoulder and we’ll show everyone how you chart this. We’re gonna get one shot.” For me it’s been a way of life for the last 20 years to do last minute gigs, to do recording sessions, so I’ve developed my own shorthand. So that was his test, and it just worked out. It was a great song by a great young band. It resonated with me. We had a good day. I’m redoing RichRedmond.com to make it a little bit more state-of-the-art, and I’m going to have that video archived there. 

One of the questions from a Black Page reader, who loved the snare sound in the video, was, “What kind of snare and how was it tuned?” 

I don’t know exactly. I’m sure it was from the Ludwig family. Everybody knows the Supraphonic series, the Black Beauty series, and the Acrolite series are three of the most recorded drums in history. And I believe that was the 6.5 Supraphonic drum and it had a coated emperor and probably had a little bit of tape off to the side, a good mic, a good engineer, the right touch. Those drums know … they just automatically sit in the track really nicely and they’re really versatile. 

Cobham once said of himself, as he looked at some of his tracks when he was younger, “I wouldn’t play as much. I think I overplayed some stuff, tastefully, but think I’d play it simpler now.” The thing about your playing is in your prime, you’re playing so simple and so tasteful—and not that you don’t have the capability and facility to do that; you have the chops. So what is that discipline for you to just serve the song? 

I appreciate it. I think it comes from experience. You know, the red light will tell all. So these younger players, when they get the experience and they’re going into the studio for the first time and they’re listening to playbacks, they’re going, “Wow, the time is waffling. I really don’t have my sounds together.” And the fill sounds they choose are not what I call classic. And the reason why you hear certain fills over and over in Stax, Motown, pop, metal and rock is that combination of notes and that particular rhythm just works in that style of music and shapes a song. A lot of times I think, am I really going to do this fill again? But it actually sits on the track; it doesn’t distract from the vocal. In popular music it’s all about the vocal; everything you’re going to need to know is in that vocal. When you’re putting the mix together, that’s what you really want to have is that vocal as that reference. For me it’s kick, bass, guitars panned, and other instruments crept in there, and then I have that vocal. The vocal and the bass. So I can lock it with the bass and create that foundation. I just do my best to stay out of the way and also paint a positive picture. If I can get away with some cool “drumistic” things—have a little hi-hat bar, or a bell of the cymbal or a creative use of a rim or a drag—that’s cool, but most people don’t notice this stuff … just us guys that notice that stuff. 

There’s a fill you do in Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country” and it’s the coolest fill. I think it’s one of the only fills you play, but it’s so tasty and just in the right spot. 

Everything is timing. And just finding those holes—stopping on beat 3 and then floor tom on beat 4, or the band stops on beat 4 and you stop on the “and” of beat 3. But it all comes from experience, I think, and being in the recording studio, hearing playbacks and going “that didn’t work.” Making a mental note to yourself: Keep it simple, Stupid. 

Crash Course for Success, this thing’s taken off; this is big! It’s probably one of the most relevant courses for drummers. 

I started pitching the event to people in 2007, making cold calls and reaching out to schools and music stores, “Hey, I’m in town with the Jason Aldean band. Would you like to host a free clinic? I’ll help you with the marketing.” At the time, I was endorsed by Sonor drums and someone from the drum shop would pick me up and we would schlep the drum set and set everything up. The sponsors I’ve had have been incredible over the years. 

I have a friend who is a motivational speaker, and he said, “Dude, how about crash?” And we started thinking about some global concepts drummers, musicians, and people from all walks of life can use to attract success and use to their benefit to create a positive, quality lifestyle—commitment, relationship, attitude, skill and hunger. It’s a positive event, a feel good event. I tell stories about my survival tactics in the music business, and I share nuggets of wisdom that have helped me along the way. And either way, you take it or leave it. It’s gonna be fun! There’ll be music and some dancing. So it’s great. But it can always be bigger. I think down the line it has some potential for books and possibly a DVD. I’ve even been flirting with some college music programs about making Crash part of a curriculum. 

You were talking today about how you present yourself. For instance, you can be an incredibly talented player, but you can also present yourself in such a way that it’s not all that appealing. One thing about your career—I mean, you’re doing a lot of stuff—but everything you do is packaged well, it looks good, and there’s substance behind it. If you could give advice to someone starting out, what are the top three things outside of drumming that you need to cover and be aware of? 

I was talking to Stanton Moore last night and he said (and he got this from another drumming legend), “Here’s how you make a successful clinic or an educational event: Have a message, teach everyone something, make them laugh, and play your ass off.” So I think to me it’s the old adage of the concept of edu-tainment. You should always be teaching people something that they can take with them, but do it in an entertaining manner. People have really short attention spans—including myself—so, you know, you really have to have some sort of positive message or spin, and I think everybody has something unique to offer. You just have to reach down, dig deep, and say, “What are my life experiences?” You know, if you’re a drummer playing with a big international pop touring sensation, I don’t necessarily want to hear you play a song by the Fab Four; I want to know what your experiences are in playing with that international pop star: life on the road, expectations from that person, job requirements, interesting stories. 

Right now, you’re writing a drumming book aimed at kids. And the concept is really cool! 

