#29: “How Do You Develop A Unique Drum Sound?” (We Got This Interesting Question – So We Answered)

We got a well thought-out, long email from Rollo, one of our email subscribers, asking a great question: "How Do You Develop A Unique Drum Sound?"

This one got us thinking, because it's such an important question to ask. Not just "how do you record drums" or "how do you make drums sound good" but "how do make them UNIQUE".

We don't want to sound like everyone else and the records we love most have exactly that: Unique sounds.

So we did our best to answer this question and took a deep dive into what makes a unique drum sound, how to define a vision in your head and finally all the different ways to make that vision a reality.


Quote From The Episode:

„...and the beauty of everything we talked about, all those steps, is that they'll help you, even if you're trying to make a totally normal drum sound. [...] We could've also just called it 'how to record drums'. 


...it's basically 'how to record anything', because I don't think there's a point in just recording something that somebody else has already done. Recording art or music is always about this vision, that goal, how to make it work, how to make it a reality, how to make it unique.

I think that's just what recording should be - or the record will probably not be exciting." 

Malcom's Examples From The Episode:

Great Additional Resource On The Topic Of Getting Unique Drum Sounds And Unique Tones In General:

Sylvia Massy - "Recording Unhinged"

Related Episode:

Related Articles:

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

TSRB Podcast 029 - How Do You Develop A Unique Drum Sound? Your Questions Answered (NOT REVIEWED FOR MISTAKES)

[00:00:00] Malcom: [00:00:00] One time. I literally had to take my shirt off. I had to, so I wasn't just naked in the city of it, but it was like, we just couldn't get enough stuff on that snare to make this data as I wanted. So through a shirt on it ended up with a big hole in the back, by the end of the stuff. 

Benedikt: [00:00:16] This is the self recording band podcast.

The show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are, DIY style. Let's go.

Hello and welcome. To the self recording band podcast. I'm your host at time and I'm here with my friend and cohost, Malcolm Owen flat. How are you, Malcolm? 

Malcom: [00:00:38] Hello? I'm good, man. Okay. Once again, how are you? 

Benedikt: [00:00:41] Good. Thank you. So we've been talking before I had a great weekend, um, time to relax and all good. 

Malcom: [00:00:49] Yeah.

Time to relax. And, uh, there was a lightning storm last night. Oh wow. Just amazing. It was cool. I've got some cool video of that and stayed up too late. Yeah, it was fun. Hey, [00:01:00] I got a question for you. Are you aware? I feel like maybe I've already asked you this, but anyways, this company tagged me or my band and a post today.

And. I can't remember if I've asked you, so here it goes. Are you aware of a clothing company in Germany called band of Rascals? 

Benedikt: [00:01:13] N um, I haven't been, but when I Googled your band, after we got to know each other, um, I found it. 

Malcom: [00:01:21] Okay. 

Benedikt: [00:01:22] So I know there is. Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:01:24] yeah, yeah. So they, they make Facebook posts every once in a while, or actually like partners, like they partner with different brands or something.

I don't really know. But anyways, they ended up trying to tag to Rascals and their posts and they ended up taking my rock band. Yeah. Oh, well, 

Benedikt: [00:01:41] so what, what, like do you, did you ever get in trouble? No, 

Malcom: [00:01:45] no, not at all. As far as we can tell, we, we made our band before they started their clothing company and we also have the advantage of, uh, Band of Rascals being a rock band and not a closing.

Like it just makes sense. You know, she likes her too embarrassed to try and [00:02:00] get in our way with that. Um, but, uh, you know, it's, it's funny. We, at one time we had a really similar t-shirt design. Really? Yeah. It was like, it was too close for comfort. It was like, Oh, how did this happen? Yeah. Uh, there are like a children's clothing company though.

So we're, we're not the same markets at all. And, uh, I don't know. I'm happy they exist. Hopefully they're fine with us existing. Oh, cool. 

Benedikt: [00:02:26] Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:02:27] but I was curious if they, like, if they're well known over there, if you were aware of them or not, 

Benedikt: [00:02:32] at least I didn't know of them, but I found them and, um, Yeah, and I, but there's also not too bad.

I think it looks like they are like an organic fair trade, something like that, like a company, which is cool. So 

Malcom: [00:02:44] yeah. Yeah. Forgot to share a name with a clothing company. I would like it to be this one. 

Benedikt: [00:02:50] That's so funny. 

Malcom: [00:02:52] Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:02:52] Um, so they like, and if you like search for Ben of Rascals on social, like they took over [00:03:00] something.

Thank you. Doing 

Malcom: [00:03:00] fat first anymore. W we've got a yeah. Yeah. Like, cause we're, we're pretty defunct at the T at the time. So I think they're eating up the SEO, but we like, we've got the, like all the social handles, like Instagram and Facebook and stuff like that. That's all. Ours, but then they got the.com.

Benedikt: [00:03:19] Okay. Farmer. Why didn't you get that? Like right 

Malcom: [00:03:22] away, too slow on it. We were like, we just didn't make a website for too long. Then it was gone. We went for it. They had it. 

Benedikt: [00:03:30] Okay, cool. Well, yeah, that's great. So, um, do you have any plans to like active again or tour or whatever it was as soon as touring is the thing again?

Malcom: [00:03:43] Not, not presently. No, we're all focusing on other things. Um, and you know, if a crazy gig came up and was offered to us, we definitely might, well, probably would jump on that kind of thing. But, uh, no, it big intentions of hitting the road for a year or anything right 

Benedikt: [00:03:58] now. Okay. I'm just [00:04:00] asking because, uh, our audience does not know, but.

We never met each other in person, but we almost had like, if you were, you were like going to Germany, I think, but I just, I couldn't make it to the show or something. Or did the show even happen? 

Malcom: [00:04:13] We played Hamburg. Um, 

Benedikt: [00:04:16] which is 

Malcom: [00:04:16] kind of close to you, isn't it? 

Benedikt: [00:04:18] No, not at all. It's like the opposite. End of Germany.

Malcom: [00:04:21] It's like a 

Benedikt: [00:04:22] thousand kilometers away. Yeah. Yeah. By the, you were supposed to play like an hour away from me. And I think that show got canceled or at least like rescheduled or something. So I couldn't make it to the show, which was a bummer. And, uh, so yeah, I, if you ever come back to Germany, you would finally have the chance, uh, 

Malcom: [00:04:41] eventually.

Yeah. Eventually for sure. It hadn't, I'll definitely be going back to Germany one day, even if I'm not playing music. I loved it. 

Benedikt: [00:04:48] No, that's cool. Okay. So then, um, yeah, let's jump into today's episode. Sure thing. And, um, this is, uh, like a first. [00:05:00] Um, that's the first time we do something like this, uh, because we are answering one of your questions, like a listener, or at least a subscriber to my email list, uh, sent this question, uh, his name is Rollo.

I hope I'm pronouncing this. Right. Um, and he asked. A very good question. And we thought we make a whole episode out of it. So his question via email to one of like, he's, he answered to one of my newsletter emails. If you haven't subscribed to that, you can do that by downloading anything on my website. If you enter your email, I got it.

And I will email you. So, um, now, but he was a subscriber. He reads the stuff that I put out and he asked the question and that is hi, Benedict. I have been recording with my band for a while. And I've spent quite a lot of time trying to educate myself as to how to be a better engineer. Last year, we took a year off work to record our first record.

