168: Producer/Drummer Lucas McKinnon On Remote Session Drumming, Drum Production, Creative Collaboration And Getting The Perfect Foundation For Your Song

168: Producer/Drummer Lucas Mckinnon On Remote Session Drumming

Lucas McKinnon is an artist, multi-instrumentalist, session drummer, record producer, owner of Silverside Sound (a beautiful recording studio) and inviting him to the podcast was long overdue!

So let's talk session drums (and all things drum production, actually)!

If you got our Mixes Unpacked - Vol. 2 course, you've seen Malcom dissect his mix of "Dark Ice" by Skov.

The drums on that song, which many of you loved, have been played and recorded by Lucas McKinnon.


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

So we wanted to talk to Lucas about what goes into recording drums remotely for other artists.

What are the challenges, how do you collaborate effectively, how do you make sure to get the vibe right and understand the artist's vision? Those were some of the questions on our minds.

Also things like setting up, choosing the right setup and keeping the drums in good shape for every session.

Because, let's be honest, your typical remote drummer that you hire online is likely to leave the same drum skins on the kit forever, always use the same setup and not really put serious effort into creating and capturing the perfect tones for your song. From scratch. Every single time. Which is exactly what Lucas does. And how it should be done.

And his job doesn't end there. Sure, you can just get the raw multitracks and drag them into your session. But depending on what the project needs, people like Lucas can edit or even mix the drums in the context of the song, so you can get a finished product, even if you're not an engineer but a writer and musician.

There are endless possibilities.

Specialized, professional drummers and engineers like Lucas McKinnon or our very own "Dr. Drums" Thomas Krottenthaler bring a level of expertise to every project that is truly invaluable.

They solve the biggest problems DIY-producers and musicians have: Drum production and getting the groove right. This is by far the hardest thing to do on your own, especially if you're not experienced and don't have a great room to do it.

So before we dive in, here's some more info on Lucas McKinnon:

Aligned naturally with artistic life, Lucas found his first and most beloved medium in the drums.

Rock music ruled his early musical life, particularly heavy genres like grunge, nu-metal, and thrash metal. Over time, anger gave way to introspection, to more intricate grooves: hip-hop paved the way for a young adult Lucas to express himself in stanzas. The folk revival of the late 00’s mellowed him further still.

Playing in bands and experimenting with digital recording were passions that would a few years later culminate in global travel, professional musicianship, and the founding of a commercial recording studio.

Now, Lucas is a creative mentor: a musician, audio engineer, and record producer who’s artistic pursuits have connected him with artists of all genres, helping them to reach the next level of their self-expression.

Malcom and Lucas have collaborated on many records over the years and have a professional relationship and friendship that is the perfect foundation for an inspiring and insightful conversation like this.

Let's go!


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Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

Lucas: My preference for editing my own drums is what I call editing for feel, which is really just like trying to maintain as much of the original performance as possible, but still tightening things up in a way that is not distracting.

Malcom: Hello and welcome to the song. Off Recording Band podcast. Today's gonna be a very different episode. It's gonna be a special episode. Uh, Benny is not able to join us today, but I do have a very special guest. My guest today owns a Silverside recording sound, which I've mentioned in numerous podcast episodes, and. The owner and operator of the studio is, I'm lucky to say a friend of mine, but he is also a fantastic engineer, producer, and mix engineer as well as one of the best studio drummers I know. And drum techs. I know. And if you were around for our mixes, unpacked volume two, I think, where we. Did, uh, a mixed tutorial on the song Dark Ice by SCO the drums on that song, which many people remarked on how much they loved. That drum track was done by this man as well. So, Lucas McKinnon, welcome to the Self Recording Band podcast, buddy. It's great to have you here.

Lucas: Good to be here. Thank

Malcom: you. It kind of blows my mind that we haven't had you on before. It's, yeah. Well, you guys have been busy. Yeah. I guess we've been busy, but, uh, there's like, yeah. I've mentioned you and your studio many times o on the podcast and you live a couple houses down from me. Like you're, you're so close. So this was the shortest commute for a podcast. Actually, that's not true. I guess this is the only commute I've had for a podcast, but then

Lucas: it was a short one.

Malcom: Yeah. Um. I just want to give, uh, people a little more context on our relationship because we, we do have a really cool, professional relationship. Um, the, the first time we met you were doing sound for my band, bander Rascals and, and that at that time we were also a live sound engineer just building the studio. That's right actually. And we discovered. That you were building the studio? Just a like We Okay. Listeners. We had never met Lucas and I had never met before this, and we start chatting while we're setting up for the show. He said, I'm building a studio in Copel Hill. I was like, oh, no way. I live in Copel Hill. I've got a little studio I'm putting up as well. I'm like, whereabouts? He's like, cobble Hill Road. I'm like, okay, I live on Cobble Hill Road. And then, uh, and then yeah, it turned out you were just down the road from me. And then fast forward, like couple months. And we're in here with a band called Spirit Box doing our first session together, which was insane. Super fun session. Super cool. Um, we started on a

Lucas: high note buddy. Definitely. It was only downhill from there. No, just kidding. We've had a lot of good experiences together and yeah, I do think fondly when we first met and that show was actually really fun. I had actually never. Even seen or listened to your band, funnily enough, right, and instantly be, became a fan that night.

Malcom: That's kind of what's so weird about it, is that. Like how did we not know each other? We're both in this scene. We are both in the rock genre. Mm-hmm. And, and both have this shared passion for recording. Mm-hmm. And we just haven't crossed paths at all. Mm-hmm. And it doesn't even make sense to say that you left in, cause you moved to Toronto for a while and did it on the big city, but I was over there all the time as well. So it still doesn't make sense to me.

Lucas: You know, I think we were just talking before this about how two people can kind of be orbiting and. When the time is right, the connection happens. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So I'm glad it did. I was putting

Malcom: out Misconnection ads on Craigslister

Lucas: all the time. I feel like I'm supposed to know somebody. They live close. It's a very musically

Malcom: inclined, I'm looking for a drummer on my road. Happens to have a

Lucas: studio. Is that too much to ask?

