Early R.E.M. drum sound??

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alexdingley
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Early R.E.M. drum sound??

Post by alexdingley » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:19 pm

Hello all,

So, I am setting up a home studio for a client who's got lot of spare cash and wants to setup a recording space in his house. He's got plenty of room to setup and I can buy pretty much whatever I want from a local music retailer to get the job done.

His goal for the drum-sound is to get an "early R.E.M." sound... and I went back to listen to some of those records... Document is the oldest one I had handy, but I was curious if anyone had some ideas on microphone choices and placement that might get the job done.

It's a DW 5 piece kit with all Sabian cymbals, and I'm sure that it's not exactly what their drummer was using, but if I can in some way capture a similar type of sound, he'll be thrilled.

I listened to some of the material that I had and It sounded to me like a medium pro studio trying to get big studio results. Probably some 414's on the overheads, or maybe KM84's... not really sure. Nothing really stood out to me in the recording other than the occasional use of some almost-silly gated reverb.

any thoughts?

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Post by syrupcore » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:50 pm

it's funny, when I saw the name of the thread, I thought back to last week when I heard document for the first time in a century and was sort of appalled by the drum sounds. I'd dig a little further back. Reckoning is my favorite. I have no idea about mics. you might try sending an email to mr berry.

That said, I'd be looking for a nice way to tell your friend that it has more to do with bill berry in that band in that room then it does the microphones.

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Post by cgarges » Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:31 pm

Document is a great record, but it's not what I think of when I think of early REM. To me, that's Murmur or Reckoning or even the Chronic Town EP. Their whole sound changed a lot once they did Life's Rich Pageant with Don Gehmen and everything got bigger-sounding. Document is very similar to me.

I happen to know a good bit about what went into the drum sounds on Murmur and Reckoning, having worked with the people involved. There are some great early TapeOp interviews with both Don Dixon and Mitch Easter that would be worth checking out if that's the route you want to go. Interesting stuff they had to deal with.

For whatever it's worth, I really like the drum sounds on both Life's Rich Pageant and Document.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Last edited by cgarges on Tue May 18, 2010 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by syrupcore » Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:39 pm

really? I will relisten to document. I really should have said that I was appalled by the gated reverb. I'm sure some of that is just through my modern cynical lens. certainly didn't stop me from wearing out the records when they came out.

I'd love to hear whatever you feel like sharing about the way the drums were recorded on murmor or reckoning. I love those records to this day.

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Post by cgarges » Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:48 pm

I'm coming off a pretty heavy session this week and I'm pretty beat, but I'll try to go into some more detail later when I have time. Apparently, there was lots of hi hat bleeding into every mic on the kit, so they were trying all kinds of tricks-- gates, Dolby encoding tricks, overdubbing other backbeat stuff (hence the far away snare sound on "Radio Free Europe"-- that was Mitch). You can totally hear it on Murmur if you pay attention.

I know that a little while later, Bill got Tama and Meinl endorsements, but I have no idea what he was playing that far back. There are a couple of older GIANT Sonor drum kits at Reflection and those might very well have come into play.

I'll try to point Mitch and Dixon in the direction of this thread and see if I can't get them to chime in. If either of them decide to respond, I'm sure whatever they say will be priceless.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Last edited by cgarges on Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by inverseroom » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:14 pm

I actually really like the Document drums, gated verb and all. And I agree with Chris about the LRP drums...that record really rocks.

I think I remember something about them manually overdubbing every snare hit on "Radio Free Europe"...

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Post by cgarges » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:35 pm

inverseroom wrote:I actually really like the Document drums, gated verb and all. And I agree with Chris about the LRP drums...that record really rocks.

I think I remember something about them manually overdubbing every snare hit on "Radio Free Europe"...
Well, Bill played the drums on it, but they just weren't happy with how far back the snare drum sounded in context. He was in a booth and the hi hat just filled it up. It was an important song for them, so Mitch played an additional snare on top of the one that Bill played with the kit and Dixon punched him in. They miked it from like 15 feet away. That snare sound is all about what that A room at Reflection sounds like.

I've never asked either one of them about the additional hi hat part, which sounds to me like a pen tapping on a legal pad or something. I've always been curious about that, too.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC

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Post by lobstman » Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:45 pm

When I think of early (Chronic Town through Reckoning) REM drum sound, I think of typical '70s dead drums with any ambience added in with really obvious, fake reverb. I still love the records, but the drums have a seriously "processed" sound to them.

Don Dixon certainly loved gated 'verb back in the '80s, just listen to the Smithereens. It works on Murmur (and the Smithereens), but he ruined a few otherwise fine records (Dumptruck and the Connells come to mind) with that "John Hughes movie" drum sound. In fairness though, it seems like nobody could record a decent drum sound in the early '80s. The only one that comes to mind is Mission Of Burma's "Vs".

Oh, and Moving Pictures.
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Post by leftofthedial » Sat Dec 02, 2006 2:36 pm

I've never asked either one of them about the additional hi hat part, which sounds to me like a pen tapping on a legal pad or something. I've always been curious about that, too.
I believe I read in the Charlotte Creative Loafing (They did a 20 year anniversary of Murmur) that the pen tapping was Jefferson Holt on his chair.

Here's a link to the article:

http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/gy ... oid%3A2471
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holy snikes

Post by rdgentry » Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:29 pm

outstanding link leftof. not much to ad other than that. drunken timid lurker. you guys intimidate the snot out of me. and... thanks larry!!

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:03 pm

*glowers at n00b*

:D

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Post by inverseroom » Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:11 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:*glowers at n00b*

:D
*high fives MoreSpaceEcho*

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Post by syrupcore » Sat Dec 02, 2006 8:07 pm

* scowls at high-fiving geezers *

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Post by syrupcore » Sat Dec 02, 2006 8:09 pm

* invites n00b to sadie hawkins *

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Post by Randy » Sat Dec 02, 2006 8:30 pm

*chimes in for a three-way*

CONVERSATION, you dirty minds!
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