We decided it was best to LifeTrack bass and drums with a professional engineer, and then record the rest ourselves as the [00:06:00] time. As at the time, we were very inexperienced that recording everything went great, and we are really happy with the results release plan for later this year. However for album number two, I have decided that it will be more rewarding to record everything ourselves, which leads me to onto my biggest struggle, which is how to develop a unique drum sound.

All of my favorite records have a very unique, distinctive and interesting drum sound that bring an extra layer of creativity to the record. How do producers engineers go about designing, capturing a unique drum sound? What do you normally do when approaching recording drums for our record, any help on this would be greatly appreciate it as this is definitely one of my many weak spots, many thanks.

And I look forward to hearing from you, first of all, thank you Rolla for asking this. I think it's a really great, great question. And also, I really think it's amazing that someone or a whole band would take a year off of work to record the first record that like shows some real. Passion and dedication.

And like, I really love [00:07:00] to, to read that. So I thought, um, you really deserve to get your question answered. You're taking this seriously and, uh, I'd love to help you. We'd love to help you. So that's why we're doing this. 

Malcom: [00:07:10] Yeah. Yeah. That is really cool. And great question as well. 

Benedikt: [00:07:13] Yeah, like this whole, how do I get a unique sound or how do you get a certain sound that I, that I am envisioning for my record.

It's like the key question and so hard to, to answer. And I get it that this is something that people struggle with. And I can remember that I was in the same boat for a long time, and sometimes I still am. Sometimes I have to try out things and experiment to really get to what I am going for. Um, so yeah, this is just very logical that this question comes up and also, I love that.

It's not like, how do I get. To sound like band XYZ. Uh, but he's asking like how do I develop a unique drum sound like my own drum sound, which is a totally different question and very cool, because that opens up a lot of [00:08:00] possibilities and, um, we all love to hear exciting, unique art. Right? Definitely. Yeah.

So my, uh, my idea was my thoughts were that we should do this in like three chapters, sort of three, like bullet points that we go through. The first is. What's the vision and the goal, like what are you going for? And w like, yeah, what would you can do to find that, to figure that out? The second one is like the strategy on how to, like, how to get there, how to get to this vision, what you can do to make that vision a reality, or like the questions you can ask yourself and like, what possibilities are there, even that sort of stuff.

And then the third is. The tactics, the specific things you can do to design and capture certain drum sound like things that impact the way your drum sound. So, yeah, let's go through this. 

Malcom: [00:08:51] Definitely. Yeah. That's a, the, I think you've got it laid out in a way that makes sense. And that's usually the order.

To consider these things, [00:09:00] but not always as well. Um, that they're all, all three are very valuable and could be the answer to achieving the sound in your head. So let's start with visions and goal. 

Benedikt: [00:09:11] Okay. Yeah. Um, yeah, it's just that it's different for everybody. Some people might already have a very clear vision, um, or Geraldo, you might even have a very clear vision of what you want to do, but it might also be the case that you're just trying.

To get some unique drum sound, whatever that might, may be. So you might not even like have found what you are going for or what suits your band or the style you're trying to, to, to make the sound music. And I think anyway, it's just important to. No, or to think before you even start writing, recording, or doing anything just to, to think about it and half that vision and half the goal, think about what you want to achieve, who is going to listen to that record?

What do they want to hear that? Does that even matter to you? Is it just for yourself? Um, is there a clear goal? So do [00:10:00] you want to reach a certain type of person or certain people? If so, then you should probably take into account, like what they. Uh, what they want to hear these types of things, because you might start off in the completely the wrong direction.

If you don't answer this questions for yourself and also like, what is the record about what is your band like? What's the aesthetic? What are you, what do you stand for? Is there a certain brand or something attached to the band or is there a certain vibe that you want to get across? Because then that will automatically eliminate.

Some drum sounds or some general sounds and sound aesthetics, I think. Right. 

Malcom: [00:10:35] Definitely. Yeah. It's like, if you don't have this vision in your head, you can't really expect to land on this like honest, new sound. Right. Um, you need something to aim for and something to kind of guide your decisions. So I'm a big fan of bands putting together reference choices before a record.

Um, so I find that when bands have that, like references pre thought up and pre [00:11:00] like arranged and that we can look at and kind of get ideas from things tend to go better. And, and that's so like an example of that is you might be like, okay, I really like the red hot chili peppers style, kind of paying snare tone, a little higher pitched.

Um, but I love. This John Bonham kick, you know, kind of thing. Like, okay, well, how do we achieve both of those? And, um, you know, or maybe somebody is like, well, I really liked this moderate and kind of EDM style thing. Like, okay, well that's really different, but how can we influence, like bring in some electronic elements into this recording, you know?

So by having all of these little. Pictures put together, like, or like find other songs that sound like you want, you can start thinking about how can you mesh those into your own thing and, and kind of cherry pick all the pieces you want. 

Benedikt: [00:11:49] Yeah, absolutely. And Rollo did that. Actually. He. Um, he added some names of bands, uh, that he really liked, but not like as a reference of what he wants to sound like [00:12:00] with his band, but just as examples of bands who have a very unique drum sound.

So there are definitely references or things they like, but they're not trying to copy it. They're just, they're just noticing the fact that those bands managed to have a really unique, interesting sound and that's what they want to do. So they, yeah, they don't want to sound like it, but they want to be as creative as they are basically.

Malcom: [00:12:19] Right. I wonder if in those songs. And obviously we can't really check that right now, but I wonder if in those songs, if it would be possible to listen to them and figure out what is making each of them unique. And if there's an underlying theme to that, you know, maybe it's that because often when people notice things like that, it's because of a certain aesthetic that they like.

So maybe all of these drum sounds have a really interesting like room heavy. Kind of approach and the answer is, you know, looking for that interesting room that kind of speaks to your band, um, or, or maybe it's that all of them have 24 inch kick drums or 26 inch, maybe that's the thing that's triggering their, their [00:13:00] ear to be like, Oh, this is different.

Benedikt: [00:13:01] Yeah. Um, I, I listened to them obviously before, um, but it's like, they are just different. It's really, they are completely different. They are unique. I have to agree. But it's not like I was thinking the same way, but it's not like there's some characteristic that they all share. I think they just like unique tones, I think.

Really cool. But, um, but you're right. That was my first instinct as well. I don't know. It's like, it's, it sounds counterintuitive that you need to have a goal when you try to find something you write because how you, you don't know something that doesn't already exist, but, um, I think you should still have some idea.

Of at least the feeling or the reaction, or like whatever you want to achieve with your music, like what, what impact it should have on the listener. I think that's maybe something to consider or like how it should be perceived. Not exactly how it sounds maybe, but. How it should be perceived. And as soon as we start talking now about what characteristics there are, what types of sounds there actually are, [00:14:00] what's the difference between those and what kind of vibe they create?

Um, it, it gets easy to understand what we mean here. So let's dive into the strategy and how to get there, because I think, um, part of the strategy is yes, the reference tracks that meant that maca mentions. And then the second thing is learning and studying why certain tones. Are yeah. Making you feel a certain way.

Why certain sounds make a song big or small or, um, impactful or soft or aggressive or whatever, and like studying that as much as you can, um, figuring out the differences and then picking the stuff you like from all those different things and combining them to something new. Basically, that's probably how I would go about it.

And, um, yeah, and important. The as always the, the most important thing here is that you keep the big picture and the goal in mind and you put your producer hat on and you don't really focus on, like, I wonder what make they used or I wonder what, like, that's not important right now. It's just the big picture.

