Whitten: The Story Behind "What I Am"

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drumgadget

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Always liked this tune ..... agree that the groove is totally infectious ...... one of the first applications of the classic New Orleans "five" (basically the rhumba clave) in the more recent modern pop genre. Forgetting BoDiddly for the moment .....! ........

I've always thought that this was Matt C - isn't that him on the fetching official video? If it is ...... is this the example of "inverse karma" I'm always on the lookout for? Matt would be (I guess) pantomiming to Chris' recorded track ....... just like Mario Calire on the Wallflowers "One Headlight" vid (the track was recorded by Matt C, I believe ....). This great drum track was the subject of a thread a couple of months ago here on DFO. Please correct me if I am wrong .......

And many a kudo to Brandon for coming up with the groove in the first place.

Amazes me that these guys are so professional that they play an iconic track on an album and then have to watch someone else apparently playing it on a video ..... which is watched thousands of times ....... !

That said ....... since I play this groove a lot, including the 32nd note flourish, I'm even more appreciative of the cohesiveness of the result. Not easy to overdub ..... even on top of ...... yourself.

Mike
 

Whitten

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Amazes me that these guys are so professional that they play an iconic track on an album and then have to watch someone else apparently playing it on a video ..... which is watched thousands of times ....... !

I was in the middle of doing McCartney at the time. I had two weeks off (Easter I think) when they called me to do the New Bohemians album and I said I couldn't because I was having a well deserved break from McCartney. But they called me a few more times kinda begging me to do it. The last thing I needed during two weeks break was to spend one of those weeks in the studio.
Anyway, they were all so nice. My pal Wix was playing keyboards and programming click tracks etc. Pat Moran (the producer) was very, very nice and complimentary about my playing.
By the time the 'Shooting Rubberbands' album was about to come out we were planning McCartney's World Tour, so I was definitely in the place I wanted to be. The New Bohemians were a debut band and their album could have sold five copies. No one knew what to expect.
The whole Matt Chamberlain confusion rumbled on for a couple of decades (at least) and someone who knew could have said "no, it was actually Chris Whitten", but they didn't. I'll leave it at that.......
 

jmato

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This is such great content. Thank you everyone.

Ironically, I was listening to Circle on the way in to work this morning, thinking to myself how truly great the snare sound was and wondering who was playing. Now I know! Thanks Chris!
 

Whitten

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On that....
One of the snares I took to the sessions was an N&C 3 x 14" Piccollo. I normally change snares on every song, but Pat (the producer) was so in love with that piccolo he made me use it for nearly every song.
 

thejohnlec

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It's funny that the supposedly easiest instrument to play is the one where usually a member of a band is most likely to be replaced for recordings.
Just proves what I’ve believed for a very long time: if the drums are wrong, everything else will be wrong. Some folks still consider drummers a little lower than everyone else until things start to unravel.
 

underratedcowbell

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On that....
One of the snares I took to the sessions was an N&C 3 x 14" Piccollo. I normally change snares on every song, but Pat (the producer) was so in love with that piccolo he made me use it for nearly every song.
So the producer in 1988 was a visionary for what the 90's drums were to be. Nearly every band in the 90's was using that snare sound (a tight, dry sound). Pearl Jam comes to mind with their album Ten and so Alice in Chains with Dirt!
 

bellbrass

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Well-done. I like how you avoided the faff and stuck to what was going through your mind at the time. And, you still have some tasty chops.
Sounds like you have a southern accent - southwest of London, perhaps?
 

Gunnellett

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On that....
One of the snares I took to the sessions was an N&C 3 x 14" Piccollo. I normally change snares on every song, but Pat (the producer) was so in love with that piccolo he made me use it for nearly every song.
It is always cool to hear what gear was used in recordings.

Was the snare a maple? Single ply shell? Die-cast hoops?

Thanks!
 

Whitten

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So the producer in 1988 was a visionary for what the 90's drums were to be.

Actually I think the whole record was a bit ahead of it's time. Edie opened the door for other female songwriter/singers. As I said, they were a bit of a jam band, before Dave Mathews, The Spin Doctors, Hootie etc
 

cochlea

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It was interesting to hear that the drums and cymbals were recorded separately. How common is this on studio recordings? I would think it could be a bit challenging since we're so accustomed to playing both at the same time when sitting behind the kit.
 

drumgadget

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The whole Matt Chamberlain confusion rumbled on for a couple of decades (at least) and someone who knew could have said "no, it was actually Chris Whitten", but they didn't. I'll leave it at that.......


Well, thanks for your great playing, professionalism, and humility. And thanks to O17 for the OP .....

I suspect that this sort of thing happened a lot more than many of us realized, even those of us who were in some way connected to the pop recording world in the '70s - '90s ........

Kinda the ultimate "playing for the song" .........

M.
 

Drumbumcrumb

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Wow, so cool to hear the story behind the beat all these years later. I haven’t even heard it in yeeeears, but it takes me right back. This song was huge in my house (my dad was an avid fan) and got a lot of airplay - and even as a kid I thought (and still think) the drums on that track are really the soul of the song.

How amazing is it that we get to hear these stories? What a great time to be a drummer, and a great place to hang out. Love this forum.
 
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