Gavin H - the entire drumset is an instrument for my sound and my Mix

Frank Godiva

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I was listening to @John DeChristopher drum room interview with Gavin Harrison and he made an interesting argument on how he gets his signature sound at about the 26:30 mark.

In a nutshell he does not allow anyone to breakup his tracking into individual bits. He supplies the board with “his” stereo mix. That way he controls the sound of the instrument as a whole and the listeners hears what he wants not what someone else thinks is best like more kick less snare or what have you. He does not worry what they do in post mixing cause it’s just the 2 track feed from him.

It also begs the question of the drum kit as a whole instrument vs a collection of individual instruments tracked individually. Back in the day it was one mic for the kit and the player controlled the overall tonal balance. With multi tracking it does really matter and can be fixed in post.

I really like Gavins approach to maintain his sound regardless of situation. I take it he is in the minority of guys able to do this.

 
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dcrigger

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I take it he is in the minority of guys able to do this.
To say, this is the understatement of the century would the understatement of the century.

For an interview where he shared so many profoundly great thoughts and ideas - I was just cringing when he delved into that, just knowing that most this was going to be the "big takeaway" from this interview.

Because way too many folks are not going to realize just what a thin, teeny slice of the "recording drums at home" opportunities this could apply to - before even getting to the far smaller number of opportunities that this option SHOULD apply to.

Not because of practicality, or because for many "it's just not how it's done" - I mean, both of those are true. But no, I'm talking about how for literally the lion's share of styles and genres - what he's suggesting is a big giant compromise.

And that's before even getting to the issue of how few drummers even have the skillset to even think of suggesting such a workflow. I've been recording myself at home as part of running a studio since 1980 - and have been doing remote sessions from home since 1998. And for 95% of my projects, I wouldn't think of even agreeing to do such a thing, let alone suggest it.

Mainly because I'm not a mind-reader, so working remotely I've already made a ton of decisions for my client that would've have been better made with them here. To also take on second-guessing what the drums should specifically sound like in the mix. OMG - how??? Even with going back and forth with attempt after attempt. And who pays for all that extra time? Certainly not the client - because it is of no benefit to them - it would only serve as Gavin put it "my being a control freak".

Now absolutely not one word of this is saying that what Gavin is doing doesn't make tons of sense - because it does. He's doing projects that exclusively desire his unadulterated voice... projects that where typically the main goal of the mixes are to let those the individualistic voices of each player be clearly heard.... he's got the chops to do it.... and likely they're projects where get it done right and get it affordably is more important than get it done in under a deadline.

Anyway I love Gavin and I love John's series - but I'm just cringing at the thought that this ultra fringe idea is now going to be an on-going topic of conversation - a thing that's going to need to be explained over and over as to how just doesn't and shouldn't apply in most situations.

But mostly for fear of the guys trying to launch their careers going forth and pitching this to people interested in working with them as a thing.... because it's really not.
 

Cauldronics

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If anyone can pull this off it's Gavin. He's probably one of the most well-rounded drummer and complete studio musicians around, if not the epitome of one. However, I'm sure that even he probably can't match the recording and mixing chops of an engineer who's his equivalent in the studio. I could be wrong. He's an exceptionally talented individual.

His approach is about putting "his sound" into a recording, but if that sound can be captured by anyone with the skills to do it well, it will sound like him regardless of who's hitting the record button. The people he works with in the studio are already highly professional at what they do and actually I think GH misses the point that "his sound" is much more related to WHAT he plays than HOW it gets recorded and mixed. A pro engineer will capture how he sounds on his kit. Gavin will make it sound like Gavin by WHAT he plays.

He's not playing a kit that sounds remarkably different than any other.

The potential for it to sound WORSE than it would if he let a pro engineer handle it is rather high. I'm not saying he can't do it, but the odds are against it.

Then again, if he's been doing this on his own for awhile now, I can hardly fault "his sound."
 

Tommy D

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If Gavin has that much swagger that he can do that, good for him. However, I would think if you wanted to be an active player in the band, especially when recording remotely, you would want to supply the individual tracks to the engineer so they can tweak levels if necessary. Sure send in the full mix that you think works best, but if your snare, bass or cymbals start drowning out other instruments, or the vocals, a simple adjustment to the levels will fix that without having to re-record.

Whatever. If it works for him, cool.
 

Deafmoon

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I was listening to @John DeChristopher drum room interview with Gavin Harrison and he made an interesting argument on how he gets his signature sound at about the 26:30 mark.

In a nutshell he does not allow anyone to breakup his tracking into individual bits. He supplies the board with “his” stereo mix. That way he controls the sound of the instrument as a whole and the listeners hears what he wants not what someone else thinks is best like more kick less snare or what have you. He does not worry what they do in post mixing cause it’s just the 2 track feed from him.

It also begs the question of the drum kit as a whole instrument vs a collection of individual instruments tracked individually. Back in the day it was one mic for the kit and the player controlled the overall tonal balance. With multi tracking it does really matter and can be fixed in post.

I really like Gavins approach to maintain his sound regardless of situation. I take it he is in the minority of guys able to do this.

This isn’t just Gavins approach. Two track recording has been popular again in NYC over the last several years.
 

Jay-Dee

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He has such a great drum sound, I can easily understand that he wouldn't want it getting screwed up in production.

In post three Cauldronics states "he's not playing a kit that sounds remarkably different than any other". I'm sorry but I have to disagree on that one, to my ears he has a noticeably better sound than most that I've heard other than maybe Simon Phillips.
 

bernard

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This isn’t just Gavins approach. Two track recording has been popular again in NYC over the last several years.
Any examples or links? This sounds very interesting, but extremely hard to do (except in certain, specific genres), as you normally have no idea what the total mix will sound like when tracking the drums.
 


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