Is it [00:15:00] big? Is it small? Is it roomy? Is it tight? That sort of stuff, you know? Um, I think that that's what I should, what you should focus on first. It's not about the details yet. 

Malcom: [00:15:09] Yeah. So one thing I really liked about a role's question there was that they chose to hire, uh, an engineer for, for the current project that they're on.

Um, just because they realized it was one of their kind of weak spots and that's awesome. And I hope that he was able to soak up a ton of info while doing that. I assume that was probably a large part of it was that they wanted to learn from somebody experienced at the same time, which is super awesome.

Um, now maybe one of the mistakes that people make that doesn't. Land them on this unique drum sound or unique, any kind of sound is that they start mimicking what they've learned, um, which is great, uh, because you know, they went to the studio, saw some stuff, and I'm not saying you've done this role though, or we'll do this, but it just, for example, um, you've gone to a studio, [00:16:00] you've seen it done a certain way and it sounded good.

Maybe not as unique as you're looking for your next one, but then you set up in the same way because you know, that works, you know, um, or. Like a really good example of what wouldn't work is. If you were doing a clean acoustic you song, but you grabbed a electric guitar and plugged it into a distorted guitar amp, right?

Like that's just like the exact wrong thing. But if that's all, you know how to do like, well, it's too bad, you have to still learn a new way then. Right. So, uh, Drum recording engineers are prone to kind of do the same thing. They're like, okay. I always go for this like big, larger than life drum sound. It's impressive sounding when it's soloed, but it's like, okay, well, does the song need that is big and larger than life.

John bottom drums. Actually going to be helpful for, for the song or do we want like this tight kind of like really pocket groove that, uh, is in the background more than anything, [00:17:00] and that's a totally different approach. So you have to kind of think about this beforehand so that you can actually set up your you're making and prep your player and write parts that actually suit that as well.

That that all has to be figured out in advance. And then, uh, implemented. 

Benedikt: [00:17:16] Yeah. Uh, I'm totally guilty of like having repeated stuff just because that's the way I do it. I like stuff I constantly need to remind myself to just try new things and figure out new things and like experiment because I don't want my records to sound all the same, but we, yeah, we all do that.

And there are just, if there are some things that you just like. You tend to do them all over again, because why not? They work for you. Right. So 

Malcom: [00:17:43] yeah, a good idea, I think, and how I try to approach it is I still do those things. Like, you know, I've got like a, a set of BlueLine rooms that I'm going to set up every time.

It seems. Yeah. I just love them. But then I'll also set up another set of rooms. Like the, the experiment set after that. [00:18:00] Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:18:00] yeah, totally. Exactly. And what really helps me is, and that. Is again about the vision and the band and the aesthetic and stuff. It's like to try to forget about these technical things and my approaches and techniques completely, but just talk to the band or in that case, like have a, a band meeting, like, or think for yourself, um, about what is like what's the, the content, the emotion, the lyrics, what's the record about what's the vibe and then let that dictate the decisions.

And even if it's something like, if it turns out that it's something completely different than what I would usually do then, so be it and I would need to do something else, but then it's much easier to make that decision. And if I don't have the conversation, I like the, the, the danger here is that you tend to kind of bend the songs to whatever you usually do.

And it's not the original song or vibe anymore. So yeah, if you're like big roomy drums, but the band has a completely different vibe, different aesthetic. Then have a different approach and let go of your room that you usually like. So in [00:19:00] that case, like, let's talk about some specifics here. So the room has come up quite a bit.

So I guess you, you're saying the same way as I am here. Like Malcolm, you think the room is a big part of the drum tone and the vibe, right? 

Malcom: [00:19:13] Yeah, I think it's like kind of the biggest part potentially, you know, um, maybe other than like the player, you know, like the player and the parts is obviously gonna make the biggest, biggest difference.

Um, but, uh, choosing the room, like if you, I think when you, especially when you're talking about unique sounding drum sounds, I think the room is generally like the thing in that situation, I guess. Not always, but very often, if you can find a room that just kind of has. A sound that's that can be like a big, a big thing right there, because that's going to be different than all the other records you're hearing.

Um, cause it, no room is the same, you know? 

Benedikt: [00:19:53] So what are those differences that a room sound actually makes? Obviously there's like very dry and like a long [00:20:00] reverb, like the extremes, but what else does it like so that people know what, what types of sounds there actually are. And that Rollo knows like what to, what to think of.

And what's even possible like. How does that impact the drum sound? 

Malcom: [00:20:13] So a studio I love in town here. Silverside sound is super live. Really live. So it's got like the big rockstar decay going on. Um, but then there's this hallway out towards the control room and it's like a little compression chamber. It's just like things go in there and get mangled.

And then he used to come at the other end and it just like, it sounds insane, you know? Um, so like there's a weird quirk like that, you know, is this, uh, already live? Stadium mask room. And then we've got like this extra level of insanity at the end of the hallway. And, uh, like there's, there's a song that I recently did there and I'm using that hallway mic as like the primary mic, you know, I'm like feathering, a little direct kick and snare.

And then [00:21:00] otherwise it's like this delayed hallway mic that's super far away. Awesome. So that's an example of like, no, no, no other, I could never recreate that anywhere else. What that makes, sounds 

Benedikt: [00:21:11] like talking about unique. Yeah. That's awesome. Um, yeah, those things. And also I think the room kind of dictates.

Obviously the reverb time, but also like, depending on if it's like the surfaces in the room, depending on what, what the room is built. Like some rooms sound very like there's no other way to say they sound hard or harsh, whereas others room sound soft or dark or Dell, or like live less compared to them.

It's not only the time, but also the way those reflections sound. So you might not be aware when you're listening to drum sound that it's the room that makes it sound like that. But some, some strum sounds that are just really bright and snappy or others that are really soft and round and [00:22:00] sort of bell almost that could be the room.

You might think it's like the mic or the drums themselves, but it could just be the room around the kit. So definitely 

Malcom: [00:22:10] different. Some rooms are like really sloppy. Like the attack is so hard that you, you hear it as like a delay almost. Um, which generally is bad news, but could be exactly what you're looking for.


Benedikt: [00:22:21] Yeah, totally. Absolutely. So there's that difference then? Um, obviously there is a difference, like with every instrument between brighter sounds or, um, fuller, uh, darker sounds, oftentimes bright sounds can be perceived as like a little thinner. Oftentimes they have more clarity, but there is sometimes a little thinner, um, whereas darker sounds, tend to often be like full.

And, um, yeah, dark obviously, but full and big and, um, yeah, th that difference, and that can be achieved in them, like multiple different ways. But there's this just think about it that way? Like when you're listening to a drum sound, or when you creating the sound in your head, do you want it [00:23:00] bright and clear?

Do you want to like a pristine sound where you can hear everything clearly? Or do you want to have like a full, dark, dark, moody vibey kind of. Drum tone. So that's, that definitely affects how the record's going to be perceived. Definitely. 

Malcom: [00:23:17] Yeah. The cool thing about the space is it does put an image in the listener's head.

So whoever's listening to your song again, if I'm using the big rockstar live room, that sounds huge. It, it leaves an impression, you know, like this, this album is going to sound like you've seen the band on stage at a big venue. Um, rather than in a small little room, um, like, you know, some there's like some indie music that's like, almost like, kinda like you're meant to be listening to it and like the bands in your bedroom with you or something, you know, playing in the living room or something.

