Here’s a song that I got to do with my good friends; Goodbye Sky Harbour guitarist, Johnny McMahon, as well as We Are Bravest front man, Jourdan Horban. Johnny approached me with an acoustic demo of this tune back in March and asked me if I could conjure up something interesting and record it at Sundown Studios with him and of course I said, ‘Friggin eh, I will!’.
Sundown Studios is the best place I’ve ever been to record drums. Not because the experience is easy but because it’s so fucking HARD! Jordan V (owner and operator of Sundown) is a stickler for a tight performance and he’s always pushing me to be prepared and to be able to play new and difficult parts on the fly. It’s that whole, ‘Keeping you on your toes!‘ mindset that I just love in high pressure recording situations.
The first version of the song I was given, like I said, was an acoustic demo which meant I had to sit down and really think hard about the parts I wanted to play. When ever you write drums to an already structurally established song it’s important to listen to it over at least 10 times before you even think about what you want to do with it. Pay attention to how the song makes you feel and how your body moves to the song as a passive listener. As a drummer, I believe it’s my job to articulate those subconscious feelings within the song and help you connect the dots by making it easier to lose yourself in the music. We’ll try something a little different and kind of fun; I’ll briefly run you through the thought process of how I came up with each part for the song.
The intro/chorus is self explanatory; Upbeat and happy with volume articulation from switching between the hi-hat and crash to accentuate the end of a phrase. Also notice the double snare roll before the switch. Fun stuff!
The first verse is all about fun. This was a little bit of metal meets punk. You have to pump up the idea of the ‘new part’ so I really thought about it and what really stood out to me was the feeling of attending a metal show, like it should inspire people to be clapping along. So by having the part bare with just kick and flam snares it really opens up and your ears go straight to the snare. The tom fill is just a tasteful way to have an excuse to do a one-handed fill. Turned out great and it’s so fun to play!
Pre-chorus is highlighting the guitar part and leaving lots of room for the vocals to shine through and you already know the story behind the Chorus, so let’s get to….
The second verse was all about dropping that clapping feeling and put the song into 5th gear. Throughout the the second verse it gets more intense as the song goes along until the second pre-chorus.
The second pre chorus I wanted to keep mostly the same so you knew how to feel except for the addition of a nice little triple-it fill to change things up just a bit and a nice big tom hit right before we go back into the chorus!
This time the chorus has changed. I mix up the hi-hat and cymbal hits as well as adding a fast roll half way through to add some closure. At the end of this chorus I also add a floor tom/snare four hit pump into the bridge which doesn’t leave any room for any awkward transitions. It seems pretty seamless to me.
The bridge is all about keeping the pace so I keep the constant driving playing but I crash on my ride to give it a huge full sound. It gives that part in the song a fullness that the rest of the song doesn’t have. Also a fast snare/tom fill which is always fun to play. The next part of the bridge is just accenting the chats and leaving lots of room to inspire you so sing along. When we recorded this part they somehow got me in there singing. So if you listen VERY carefully you’ll be able to hear my derpy voice. Half way through the chants I start a pump up part which consists of a constant kick beat along with hi-hats to get you pumped up for that last chorus to close out the song!
This is the last Chorus and it’s just an accumulation of all the good parts put into one. Listen to it and you’ll understand. The last part of the song is huge a huge RIGHT LEFT RIGHT LEFT to give it a powerful close.
My brain officially hurts from writing all this down. If you took the time to read this I hope you learned a little something and can use it when you write your next song.
Give the song a listen and and let me know what you think!