Malcom: Um, so we can talk about anything, but uh, in particular, I want to talk about. Using, or, or, or overall, the arching topic for today, I want to be about remote, uh, session drums. Cool. Which is something you provide for people, um, because you are, again, a fantastic drummer and drum tech, and you have this amazing studio that we're actually recording this podcast in. Um, so if you're watching the podcast, we're in Silverside Sounds Control Room right now. And on the other side of that glass behind Lucas is the live room. And I think I hate this, another first, the first on location podcast we've done. Cool. Very exciting. Excellent. Our audience is health recording bands Of course. And, uh, often the first thing to get cut from their budget is a real drum recording. Yeah. Because like, it takes a lot of space, takes a huge amount of gear. I mean, you know this because you had to and you had to spend money on all of those things. Yeah. Um, like how big is your studio?

Lucas: Studio is 1800 square feet. Yeah. And you know, when I was starting it, it was actually like, well how can I, what can I offer to people that they can't do at home? Right. And of course, me being a drummer, I was like, well, live drums are something that to do well actually requires a lot of. Yeah. A lot of gear and a lot of the proper space and the proper player, so,

Malcom: yeah. Yeah. So yeah. For, for our audience, it's the opposite situation. Like, like you said, you targeted that because of that, they don't necessarily have a big enough room to do drums in. Mm-hmm. I'm certainly not an optimal one. Um, and, and all the gear, it like, like that money could be better spent mm-hmm. For, for them in their situation, right? Mm-hmm. So the solutions then, uh, and what Benny and I often recommend is to either go with. Like program drums or hiring somebody to do remote session drum work for you. Exactly. Or, um, the third option being coming into a studio like yours mm-hmm. And doing the drums and just, that's where they spend, they have to allocate a little bit more of their budget to get live drums done at a real studio with a real player. Mm-hmm. And then they can go do the rest on their own if they want to keep a diy. Right. So there's that little bit of a hybrid setup as well. Um, so I thought, okay, hiring a drummer remotely, especially on the internet these days is kind of easier said than done, I think to. Mm-hmm. Like, it, it's one thing to hire somebody, but it's another thing to get the result you want. Right. Um, and I've worked with a lot of. Session players remotely online. And I kind of like pride myself on my refined Rolodex of people that I know are gonna deliver. Mm-hmm. Because it's like very handy to have and know who I can call to actually get the job done. Um, opposed to sometimes you send tracks away and it comes back and you're like, I just wasted a lot of money. Like it's, yeah. It's, it's not gonna

Lucas: work. Or your, you know, your reputation too. You have to protect that. Yeah, exactly. When you make a referral, you want that person to. Deliver To come through. To deliver.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. So you were always a safe bet, which was really great. Um, cause often I would be mixing the track, so it'd be like, okay, if, if I know that if uh, I get it to Lucas you, it's going to come back and be something that's really fun for me to mix. Cool. So that was always nice. I like

Lucas: that you chose the word fun. Yeah. You know, because there's, it's one thing to get a technically good recording, but it's another to work with something that. Really? Yeah, it's fun. Has magic to it or makes it feel like, you know, yeah.

Malcom: Alive. Yeah. Yeah, totally. And I think there's a huge difference between someone like you and a lot of session drummers online. Like if you just go on sound better and find a session drummer, you might be impressed by this list of credits that they have. But those credits are almost definitely like, Live performances and have nothing to do with how to record a drum kit. Mm-hmm. And then when you find out what their recording setup is, It's this terrible untreated room with crap gear and super dead drum skins mm-hmm. That haven't been tuned, and they're not necessarily a drum tech either. Mm-hmm. Where with you, um, and listeners, it sounds like I'm pitching the hell out of Lucas because I am, but like, but this is true, is that you have like the know-how to use the equipment. It's not that you just have the equipment. Your equipment is world class and you have that Mm, you know how to use it, but you also know. The really important things, which is way more important than, than how expensive the mics are, is how to make that drum kit sound good with, you know, reliable, fresh skins. Mm-hmm. And drum tuning. Yeah. Right. Um, and you have also the knowledge to know when you need to change the skins. Mm-hmm. Right? Mm-hmm. It, it's. It's not just, how much can I squeeze out of this drum kit that's been set up, like, I'm not gonna say any names, but there's players that their, you know, remote studio is just a drum kit that's been set up since they set up the first time. Yeah. And the mics haven't been touched since then, so they're not adjusting their drum recording to the song or the project Right. At all. Right, right. It's just like, click record, play the song, here's some tracks. Yeah. And. If the player's great, it will work. Mm-hmm. But what I got from you is like magic built for the

Lucas: song. Yeah. That's part of the fun for me is getting to select the drums and how I'm gonna play them and where they are in the room relative to like the song and what it tells me that it wants, and yeah. There's a lot of elements that you named about what goes into a good drum recording and the thing that. Actually after, yeah. Cause I've been doing, I've been running Silverside sound for five years now, and I've been a drummer for 15 years. And the thing that it keeps coming back to is like, what makes a really killer drum sound is one, how you play the drums, but two, like how they're tuned. Yeah. It just, it just continually, I'm like, sometimes I'll. Get a little fixated, be like, oh, this mic needs to be here and I need to use this type. And then I'm like, oh, I don't know. I'm not getting, not getting it, you know, and, and, uh, getting the sound that I have in my head. And then I'll be like, oh, maybe I'll just tweak this. Crank one of the lugs a little bit, and I'm like, there it is. You know? And so it's, it's funny, the after years of sort of doing this craft, it, it does really come back down to the basics. Oops, I touched the mic. We're not

Malcom: professional sound. Yeah.

