October 18, 2019: War on Women: Pleasure & The Beast
Hi everyone! Back again with another drum cover for you. This one is another repeat band. No, not Alkaline Trio again (yet), but one of my more recent favourite bands War on Women. I had the pleasure of meeting and hosting this band in Toronto this past weekend and they are both fantastic performers and genuinely great human beings. I highly recommend catching a show of theirs if you haven’t yet, and stopping to chat with them at the merch table while you’re there!
The song with time around is called Pleasure & the Beast from their latest album Capture the Flag. The drums were originally recorded by Scott Tiemann, and much like the cover I did a few weeks ago, the parts are quick, creative, and wholly unpredictable. Even though this song stays mostly on the 16th note grid this time, it bounces around time signatures quite a bit. The verses all stick around 4/4, but the choruses and bridge jump to what sounds like 11/8 to me. This is a weird opinion, but one of my favourite things about the way the drums for this song were written is that they use of toms isn’t always from top-to-bottom. Typically, when you hear a drummer do a fill with toms or incorporate them into grooves it’s always going from highest tom to lowest tom. But in this tune the verses go from low to high which changes the feel of the verses completely.
September 19, 2019: Arctic Monkeys: The View from the Afternoon
TWO BLOGS IN A ROW?!?!? Holy moly, what a week! This is actually one of the earliest covers I learned on drums. What initially appealed to me is the flashiness of the drum part; after hearing the neat tom fill in the intro I immediately needed to know how to play it, and it turned out being simpler than I expected. Overall this was a super fun song to perform. It's got lots of neat fills, a solid groove, and some neat syncopation with the hi-hat and snare at the end of the choruses. Listening to it again now, the part almost sounds too flashy. It has the feel of a drummer trying to lay out every chop he's got, which is kind of typical for a young drummer's breakout album. Regardless though, it's super fun to play and it's an incredible song.
That's it for now! Catch you all next time.
September 18, 2019: Justin(e): Vie de Merde
Bonjour mes amis! Je suis de retour avec une nouvelle chanson pour vous. La chanson s'appelle "La vie de merde" de Justin (e). C'est un groupe en France et leur album "Accident No * 7" est incroyable. La chanson n'est pas difficile, mais la batterie est parfaite pour la chanson. Ma partie préférée est le break de batterie à la fin.
Phew! That wasn’t so bad. I’ve been trying to learn French over the past few months and though this would be a good exercise. I'm sure I'll get plenty of messages from my French friends on how little sense that all made in a few minutes. Anyways, since it’s been so long since my last posting, I have a second cover for you that I will drop tomorrow by the Arctic Monkeys. Stay tuned!
July 1, 2019: War on Women - YDTMHTL
Alright I've got a real crazy one for you this time. This tune took a ton of practice and metronome work, but here it is in all its glory.
The song is YDTMHTL (You Don't Tell Me How To Live) by War on Women originally recorded with drummer Scott Tiemann. This is a band I have only recently discovered over the past 6 months, but their latest album Capture the Flag has become one of my most listened-to records of the year. I saw them live at Pouzza fest in May 2019 and can honestly say that it was one of the best performances I've seen. Their singer Shawna Potter is an absolutely amazing singer and entertainer, and the rest of the band was as tight as can be while leaving room for her insane antics. What drew me to this song in particular was the ride-bell pattern in the chorus. I love the syncopated feel of it, and I also love any excuse to use the bell of this crazy new ride I'm sporting (Sabian 22" AAX Metal Ride). Hardest parts for this song are definitely all due to timing. In the verses there's this kind of A/B pattern between a 16th-note feel and a triplet feel which is hard to count through. Also the long breaks in drumming around the end of the song are hard to count through, because again this song is constantly cycling your brain between thinking on the 16th-note grid and the triplet grid making it really hard to fall into a steady groove. Also fun note, this is the first video I've done using my new Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum! It sounds amazing right? I'll be fidding with it lots over the next few months to really find the sound I'm looking for out of it.
Anyways, that is all for today. See you all again soon! Remember to like/subscribe on Youtube!
