Top 10 Albums of 2011

1. Connan Mockasin – Forever Dolphin Love

2. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

3. Peaking Lights – 936

4. Metronomy – The English Riveria

5. Miles Kane – Colour of the Trap

6. Radiohead – The King of Limbs

7. Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

8. Mechanical Bride – Living With Ants.

9. Wild Palms – Until Spring

10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

2011 – Drumming Mad!

So 2011 has been a busy year, the busiest yet for me! Therefore I thought I would have a review of my year with music and try to remember what I have been up to…

Live Shows:

Sunless ’97: 6
Mean Poppa Lean: 7
Mechanical Bride: 23
Holy Vessels: 2
Saint: 44 (Functions)
Caroline Buckley: 1

All shows: 83 (4 Tours, 2 UK, 2 European).

Supported, Friendly Fires, Yuck, Toro Y Moi, Kwes, Summer Camp, Smoke Fairies, The Heart and the Hand, Liam Finn, Dry the River, Graham Coxon.

Standout venues visited: The Garage, ULU, St. Giles Church, London, Flèche D’or, La Boule Noir, Paris, Le Cargo, Caen.

Releases:

2 Albums: Mechanical Bride – Living With Ants, Mean Poppa Lean – Live on Twelve Legs.
1 EP: Sunless ’97 – Making Waves.
3 Singles: Mechanical Bride – Colour of Fire / Young Gold / To the Fight.

2 Radio sessions: Radio 1 Huw Stephens session, Selector Radio session.
Radio Plays: Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music, XFM, Selector Radio in over 29 territories.

1 Album recording session, Holy Vessels.

1 Endorsement deal, C&C Custom Drums.

4 Auditions, Left 1 band, joined 2, currently playing with 4, Sunless ’97, Holy Vessels, Mechanical Bride & Saint.

That just about wraps up my year, I’m hoping 2012 has more to give, looking forward to next year and implementing some new years resoultions, I already have a few that I have started early, cause I want a head start!

Merry Crimbus and a Happy Neu Year to all! X

Tuning Diary – Week 2.

Week 2.

Monday worked on 13″ tom, moving it up through pitches trying to find out best sound of the drum. Very difficult to get a clear note, gonna experiment with floor and drum dial gauges tomorrow.

Tuesday worked through floor and toms, sounding ok, starting to see a pattern, where by all the drums seems to be tightest across 2 opposite lugs, have been told by previous owner that drumtech’s had a really problem getting this kit (starclassic maple) in tune, and it staying there for any length of time. Also tweaked snare drum, gigged it and sounded great, maybe a little tight but nice and juicy.

Wednesday was bass drum day, spent a long time trying to tune the batter side, much much more difficult to hear pitches at the lugs, than on the toms/snare, bass drum still sounds too tight, front head sounds amazing, batter less so, weird tempted to switch it up!

Thursday I took the batter side on the bass drum right down, to get a deeper sound, which at home was sounding great.

Friday I gigged my kit, and it all sounded really great, espicially the bass drum, great news as last friday after a week of tuning it sounded awful and this week its starting to sound improved. Saturday gig her again didn’t sound as great, highlighting the fact you need to retune every time the drums are taken out of cases. Next week need to concentrate on floor tom, as sounded the worst then try tuning the whole kit accordingly. January is completely free of gigs, so is gonna be spent tuning, plus I will have my new kit and will experiment on her!

Tuning Diary – Day 5

Day 5.

Gigged my kit last night for the first time since giving it a tune, and on the whole it sounded pants. Kick was ok, but the toms sounded a bit high pitched, choked and ringy. I feel little (actually very) deflated by this outing, but I still am learning to tune, and have as yet not tried to tune the drum kit as a whole.

Tuned up my second snare, as I dropped my starclassic on the tube the other night and it bend the strainer on the side, bugger. Got my yamaha sounding ok, bit of snare buzz, but ok. Gonna detune my toms tonight and hopefully they will sound better, think they were just pitched too high, luckily just a function tonight so doesn’t matter too much if they sound cack again.

Also think I’m gonna do weekly updates now, and summarise my findings from that week, so, sorry if you are annoyed with all this tuning malarky talk, till next week, take care of your eyes and ears.

Tuning Diary – Day 4

Had a great show at the Garage in London last night with Sunless ’97, supporting Toro Y Moi, from the US. It was a sold out show, and surprisingly it was 3/4 full when we went on first so we played to a big audience (which was nice). However I spent the trip up and back studying the Prof sound’s drum tuning bible, & decided to implement the bible in day 4.

Day 4.

I began at the beginning and took just 1 tom, my 13″, as it tells to concentrate on 1 small first to start to learn how to tune, and not to get this confused with tuning the whole kit. This involves, removing all the heads, eliminating and lug or shell buzz, seating the heads, then experimenting with pitches of the drum, and also results and what they mean. (This is all explained more clearly and in detail, under the section ” Tuning and Seating the Heads, All Drums” onwards).

From this research I learned that I used to just strive to get the pitches on the top head in tune with each other and think this is the drum tuned, so why doesn’t it sound good? Seems stupid but obvious now, so you need to get the top head in tune with it’s self and also the bottom head, and then experiment with taking the whole pitches of each head up and down. Also I found that the bottom head really is the note and how much sustain is gained and the top head is more of the attack.

