"Modern" Punk Rock Drum Sound

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Brett Siler
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Post by Brett Siler » Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:57 pm

Aaron! word..

I really hate that modern slick clinical sound for punk rock. It started in the 90's with all that Fat Wreckords shit. Super clicky kick, and super high pitch tin can sounding snare.... ugh... Give me some early shit that Spot record for SST over that any day.

Anyway.. Yeah you can do it with out triggers. First start with the kick. Get them nice tuned. Drummer probably want it really tight and will rim shot the fucker like crazy. I would highly suggest just tuning it down a little bit, to get a little bit of body in there, not to much tho. Then deaden the drums some so you get all attack and not much ring. You can use tape, or those cheap little 25 cent sticky hands. Close mic all of the drums. Get a good sound in the overheads and a room mic is optional (I like em, personally). You'll probably want to be in a somewhat deadish room.

Now for processing.

First and for most check and make sure everything is in phase with each other!! Maybe flip the kick? Is everything sound good? Ok cool.. move on..

With the kick you'll probably need to cut some low mids probably in the 200-400 area. Add a little in the high mids probably in the 2-5 khz area. I wouldn't boost the low end too much cuz you have the kick drum going really fast and all the real low end will do is just mud it up, it doesn't have time to develop. You might even find yourself having to cut some! I know, sounds very unintuitive, but I have had to do it before. One thing you can do is boost (very slightly) somewhere in the 800hz-1khz range and it gives the illusion of more low end. Careful tho, too much gives it gives it kind of a cardboard sound.

Next you'll probably want a little of compression to keep the stokes even. If you don't like the way that sounds you could ride the fader very very closely, but for me they are usually going to fast to keep up with. Then you might need a gate. I suggest to keep the attack time low, that can give you even more of that "click" they will like.

For the snare, on EQ I usually don't need to do that much with. Usually HP filter, it should have plenty of body from proxsimity effect from the mic (well that could depend on what you are using but we are speaking generalities). Maybe some boost in the high mids, if it needs it at all. Again some compression the make the really fast strokes even, and gate it with a really low attack setting.

Toms are usually easy for me, if you have good mics and place them well you won't really need EQ. I like to go in manually and turn up each tom hit and turn down when they aren't being played. Kinda like your own custom expander.

Overheads and room, turn them up to blend in with the rest of the kit, so you don't head the gates going. You might want to HP the overheads or room, or not.

This is all generalities of course and you may or may not need to do any of these. Use your ears and have fun!

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Post by A National Acrobat » Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:18 pm

Yeah, I never thought I would be asking how to engineer the punk rock sound that turned me off to the genre in the 90's. I definitely know how to get MY kind of punk rock sound but you know...gotta give the kids what they want and they want to sound like Lagwagon or whatever.

Thanks for all the tips. For consistency I had to SR the kick and snare (except for fills obviously) and just compress the shit out of it all. I even gave them before and after tastes with the sound replaced stuff and they all cringed at the actual drum tracks and loved the fake stuff. "Oh damn! That sounds so much more powerful!"

How organic it all is.....

:roll:

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Post by Brett Siler » Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:20 pm

How punk eh? :roll: Oh well you gotta give em what they want.... Lagwagon, ha! That was actually one of the bands I was thinking of when you first posted this.

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Post by Gebo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:48 am

I have nothing to add other than that I live in Easthampton, MA! whats up man
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Post by Tony Ramone » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:45 am

InvalidInk wrote:Aaron! word..

I really hate that modern slick clinical sound for punk rock. It started in the 90's with all that Fat Wreckords shit. Super clicky kick, and super high pitch tin can sounding snare.... ugh... Give me some early shit that Spot record for SST over that any day.
Sorry for not adding anything constructive - this just seemed like an appropriate time to paste this in:

http://www.mitchclem.com/nothingnice/112/

mostly for the comment in the last panel...
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Post by Brett Siler » Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 am

ha!
Ryan Greene produced numerous punk and rock bands such as Lagwagon, No Use for a Name, Good Riddance, Pulley, Strung Out, Propagandhi, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Dickies and was instrumental in coining the successful sound of the 1990s skate punk.
so icky clean punk in the 90's is called "skate punk"... Damn you Ryan!