Lucas: Touch the mic. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, and as I'm kind of listening to myself reflecting on this, um, yeah, there's a, there's a, that's where the magic. Part of the magic is for me is, is um, being reminded that it's in those small details that can, that end up translating to this finished project that whether people know it or not, how much time I spent on making the sound that they're hearing. Right. Um, my intention is that they feel that,

Malcom: yeah. Yeah. And it, it's beyond just being hired to play something and, and maybe write the drum part or what, or whatever that is. It's yeah, it is producing a drum sound. Yeah. Ultimately, which is like, there's so much value in that. That's, that's the value they would've got if they went into the studio to, to hire a producer and, and make something, you know, it's happening because you're able to actually. Craft that

Lucas: for them. Yeah. It's a huge, like, as you know, it's a huge part of any record is the drum sound. Yeah. Well

Malcom: that's like where we spend

Lucas: the most time. Exactly. The most time, a significant portion of any budget is, is given to that because Yeah, whether people realize it or not, it is really, I. Not just the rhythmic framework, but it's the sonic framework. It's, it puts the whole record into a space. Yeah. And you know, program drums are amazing and a lot of what gets sent to me has first been programmed when whether I choose to follow that Right. How tightly I choose to follow it. It's interesting cuz that is a certain sound, you know. Um, so it is cool to put it actually in a room and be like, Hey, now this is.

Yeah, it's just a different flavor egg. Yeah,

Malcom: totally. Um, and, and that's another, like, like you said, the flavor of the room is, is a decision in itself. Mm-hmm. And. The, what I loved about working at this studio in particular was those different flavor options. Mm-hmm. Because the, the live room, which I'll probably overlay some B-roll that I'll run around with a camera right after we do this interview so people can see it. Great. Um, but, uh, the live room's huge, but you've also got, A number of different isolation rooms that are, you know, there's a medium size room and then there's like a really small room as well. Mm-hmm. And you've sent me tracks, I think from all of those rooms. Yeah. Right. Which is, choose is gonna sound hugely different. Yeah. Um, like one's literally a vocal booth and you sent me a drum track from there. Like that's a sound, you know, a very different sound than a traditional live, you know, use the big room as your first default choice. Yeah. Kind of setup right.

Lucas: Yeah. Yeah. And, and the, the, the studio's only gotten more versatile, I think, and simultaneously more tuned in. Like, I guess the more I understand what each room sounds like, um, you know, cause there's huge rock drums. I know how to get those. Yeah. It's almost like getting that tighter sound, but including a certain flavor of ambience. That's almost the trickier one. Yeah. The one that is like, yeah. It's a little more fun to try and nail that one down. Awesome. Yeah. Very cool.

Malcom: So I think then the question becomes how do we, I want people to have a better idea if, if they were to hire you or someone like you, how to communicate their vision and what you need to be able to provide, uh, what you think they need. Mm-hmm. Right? Like, like what is the. The ammo that you need to be supplied with to do your

Lucas: job?

Hmm. Well, I really like it when the tracks are recorded to a level that is, Close, close to like final takes, right? Like, like really good pre-pro. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The time spent on that, like the tones don't need to be super dialed in, but, um, definitely timing. Mm-hmm. I would, you know, I don't like to have to edit someone's scratch tracks before I lay down. Right? Yeah. That's not fair. Yeah. It's not really my job, but it's something I can do quickly. So it just, it's one of those things. But, um, y I think what's coming through right now is, is the more complete, the picture that you give me in terms of how far you can take it on your own is gonna make my job more fun. Mm. And if I'm having more fun, um, that's gonna come through in my, in my playing. Right. You know, so playing to a pretty decent mix that has good pre-pro and. Some cool sounds, um, is gonna make me inspire me. Yeah. So it's gonna go from just like, cool, here's the beat to like, maybe here's some to really make it sing.

Malcom: And I guess it, it kind of has to be that way. Like if it's just. Uh, an acoustic guitar and a vocal, you might not even realize they wanted to be a big rocking, like huge epic course with distort guitars. Right. Good point. Like their, their context has gotta be helpful for you to really make decisions. Yeah.

Lucas: Yeah. And, um, and so the context is really helpful too. And also I, it doesn't, if, if it is at a certain stage in production where you're actually wanting the drums to be laid down first, then using. You know, direct communication and transparent language to tell me like, Hey, right now it's an acoustic guitar. Yeah. And this is where a reference might come in handy, but like, this is where it's going. This is where I want it to go. And actually I want you to be the one to provide that initial burst of intensity. Yeah. Or magic. Yeah. And so then at my point, it's like, okay, cool. Um, now that, that's been determined, I'm gonna bring that and then I, it's almost like it's a different way of approaching it, where now I am, you're, you're really hiring me or someone like me to bring their personality into your song and. Have that be the initiation.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. That's kind of how I usually worked with session drummers, usually in studio. Um, but with, with yourself or, or Marcus from my band. Where you two were my go-to guys. Yeah. Um, I liked to, like, I found it really hard to. Want, uh, like electric guitars to exist in like a big powerful, an anthemic way without drums kind of thing. Ah, cool. So even if we just had an acoustic guitar, I would just know that I want the drums to do something so that I would then be, feel okay putting those guitars there. Cool. Right. Um, so I was kind of always drums first, but I, it definitely meant like I needed to communicate that to either you or whoever I was working with. Mm-hmm. To make sure that. That vision was understood by you why you were crashing the heck out of this acoustic course, right?

Lucas: Yes, exactly. Yeah. Knowing that in advance, um, yeah, I think that would, that'd be very helpful.

Malcom: Yeah. And uh, you mentioned references, which I could see also being another great idea to provide is cuz that's gonna provide maybe from sound ideas as well. For sure.