And that's like, I wouldn't be able to get that in there. You know, it just would never sound like that is to live. The decay times are too long. It doesn't [00:24:00] have that going for it. Um, so if you get the space that you're recording then wrong and, and, or at least don't treat it sound like what you want. That image is just never going to really come together.

Just keep that in mind. I think. 

Benedikt: [00:24:15] Yeah, I agree. Totally. That's a big part actually. Like where do you, what do you see in front of you when you close your eyes and listen to the music? That's totally a big part of it. That's also like how wide something is. Sometimes you like, people want those larger than life drums, which is totally cool, but sometimes it doesn't sound like a drum kit anymore.

Oftentimes it doesn't sound like a drum kit anymore. So when you have headphones on and close your eyes, like one Tom is completely to the right end. Hi heads completely to the other side. And the guitarists are like, Somewhere in between sometimes, or they are like at the same, in the same spot. But if you like, imagine a stage, there is the drum kit in the middle and the guitars are left and right after that, and it's like, the drum kit is more of a tight, small spot on the stage and not all over the place.

So yeah, if you want [00:25:00] that realistic. Image of a band on a stage. You don't want like the super wide ramps probably, 

Malcom: [00:25:05] right? Yeah, definitely. 

Benedikt: [00:25:07] Okay. Image big thing then. Um, yeah, I like this, this whole like expensive versus lo-fi thing is also huge for drums. I think what I mean by that is there are these, these like very polished, big and expensive sounding drums that have an extended top end Bigelow and.

They are like punchy, big clean. And then there is this kind of low-fi white vibe where you might not have a very big, low end and where there's like the top end is lacking and you have a very aggressive mid range maybe. And it sounds like a garage recording or something like that. Or it sounds, um, as sometimes it sounds like if it's like been playing through a crappy speaker or something, or it could even be the case, like, as we've talked about, in another episode, you can absolutely ramp rums or.

Like use, we are geared to make drum sound that way, but that low fire static versus the big, expensive sounding [00:26:00] drums and everything in between. That's also, um, yeah. Part of what makes a drum sound unique wherever you land in that spectrum. Right? 

Malcom: [00:26:08] Definitely. And, uh, one more reason to make this all like, worth your time to think about in advance, like is not only are you going to be using these decisions, uh, while you are making these decisions while you track, but.

Having all of this work put into the vision in advanced, we'll let you also translate to the mixer. You end up sending it to so that they can also stay on that same page and get that vision accomplished in the mix kind of thing. You know, maybe you don't have the gear. You want to get it distorted on the way in, but you know that you want it to be low fi and distorted that will, the mixer is going to be able to help you take it that extra little, little bit.

Um, if you communicate that with them. 

Benedikt: [00:26:48] Oh yeah, totally. Like, imagine if you didn't communicate that you'd record a clean drums because you only, all you have is like a. I dunno, an eight or a 16 channel interface and you record just clean drums and you don't say [00:27:00] anything. And the mixer, my totally like blow it up to make a, make it this larger than life, big modern drums.

But all you wanted to have is a mid rangy lo-fi thing. And it's the complete opposite of what you get then. So 

Malcom: [00:27:12] it literally just happened to me pretty much just, um, you know, often, uh, the assumption I can, I sometimes make and I shouldn't have made this assumption. Um, so. Still learning. Is that a, like when a band sends me checks, they recorded it on the selves.

They didn't have access to a room to make big, huge sounding drums. And I, you know, I listened to the song and I assumed that's what they wanted. I was like, okay. You know, everything else is distorted and trying to be big, this drunk has meant to slam. So I made it slam and they were like, Whoa, bye. No, that's not what we're going for on the drums.

I was like, Oh, Oh, okay. Well, I guess I'll have to go back on that, but I mean, it would have been nice if I knew that in advance because like rock song kind of made sense to me, but, uh, I should have asked as well. 

Benedikt: [00:27:59] Yeah, [00:28:00] yeah, totally. But it happened to be also happened to be in the past. It's a very common thing and yeah, it's, it's our responsibility to ask, but it's also, if you know that as an artist, in case the mixer doesn't ask.

Um, just tell them and, um, make those decisions, write it down, have a conversation or ask them to have a conversation with you. Get on the phone and talk about those things. And you will work towards the same goal plus the same result. Definitely. And the next thing here is clean and dynamic versus dirty and distorted.

It's similar to like the low fi thing, but it's not the same because. What I mean with low fi and, and expensive is like, when you think about the frequency content and what I mean here is, do you want to have four really dynamic drums with a clear transience from like very quiet ghost notes that should be audible to like big, loud room shots and it should all be clean and clear and dynamic, or can it be like dirty and distorted?

And can it be like squashed and like a little less clear. [00:29:00] And that's also a characteristic of drums. Like some Chandra's require all the details and a very fine, clear sound while others just need to slam. And you don't care about ghost notes and details and dynamics basically accents, as it sounds weird, but some, some of the drums that I mix because the songs require it, they aren't dynamic at all.

They are like, Clipped and limited and compressed and distorted and everything. And they were like full on all the time and that's just part of the aesthetic, but it could be totally wrong for other genres. So 

Malcom: [00:29:33] definitely, definitely. Yeah. Uh, it goes back to the same thing, figure out what that vision is and then make decisions based on that.

Benedikt: [00:29:41] Yeah. Also what you get when you, when you do that dirty and aggressive thing is you'll end up with probably a little harsher and aggressive sounding drums because the symbols and everything, when they get compressed and distorted, um, it tends to sound a little more annoying or harsh or aggressive, which can be cool.

[00:30:00] Some styles of music are not supposed to be to sound nice, but others are. So that's a, that's another, um, conversation you need to have. Should it sound nice and pleasing to the ears or should it sound a little. Aggressive annoying or like, yeah, not annoying, but yeah, maybe a little bit some of the punk rock or Harker stuff that I mix shouldn't sound nice.

It should be a little piercing sometimes. Right. That's cool. So, um, yeah. Ha have that conversation and think about what you want to do, because if it's too nice for your Shondra, it just won't work and won't have the desired impact. 

Malcom: [00:30:33] Totally. Yeah. Well, we've got written down here. Be bold and yeah. I think to do that, you have to imagine the finished product and not just what you're listening to.

And with drums often, we're listening to just drums and maybe one dinky, little scratch guitar or something, you know? Um, so like you're recording and you're trying to make decisions based on what you're hearing, but without the whole picture there, it's really easy to. To get scared and, you know, be like, okay, maybe this is too aggressive [00:31:00] and we should be safer and, and go cleaner and, you know, like, and just kind of abandoned your vision.

So you have to stay focused on the end goal and end vision of what that's actually going to look like. If it's meant to be distorted, then go for it. It's going to be, it's going to be fine. It'll sound more normal once there's a bunch of guitars in front of it. 

Benedikt: [00:31:17] Yes, absolutely. This is the, my big thing that I always repeat.

And many people don't agree, especially when, uh, when it's the, we were talking about yeah, why recording and less than ideal situations. I still think that you should be bold. And I still think that you should just do whatever you think sounds great when there is a way to have like a safety net in place, like with a die for guitar, for example, and do that with drums, it's harder to do.

And. Yeah, maybe you could have some standard, like Mike's and then in addition to that, your experimental fund, Mike's like my Malcolm did, but if not, if you only have a limited channel count, just, just do whatever you think sounds rad, really like [00:32:00] I do. What would you think sounds exciting if it gets the message across, if, um, if it creates the emotion and the feeling that you want, if it fits the songs and just do it, go for it.