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Post by A National Acrobat » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:13 pm

InvalidInk wrote:ha!
Ryan Greene produced numerous punk and rock bands such as Lagwagon, No Use for a Name, Good Riddance, Pulley, Strung Out, Propagandhi, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Dickies and was instrumental in coining the successful sound of the 1990s skate punk.
so icky clean punk in the 90's is called "skate punk"... Damn you Ryan!
Skate punk, my ass!!

Bl'ast! from Santa Cruz in the the 80's is the dictionary definition of Skate Punk, on SST no less.

What's up Easthampton!

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Post by snoopy23 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:44 am

If it is truly punk rock, the recording should be done rouch and fast, like the music. Speaking from experience (I, too, am a punk drummer), even a crappy kit can deliver some punk character with a little effort. Instead of trying to make it sound "good", maybe you should try to catpture them as they actually sound, crappy drums and all. Sometimes this can have charming results, and it will give the band the opportunity to hear how they actually sound.
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Post by ott0bot » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:30 pm

I think that is what really sets the punk bands I really love from alot of the newer "slick" sounding groups. The drums....that's really the ticket. I agree with the general cringe at the Fat Wreckords production...and I really can't see why so many newer bands find that appealing. It's all looped around to make punk embody what it was rebelling against in the 80's. New wave and pop groups wanted to sound as clean as possible and the punk groups were making it dirty on purpose. Now it's the punk bands complaining about sounding dirty.

They need go explore some of the classics and get a fresh take on what drums can sound like rather than becoming a proxy of all the "punk" the 90's crap turned into radio friendly garble.

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Post by JGriffin » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:51 pm

ott0bot wrote:I think that is what really sets the punk bands I really love from alot of the newer "slick" sounding groups. The drums....that's really the ticket. I agree with the general cringe at the Fat Wreckords production...and I really can't see why so many newer bands find that appealing. It's all looped around to make punk embody what it was rebelling against in the 80's. New wave and pop groups wanted to sound as clean as possible and the punk groups were making it dirty on purpose. Now it's the punk bands complaining about sounding dirty.

They need go explore some of the classics and get a fresh take on what drums can sound like rather than becoming a proxy of all the "punk" the 90's crap turned into radio friendly garble.
Arguably --and this is a discussion for another time i know-- every genre of rock music eventually goes from raw and brash and rebellious to slick and polished and gutless.
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Post by Gentleman Jim » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:06 pm

I love the "what is punk vs. what isn't punk" arguments. Not only do they seek to confine a genre that's over 40 years old to a color-by-numbers palette of choices, but they never, ever reach a conclusion. I remember the first time I read MaximumRockNRoll there was a heated discussion that seemed like it had been running for about 20 issues on this very subject. The year was 1983 - we were all dancing a hot new step called The Charleston, and a hamburger and a sarsaparilla would cost you 8 cents at the Woolworth's lunch counter.

Are the drum on the following recordings punk? Fear - The Record; Ramones - (anything at all); The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope, The Cost of Living EP; Bad Brains - Rock For Light; Murphy's Law - S/T; Green Day - Dookie; Cro Mags - Age of Quarrel; Naked Raygun - All Rise... yeah, I think they are. To the best of my knowledge, none of them feature a kit held together with tape and using garbage can lids as crash cymbals.

I also think the drums on those Spot recordings are punk - but don't confuse limited resources with some aesthetic orthodoxy. Bands were looking to record as well as they could even back in the halcyon HxC days of the 80's. I once witnessed the guys from Toxic Reasons 'secretly confessing' that on their then-latest record, Bullets For You, they used Linn Drums. I know that when the crappy punk bands I was in went to record way back when, we wanted the best sounding recording we could get for the money - not some trashy, cartoonish caricature of what we thought was punk.