May 31, 2019: Alkaline Trio - Heart Attacks
Okay okay I get it, there's no point apologizing for the delay between videos when there's a long delay between EVERY video. But anyways, hello, it's been a while. I hope you're well. Here is the latest drum video for my cover repetoire.
The song is Heart Attacks by Alkaline Trio, originally performed by Derek Grant on drums. I've already gushed before about how much I love Derek Grant, but this song and part encompasses everything I love about him. It's dynamic, it's tasteful, but it is still busy enough to be interesting. The double-timed high-hat pattern in the first verse is what originally drew me to this song. I love the way he accents the two hits in the middle of the first and third repetitions, and I did my best to replicate it. The most difficult part of this song was definitely the single-stroke roll after the bridge going into the final chorus. I think this song only clocks in around 101bpm, but laying down a full bar of 32nd notes at that speed was tough for me. In my own practice I typically max out my 32nd note single-stroke rolls around 95-98bpm depending on the day. I think that is about the speed at which finger-control becomes more important than wrist control in a single-stroke roll, and finger-control is something I perpertually struggle with. So in that sense I am quite happy having nailed that roll for this take, and I think practicing it over and over again upped my average single-stroke bpm slightly. Hooray!
That is it for this installment. As always, if you want to keep up with these videos subscribe to my Youtube channel! Until next time.
January 9, 2019: The Wonder Years - Cul-de-sac
Happy 2019! Sorry for the long long delay between videos. I spent the first half of December climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (which was awesome!) and the second half bogged down at work over the holidays (which was less awesome!). In my defense, I did manage to get out 7 videos in 6ish months last year which is about a video per month (my initial aim for this blog). But anyways, I am back now with a new cover by one of my favourite pop-punk/emo bands, The Wonder Years.
The song is Cul-de-sac, originally performed by Mike Kennedy on drums. If I had to name the drummer that I emulate most in Sixteen Scandals, it would be this guy. He has a really interesting way of writing, where he essentially turns fills and flourishes into full-on grooves. You’ll notice from this cover that there are not very many instances where the groove is constant or repeated more than twice. But thers also aren't too many transition fills, in fact, for the second half of the first verse and the whole second verse the fill IS the groove. This also made the song incredibly hard to learn and perform in a single take, not only because of the speed, but also because it was so hard to remember the parts! One of the main things I take away from this drummer is how his playing follows the lead guitar/vocals just as much as it follows the bass, which is definitely something I often find myself doing with Sixteen Scandals (often by the songwriter’s request). Anyways, that's all for now, enjoy! Leave a comment on the video, and subscribe to my Youtube channel! (Dave JS). See you next time.
November 12, 2018: Blink-182 - Dogs Eating Dogs
Hey everyone! Now I know what you've all been thinking: "What thirty-year old washed up punk drummer's blog is complete without something by Travis Barker??" You're not wrong! So here it is, Dogs Eating Dogs by blink-182.
I am definitely not the first drummer born in the late 80s to say this, but Travis was a pretty big influence on my early years of drumming. I know the dude gets a lot of flak from the professional drum community for his lack of dynamics and hard hitting; but he is the first drummer a lot of people (myself included) ever knew by name, and completely changed the game in pop-punk in his time by adding more interesting grooves and fills to a genre that was stuffed to the brim with d-beats and fast singles. His creativity is most obvious in this cool 5-minute drum chronology by Kye Smith. The first minute and a half of old blink material is just that same d-beat over and over again. It's a really noticeable change when the Enema material starts and does a really good job of juxtaposing Travis' creative approach to songwriting for pop-punk with what the genre traditionally called for.
For this specific song, there is so much to love. The intro groove with the straight kick-snare pattern and the syncopated china accents is super fun to play, and I feel like mastering the pre-chorus snare rolls upped the average speed of my singles by a few bpm. The linear groove in the bridge was probably the most interesting part to learn, and toughest to execute cleanly. It definitely took some time sitting with a metronome grinding that part to get it to a place where I could comfortably stay in the meter. But once it's down, it looks and sounds like the most quintessentially "Travis" bridge out there.