Lucas: Yeah, yeah. There are a couple different ways you can approach a reference. Uh, it could be like, I want you to play it this way. Mm-hmm. You know, so what I've learned about working with clients as a record producer is they'll, they'll send me a reference and, and they might really like the way a part is played, whereas I'm often listening to the production. Right. And so it, I've noticed it's helpful to be specific and say, send me a reference for, um, either parts that you like. Or, and or the sound. Right. The production that you like. Hmm. Um, so using language to help clarify that can be really, really helpful rather than just like, oh, I don't know, I just like the whole song. Right. Okay. Well I can still work with that, but the more specific you are, the more helpful it is to me. Could not be too specific

Malcom: there. Okay. There is, uh, I would say 99% of the time, that's exactly what I would hope was happening to, if somebody was sending me stuff for, to play guitar on or something, be like, yeah, just like the more clearer you are, but what you want, the easier it's gonna be for me. Yeah. But. 1% of the time, maybe a little more people just send something they like that doesn't have any relation to what we're actually doing. Mm. Right. So they might send me when the levee breaks for a drum sound reference, but it's a super fast technical jazz song. You know, it's like, it's like jazz drum, kinda like, well, these two worlds are gonna really. Collide in a bad way. Mm-hmm. Um, and, and so there's a difference between what you like and what you envision for the song. I think, um, yep. It's a, a different conversation, so yeah.

Lucas: It's really asking someone to be their own record producer. Yeah. Which I'm sure, uh, on the self recording band podcast, you know, people are really trying to educate themselves on these differences to make those decisions. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And. You know, that's one reason I really enjoy working with the clients that I do, is like sort of helping them understand the process of record making. Yeah. And drum sounds are a huge part of that. Definitely.

Malcom: Yeah. Um, okay. So now for people that haven't ever worked with a session drummer or really just haven't worked with you mm-hmm. I think maybe talking them through the, The itinerary and, and start to finish kind of process would be useful. So they could get an idea of like, is there revisions or, or do you just send something back and that's the last to hear from you, or like mm-hmm. How does that all

Lucas: work? Hmm. Yeah. It's a process that I'm still trying to refine. Um, they contact me, I tell them my rate. Um, they tell me what they want. I go, cool. I quote them A turnaround time, which could be anywhere from like, yeah, I can get to this in the next couple days to. Um, recently I was saying that I had a drum recording and I was like, I, this got too much going on. Like it's gonna be, you know, two weeks sort of thing. So

Malcom: is that just wanting to make sure you have like a, a window of time with like, buffer around it because of like a revision or just like mental, mental space to even think about the

Lucas: creative? Yeah, more just like I've got other records going on and I had some film gigs, so I just couldn't get to it. Um, funnily enough though, some things happened in my life where it ended up. Being the perfect timing. I was like, I can't do this right now. And I wasn't actually really in the head space and, um, And it was like, kind of like a post hardcore like track where I had to really like dig into my old roots as like a intense rock punk Yeah. Guy. And, uh, I found that part of myself again, and it was like perfect timing. Like so. Um, but anyways, so, you know, the, the turnaround time can vary and I do my best to make that known

Malcom: upfront. So then they, they send you the song. And you, do you shoot back ideas or relate? What's the communication before you even sit down to record?

Lucas: Yeah. Normally what I like to do is I like to get it to a point where I'm happy enough with it where I think like, cool, the drum sound is complimentary enough or close enough to what they're looking for. Uh, and my parts are again, where I'm happy enough.

Malcom: Right, right. Now, would you, would you sit down and actually record something before chatting with them, or would you first have like a phone call or, or, or

Lucas: something like that or, yeah, most of it's done over email. I think if someone really, if, if I detect that I'm really not getting it, it needs to be clear, or this person wants that level of communication, then I'll do a phone call. Uh, but most of it's done over email. Most of it's pretty straightforward, like, Hey, can you put drums down on this? I like your style. A lot of people already are acquainted with me, right? Or know my style. Um, and then. Yeah. And they might get more specific and say, Hey, I really want this, but most of the time it's just Right. Hey man, do your

Malcom: thing. Yeah. And sometimes, like from my own experience, when you hear the song, it's like, this is, uh, the song tells you everything you need to know. Mm. Right. Um, but not always, kind of.

Lucas: Yeah. That's not always the case. I'm glad you mentioned that actually, because part of my sort of vetting process, That I like to be upfront about is like, Hey, send me your demo before I even agree to doing it. And that's mostly to just be like, assess if it's a good fit. And I'll be upfront and I'll say, Hey, this one's not for me. If, if I don't think that I can contribute something to it Right. Uh, in a way that we would both be happy. Yeah. So I, um, that is a, a big part of, of the initial process too. Yeah. That makes a lot of

Malcom: sense. Yeah. Yeah. Um, which is Yeah. Why I, I have my, again, Rolodex of session people is because mm-hmm. Different people do different styles. Yeah. Right. Um, like if I give the same song to you and to Marcus, I will get different things back. Yep. Just that, that's how music works. Yeah. Um, so knowing the style is Im important, which might be tricky for somebody looking for a session drummer because they don't necessarily, they haven't got to hang out with you and see your work necessarily. Mm-hmm. Um, so. I guess in that case, what would, what maybe, what's the answer to that? If somebody emails you because of this podcast, let's say mm-hmm. And they wanna know if you're a good fit, I guess they can send you the song and you can kind of dictate that yourself. Um, um, I guess you could also easily provide songs you've shrum on Yeah.

Lucas: To 'em as well. Exactly. I do have a website, Lucas mckinnon.ca. Um, but I don't think I knew that.