I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. And usually there are ways for a mixer to still fix the thing or two, if, if it's, if you've really gone too far. Um, not always, but in general, I it's just me. I just like people taking risks there and making unique, exciting stuff. That's just like that all for it.

Yeah, totally. So once you figured that stuff out and you like, um, You know what you're going to sound like and what fits your project in your band? I think it's crucial and that's the not so fun part for some people, um, that you'll learn the engineering basics. There's no way around it because you cannot translate that sound in your head that you cannot make that translate to speakers.

You cannot make that come out of the speakers. If you don't have. The [00:33:00] basic toolkit and skillset to do that. So you need to know what phases, we have a whole episode on drum phase. If you don't understand that concept, you'll constantly run into problems and you're going to have a hard time making that a reality, that vision.

So, you know, you need to know what phases and you need to know. At least you have a, you need to have a basic understanding of different microphone types that there are, and like how different positions. Change the sound and how, how do use those microphone types? You don't have to be a professional engineer, but you just need to know that there are certain mix that sound a certain way, that they have certain characteristics.

And if you put them a certain way on a drum, it will cause it to sound. Like whatever. So if you, if you know those things, the basics of it, then you should be able to with a little trial and error, a little experimentation, you should be able to get close to what you have in your head. I think. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:33:57] Yeah. I, I can't really imagine trying to make a [00:34:00] plan without knowing what a space pair sounds like versus an X Y overhead set up, right?

Like, so two of the most common overhead setups, but they are hugely different, um, and are going to give you totally different results. So unless you've had time to experiment with both of those, it's like, well, how do you choose which one you're going to go for? Right. Um, if you've never mixed the top of a snare and you don't think that's important, Well, Oh yeah.

You know, so, uh, Hopefully, if, if you're going to be recording drums, hopefully you are in a situation where you can do some experiments and some practice, and really kind of try things out in advance and, and find some cool little cool little things. You know, everybody's got their favorite, little, little tricks.

You know, some people throw something in the middle of the kit just to a it or whatever, you know, or behind the drummer, over the ear of the drummer. You know, there's, there's all these little. Things. And what were you'll, you'll find something that worked for the project eventually. [00:35:00] Um, but you, you need time and practice to kind of learn and develop a tool bag of tricks.

Benedikt: [00:35:07] Yes. You need ads. You need to do that. Absolutely. And you need to note. Certain things that you can change, like face that's just the thing. Like that's, you need to accept that and you need to know, you know, how to use it and work around it and not run into problems. And there's a whole episode on this it's episode.

Number four, I just looked it up. If you listen to this episode, number four of this podcast, we talking about drum phase and try our best to explain it because it's kind of difficult to explain, but, um, yeah, you just need to, to understand this because every mic you're going to add and every little gimmick that you come up with and everything you add to the, to the whole picture and to, to the, the amount of mix you use and stuff.

Can cause problems that you don't know how to solve if you don't know what phases yes. You're going to be running in circles. So 

Malcom: [00:35:57] should also mention for Rolo [00:36:00] and other people doing this that, uh, you know, this takes time, like, so you're going into the recording these drums for the first time, and you're trying to get something magical.

Hopefully you do. But it might not be as magical as you were hoping, um, on your first time, you know, but you're, you're going to get closer and you're going to learn a ton doing it, but you know, this is the kind of thing that takes a lifetime to master. Um, we're, we're always learning. Always. So don't, don't worry about it.

Just like do the best you can do. And you're going to take something away from this. And also some new girls are going to take some lessons away about stuff you wish you hadn't done as well, that like that's going to happen and you'll just keep refining. So that unique, the true unique you sound of what you can do with a drum kit is coming later in the future.

Benedikt: [00:36:49] Yeah. Totally agreed. It will take some time. It won't be the first production probably, but you're still, you can, you can still get something that you're proud of and it's a starting point and I'm totally do [00:37:00] it. Totally go for it. I'm like the thing with learning these things and doing the research is that you will come across.

Other producers and techniques they use or common techniques that people use, like Malcolm said X, Y versus space pair, or a certain type of microphone and a certain drum. There are things that are just common and there are ways to achieve certain sounds that just work. And so people use them over and over again.

And what you need to do here is to pick those, that the stuff that might work for what you are going for. But like put them together in a new way. So don't just copy what some other engineered us, because it's, because that won't get you unique sound, obviously there's still, I mean, there's still some elements of it that makes it, that make it unique because it's you and nobody plays like you and it's your song, but still I wouldn't go ahead and copy everything and imitate everything you read in them and on a blog or, um, wherever or a YouTube or something.

So, [00:38:00] but I just. But pay attention to why people do these things in what contexts, certain thing works at a certain thing works. And then I would pick the things that might work for my project, and then I would combine them with others. And so I would build this approach. That's unique to me, but consists of proven strategies and tactics, basically.

I think, yeah. That's the hard thing to do because you don't want a copy of that because that's not the point of this episode. Right. You want to be unique. But you will. You'll probably what I'm trying to say is you probably won't reinvent drum recording as well. So you need to take those things that already exist and make something unique out of it.


Malcom: [00:38:41] I remember all these techniques. They're not really making it unique. They're just capturing it in a different way. So like, as we're going to continue talking about the, all this stuff before that microphone is making a bigger difference. Um, so, so you're, don't, don't get too caught up in if, you know, like if [00:39:00] making the drums with the space pair is too traditional for you, and that's what you see happening all the time.

Well that you can still get a unique drum sound with the space pair it's gonna, like, it's not that Metta, I guess 

Benedikt: [00:39:15] that totally. So let's get to the tactics, the specific things that you can use. To get those sounds. So now, you know what you're going for? You know, the differences and what makes, what makes it up, what makes up a drum sound like what characteristics there are.

And now you're trying to get those characteristics, the ones you like and the ones that fit your aesthetic. So what can you do? What, what dials do you have like that you can use to well, and you were your tone. You'd drum sound. The first is the room. It's, we've talked about that Malcolm set it choose the right room and it will be a huge part.

After the character of a drum recording choose the wrong room and you just won't work. It's just, and you can't get the wrong room out of the [00:40:00] recording. Really. That's the sad part of it, but it's true. Um, yeah, so yeah, choose the right space. And if you don't have the rights, if there's no way you could get into a space, that sounds the way you want it to then, and I'd go for super dry because then you can at least.

Shape it and add some room or ambiance to something to it. But if you go as my com set into this big stadium, like space where even the close Mike's and the overheads will have this long decay and this room on them, you just won't get rid of that. It's just. In the recording. 

Malcom: [00:40:34] Yep. That is spot on. Yeah. Um, I I'm lucky enough to have like a number of good studios around me.

So I have this luxury of being able to choose the drum room that I think is right for the project. And that has made a big difference in, in my career and the happiness of my clients. So, 

Benedikt: [00:40:54] and it, it, it doesn't need to be, if you have don't have access to such three years, it doesn't need to [00:41:00] be a super fancy, really great sounding room.

It can be. And I've done that a couple of times. Actually it can be some room when you have a mobile recording rate, you can put the drum kit, wherever you can go to a house with some cool like hallway or whatever you can go. Um, you can find some industrial building or something you can rent out now, whatever you find, like every building.

Has a unique sound. Every room has a unique sound and there's rooms and buildings of all sizes, and you can treat them a little and like you can be creative there. And I'm sure if you, if you really want, you can find some sort of room that you have can get access to and use for the drum recording. And that can get pretty interesting.