This video, you may notice (I hope you noticed) sounds much different/better than the past videos. That's because I finally used a more professional recording set up to get my drum sounds! This recording was done using the Zoom H4n. This handy unit has two built in condenser microphones as well as two XLR inputs for extra mics. So I hooked up a Shure SM57 for my snare and an AKG D112 for my kick drum, then mounted the actual H4n unit above my set to use its built-in condensers as overheads. The result is a much more clean drum sound that blends more seamlessly to the backing track.
Hope you enjoy the video! As always, hit me up with the Contact Form below with any comments or suggestions, and comment/subscribe to the Youtube channel. All the best!
November 2, 2018: Incubus - Rogues
Hello again! Check it out! Three videos in a row within a reasonable time frame of each other?? I may actually be getting okay-er at this whole blog thing! This entry is going to take a bit of a departure from the punk tunes and get a bit "progressive" with the song Rogues by Incubus, original drums written/performed by Jose Pasillas.
So Jose is actually one of the main drummers that got me back into playing drums after taking a long multi-year break after high school. His parts are always really creative, and he seems to put a lot of thought not only into keeping rhythm but also what specific drum sound will fit the part of the song. I guess you could call him a "melodic" drummer. That's my opinion anyways. Rogues has always been one of my favourite parts of his, and you can definitely see parts of this song lifted and "repurposed" in a whole bunch of Sixteen Scandals songs off of our album Create//Destroy. The bell-pattern in the intro (pre-verse? man screw these songs and their wonky structures) can be heard in the pre-chorus of the opening track Pain, and I took a lot of inspiration from the chorus of this song in the pre-chorus of our song #Asshat. In fact I think that I used literally the same set of three fills in that song....multiple times. Oops.
Although this song is slower than some of the past covers I've done, I would rate it marginally harder than most (Don't tell Chris but I think this one was actually took more takes than Propagandhi). The verses never really fall into a groove so it's really difficult to keep meter. Alot of the fills come in groupings of three which means you are either doing a single stroke and using your off-hand for the cymbal hit at the end, or making it pa-diddle-ra (?) I don't know what the RLLR pattern is actually called... Also the parts in general just aren't what I would have intuitively written for the section (my interpretation would have made Incubus not famous). It took a lot of listens and re-listens to correctly place the kick drum in the bridge, and none of the longer fills repeat themselves so it was sometimes hard doing multiple takes in a row and trying to remember which one went with the chorus that's about to come up. Overall I think it's a pretty solid cover. I added an extra eighth-note somewhere by accident. Comment on the youtube video if you can find where! Also apologies for the low volume of the backing track. The drums are mixed so damn loud in the original song that I had to take it way down so that they didn't cover up my actual drum sounds.
That's all for this entry! As always, feel free to reach out using the Contact form below. Thank you Mike for your feedback last week, I am definitely going to check out the song you suggested!
October 22, 2018: Talk Show Host - Skull and Bones
Hey everybody! After taking very long to record my past few blog entries, I've been hard at work trying to get more videos together so that I have things to post more regularly. This specific video came from my practice session yesterday, and is a cover of the song Skull and Bones by my favourite local Toronto band Talk Show Host and is performed by Sean Woolven on the drums. For their benefit, I've also embedded the original tune on Spotify. Go give them all your streamz!!
This song was a ton of fun to learn, and came together super quickly. I love the momentum the drum part creates, alternating between the quarter-note snare & kick combo and the typical eighth-note alternating pattern (the "Thrash" beat). I also dig the little snare roll that ends the first bar of each verse/pre-verse. I kept trying to place it as a flam in my head, but when I sat down at the kit and played I realized that it's just a regular triplet roll with the first hit being on the ride (or hi-hat...or floor tom) and the second 2 hits being on the snare. Executing it cleanly is very very important because at this song's tempo any looseness in this roll can noticeably throw off the song's timing, or even worse, sound like a mistake. But when it hits clean, it adds even more forward drive to an already driven song.
