Hired gun question

tradrad

Pro
Joined
May 29, 2009
Messages
452
Reaction score
54
Location
IN it, not OF it
this has obviously been beaten to death, but having had a substantial enough career making records i need to reiterate the also obvious: being a sideman/hired gun is a SERVICE industry...job entails serving the artist and most importantly the song. if the artist or producer have a 'thing' they're going for, the job is to help realize it. it also helps to have some insight into what the artist is about or what the producer's track record is...if you're doing a track and craig street is behind it, you can bet you're not gonna be playing a huge double 26" kick set with lotsa china cymbals :) always bring what you think is right for the session, and then some 'just the opposite' cause you never know! chances are good you'll wind up in the middle somewhere.
 

BlueFlame

Member
Joined
May 22, 2013
Messages
5
Reaction score
6
Location
NYC
It’s interesting to see the majority leaning toward “do what’s asked of you”, (which I agree with) in contrast to the approach of the ultimate hired guns. The most recorded drummers - Palmer, Blaine, Gadd, etc - didn’t really change their sound gig by gig. They weren’t chameleons. They were hired to bring their magic to the date because their magic made hit records, and their magic was their sound, feel, ideas, and creative flexibility. Gadd sounded like Gadd whether it was with Chick, Al Jarreau, Clapton or a million others. And that was the approach of musicians in general - you were known by your sound.

And now, as someone mentioned earlier, there isn’t a record business anymore so we do everything we can to get and keep the gig and make everyone happy.
 

David M Scott

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
433
Reaction score
350
If you're a hired gun, you do what the artist asks.

Similarly: if you're a band and you hire a producer, you do what the producer asks.
Unless your Mel Lewis.... On a YouTube interview he said he wouldn't let the sound engineer mute his drums, especially his kick.. he wanted the big boom. Mel was a little opinionated and crusty at any rate but who could argue with his success ?
 

bpaluzzi

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2008
Messages
1,161
Reaction score
1,563
Location
SF Bay Area
Unless your Mel Lewis.... On a YouTube interview he said he wouldn't let the sound engineer mute his drums, especially his kick.. he wanted the big boom. Mel was a little opinionated and crusty at any rate but who could argue with his success ?
Having the sound engineer ask you to do something and having the artist/producer ask you to do something are two _very_ different scenarios ;)
 

tradrad

Pro
Joined
May 29, 2009
Messages
452
Reaction score
54
Location
IN it, not OF it
It’s interesting to see the majority leaning toward “do what’s asked of you”, (which I agree with) in contrast to the approach of the ultimate hired guns. The most recorded drummers - Palmer, Blaine, Gadd, etc - didn’t really change their sound gig by gig. They weren’t chameleons. They were hired to bring their magic to the date because their magic made hit records, and their magic was their sound, feel, ideas, and creative flexibility. Gadd sounded like Gadd whether it was with Chick, Al Jarreau, Clapton or a million others. And that was the approach of musicians in general - you were known by your sound.

And now, as someone mentioned earlier, there isn’t a record business anymore so we do everything we can to get and keep the gig and make everyone happy.
unfortunately that was a different (some read: better) era in record making. that was a time when labels like reprise would invest in whole careers (read: joni mitchell, jane siberry, etc), not just a record or two. in addition, and i throw myself under the bus here as well, there are/were precious few keltners, blaines, gadds, palmers...they're the top .01% out of the top .05% of ALL folks that get to be blessed by making a living at this. those guys got hired for who they were from the getgo cause they were THAT special right from the start. if i counted pennies for how many times smeone asked me to do that 'keltner thiing' i coulda retired years ago :p mind you, steve g wasn't doing 'his thing' when he was busy making triple scale doing disco records...they just played great time!
 