It won't be the perfect drum room or the perfect studio, obviously, but it will definitely be unique and it's a little. Trial and error, of course. But if you, if all you have is a very dry and boring sounding rehearsal space, but you want a big, exciting room, then just find some space. I think there, I 

Malcom: [00:41:59] think we've, we've [00:42:00] covered the room thing.

Pretty, pretty good, but it's because we keep bringing it up because it's really important. 

Benedikt: [00:42:05] Yeah, exactly. So Malcolm, you put the next thing on this list here and that's a choose the right drum sizes. I didn't even think of it, but totally true. What do you mean by that? Exactly. I 

Malcom: [00:42:17] just think that the size of the drum dictates like what the pitch is going to kind of land in and the overall tone and like shake the trumps out.

Um, so like me doing a lot of rock music, bigger drums tend to be where I land. I like big. Huge trumps. So almost always, I'm going to lean towards the 24 kick and I like a lower snare, um, and, and a couple of big times kind of thing. So. But, you know, if, if that's not what you're doing, that might be totally wrong.

If you're doing a jazz album, for example, a 24 kicks, probably gonna suck, um, and just be awful. And you like be so unruly that [00:43:00] you'll, you'll hate your life. So, so, you know, you might want to go smaller for, um, something. It depends on the kick pattern, I guess. I don't know if some drunk jazz guys are gonna be like no way.

Uh, yeah. But yeah, so I think like it's like. They're almost different instruments with how big the sizes can vary, you know, an 18 inch kick, which is tiny compared to like a 24, which is my norm. But some people consider that big that's like, they, they sound like different. Like one sounds like a Tom to me.

Yes. So I, I think that makes a big difference 

Benedikt: [00:43:36] and you need to play them differently. Like you have to, if you like with a very big kick drum, You need to kick it really hard in order to get something out of it. Like a drummer. I remember like the, the drummer in my band used to play, uh, or I think he has a 24 and he also has a 26, I think.

And if you use, like, if you play with a 26, if you don't go hard on their thing, like [00:44:00] there's nothing coming out of it, basically. It's so low and so slow also that you have to come play completely differently. 

Malcom: [00:44:08] Right. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. Um, I can barely play any drums at all. So I'm like that unreasonable producer.

That's just expecting things out of the drummer, but, uh, but that's good to know. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:44:23] What were you going to say? Like different instruments. 

Malcom: [00:44:27] Uh, well, I was just saying that because like, when you choose different sizes, it changes the instrument dramatically. Um, so you, you have to get that. Right. And, and, and yeah, I guess the point I'm making is that a lot of people just record the kit.

They have, um, and some people have these kind of starter kits, frankly, that are aren't great. Big rock drums. For example, if you're going that route, which is, I'm just using what I'm generally doing as an example, and that's never going to sound that way. So you have [00:45:00] to get a great sounding rocket, if you want to create something, rock, drum, sound kind of thing.

So, yeah. Don't expect to turn something into like, make something, something else. Yes. You have to kind of get it right at the source. 

Benedikt: [00:45:13] Agreed and potent that you put it on the list here because I, I kinda forgot it because the way I think of off the drum set up most of the time is that to me, the drum skins, the drum heads are very important.

The symbols are super important and the shells tend to be less important to me, but not the sizes. You're totally right about the sizes. Um, It's just to me the material and what exactly shells you're using. That's less important to me than most people think it is. So yeah, you need to pick the right size.

Absolutely. And I forgot about that. So that, that still matters, but it doesn't matter as much if it's like a, it sounds different of course, but like what brand or what, even what type of material it is. That's actually not as important to us the size [00:46:00] and the type of drum skin you put on it and the way you play it and the room it is put in and all that stuff matters much more.

So I've had great results with like cheap beginner of kits. Basically it's a little different for snare drums, but with Toms and kicks, I've had great results with Jeep kits. Uh, if they are tuned, right? If you put the right drum skins on, if you put them in the right room, my studio kit that I love so much is pretty cheap.

Actually it's like 600 bucks or so. Just the, like the Toms and the cake. Um, so it's not the cheapest one, but it's, it's pretty cheap. Um, but I really, really, really love it. And if you put great skins on their great heads and combined it with great symbols and everything, it's just, it just works. 

Malcom: [00:46:42] Yeah. Okay.

I fully agree, but I'm going to push back a little bit. Okay. There's something about vintage kits that sounds different. And I think it's like the bearing edges or something. Um, but, uh, they, the attack and sustain everything about them just has like this different [00:47:00] thing going on. Um, so I think that's like the one little detail that we should mention is that if you're going for, uh, overall vintage sound on drums, track down some vintage drums and it'll, it'll probably probably help.

Benedikt: [00:47:13] Yeah. You'd probably want to use some Ludvig or Gretchen or something like that. And like, yeah. Totally agreed. Agreed. But, but still, um, that doesn't mean you can't use what you have if it happens to be the right sizes. And if you put the right drum skins on intuitive, carefully, you can get pretty far and you can probably get something out of your kit.

That that's what that is, what you're looking for in those cases. Right. So, yeah. Then the next thing is, we've already mentioned it tuning, obviously. Thanks. So, so big. And people overthink the recording part of it a lot, and they think about microphones and all that stuff. When they should actually focus on getting the actual kit to sound the way they want it to.


Malcom: [00:47:55] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's true. Isn't it? Yeah. [00:48:00] Yeah. Like it doesn't matter what Mike, you throw on a note of tune drum. It's going to sound bad. So, 

Benedikt: [00:48:06] yeah. And it's funny, it's funny because guitar players, in my experience, at least they take the gear, the pedals, the strings that picks everything they use very seriously.

And they like. Oh, obsessed over everything. And you, you have to convince them to use something else. And they love that their head and their pedals and what they, whatever they're using. But with drummers. So often that might be a cliche, but in my case, it was really true. But so often with drummers, they don't, they, they don't care about tuning.

They don't care about the heads on the drum. They don't even know how to tune it. Then they, they won't let you do it because. I mean, you know, just go ahead and they're fine. So there's, there's they have a co it seems to me that many drummers have a completely different relationship to their instrument than for example, guitarists have, I don't know why that is, 

Malcom: [00:48:50] but yes, if you're listening to this and you want to be a busy session drummer, if you think that'd be a cool career path.

Focus on your [00:49:00] tone, more than anything else? Um, well, I mean, and your pocket, obviously, like you have to have amazing meter and have thick, uh, you know, I mean, there's a lot of winning attitude, you know, lots of stuff, but, uh, like. I know, I record great drummers all the time and only a handful of them though have tone.

Like when they hit a drum, it sounds good. And, and they, you know, they also coincidentally know how to tune it, but, you know, if I get two, two drummers hit the same drum, that's tuned to the exact same. One guy might sound a hundred times better than the other guy and that's all in the hands 

Benedikt: [00:49:36] yeah. In their hands.

And if they know if they know how to set up a tune and choose equipment, but it's incent the hands. I agree. I agree. But I've also know, I also know drummers that play really well and they sound okay on a crappy kid. So they are really isn't the hands. But their kids are just total crap and I wish they would care about this stuff because then it would be just so amazing that there's [00:50:00] one guy in particular that I'm thinking of.

I obviously don't say his name, but there's one guy that I know he's such a freaking awesome drummer is such a great drummer, but every time I hear him play with his band or like yeah, whatever he plays, I just wish he would have a kid that didn't sound like shit. 

Malcom: [00:50:17] So yeah, you got to get both. You got to learn how to.