You know who I wish would weigh in here? Allbaldo. If there's anybody with more punk recording cred on this board I don't know about them.

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Post by Brett Siler » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:11 am

Albini has recorded some albums for punk music that are very clean and clear but still sounds very appropriate for the music. Same with later Don Zientara's later stuff. I just think the hyper EQ'd, over compressed, and extremely isolated doesn't sound very appropriate for that style of music. In my opinion for a punk band to have the production value of Brittany Spears, makes the music sound contrived and just not as affective. I think most people would say the same for blues, jazz, roots music, rockabilly ect..

What I meant by I would take Spots recordings over production like Ryan Greene's, is Spots had character! All those SST albums he did sound different. All those Fat Wrechords albums sound the same, cookie cutter, sterile, manufactured, lifeless and boring! On albums like Black Flag's My War, you can litereally hear the singer running around the room, jumping off walls and screaming his heart out. Same with Rites of Spring, or some Youth Of Today. Those albums have an emphasis on capturing the performance and emotion, while to me it sounds like some Fat Wrechord style production has an emphasis on sounding commercially viable. They don't have to sound like shit, but I would say a good majority of people that identify themselves as punks, or fans of punk wanna hear record that sounds like the band playing in a room together.

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Post by A National Acrobat » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:08 pm

InvalidInk wrote:Albini has recorded some albums for punk music that are very clean and clear but still sounds very appropriate for the music. Same with later Don Zientara's later stuff. I just think the hyper EQ'd, over compressed, and extremely isolated doesn't sound very appropriate for that style of music. In my opinion for a punk band to have the production value of Brittany Spears, makes the music sound contrived and just not as affective. I think most people would say the same for blues, jazz, roots music, rockabilly ect..

What I meant by I would take Spots recordings over production like Ryan Greene's, is Spots had character! All those SST albums he did sound different. All those Fat Wrechords albums sound the same, cookie cutter, sterile, manufactured, lifeless and boring! On albums like Black Flag's My War, you can litereally hear the singer running around the room, jumping off walls and screaming his heart out. Same with Rites of Spring, or some Youth Of Today. Those albums have an emphasis on capturing the performance and emotion, while to me it sounds like some Fat Wrechord style production has an emphasis on sounding commercially viable. They don't have to sound like shit, but I would say a good majority of people that identify themselves as punks, or fans of punk wanna hear record that sounds like the band playing in a room together.
I couldn't agree more. For a genre whose bedrock is spirit and spontaneity, to hear those Fat recordings is just so fucking sterile to my ears and stomach.

Drumagog, triggers, all that stuff is just so dishonest, to say the least. The only thing that remains true are maybe the overheads and a room mic, compressed.

It all basically goes back to your argument when punk bands from back in the day wanted to sound as good as possible for the money. The same applies today when small project studios can crank out those cookiecutter Fat sounds for bands with no problem.

When the drummer hears his drums triggered, he now hears himself playing like a seasoned pro. You've recorded to click track and use Drumagog or Sound Replacer, then you're on your own regarding your technique. If the band loves that sound, obviously you have to do what they want.

This is an easy way to quickly explain the difference between an engineer and a producer to any outsider.

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Post by mscottweber » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:16 pm

As was most likely already stated towards the beginning of this thread, it all comes down to what the client wants to sound like. Sure, you can gently coax him/her in a certain direction, and maybe trying introducing some music to them with a little more character, but it is probably too late to convince this generation that its punk music has none of the attitude and spirit that older stuff had.

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Post by Brett Siler » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:25 pm

msweber wrote:As was most likely already stated towards the beginning of this thread, it all comes down to what the client wants to sound like. Sure, you can gently coax him/her in a certain direction, and maybe trying introducing some music to them with a little more character, but it is probably too late to convince this generation that its punk music has none of the attitude and spirit that older stuff had.
very true.. but they still be p0$ures! :lol: :wink:

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