Man, this song is also catchy as all heck. I ended up playing it for another hour after the recording just so I could keep listening to it. I know I know, it would have been smarter to leave the camera running and get a better take after practicing it like 18 more times, but who wants to sift through that much video?! This take came out pretty darn tight anyways I think! Hope you all enjoyed! As always, send me comments, feedback, or suggestions of what to cover next in the Contact form below!
October 15, 2018: Propagandhi - Failed Imagineer
Progress Update #1
Hello again! Back again with a new cover, this time I decided to try covering a tune with more interesting time signatures; Failed Imagineer by Propagandhi. This is one of my favourite tunes off their new album, and has been a blast to learn so far. This video comes after about three practice sessions. The first session was spent almost entirely writing down a rough transcription of the song's time signatures by bar. Once that was nailed down, I had thought, learning the parts won't be so hard. Hell, I just came off of learning a light-speed Alkaline Trio song, this would be a welcome break...I was wrong.
So this song actually clocks in around 165 - 170 bpm (depending on which mobile metronome app I'm using). It's fast. But honestly, since I've spent the last couple months working solely on fast songs, it came together quicker than I thought. All that time focusing on relaxation and loose grip really paid off.
As far as the video goes, I think it was actually a pretty decent take. Not a ton of timing issues, however I think the quiet tom-part in the bridge (...? what the hell is the structure of this song even) isn't played exactly how it is played on the record. I will have to dig deeper into that part for the next recording. Anyways, enjoy! And as always, hit up the contact form below to get in touch with feedback, suggestions, or general banter!
October 1, 2018: Better Late Than Never! Alkaline Trio - I Found Away
Hey again everyone! Apologies for the long haitus, my practice time the past few weeks has been dominated by Sixteen Scandals preparing for our gigs at Cherry Colas in Toronto and at the Dropped On Droillard Festival in Windsor. They were some amazing shows, shame on you for not being there (or thank you if you were!).
Anyways, it's time for the final installment of I Found Away by Alkaline Trio. Despite distractions I did manage to learn the full tune and get an 'acceptable' take recorded in the space! See the video here. Now don't get me wrong, it isn't a perfect take. There's definitely still some timing issues, especially with the big fill at the end. With this tune, the biggest and most difficult lesson I learned was staying loose. I've been drumming on and off for probably about 10 years now (more off than on...) and I had no idea how often I tensed up until I caught it all on video. When learning the song I was struggling with stamina. I could play up to the second chorus fine, but after that the speedy speedy 16ths on the hi-hat begin to take their toll and my forearms would give out causing the rest of the song to get sloppy or downright unplayable at times. Once I began to really focus on relaxing my shoulders and loosening my grip on the sticks, especially during the faster fills, my stamina improved dramatically. In terms of parts, the song turned out easier to learn than I expected. The chorus groove, once nailed down, isn't complicated to play. It's more the speed and length of the song that poses an issue. I will say though, the outro groove with the alternating sticking pattern on the hi-hat was very difficult to internalize. I'm not sure if Derek Grant uses the same sticking pattern that I landed on for this performance, but it seemed the only reasonable way to play it given the speed of the song.
So although it isn't perfect, I am going to call this cover "Done" as far as this blog is concerned. But I will definitely be adding it to my regular practice rotation to really tighten it up. I had some trouble finding what song to tackle next, but after some talks with my friends in (amazing local band alert!) Talk Show Host I think that I will try Failed Imagineer by Propagandhi. No time limit on this one, I will just post updates as I get time to make them. Thanks again for reading! And as always, feel free to get in touch using the contact form below!
September 3, 2018: Bonus Videos!
Sixteen Scandals Studio Sessions - Dorkmanteau & Moremanteau
Hey everyone! Back for another week. Don't worry, I have been practicing to I Found Away, in fact last week I managed to make it to the end of the tune (not cleanly at all of course, but still a couple weeks to go!). Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home while rehearsing last week. So in the meantime I figured I would share some Sixteen Scandals videos!