Hit and sound good, but also tune and sound good. Yeah, totally. Yep. 

Benedikt: [00:50:26] That's super important. And that's half the battle if you then, if so, if you get that right. If you know what you're going for, if the kid sounds like that, if you are in the right room and if you can play like that, it almost. Doesn't matter as much anymore.

Like what microphone you throw at it. It just won't sound great. You won't get there yet. You will get that sort of character, no matter what Mike you're using you, you almost can't fuck it up at this point. Right. So, yeah. That's why it's so important. What something about telling you about this 

Malcom: [00:50:51] one day? I want to make a record with just SM 50 sevens and.

I just want to have the best musicians in the room just to prove the point. [00:51:00] It doesn't matter what I do as an engineer. What I've got the right people in the room. 

Benedikt: [00:51:04] Yes. Oh, that will be awesome. Yeah. I'm sure it has been done, but I want to find out for myself. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:51:08] Yeah, totally. Yeah. Right. 

Benedikt: [00:51:10] So what's your, your take on like dampening and controlling, overtones and sustain, um, with drums.

Is that also something that you just tend to do in a similar way or is that completely different for every record? 

Malcom: [00:51:25] Uh, Nope, totally, totally different for every record. Um, so I, like, I generally prefer open kind of Boomi drums. So I try, I start with like none and see how that goes and then add to taste really.

Um, so I like, I like to get as much drum ringing as I can, and then I'll start. Dampening it down as needed. Um, but I'll, I'll go crazy damp. One time, I literally had to take my shirt off, you know, it was like an over button up shirt that I like a flat off, so I wasn't just naked in the city of it. Um, but it was like, [00:52:00] we couldn't get enough stuff on that snare to make it as dead as I wanted.

So threw a shirt on, it, ended up with a big hole in the back. By the end of the song. 

Benedikt: [00:52:08] You got to do what you gotta 

Malcom: [00:52:09] do. You gotta do what you gotta do. Yeah. Um, so. Anything to get it where it needs to be. Um, so like I said, normally I like live drums, but if the song calls for it being just like this dead thud, you know, throw a wallet on it, throw paper on it through moon gels, snare, ring, whatever.

Benedikt: [00:52:26] Yeah, totally. And that goes with the open versus tight aesthetic. Yeah. It's not only the room. It's also, if the drums themselves sound open and big, you can't even get some sort of big open, roomy, um, vibe in a very. Small room. If the drums are pretty open or there are some engineers who are just record that way.

Like, for example, I've listened to an interview with Andrew Shaps, who was like, um, I, when I record rums or when I, when he recorded more, like, I think these days is he's mostly mixing, but [00:53:00] he said, I rarely use room max at all. I just compress the shit out of the close mix and make that sound like. Rumi and long and sustain, and he's trying to squeeze all the sustain.

He can out of the close mix and like close it makes around the kit and stuff like that because he finds the sound. He finds them to sound more direct and, um, aggressive. Yeah. He just doesn't seem to like the distant way from max distance sound of room max. So, but still some of his strong productions sound big and somewhat roomy.

Even though there aren't real room mikes. So that's just part of this whole open versus tight, I think. 

Malcom: [00:53:39] Yeah. That makes sense. 

Benedikt: [00:53:41] Yeah. And I'm curious, do you find that very dry drums with a lot of dampening work well with big room sounds or do you tend to use like open drums with big room and like tight.

That's drums with tight. 

Malcom: [00:53:58] I tend to go [00:54:00] open-end big. Um, but I, I just recently did the opposite and it was cool. Did 

Benedikt: [00:54:06] it tight, like you did that, that drum, but big room or, yep. 

Malcom: [00:54:10] Yeah. Yeah. Just, just recently I did that and it definitely was cool ended. I ended up being like the perfect setup for this band because half the songs needed to be that big, big and giant sounded.

And then the other half needed to be like, you know, Like there was the delete, like brushes on the stairs and stuff, and I needed it to be just like smaller sounding. Um, and, uh, so it kinda gave me both. I was able to adjust without having to re re tack the kit essentially. 

Benedikt: [00:54:40] Oh, that's cool. That's interesting because I, I really have success doing that.

I always think. From to me when I hear a very short snap run, for example, in a big room, it's just the short heart attack followed by the room sustain. And it just doesn't blend. Well, it's just weird to me. It's like this, like, if it [00:55:00] sounds like you hit the, I dunno, you hit the desk with a stick. In a big room.

It doesn't sound like a drum almost. And that's kind of, it's always weird to me. So when that, then that most of the times then I like it really dead and tight. And when big then I like the drums also to have some sustain and just, but it might just be me. So I was curious if it's the same for you. 

Malcom: [00:55:20] Yeah.

It's not something I normally do. And I gotta be honest. This isn't that dead. Like my, my idea of short is still in a pretty live room and it's still bigger than most people's drums room. So, uh, But it was smaller than I normally do. 

Benedikt: [00:55:33] Okay. Okay, cool. Yeah. But find out what works for you. It might be that what I just described.

Um, it's just the thing that works for you and that's what makes it unique. So it's not a matter of wrong or right. I was just curious. 

Malcom: [00:55:45] Um, yeah, that's very popular actually. There's, there's some great engineers that they go for that and have great results. 

Benedikt: [00:55:51] Yeah. Agreed. Okay. So dampening and then Malcolm said it, the way you play him technique makes all the difference.

So we've already [00:56:00] touched on that basically. But one thing to add here is you probably have a unique sound and you don't even have to be the best drummer on the planet, but it's just, just the fact that it's, you makes you unique and you play different than everybody else and probably in your playing or in your drummers playing Rollo.

If you are not the drummer. There is something that's cool about that. It doesn't matter how good he or she is this still something probably that's cool that you can emphasize that he can bring out. And there are probably some weak spots that you might to want to get rid of or work around. Um, but if you find what's actually cool about the way he or she plays and you can bring that out, that's one step closer to a unique drum tone.

So. I think, yeah, I think that's true for almost every drummer that I've recorded so far, they all had some sort of way to their playing that was unique. And that I try to bring out in a way. 

Malcom: [00:56:58] Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's a good [00:57:00] point. Figure out what your. Your thing is, and, uh, and if it, if it works well with what you're doing, try and emphasize it.

I had this one guy that couldn't hit the high hat in the same place ever. You know, like, like, like, like not even like on the edge every time, sometimes he's like, Getting the bead on like Thai, it was just all over the place, but it ended up being this little, like kind of varying pitch thing. And I loved it.

It was like so cool because you had a pattern every once in a while. And I was like, Oh man, we got to like, make that happen. 

Benedikt: [00:57:33] There's a pattern. That's great. But usually when that happens, that's one of those things that I really can't can't stand this like constant movement, but without structure on the high Hyatt, but yeah.

But you're totally right. You just have to view it differently if that's what makes it unique. And if there is a pattern or if it's just the way like he plays and it could be a groove and a cool thing. Totally. 

Malcom: [00:57:54] Yeah, definitely. 

Benedikt: [00:57:56] Yeah, that's awesome. Um, yeah. [00:58:00] Cool. And then, um, yeah, the, what the drum parts, what are the drum parts that have been written, obviously that that's also important.

Like a good song will sound better. So if the drum part fits the song, that's also, yeah. Will sound better. And that can also be unique because the writing and the style in your range. Your songs and you write the songs is also unique to you. There are certain bands actually, where I immediately notice, I immediately noticed them based on how they write.