Malcom: I

Lucas: only knew the Silverside ones. Well, it's, you know, It's a work of progress, but there's an, there's my resume on there, there's my portfolio, but a lot of that is actually for, for record production, so I would have to put together, which I should do. Okay. A portfolio ver ver drumming specifically. Yeah. Note to self. Yeah. I mean,

Malcom: but that said, um, I think getting an idea of your, your tendencies musically, even from what you've produced, even if you didn't drum on it, kind of tells you very similar information. Mm-hmm. Um, because when you hire somebody like you mm-hmm. To do remote drums, you are hiring you to produce a drum

Lucas: sound. Yeah. Yeah. And that is on my website there, uh, a lot of the records that are on there already, a lot of them I have drummed on. Right. So, yeah. And that's noted in the, in the credits. Yeah. So, yeah. You know, most times it's, it's pretty straightforward and, and I don't think there's, I don't think I've ever turned a gig away. Um, just in the sense that the people that find me kind of. It's a good fit. Yeah. Really.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Um, okay, so then you, you do figure out the vision, um, and then you work with it. Mm-hmm. And you then you don't send something back until Yeah. You said you were, you're pretty much happy with it. It's like,


Lucas: Happy enough. And, and, and really what I say is like, Hey, here's, here's my demo. Mm-hmm. Of it. Um, it's probably close to done, right. But it's just like my take cause. There was one song where my take was, they were like, wow, this is cool. But also I had something like really different in mind. And then they got way more specific Right. Uh, through that. And I, and I kind of had to retract it. Right. Um,

Malcom: Yeah. So it makes sense to just kind of be like, Hey, here's a quick, vague version of what I think the direction is. Exactly. Are we on target? Sweet. If so, I'll go ahead. Exactly. Otherwise you need to let me know which way to point my compass.

Lucas: Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. So you don't want to get too far down the road. I don't want to have completely polished these drum takes and really nailed the mix only to find out that. There was a miscommunication or that they were still stoked, but they, they want something else. Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And, and so I'll, I'll do a quick, a quick pass. I'll get a few fill options just in the background because there's something else also, like even if the drum kit stays set up the same way, I'm gonna be playing different on a different day. Mm-hmm. Right? And so something that I try and anticipate is, Hey, everything is awesome. But it's usually the fills that people are like, is there another fill here? Right, right. And so I will then get the main take down and then do a few option options. And so, Yeah, often enough my revisions don't actually require me to go back and play again. Right. I'll just go, yep. Cool. I got another option here.


Malcom: it is. Cool. Not smart. Very clever. Mm-hmm. Um, all right. And then, and then they assume these sign off on it and say, this is great. And then you send them what, uh, a stereo mp3 or

Lucas: definitely. Um, yeah. What do I send? I will probably send just the raw multi-track. Mm-hmm. And I kind of tidy up my drums just as a matter of course. That's just part of the fee. Yeah. So yeah. They, they, they can get that or, um, yeah. I guess it depends on the client and what they're wanting to do with it. Some clients just want a stereo wave file because it's easier to, to manipulate in their session. Right. I know some producers that I've worked with that come from different backgrounds, like Pop for instance, where they're not used to 12 drum tracks, right? They're used to those being busted down to like three, four max, and most often they're just like, can you mix this, that it's a complete stereo wave file and like we're living in the time of, you know, splice and drum loops and all these things, which are. Just stereo files. Right. So I think for the people listening to this podcast, they're, they're more trying to understand self recording and sending off to a mix engineer maybe like yourself, in which case you as a mix en engineer. I'm assuming your preference is to have multi-tracks for drums. Definitely,

Malcom: yeah. I, I would hugely want the multi-track. Yeah. Um, And I would encourage our, my, the listeners to also get the multitracks, even if you wanted the buses just still have the multitrack sitting in a folder somewhere would be really wise, I think. Yeah. Um, but it is interesting that you sometimes do get that request. Um, what's fascinating I think about that is getting it bused down for a particular vision, for like a pop song where they really want it to be a drum loop essentially at the end. It's what you're providing. Yeah. That works because you're able to engineer a. A good sounding, uh, product and also kind of edit it. Mm-hmm. And even mix it into a stem. Um, where like, again, uh, there's different leagues of of session drummers going on here. And if you hire somebody that's Scott. Like just a super cheap, a channel focus Right. Kind of thing. That might not even have a polarity switch. Mm-hmm. Your drums aren't gonna be delivered in phase. You're gonna have to correct that in the box. Mm-hmm. Right? Where that's something that you take care of in, well, engineering your drum sound. So it's like a, it's a different, I think if you're looking for a, like a premixed stem, you have to go to somebody like yourself that can deliver. That

Lucas: technical, a finished a finished product essentially. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And a lot of creativity and mixing goes into that process too. Yeah. You're really committing to a sound at that point. Yeah. And, and so like the default is you get the, you get the multi-track. Yeah. I might commit my processing. I've done it in the past where you get full, raw, committed processing and a stereo file. You know, um, I just kind of gauge what's necessary unless there's a specific request. And then

Malcom: generally, like you said, tidy up. Is that kind of like edited to the point where you think, yeah, this is moving on, you're probably,

Lucas: yeah. I, I, again, gauge it to the, to the production. If the production is like super polished, then I'm probably gonna grit the drums.

Right. Pretty tight. Pretty tight. Yeah. My preference for editing my own drums is what I call editing for feel. Mm-hmm. Which is really just like, Trying to maintain as much of the original performance as possible. Yeah. But still tightening things up in a way that is not

Malcom: distracting. Yeah. And I, I guess that's something that can be communicated by the client as well, what they're looking for. Um, and then if they want to push it further from that point on their own, they always

Lucas: can. Exactly. Right. Exactly. Yeah.

Malcom: That's clever. Um, so yeah, and then they've got their drum tracks, and then I guess it's, they're, they're kind of, you're done. That's

Lucas: not it. Yeah.

Malcom: That's it. You might hear it


Lucas: day when it's finished.

Yeah, yeah. Or, or oftentimes people are also like, well, I need this to get mixed. So, yeah. So sometimes I don't even send out the tracks and I just keep them and. Mix the track from there.

