Music Industry Corporate Whore
- Nov 14, 2007
Yes, I know quite a few! I'm sworn to secrecy though, but I can give you one example that's very relevant for metal and that crops up a lot:Troels Pleimert said:Is this thread still alive? I actually do have a question that I feel needs an insider perspective.
I was talking about drums way earlier in the thread and about how hard it is to record them adequately on a shoestring (or a no-shoes) budget.
But I'm starting to wonder whether most professional bands in studios don't just cut corners and program the drums, even if they have a live-and-well drummer.
I'm not talking about when Meshuggah did Catch-22 (using Drums From Hell) or when Devin Townsend dit Ziltoid the Omniscient (also using Drums From Hell). Both of these were up front about using programmed drums.
I'm talking about those bands that PRETEND to use human drums, but by the sound of it probably aren't.
For instance, I'm listening to Paradise Lost's Symbol Of Life, and those drums don't sound real. Neither do the drums on Deadsy's Phantasmagore. And there's an on-going fight among my musically inclined friends (who also do music production on the side) on whether Fear Factory actually recorded Raymond Herrera live for the Demanufacture/Obsolete/Digimortal albums, or if it's actually Rhys Fulber working a drum machine. (One of my friends INSIST that "you cannot play that precise!", and Demanufacture is from 1994, so there wasn't any Beat Detective around back then.)
Peter Steele admitted that all the drums for October Rust, World Coming Down and Life is Killing Me were programmed.
As you can tell, I'm focusing a bit on metal drums, and that's because (in my view, at least) it's not as much of a "faux pas" to use a drum machine and lie about it in other genres, i.e. pop or country. (Jazz, probably, but hey.) Metal drummers are notoriously competitive. Admitting to using a trigger on the bass drums was even a sin once (I remember Nicholas Barker getting flak for it, and he's an awesome drummer notwithstanding!).
I have a feeling A LOT more bands are actually using programmed drums - out of laziness, or because the drummer really isn't that good (most people probably wouldn't notice when playing live that he didn't hit all the notes?), or because it just sounds better?
Does anyone know of any - ANY - albums where you know for a fact that it's a machine playing, even though we all thought it was a human?
You've probably noticed if you're a metal drummer or if you've seen a lot of metal drummers play live, that it's really hard to get the volume and speed of a double kick pedal consistent. It's harder to maintain volume when going at speed - a lot of drummers simply don't have the stamina. Few drummers do it really, really well, some might be stronger with one foot than the other, etc. In studios, if the drummer is a bit crap with his pedals, he'll often be overdubbed with bass drum samples from a sample module, but triggered from the actual drum hits, that recreate the hit using the sample at an exact volume each time. If the drummer is also bad with his pedal timing, the entire track may be removed in the mix and replaced with someone (usually the drummer himself) playing drum samples by hitting two keys on a keyboard.
As for Fear Factory's "Demanufacture", what happened there was that the drums were recorded live, then Front Line Assembly's Rhys Fulber came in and re-quantised a lot of the drum hits to square off a lot of the natural "swing" a drummer would put in their playing. FF were quite open about doing this, they did it not to "hide bad drumming" but because they were deliberately going for a squared-off mechanical feel, they wanted the drums to sound less human and more machine-generated, to fit in with the overall feel and theme of that album. I assume they also did the same thing on subsequent albums (Rhys was pretty much 5th member of the band at that point, if I recall correctly) but I'm not sure.
Even when bass drums (or any drums) are recorded live they're often compressed to even out the volumes in a way that makes them sound smoother than a live drummer in your lounge room would sound. Even the standard way of recording a drum kit, with a close mic on the bass, a close mic on the snare etc.... is an artifical creation. There's no way your ears can naturally hear drums in that way. This modified acoustic environment has become the norm. All this can make it really hard to tell a "real" drum recording from a "fake" one, because arguably the "real" one is actually fake, in the sense that it's not actually the natural way drums sound. I could go into more detail here about how gates, compressors etc work if you want, I think you get the basic idea though. Anyway all of the above representes a combination of reasons why a lot of drums on albums seem oddly precise and "smooth"...
Also, I have this thread bookmarked, so it doesn't matter if there's long periods of inactivity here, I'll always see someone posting.