It can be a melody can be groove, but some writers have something to the way they write that you even, if a different grammar plays it, you can tell that it's by the span or something, 

Malcom: [00:58:40] right. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Um, that's where a good producer comes in, you know, uh, and in this case it's gotta be yourself.

So you have to like really frame your mind to be open to new ideas coming in like that, you know, maybe, maybe you gotta like cut out [00:59:00] symbols for a section or something and that's going to dramatically make it this part darker, you know, and maybe that's what you're going for. Your target was this dark drum sound.

So think of it from an arrangement point of view as well, not just the sound of the drums, you know, if you're, again, going for a dark drum sound, but all of your parts are just like crashing on the ride. Not going to be that dark relatively 

Benedikt: [00:59:24] well. Yeah. Nope. Probably. Won't. Um, yeah, that's a good point.

Actually. It's not even the way, right? Like from an artistic standpoint, but just if the, if it makes sense, if the stuff you're hitting sounds the way you want the song to sound totally right. Yeah. Yeah. Also bright and dark and also how much room you leave for everything else. That's also a thing like a car crashed ride throughout the part takes up all the space, basically.

Whereas a closed high hat is not getting in the way of anything most of the time, so, [01:00:00] yeah. 

Malcom: [01:00:00] Yeah, yeah, totally. 

Benedikt: [01:00:01] Um, would you go through this list maybe that you added at the bottom of our notes here that some odd slides to consider, because I really love that. Those are some ideas, um, outside of what we just were talking about outside of the obvious things, and maybe just go through them and explain what you mean by those and why they are, they could, could be a way to achieve a unique, a unique tone sure 

Malcom: [01:00:25] thing.

So, uh, an album that blew my mind when I first heard it in the most recent couple of years, Nothing but thieves they're UK, I think not really sure. Uh, but they put out an album called broken machine and the drums sound insane on it. Super like pumpy and stuff like that. Um, but this is an example of like compression as a weapon, so they are just hitting it so hard.

So, so, so hard, so hard that it's like literally causing things to dock and. [01:01:00] It sounds really unique to me. Like it stood out, I worked with what they were doing, sonically, you know, that's obviously, you know, something you're kind of taught to avoid in a lot of cases, but in this case it was the bomb. Um, so compression being used just like to a crazy degree to achieve a new sound is something I'm a huge fan of, um, compression and distortion, I guess.

But then another album, uh, which I, I think most people will know is, um, a band called Royal blood. And to my understanding, they did this on both of their albums. Um, but they record without symbols. So they literally throw up, uh, like. Sponges I think on, on stands, um, so that he has something to hit. Right.

But like that, that doesn't make a sound into the overheads and whatnot, and they record the entire kit without symbols, and then he'll actually overt up the symbols and then that lets them go down the crazy road of using compression to an insane degree [01:02:00] without their symbols getting just like obliterated by all this compression.

Right. So that's going to obviously sound. Hugely different than if the symbols were in there. You know, now you can have cleaner symbols, but just really messed up drum shells. And, and that can be quite a sound. Um, and they're not the first people to do that by any stretch, but it's just a good example. If you want to check it out.

I know some guys that do sounds kick, you know, they overdubbed their kick drum and that's usually for like performance reasons, more so than Sonic reasons. But it would give you some more ability to do things differently there as well. Um, I know go back to the eighties and overdubbing Toms was a big thing.

So you could get the big dude, like perfectly, you know, are separated and like, you know, literally recording one time at a time and just like go into such a crazy degree, but it had a sound, you know, uh, Like you see [01:03:00] people going kind of back to electronic drum sounds, but using real drums now to get there, you know, um, which can be really cool.

Like Arctic monkeys did that on am, where they would like record a real drum, but just the one drum at a time and then kind of build a song off of like their custom samples. So it's like they made their own drum machine library kind of thing supervised me, you know, you can kind of. Break down cusp, like the typical drum sounds by changing how you actually even go about performing them, which I think is interesting.

Benedikt: [01:03:31] Totally. I, I I've noticed this trend even with very heavy bands or stuff that's up until recently was like, Organic drums, heavily processed and huge drums, but organic drums. But now I CA come across sounds more often that clearly sound like electronic Toms or something. Yeah. I've totally noticed that also kick drums, sometimes kick drum sound electronic as well sometimes.

Malcom: [01:03:54] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think it's really cool when it's done. Well, you know, like maybe it goes to this like [01:04:00] breakdown verse and the snare, all of a sudden changes to like this electronic. Or like an eight Oh eight comes in that yeah. You have to think of that in advance, right. So that they can play the rest of it.

Believe out that one drum you're planning to change and replace that's. Yeah, definitely. Cool. Um, yeah. I mean, those are just some random ideas I thought of at five in the morning here, so I'm sure there's more, but, uh, I thought maybe people would find them interesting and inspiring them and want to experiment a little bit.

Benedikt: [01:04:29] Totally. That's why I want you to go through this list because I think those are the things that, that make it truly interesting. And we have, we also have almost a, yeah, we have a complete like episode on like creative out of the box. Um, things it's not about like drum specifically, but most of the episode is about drums actually.

So if you wanna listen to it, just look up the number. If you want to listen to episode 21, it's called spice up your recordings with creative ramping and unique effects. Part of that episode, a big [01:05:00] part of it actually is about drums and not about guitars. As you might assume when you hear the title, because ramping drums using weird devices for drums creating those electronic sources sounds or like, yeah, just.

Going crazy and like mangling your rum tones to whatever you want. Um, it's, it's fun. It makes for a unique sounds. And we dedicated this whole episode to this topic. So you might want to check out this, um, for some more inspiration in addition to what Malcolm just said and this list here. Right on. Okay.


Malcom: [01:05:32] that was interesting. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [01:05:33] me too. Um, that's basically all I can say. It's just a different, a difficult topic. There's no clear answer. I, I, I can't tell someone how to make their drums sound unique. Exactly. Just we, we can only give you what we just did, like tips and strategies and tactics, and you will need to experiment and find out on your own, but.

I hope this, [01:06:00] this will at least be helpful and make it a little easier for you. 

Malcom: [01:06:03] Definitely. You know, and the beauty of everything we talked about, all those steps is that they'll help you, even if you're trying to make a totally normal drum sound totally forgotten. 

Benedikt: [01:06:13] Yes, that's true. We could also have just call it how to get, how to record drums, but.

Malcom: [01:06:22] No.

Benedikt: [01:06:27] That's interesting, actually that you say that because it's basically how to record anything, because I don't think there's a point in recording. Just something that's that somebody else has already done a recording art or music is always about. This vision goal, how to make it work, how to make it a reality, how to make it unique.

I think that's just what recording should be. And if you don't do it directly would probably not be exciting. So, yeah, I totally totally agree. That's just, it, that's just the way you [01:07:00] record. 

Malcom: [01:07:01] Definitely. Cool. 

Benedikt: [01:07:03] Awesome. Then see you next week and let us know if you have any, like, if you are like Rollo in a band, struggling with something, just let us know, shoot us an email.

Well, we love getting those. Uh, we might make another app, um, when we get another interesting question like that, and it's, it's really fun. It's, it's kinda challenging, uh, for us as well. It's like, Yeah, it gets us thinking. We might even come across new ideas that we can use in our production so we can all benefit from that.

It's interesting. Somebody gets his questions answered or her questions. So it's a win, win. Uh, yeah. Send us your questions. We love that. Definitely see you next week. Bye. Take care. Bye.

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