Malcom: Yeah. There's, uh, something I think could be fun for us to talk about is setting expectations, um, for, for what's possible and revisions and stuff like that, because there's different scenarios that, um, maybe have some advantages in, maybe in revisions, but, but you, there's costs to that as well. Um, and memory goes back to a project we did together. We'll leave names out of it, but it was a very fresh artist that I had brought in. Mm-hmm. First time in the studio. And they hired, we hired you to do session drumming, and they hadn't done that either. E everything was new for them. Mm-hmm. Um, which is fine. Fair enough. And in hindsight, I should have prepped them, should have given 'em a better idea of what to expect. Mm. But they, they had very preconceived notions of what they wanted the drums to be. Mm-hmm. But they hadn't, like, we didn't have a demo to, to show that to you. It was kind of just all in their head. So they were expecting you to do. An exact thing, which isn't already, isn't possible because again, different people do things differently. Mm-hmm. Um, a and, but it also wasn't, the pre-production wasn't there to back it up to, to facilitate it either. Mm-hmm. Um, so number one, when you hire a session drummer, you are getting. You're, you're already giving up some control mm-hmm. In that if you really want full control, you have to drum it yourself ultimately or program it. Yeah. Or, or, or program it and, and just get your exact thing. Mm-hmm. So if you are that type of person that needs it to be just, so, you gotta go one of those two routes, I think the next, or charts kind of, but even then, like there's such a, a character to a drummer. That I think for this particular client, I don't think they would've been satisfied. Um, no matter what. Yes, yes. That's good to know. Yeah. There, there, there's a type of personality that really needs it to be like obsessively. So just, just so, um, which is fine, but that, that's why we're talking about it because you, if you expect that out of hiring a session drummer, especially online, you're not gonna get that degree of exact. Like, nobody can meet that request. It's impossible. Yeah. Um, so there's doing it yourself if you're that type of person. Uh, or there is bringing in like having a band. I think having a band is the closest thing to that where you can spend so much time figuring out the drum part. With like, so if you're a singer songwriter and you've got a drummer in your band, you can put hours and hours into refining that song before you get into the studio. Mm-hmm. And then that means going into the studio and actually pulling it off, which, I mean, Lucas is available for that too. Come work at Silverside Sound. And now the next thing is entering session drums remotely. Mm-hmm. Or, or session drums in the studio. And. That person isn't in your band, they're gonna have one day to figure it out with you or however long your drum session is. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Right. So you can't, again, you can't expect this exact vision to really be realized. You're gonna end up with the musical influence of the drummer you've hired. So yes, choosing that drummer, right? Yes. Um, which I think is great. And often, yeah. I wish a lot of original bands that have drummers would consider that like it, it choosing the right drummer for the song. Is such a powerful thing and vetted. Studio drummers have a huge advantage. In the studio, um, and just making things sound awesome.

Lucas: Yeah. You know, it's, it's actually bringing up an interesting thing about around hired musicians and original bands. It, uh, the thought that popped into my head was the song Mother by Pink Floyd. Okay. Wasn't actually drummed by. It's a drummer in Pink Floyd, I think. Um, something Mason, I forget his name. At any rate, there was just a hard beat. He, it was like, it's in like seven, eight or something, and, and it's just something about it he couldn't do. And so they had to hire Yeah, a studio musician and, yeah. Uh, I love the part you said about you're hiring whoever you're hiring, you're, you're hiring there, you're. Their influence. Yeah. Um, and that's totally true. And there are hired guns who are clinical. Mm-hmm. Right. Who, who. Who come in and they just, yeah, they're dead on. Um, they're probably well educated. They read charts. I'm not that person. I am more of an artist in the sense that, uh, I have my own style and I, you know, professional. For sure. Right. But I didn't go to Berkeley. Yeah. And that's something I'm upfront about. That'll be part of the, the process of, uh, determining if it's a good fit. Mm-hmm. You know, if they're sending me some, some Prague rock where there's like meter changes every, you know, eight, 16 bars or whatever, I'm like, yeah, I'm not. I'm not your guy. Right, right. You know, but if you, if you want some heart and soul here and, um, and some technic some technical parts, I won't, I won't discredit myself there. I, I've written parts where I'm like, wow, I didn't, didn't know I could reach that high. Yeah. And that, and that was cool. Um, but yeah, just to give a sense of the different kinds of studio session players out there.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. Because I think getting that choice right is really important. Like if you're, again, if you're expecting. An exact vision to come to life. You kind of just have to do it yourself. You have to go into the studio at the very least and do like a real drum session where you're there directing it. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Where when you're doing something remotely, you need to let go of the reins a little bit. Mm-hmm. And be okay with this influence and trusting the person you've hired to deliver what they think is right.

Lucas: Ultimately. Actually, it's a really good point that you bring up because so far we've only discussed the possibility of me self engineering in the studio. Right. Um, there is equipment technology out there where you can track in real time over video. Yeah. Right. Of course. And something that's coming to mind right now is, is, is Yeah. Like, like you have your Rolodex. I also have my own Rolodex. Yeah. And I've handed off drumming gigs to different drummers because either I wanted to really be in the engineer's seat. Right. Or just like, Hey, you know what? I got too much going on. This is gonna be easier to just hire this person. Yep. And so something that's coming to mind, um, for your listeners who I'm guessing are all around the world, it's possible too that if to have drummers here, cause we've got some really great drummers on the island. Yeah. Setting up a video call, getting them live studio quality audio that they can listen to in real time. Right. Piped in. Yeah. And that. Is totally doable. Yeah, absolutely. So absolutely that real time feedback. They're essentially paying for remote studio time. Yeah. But they are getting the result. They're signing off as they're hearing it. It's as

Malcom: if they're in the room

Lucas: ultimately. Exactly. And so that process actually ends up saving a lot of time. Definitely a lot of back and forth. A lot of. Emotional time, like it can be kind of emotional when you get something back and it's not what you had in your mind. Yeah. For whatever reason, whether there was a lack of communication or a lack of clarity, or someone just missed the mark. Yep. So, It could be a, a huge, uh, hugely more efficient thing to do.