Vicey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
191
Reaction score
289
Location
FL
Unless your Mel Lewis.... On a YouTube interview he said he wouldn't let the sound engineer mute his drums, especially his kick.. he wanted the big boom. Mel was a little opinionated and crusty at any rate but who could argue with his success ?
If you're gonna be crusty, it helps to have your own jazz orchestra.
 

RIDDIM

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
4,777
Reaction score
1,540
Location
MD
Good morning,

Here's my experience...with Reba McEntire, when I joined in 2015, I knew that I wasn't the type of drummer she had been having for the better part of her career. She's always had "chops" types of players. I immediately called the MD, who was a friend of mine, and asked what she would expect, and want, to be hearing, sound wise and part wise.

Deeper, fatter snares, and very quiet cymbals...so I adapted to that. And I stayed with a more minimal groove with less "flash".....

It was a total 180 in what the other guys had but she loves it. I think it even makes her more comfortable on stage. I'm totally NOT saying I'm better than the other guys she's had because they could all play me under the table, she really likes my energy and the sound that we came up with and the more minimal approach.

With Brooks and Dunn, I play whatever I want gear and part wise. I obviously just play for the song again but I can do my best Kenny/Liberty in that gig. Brighter snares and a bit louder cymbals.

If I'm a hired gun in the studio, it's all about the producer more than the artist generally. For me anyway.

If I'm producing a band I'll spend a month or 2 in pre-production getting arrangements and sounds down. Gear choices etc...I don't want the guys, especially the drummers, to feel overwhelmed by making them change every piece of gear and sound that they're used to...so we compromise.

If it's an artist and I'm picking the players, and playing as well, I generally have spent time enough with the artist to know the direction of the sound we want and what drums, amps, keys etc. we need to achieve what's in out heads.

This was a fun post!

Cheers and blessings, Trey
- You make too much sense.
 

David M Scott

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
433
Reaction score
350
Tough to argue with guys like Mel or Buddy Rich. I'm sure being a recording engineer was a genuine challenge when working with
those tw
- You make too much sense.
Great post. And while your right up there with the biggies as a performer you haven't let ego get in the way. And while your doing profession wise what many of us only dream of, you also realize that your being paid to do a job and like any job one has to do whats required.
 

Masecar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Messages
58
Reaction score
107
Location
Raleigh, NC
Most of the time people send me a reference track and leave it to me to find the closest instruments to that sound. I'll also usually do a couple passes with at least one different snare, and the client gets lots of mic sources to work with.

I did, a couple years ago, have one client try to butter me up about my playing, but when he came over he played a rhythm guitar track unrelated to what he wanted the drums to be, then complained when my part fit his guitar part (and said he was going to change the guitar part), then after I sent him one pass he then said he wanted to come in and redo the drums himself on my kit, when he was perfectly capable of recording those drums in his own studio. So I told him to do his own drums himself, with his gear that he clearly preferred.

That has only happened the once.
 

Bri6366

Very well Known Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
1,466
Reaction score
627
Location
Levittown, PA
It seems a lot of hired guns have their niche and are hired for that. The same "A List" drummers get hired by Madonna and Lady Gaga. Those guys have established reps as team players and often great relationships with the artist's musical directors as well. They wouldn't hire Tommy Aldridge, but Whitesnake is hiring Tommy for his showmanship and signature cymbal chokes. Madonna's drummer is playing along to tracks and with the size of the production, dancers and musicians, he is expected to play very specific parts. He has crazy chops, but has to stick to the script playing Like a Virgin. On the other hand, Tommy plays Burn quite a bit different than Ian Paice did.
 

Slingwig26

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2015
Messages
354
Reaction score
204
Location
massachusetts
If you’re a hired gun do you allow an artist to have a say in your sound? Say for instance you own multiple types of cymbals. You have a type you like more than others, but the guy who has hired you likes one of the others better because he feels it fits his music better. What would you say in a situation like this?
Play what you are paid to play. If he or she wants you to hit a trash can lid, you hit it. With professionalism and enthusiasm.
 


Top