I also repeated this sequence for my bass drum, seating the head properly then lowering to a desired pitch. Bass drum is much more difficult to hear the different pitches at the lugs, but easier to get an overall sound, right heads help, as a powerstroke on my kick works like a dream, while a pinstripe sounds like tripe.

Tomorrow I will focus on the first tom again, and have a go at my second snare, taking her apart and starting from scratch.

Tuning Diary – Day 3

(This is my beautiful new custom drum kit being built by C&C in the US, hopefully I’ll have an idea of tuning before this badboy turns up)

Day 3.

Again morning session, not producing much progress, but definitely starting to hear the different pitches better. Began work on the bass drum, replaced head, (from a pinstripe to a power stroke 4, as the pinstripe is completely the wrong head for the job, far too open sounded, and doesn’t retain the low end from the 24″ kick).

Another problem is lugs feeling tight and the tension being loose and vice a versa, however the guys from GAK put me onto Prof. Sound’s Drum Tuning Bible, which is literally the BIBLE on tuning drums, so therefore I will be mostly studying from that from now on, check it out here as a downloadable PDF:

http://home.earthlink.net/~prof.sound/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/PSound_DTB_V2.pdf

Its pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty…. pretty in depth, see you on the other side, lots to learn, and gotta dash off to a gig now!!

Tuning Diary – Day 2

Day 2.

Not much progress, initially felt like I could hear the different pitches at each lug better, but my ears quickly were worn out. Still working on 1st & floor tom (had to re-skin floor as put the skins on the wrong ends, however gave me time to lube up the lugs, which I think helps with tensions).

Also have started to put pressure in the centre of the drum and eliminate the crinkles around each lug, as in the end striving for the head to be evening pulled across the drum, over the bearing edge is the main goal. Also I have found tuning the bottom head lower closer to the top head in pitch is starting to create a sound I like (…ish, still unsure tho). Still loads of work to do, this is not easy, and I haven’t even started on kick and snare yet!!

In all a rather depressing day in the world of tuning, don’t feel I have made much progress. Evening session was tough, found it difficult to hear pitches, spent half a lesson today fitting new heads on a students snare drum, sounded ok, but the snare always sounds a bit ringy, and the snares always seem to rattle, snare drum is gonna be hard!

Another problem is whether I find the highest pitch on the drum and tune the other lugs up to it, or find the lowest pitch and tune the others down. Not sure what’s the best option, at the moment doing a bit of both, which surely definitely doesn’t help (tuning up I think is best, but whatever just need to decide and go with it!)

However I think I may have a few more dull days of this before I become a master, maybe let’s say, 200 million of em.

Drum Tuning Diary – Day 1.

Day 1.

Started with 1st tom, took off top and bottom skin, cleaned bearing edge and drum, then replaced skins, finger tight each lug first. Bottom skin 1 full turn with drum key, top skin, half turn with drum key, as already know in general bottom skin should be tuned higher than top skin.

I started to hear the notes at each lug, and work out which are higher or lower, however this didn’t last long as then my ears couldn’t differentiate between the notes because of over use. Thats why its important to do small sessions each day, hopefully then it will begin to make sense in my own mind as I carry on with my normal day.

I also recognised that I shouldn’t be scared of tuning, as at the end of the day, it is a piece of wood with 2 skins attached, and that with tuning, it is tuning to how I would like my drums to sound, and therefore cannot really be wrong.

Decided to do another 30 minute session, (maybe gonna do 2, 30 min sessions a day depending on how much time I have) moved onto the floor tom, same procedure. Noticed the note I’m getting is moving up in pitch then down, in a booww sound. This is because no definite note is reached yet, hopefully I can eliminate the pitch bend effect and arrive at 1 definite note per drum.
Anyways not a bad first day, lots and lots of work to do, training those ears!!
Also here is a picture of my nearly finished custom C&C kit in satin flame…

Drum Tuning Experiment

Hypothesis

Tuning drums is something I have always been a little scared of, so I have decided to do a kind of experiment, where by I practise tuning a drum kit for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week, and see what discoveries I make along the way, and see if this could help others who are in the same boat. I have decided to only do 30 minutes a day as, as far as I know tuning is all about training the ears, and I find after more than 30 minutes my ears are overused, and I cannot hear the different pitches anymore.

So here I will document my progress, and any discoveries I make.

Sunless 97 Radio 1 Maida Vale Session, Holy Vessels Showcases…

Yesterday I completed my first Radio 1 live session at Maida Vale. We recorded 4 tracks from the Sunless 97 ‘Making Waves’ EP released this week, and they will all be aired on the Huw Stephens show in early January next year. This month has also seen us support the amazing Kwes. and next week our last show of the year with Toro Y Moi at the Garage, 7.12.11.

I have also been working with Brighton band Holy Vessels and recorded an album with them, for release next year. December sees us play two showcase gigs, December 13th @ The Blind Tiger, Brighton, & December 18th @ The Old Queens Head, London.