Recording punk rock (and other rock) without a drummer

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I really love drum loops….because I really hate drummers. Well, I don’t hate all drummers, but most of them I’ve worked with have mental problems….drumming attracts people who want to hit things for a living.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Or at least a non-human solution.

Trevorus wrote me and asked me how I did the drums for RIGHT ARM OF WYOMING  (download CD free, here):

I was wondering about your music production. I read the Creamy Radio Audio stuff on the general production, but I was wondering specifically about the music side of things. Do you play drums or are you sequencing them?

 I’ve been looking for a good option for doing some one man band musical production, and I really don’t play drums. Your Right Hand of Wyoming stuff is pretty kick ass, and the drums sound great. Thanks for the info!

Thanks. Yeah, it’s loops of a real drummer playing drums. I just use different building blocks of that here and there to build the drum tracks on that CD.

I use loop library “Drum Werks X: 100% Loud and Fast Drum Loops for Punk and Punk Rock“, it’s a library of gigs and gigs of punk rock, metal and rock drum loops. If you don’t want to pay and can’t find it somehow, you could probably record those samples right off the page. lol. Wouldn’t sound as good, and would require manually cutting and looping, but could be done. It’s only 30 bucks though, and it kicks ass. It’s much cheaper than a lot of loop libraries, and it’s probably all the drums you need to write and record dozens of CDs worth of great punk tunes, without repeating anything, if you’re crafty.

I loop them in the program Sony Acid (Get it HERE.)

That’s what I used on RIGHT ARM OF WYOMING .

Though the loop I used in one of those songs, that I also used in my new radio jingle “Tweak in Review”, is actually real drums. Since no one won my “guess the loop” contest, I’ll let you know:

My old band, Bomb.
Song: Vagrant Vampires:
http://www.michaelwdean.com/BOMB/HOA/BOMB_Hits_Of_Acid–Vagrant_Vampires.mp3
from 51 seconds in until the bass comes  in. Then sped up in Acid and augmented with more drum hits. But it’s basically that sped up. The augmented drum hits are just a loop of my friend London May (Samhain drummer) playing a four-four punk beat in his garage that he recorded for a project I was doing years ago when I lived in LA.

Neema builds drum tracks using a sampler that he plays with drum pads.

A note on Sony Acid:
I love it, and have been using it for looping and multi-track recording since 1998. But it always records with some latency, regardless of the computer and sound card I use. So I usually have to manually move all the tracks (except the drum loops) to the left by 7 milliseconds. Seems like a lot of work but I’ve become very fast at it. (I just use the Erase tool at the blank space to the left of where I started playing, then use the Move tool to move them to the left, usually after expanding the Time Line view. You can also select multiple tracks and do it all at once. Save right after you do this.)

Sometimes I don’t even measure and end up with different tracks a few mS to the left or right of other tracks. That happened on “tweak in review”, but it worked out well. Combined with good singing and playing, in punk rock, it kind of ends up sounding like a really good punk band playing really fast and lose, but still tight. With mediocre playing and singing it would be a mess, but I’m good enough that it works and makes a song sound even better, i.e. more like a live, good band, rather than a sterile studio recording.

The mic I use to record my vocals, and my little guitar amp, is the venerated workhorse the Shure SM58 (99 dollars). I plug my bass directly into my 300 dollar Presonus Studio Channel Tube-Pre Amp / Compressor / Parametric EQ unit. You can get it on Amazon, HERE.  I also run my vocals and mic’ed guitar amp through that.

Hope that helps.
MWD

3 response to "Recording punk rock (and other rock) without a drummer"

  1. By: Trevorus Posted: November 6, 2013

    Another thing maybe to add is that Audacity can be used to record tracks, then throw them over to Acid. Sometimes I had some issues with Acid on an older machine when I had a lot of tracks layered, so I would do a rough mixdown, play it through the headphone mixer with the vocal feed, record the vocals in Audacity, and then import them to Acid later.

  2. By: Brian J Siegel Posted: December 16, 2015

    Im a punk drummer and an audio engineer in L.A. I can relate to your situation and have had similar thoughts myself. If you dont have a Brooks Wackerman or Josh Frees or (insert great punk drummer) tracking in a top notch facility, getting quality punk drums is like catching the ever-elusive pokemon. Its just not gonna happen.
    Its real easy to get garbage tracks these days, just use a smartphone….done. But like all studio snobs will tell you, its the ‘feeling’ of the track that counts. Too many times I have heard sonically great sounding drums that were played with no “oomph” or “feel” and also somewhat curiously vice-versa, terrible quality recordings of “kickass” drum tracks played by a drummer who “nailed it”. Like The Misfits.

    So I’m not sure if this is helpful at all or if its even an opinion, haha. I just find a punk drummer is a rare thing so I had to say my 2 cents to contribute to those of us who venture forth like lost disciples that still remain…..to tend the flames.

    Makes me happy to see Im not alone once in a while. Stay up. Good work

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