Malcom: Yeah. I would say, make no mistake, it's always optimal to be in the studio. E digitally or in person like that is the preferred way of doing things because people make music together. You know, communication is so important. Um, you're going to get closer to the mark in that situation. Um, reasons for not doing that are of course, usually budget. Mm-hmm. Um, and budget. I think that's like the, that's obviously the reason, right? Yeah. Um, and so if you're piping in for a drum session, it's essentially the same as booking a studio, right? Like, and even hiring you as a, a remote session drummer. You're, you're more expensive than, than the guy that is really just a drummer that has an interface. Yeah. In some, like a cheap drum like setup kind of thing where mm-hmm. You know, the skins are old. Like all of those things I mentioned. Yeah. And maybe they're gonna be able to give you more revisions, but they're, their drums are gonna sound terrible in comparison,

Lucas: right? Like, yeah. Yeah. Like the way I've set my rates. Includes the fact that you are benefiting from having them recorded at my studio and I'm engineering them and I'm cleaning them up and I'm spending all that time. Yeah. Uh, and then I'm performing them writing the heart. So all of a sudden when you break that down, uh, my price is like, oh, you're still getting a killer deal. And it's, you're still spending less than you would booking the full studio with an engineer, but you gotta be,

Malcom: you know, open to what you get is what you get in a way. Right. Like, it's like you're obviously gonna try and fulfill their vision. Yeah. But it's, uh, it's, you can't expect, uh, you to behave as if the studio's theirs for a week for this song. Mm-hmm. Right. So, um, I'm, I'm trying to instill in our listeners that they have to make the decision on how much. The creative control is worth to them, and then pay accordingly for that really is, is what it boils down to. Mm-hmm. So there's all these different wa ways to get a drum track that we've described here, and they, uh, just offer different levels of control ultimately, um, that said, The best records I've made have had session musicians who we trusted to do what they think was best, pretty much cool. Um, we did a record together with Jamie Hamilton, um, where you were the drummer and the whole band was session people other than Jamie with her acoustic guitar and vocals of course. Mm-hmm. And, uh, like the only changes we were making were arrangement changes. Really, the band just was making their part decisions. Together. Um, and, and that was off like also varied due to, uh, Chris Erickson's production style, who's producing the session. Uh, but like, it, it was just everybody trusted. Everybody was there for the a reason. Mm-hmm. And that record's killer, like it sounds so good. Everybody was acing

Lucas: it. I'm actually getting goosebumps right now because Yeah, like, I love that you used the word trust. Because when you get a group of, and that the fact that we make music together. Mm-hmm. I love that you said that because that is where the, the connection really starts to happen and then the music starts to take on a life of its own and, you know, listen or reflecting back on those sessions, trusting that the right people were in the room. Yeah. Um, that, that lends a certain credibility to everybody where they, they start to feel safe enough to really. Take chances. Yeah. In, in a way that is, is more than just creating like the bare bones. We're gonna get through this track. That's not what we're here to do. No. We're here to make exceptional music that makes somebody feel something. Yeah. Right. And in order to do that, yeah. Choosing the right people, trusting that they are the right person and letting them fly. Yeah. I, I think about that session and how, you know, I think it was Ryan Clayton playing guitar there, and there was this one lick that he was playing that totally sparked something in me. Yeah. And it, it kind of goes back to what I was saying before, like when it's fun and when you can feel connected to the music, you are gonna get a better performance.

Malcom: Absolutely. Yeah. And, and if we had been spending time trying to micromanage every person's. Parts down to the specific part. You know, like, okay, what are you doing on Bassing, the verse and what are you doing on drums in the verse, and what are you doing on guitar? On the like mm-hmm. For every person, we just never would've finished a song, you know, but we'd bang out three killer songs. Yeah. And with brand new arrangements and, and like these songs had never had a band on them before. Yeah. And all of a sudden it's just like, We put the right people in the room, now we just gotta record 'em. Get

Lucas: outta the way. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, and you know, a testament to Yeah. Chris Erickson because there, and his production, because there were times where it's like, ooh, the bass and the, the kick pattern aren't locking up in the verse. Right. Like, let's have a quick look at that. Yeah. But never stopping too long to be like, well, wait, how is, was the tone pod on your base like this? Yeah. Is like, that's why hiring professionals who. Are just ready in that way where you don't have to micromanage and get so specifically detailed. You can trust that they're taking care of 85% of it. Yeah. And all you gotta do is be like, oh cool. Can you, you know, put the emphasis on three rather than this, or, you know? Yeah. Lean it that way. Lean it that way. Leaning kind of thing. Leaning, not pushing. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Malcom: Yeah, it was a great, great record, man. That was a really fun, fun thing to do together. Super fun. Um, yeah, and I, I, I do want to get into dark ice a little bit, um, because that was another fun experience that was, uh, like, that is trust. So Chris Erickson is a close friend of both of ours, and this was his, uh, uh, so Chris Perus, that song we were just talking about just for clarity, but he also has his own solo music. And at that time it was under the artist named sco, um, and he was doing the song Dark Ice. And he's really close friends of ours.

He's worked in the studio a ton. Mm-hmm. And he just chose not to come for the drum session. He could've,

Lucas: I think he was actually right. The kind of in the, the hazy times of Covid it, it

Malcom: was, but let's be honest, you would've been fine with him here. Yeah. And the studio's huge. You know, it could have done safely and I was here. That's right. That's right. And, but like, he just like, was like, uh, Lucas is gonna drum on it. I don't need to be there because I know that Lucas is gonna nail it. Yeah. Like he, he wasn't concerned at all. About it

Lucas: and very trusting. Uh, he had actually, in that instance, it, that beat came from a loop and he said, I want it like this, but I want it. I want you to do it. Yeah. And I want you to do it your way and I trust you. Yeah. So, Immediately that lands for me and go, cool. I'm gonna kill a lot

Malcom: of confidence. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Um, still my favorite drum check that I've ever gotten to work with. Cool. Forever for sure. Wow. Um, such a fun song to mix. Uh, and we, we did this one part where we like overdub drums on drums and had like three drum tracks going, I think The snare roll. The snare roll, which was incredibly epic. Um, Chris got involved at the very end cuz he wanted crash over the last course. So he just like copied and pasted the overhead take of a different part of the song or a different take mm-hmm. Over the last thing. So it's an like impossible drum part where you've got another hand. Um, and it just, just worked. It was just like smooth the whole way because nobody second guessed anybody. Yeah. At any point. And I loved

Lucas: that, that you showed up for that session. Mostly the drums were already set up, I'm pretty sure.

