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“RIGHT AWAY, THE CLICK BECAME MY ‘FRIEND,’ A GUIDE THAT KEPT ME NAILED TO THE TEMPO, AND GAVE ME MORE FREEDOM, IN A WAY — ONE LESS THING TO THINK ABOUT.”

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last song was a crazy eight-minute instrumental, “La Villa Strangiato,” and we played it over and over — for about four days, I recall. The three of us were in the studio together grinding it out, over and over, sometimes until daylight, only to start again later that day, with aching, swollen hands. It was soul-destroying. Finally, Terry Brown tried editing together three takes into one, it sounded great, and I had to cry, “Uncle.” From then on I continued to try to avoid the need for editing — with careful preparation and recording-day determination — but did not resist it if it seemed necessary, desirable, or just time-efficient. These days editing is no longer a surgical operation with razorblade and tape, but a matter

TO CLICK I first used a click-track in the studio on our Permanent Waves album, in 1979. Right away, the click became my “friend,” a guide that kept me nailed to the tempo, and gave me more freedom, in a way — one less thing to think about. Over time I learned to work with the click — pushing and pulling against it deliberately, to make certain passages more urgent, or more relaxed. I used the usual eponymous “click” sound for many years, then switched to a tambourine sample — softer and somehow “looser.”

Photograph: RONN DUNNETT

These elements helped to make my own sound more “characterful,” and many drummers agree that their “signature” easily trumps any consideration of particular drums or even heads. I have played on thrown-together rental kits and still come out sounding entirely “like me” — for better or worse. Being somewhat of a purist, I also resisted editing at first. I wanted to deliver a performance in a single take that was “everything it ought to be.” That principle became a big influence on my approach to recording — I would compose and rehearse my parts for hours and days, to the point where I could do that. Then, gradually reversing direction, I began to embrace editing. One early lesson was in 1978, recording our Hemispheres album. The

of simple digital punch-ins. Thus it has become a valuable tool to me — especially as I pursue greater improvisation in my recorded drum parts. Typically I will try to get a good solid take, then keep going — attempting more random, “dangerous” experiments that sometimes produce a fill or a passage that is unique and exciting, then add it to the “solid” take. That final master drum part can be learned and reproduced later — as I did for the tracks on our most recent Clockwork Angels album, for example, when it came time to play them live. For me, a performance like that combines the best of composed and improvised parts.

December 2015 DRUMmagazine.com

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DRUM! Magazine December 2015  

Try a copy of DRUM! and learn to play better faster. The huge (144 pages) holiday issue features jazz triple grammy winner Teri Lyne Carring...

DRUM! Magazine December 2015  

Try a copy of DRUM! and learn to play better faster. The huge (144 pages) holiday issue features jazz triple grammy winner Teri Lyne Carring...