I appreciate that. I was impressed that the title wasn’t taken. We’re going to be calling it FUNdamentals of Drumming: for children ages 5 through 10. I have an amazing co-author; he lives in the DC area, his name’s Michael Albrecht. At heart he’s a drummer, and he’ll always be a drummer—and a fine drummer! He sends me videos of him jamming and I’m like, “Dude, that’s great!” But he happens to also be a historian, a published author, and a filmmaker, so he knows how to write a book. I love having somebody in my life that has already gone through that process and kind of hold my hand. I feel like we have tons of potential to create a series of books. But the idea is that there is not a whole lot of material that is truly fun and exciting for kids that want to just start playing drums. Like, I started playing drums when I was seven years old, so that age between five and ten, there’s not a lot of material. And also the kids that are five years old, their feet can’t reach the pedals. So DW drums have a thing called a starter kit (I’m a proud endorser of DW drums, been there for a little bit over a year now). This is a smaller kit; it’s a professional level drum set—it’s got real drum heads in it and there’s a cymbal pack. It sounds great, and it’s ready to go out of the box—and the kids can use the pedals! So my idea is to cross promote the book with the kit. 

That’s such a good thing. Right from the get-go children need to be inspired. Drumming needs to be a fun thing! 

It’s really fun because I was kind of an overachiever and I was naturally attuned to playing drums. At eight years old I was playing five-stroke rolls, flams and flam taps and I was reading, and I was playing the Joel Rothman books. But for somebody who just wants to crack the nut open, alright, this is what notes are (and we have cute little note characters). And we talk about the history of drums (man’s first instrument), and we go into some famous drummers. And then my methodology is we get the kids clapping, so they know how to sing and clap the rhythms and see what it looks like on paper. Then the next step is for them to play those same exact rhythms on a hand drum, and they’re tapping into something very primitive, something very visceral—hands-on memory, so they get that feeling. Then we put the sticks in their hands and they play those same rhythms on one surface. Then we introduce the feet; we do two-way coordination between the kick and snare; and then we add the hi-hat and we create three-way coordination—so next they’re playing the “money” beats. These are the things just by instinct they have heard on the radio …  and then for kids who are closer to age ten, or kids that are really gifted, we add the left-foot hi-hat, so we’re doing four-way coordination. And we close out the book with some 12- and 16-bar solos. It doesn’t get too intense—there’s no ruffs, there’s no flams, there’s no ratamacue, there’s no paradiddles. We don’t get into that; we just want to make them fall in love with the instrument. So that’s the goal of the book. 

You’re still based out of Nashville. Again, last we talked, you were a guy working on getting into the Nashville scene. That big dream of being a Nashville cat, is that being realized or is that changing? 

You know what’s really funny is I get emails from kids all the time who are graduating from [colleges and universities] and they’re not going to New York or L.A.; they’re going to Nashville. It’s really interesting. I mean, everybody’s coming to Nashville. It seems like it’s one of the last places on earth where there is a style of music that is popular across the board, putting butts in seats. And there are musicians that are all tracking in the same room at the same time. We still do that—and it’s a wonderful process! It feels great to be part of that. 

It’s easy to get around Nashville, it’s affordable, and there truly is a community of people that help each other … but there’s less jobs and more competition. So I feel really fortunate. I’m never one to rest on my laurels, so in the meantime I’ve also been pressing westward. I have a place in Studio City in L.A., and my wife does business out there. I’m playing a gig at the Roxy in January with an old friend of mine, a rock artist whose record I played on. Yeah, man, I will play a bar mitzvah in the sun and the palm trees. I love it! I’m not proud. 

Last time we talked you were teaching in four cities …is that right? 

The thing is I’m letting everybody know that I’m open to those things while I’m on tour. You can go to www.jasonaldean.com and you can see our tour dates. You can reach out to me; I’m pretty easy to find—just hit me at “booking” at www.richredmond.com, whether you want to hire me for a recording session or teaching lessons via Skype … And if I have time between 9am and 2pm, I’m either going to teach or do a clinic or a master class in that city. So, I don’t want to sit on the bus and play video games, you know. If I’m in your city and we can do something together, I’m all about it. 

You can also find Rich’s details on The Black Page’s Global Educators Database (GED). So, what’s coming up for you in the next couple weeks, couple months? 

Oh, you know what’s really exciting is I have a production company called New Voice Entertainment (we call ourselves NV). So this is the rhythm section from the Jason Aldean band, my long-time friends and band mates, Kurt Allison on guitar and Tully Kennedy on bass. We’ve been playing together as a rhythm section since 1999, so three presidencies. They’re all fathers now, houses … things have come and gone. We’ve stuck it out together. We have a forth partner, David Fanning, and we’ve had this production company for five years. And we have an act that we just love working with that has had some success called Thompson Square. It’s a husband-and-wife duo and they had the number-one most played song on country radio for 2011 called “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?” So it was a big ol’ number one hit, and they’ve had two top 10 hits since then, and their forth single just dropped. I feel really good about this single. And we’re going to be finishing up their second record. 

And then we’re also working with some other artists: a girl name Kristy Lee Cook, who was on American Idol: Season 7; a fine young Canadian talent named Lindsay-Ell, she’s a guitar slinger, awesome songwriter (if Keith Urban and Taylor Swift had a love child); and we have a killer country band called Parmalee. So this fall we’ll be finishing all these records, hopefully bring these things to the light of day. Then keep sprinkling in sessions, teaching and writing a book.




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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.



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