There are three videos I have to share from the recording of Sixteen Scandals' albums Dorkmanteau and Moremanteau. All of these were recorded in Kingston, ON with our engineer Greg Dawson of BWC Studios. We recorded the drums for this entire record in one 14-hour session in the nicest studio I've ever seen, North of Princess studios. It was a tough session. The tempo I had been practising the songs to sounded far too slow once we laid them down, so we had to up everything by about 5 bpm on the spot. It took a bit of adapting, but we got it done! The three videos shared here are three songs from that session, recorded with my GoPro.
The first song shown is the opening track of the record and the first track laid down in this session, Traffuck. Disclaimer, I totally copied the intro pattern from a FIDLAR song without noticing, but hey, there's only so different orders you can hit the drums in! This was actually the toughest song on the album to record, as it was the slowest and had some interesting kick-placement in the fills between verses. I think that about 95% of the take in this video was used as the final take of the song. My favourite part is the 5-beat stop around the 1:30 mark...the band still hates me for that one.
The second video is Flawsophy. Unfortunately I couldn't find the final take of this song, but the take I did manage to get on video was close! You'll definitely notice a couple times that the drums don't match the backing track though. This tune is probably my favourite to play live right now; when writing the song I really tried to focus on open-handed playing, especially for the "It's all about you" part of the chorus using left hand for hi-hat and right hand for snare at the end of the fill instead of crossing over.
Lastly, I swallow my pride and post a scapped take of Adolessons; my favourite song on Dorkmanteau and the last song we recorded that day. Unfortunately my GoPro battery died after this take. The take was done at the old speed (hence no backing track), 5 bpm too slow, and I completely blew the first fill in the second verse. But hey! I still think it's a cool video, and a cool drum part. I think it's one of the coolest parts I've written. I love the bell work on the choruses and the breakdowns at the end. This one is a beast to play live. Even at 5 bpm slower you can tell that I was getting a bit fatigued.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed the session tapes! I'll be dropping another progress video of I Found Away this week and hopefully wrap it up by next week. As always, feel free to send me comments, suggestions, or recommendations of songs to cover in the Contact form below!
August 23, 2018: Alkaline Trio - I Found Away
Progress Update #1
This whole idea of making a drum blog came out of seeing Alkaline Trio live and watching their drummer (Jarrod Alexander filling in for Derek Grant) completely rip it up. So it is only appropriate that the first song I open this blog with be one of theirs. The drumming of I Found Away has always intrigued me. Specifically the chorus; it's one of those drum parts that you bang your head against for hours trying to figure out what the hell he's playing. You know it's a double-time hi-hat but the placement of the open note and the sticking pattern are tough to pin down. After finding a take of the drum track (thanks Derek Grant!) and reviewing a live video, I think I've nailed it down.
This first set of videos comes out of about 1.5 hours of practice (including warm-ups). The first hour was spent learning the parts...which including practicing the chorus wrong for 30 minutes. In that time I was able to get through the first verse and chorus. The last bit of the session, I set up the GoPro and went through as many takes as I could until my arms got stiff. In the end I got one decent take a full-speed and one take at 135 bpm to show the sticking. I split the session into two videos. One with the slow take and the full-speed take with no backing track, and one full-speed take with the backing track.
There were a few things I found difficult with this tune so far: first is obviously the speed. This track is stinking fast! And with the entire song being played with 16th notes on the hi-hat it can burn you out quickly. I was actually surprised that the verse is harder to tighten up than the chorus. The chorus, although tricky to figure out, flows pretty easily once you get going. The four-to-the-floor kick can be played pretty much absent-mindedly leaving plenty of mental space to focus on not screwing up the hi-hat part. But in the verse the placement of the kick pedals, specifically at the beginning of the first couple bars, is tough to place cleanly.
Anyways, that is it for this week! I have just over 3 weeks left to get this song down in full. For the next two weeks I'm hoping to learn up to the end of the song, and then I will spend the last week tightening it up to a click-track for the final share. See you then!