Yeah. Like I remember you being like, oh, let's move the snare mic like an inch over. Yeah. That that was it. And then other than that, it was really awesome to have you hear rolling the takes and just producing ever so slightly. I remember you were like, you commented on how intensely I was hitting the drums, and you're like, how many more do you got in you Right at that intensity? And I was like, Ooh. Like nice to have someone here to. To remind that, cuz that's actually a big part of getting a drum sound is how consistently you hit the drum. Definitely. Especially on that song. Yeah. Yeah. And so you don't want to burn yourself out and you still need to maintain that level of intensity. Yeah.

Malcom: Yeah. I, I remember that session fondly as well cause you were like, oh, come by and like maybe help me engineer. But it was already set up. You already had the part, I was just like, this is easy. Like, yeah, all, all you really needed me to do was show up and give you a thumbs up. Be like, great. This is awesome. Um, and then like the, I think the only creativity I added was, was maybe on that snare roll part, getting involved in that.

Lucas: But otherwise it was, it was done. That was really cool too. And another good. Instance of finding the right team. Right, because I maybe would've come up with something similar, but it wasn't the way that you did it. For sure. I remember some. Yeah. You like, I think you did. Yeah. Left center right. You did three. I think so. Snare roles. You put some cool delay on them, and it was just an idea that wouldn't have occurred to me. Uh, so lovely that you were here in the room to, it was very fun. Yeah.

Malcom: Very fun. Yeah. And, uh, yeah, so it's been fun. Yeah. I feel like, uh, we, we've got to do a lot of cool things together and I think, again, you're like an amazing session drummer and well just drummer. I, I really want to quickly point to attention that you were in a band called Hail Avoid that like immediately got scooped up by, Glasgow from Ozzy's label. Yeah. Uh, and like you are really good man. And, um, you like, not just on session stuff, like your creative stuff as well, your own creative projects have always done really well and, um, you've accomplished a lot of cool things musically yourself and, um, and I, yeah. I do think people, when they're hiring remote session drummers need to consider more than just. Uh, that they're, they're looking for more than just drum tracks. They're looking for a produced drum sound. They're looking for a drum tech. They're looking for an engineer. They're looking for, uh, the drummer really as well. Like, it's all of these things. They're actually looking for the gear as well. Um, and not just Mike's the drum kit. Yeah. You know, choosing the right drum kit for the job. Um, so there is a difference in that quality, uh, between the, the live drummer that has an eight channel interface in their bedroom that they do drum tracks out of, and then where you're offering like a, a world class studio drum track. Uh, that a, a pretty, like, I would say a very reasonable price point. Mm-hmm. Um, and some people may be going down to the cheap one makes sense because it's just budget's budget. Mm-hmm. But if you want to take it that step further, but can't quite get into the studio to do it in person or, uh, remotely online, like you pointed out, it's a great idea. Mm-hmm. This is like the perfect

Lucas: spot to go.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. And it's. It's a real pleasure for me to be able to, to contribute to people's music. Mm-hmm. Too, not just providing a service, but there's a personal element in it for me where it really feels important that, um, that there's a resonance in, you know, sometimes it's just a service. And that's cool too. Yeah. For the, for the moments where there's a, a real resonance and I get to contribute to something that I, that I believe in feels really. Uh, gratifying for me. Yeah.

Malcom: Yeah. Isn't there something so nice about like, I don't know what the difference is, but when it is somebody you don't know, sending you a song you haven't heard, I feel like it's like you can really come at it so musically Hmm. You know, preexisting relationships mm-hmm. Influencing what you think they might expect from you. I think there's an advantage to it, honestly. Mm-hmm. Um, it, it just, just

Lucas: works. Yeah. It, you know, it. It can be really, really fun to just that level of a anonymity is a certain sense of freedom. Yeah. And you get to explore in that way. And, and creating magic with somebody you don't know. Kinda cool.

Malcom: Yeah. All right. Last question. Would you rather have, uh, drum skins that never get old or symbols that can never break?

Lucas: Well, if you asked me that question 10 years ago, I would've said symbols that don't break. Uh, yeah, but I've. Since refined my technique. Okay. I haven't broken a symbol in many years. Knock on wood here. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Um, So for sure with the price of drums skin season, I will be taking the Everlasting Fresh drumhead. Please, if you have one, let me know. Uh, yeah, if I can find that, I'll shoot it on. Or I guess the next best thing, which would be some sort of. Sponsorship. Yeah. Just keep showing up totally.

Malcom: Then you still gotta change 'em. Oh, hate, hate changing them.

Lucas: Yeah. Yeah. I've got a gig coming up this weekend and it sounds like I'll be doing some re-skinning of the kit. Oh geez. It's, you know, it's worth it though. Yeah. It always feels, it's incredibly worth it. It always feels so much better after. Yeah. It's like changing guitar

Malcom: strings. Yeah. It's like, oh, this really does make a difference.

Lucas: Yes, exactly. And it does for everyone listening out there. It

Malcom: does. Yeah. Absolutely. Okay. Lucas McKinnon. Thank you so much. Uh, yeah. One more time. Where do people find you? If they want to check out your stuff, uh, maybe even get in touch.

Lucas: Yeah. So ww dot silverside sound.com or lucas mckinnon.ca. Instagram at silverside sound. That's pretty much it. Email me. Yeah, you can find my contact there. Start a conversation. I'm always happy to hear what uh, people are doing and, and if I'm not the right person, I love finding the right person for them. Totally. So yeah, always definitely that a commu sense of community there and, and I'd love to contribute where I can. Awesome.

Malcom: Okay, thanks again man. Appreciate you

Lucas: coming on. Thanks and have me here. Thank you.

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