Mixing Drums Intro
To me drums, are really one of the aspects which you can put so much character into and, if you listen to a lot of different producers, you can pretty much tell them apart by listening to their drum sound. Sometimes, that's for a reason that I don't like which is that they might use the same kind of set of drum samples on everything and you kind of hear the same sound on every record. Perhaps not what I mean though but... What I'm getting at really is that there's often like a certain character to the way the drums are presented within rock and metal that can be very distinctive in particular to a producer. And, funny enough, we've been talking a lot about "Juggernaut" the song, the record that this song came from and we tracked that over a year ago. Probably like 13 or 14 months ago that we did the drums for that song and in that time, I really learned a huge amount as in since we finished "Juggernaut," I really learned a huge amount by continuing to work with Matt and by working what...
with clients and really just going head-first into developing techniques and skills as far as recording and tuning drums. What we have now is kind of the fruits of that labor and, to me, even as quickly as we put it together yesterday, these drums are kind of what I was always hoping the drum sound on "Juggernaut" would have been. I'm still happy with how it sounds, but it was a different process in terms of mixing. It wasn't done in the same way that I'm about to show you and there was a lot more trial and error, a lot more heartache, a lot more kind of taking mixes away from the studio and sitting on it for several days and then being really unhappy or making one member of the band happy and then someone else brings in like a fresh, good criticism which needs to be fixed. That whole process really led me to develop this system for recording drums, but especially for mixing drums. And that's not to say that it turns out exactly the same drum sounds every time. But it's a system that allows me to get close to sounds that I like. And it is derived from trial and error and kind of turned into a more formal technique. So, I think maybe what I'll do first is just revisit the sound of the drums and I'm gonna solo them just so you can hear. Again, there's no samples used on these drums, this is just exactly what we recorded yesterday. And perhaps leaning a little bit more heavily on the artificial reverb than I normally do just because the room sounds great, but it wasn't like a really long reverb tail. But apart from that, this is very much kinda how I would mix any drums that get sent to me. At least using these core techniques. So, we'll just take a little listen and I guess I'll start. Somewhere back here. (upbeat drum solo) (guitar solo over drums) Perhaps I'll just give it a little blast of the part when that, unlike what he played on the album, we did like a, way less tasteful part to demonstrate--
Way less tasteful
(laughs) Way less tasteful just to demonstrate, for me particularly like, the sound of the drums and they're played in a faster and more dynamic manner is just utilizing a lot of the drumming skills that Matt is known for the kind of more gospel-style. Decorative... decorative? What am I saying decorative for? (laughs) Just like very intricate work on the high hats. Lots of use of ghost notes, loads of toms in there as well And that stuff really tests a drum mix and that's where sample drums can really fall apart because the dynamics are very frequently completely wrong or completely non-existent. So I'll just hit play and we'll listen to a short segment of that. (upbeat drum solo) Cool, yeah. I'm really pleased with how these drums have come out. I kinda wanna draw attention to the fact that while there is a lot of consistency, and the sound is really powerful, it lacks, to me, the whole marks of trademark of really triggered-sounding drums which is that there's real variation from hit to hit and, even though I've taken steps and I'll show you how to even out the consistency of the bass drum playing even though, in fact you can see it's really consistent just by looking at the waveforms. You can still hear the change in tone of the drum as you're getting like a lighter hit especially on the doubles that Matt's executing with one foot where, typically, one hit is always gonna be a little bit softer than the other. And that's actually part of the sound of the double and if I were just to straight up trigger that, it would kind of lose that feel. It wouldn't sound as flowing. And secondly, the ghost notes are really articulate. They don't just sound like super-triggered snares, much quieter, like they have real dynamic character to them. You can also see visually the dynamics within the toms You've got some really hard hits in here. You've got some much softer hits over here. I feel like that's really coming across in the playing. So, with that kind of just general overview, let's maybe get stuck into the kick-drum sound. That's kind of where I start normally. But I will say that the snare is really the fun bit for me. The snare is always the kind of focus of the drum sound and getting the snare right is something that's taken me a really long time. But we'll start with the kick. So what I'll do, we're gonna always monitor through the top-down mixing chain that we discussed in the first segment. Well I guess the fifth segment. And I'm gonna turn off certain things. We've got some parallel compression and we have the reverb sound and I'm gonna mute both of those so we're just hearing a much drier version of the drums. I also have a couple of plug-ins which I'll explain on the drum pass. I'm gonna bypass those for now.