Prayers for Vegas

Off Beat is not a news blog. It has not commented on current events before. I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge the tragedy that took place in Las Vegas yesterday. Our close friend and co-author Rich Redmond was on stage performing with Jason Aldean when the attack took place. Our friend Jon Hull, Rich’s drum tech, was also on stage attending to Rich during the show. Our friend Keio Stroud, who we interviewed back in April, was also at the festival performing with Big and Rich. Thankfully all were safe. Understandably the performers that were present are still trying to process what they witnessed. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people in the audience that were killed or injured. The number of victims continues to grow and the toll is staggering. At this time a motive has not been determined and as the gunman killed himself it may not be revealed. Moments like these should shift our attention away from the things that divide us. Tragedies such as this are senseless and the only way to get through them is to come together. The focus should be on the victims and their families and trying to prevent further incidents like this from happening. Today is an incredibly sad day. The only post that matters at this time is this one.

UPDATE: As if this day can’t get any worse Tom Petty, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our time has passed away at the age of 66. Steve Ferrone is the drummer for The Heartbreakers. His mastery of the groove and ability to drive the band is especially evident in a live setting. Here is a live performance of my absolute favorite song to play on the drums, “You Wreck Me.”

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Get “Drumming In the Modern World”


Our best friend Rich Redmond has released an amazing educational product that provides over five hours of insightful information. Years in the making “Drumming In the Modern World” features demonstration and deconstruction of drum parts for Jason Aldean’s #1 hits, drum performances with top recording artists like: Doc Walker, John Eddie, Rick Orozco, Rockett Queen, The Stellas, and many others, lessons on playing with click tracks, building loops, cheat chart creation, the Nashville Number System, overdubbing percussion, money beats, styles (rock, country, pop, latin, fusion), rudiments, playing in a rhythm section, drum tuning, insights on touring, interviews with industry leaders and much, much more!

Shot by an award-winning team with multiple camera angles and state-of-the-art production, “Drumming In the Modern World” is changing the way students receive music education. Rich’s passion and infectious energy propel each section and his dedication to the drums is revealed in each lesson. His talent for presenting information makes this product inspiring from beginning to end. Students will feel motivated to move forward from section to section while building their skill set and improving their playing. Their overall knowledge of the instrument and the music industry will also grow exponentially.

According to Rich: “My goal in creating these resources is to share my hard earned lessons and insights with you about the musical, mental and business skills needed to achieve success in today’s music world.” If you are interested in making an investment in your drumming, look no further than “Drumming In the Modern World.” Highly original and well worth the price, this online trainer will change the way you look at and play the drums.

For more information visit: drumminginthemodernworld.com

For a video trailer visit: https://vimeo.com/194359595

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Keith Moon was a dick

Now that I have your attention…You may have deciphered from my posts of antiquity that I am a historian. I have written multiple history books (four out of seven are good) and dozens of articles on the subject. I will be the first to admit that in the past I suffered from hero worship or adulation. Two men in particular, Thomas Jefferson and Stonewall Jackson, held my affection.

Over the years I came to the realization that in order to present the past accurately you have to take your idols down off the pedestal. You must look at them as human and flawed individuals. Only then can you relate to them. This realization helped me to do better work.

At a speaking engagement I was once asked who my hero was. The audience was surprised when I answered no one. I further explained that I could not truly consider anyone a hero that I never met in person. After all, the information we have on the past is often inflated or speculated. I admire Thomas Jefferson but I don’t know him. The same goes for Thomas Jackson. How could I say for sure that they were heroes to me? Both men did amazing things. Both men were slave owners.

I also consider myself a historian of the drums and I was thinking about this dilemma in regards to famous drummers. They are historic individuals too. They are admired and in some cases worshiped but they are, or were, flawed human beings. This is true regardless of their talents. Gene Krupa got busted for drugs. Buddy Rich berated his band. John Bonham was an alcoholic. Jim Gordan was a murderer. Deen Castronovo beat his wife. These are all highly popular drummers that are revered today.

My question is can we separate the drummer from the person? Can we admire their playing style but not admire them? I have said in the past that you can be a fan of one’s work, but not of them.

Case in point (and my attention grabbing title to this rant) is Keith Moon. Revered as one of the greatest drummers of all time, he was an incredibly unlikeable person. Keith ignored his wife and child. He was a raging drunk. He destroyed his family and senselessly destroyed property. Did I used to look at him as an idol? Yes. Do I admire him as a drummer? Yes, he was amazing. Would I have wanted to hang out with him? No way.

Another example is the forefather of heavy metal drumming Dave Holland. His playing became the mold and elevated Judas Priest’s music. Where is he now? Disclaiming the accusation that he sexually assaulted a student. Can I still listen to “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”? Absolutely. Do I consider him the lowest form of life? Yes.

My point is to keep in mind that just because someone is a great drummer it doesn’t mean they are a great person. Remember that famous drummers are just people like you and me. You can admire their contributions to music, but not to society. Like a pedestal, take them down off the drum riser. All people make bad choices and I’m not saying there are perfect people. What I am saying is that when we label someone a hero, there is a very good chance they will not live up to our expectation. They may disappoint us. The only way to know is to identify the real person behind their persona. And if they don’t meet our criteria, we can still admire their music.

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Odd Time Signatures

Danny Seraphine is exceptional when it comes to playing in odd time signatures. Often Chicago’s music required it. Danny discussed his approach to odd time signatures in a recent interview with Off Beat:

In regards to playing odd time signatures, the one thing I always tried to do was to make it feel like 4/4. You can’t always do that, but making it feel in a way the audience can still understand works better than going way off on some tangent. My challenge was to make it swing.

There was a song called “Hit By Varese” (Listen here) off the fifth album I think. There is another song off that same album called “Now That Your Gone” (Listen here) that has a really great Gene Krupa’ish jungle intro. It’s in 5/4 then 3 goes into 3. The introduction off the first album probably has the most recognizable odd time part that starts off in 4/4, the goes to 3/4, then goes to 19/8, then back to 4/4. That is all a direct influence from Don Ellis. His orchestra played in incredibly unusual time signatures. Honestly being able to play odd time signatures is an important part of drumming especially if you have the opportunity to do so. Play in 5. Play in 7. Seven is something that I have always liked playing in.

The challenge of playing in odd time is something I really enjoy. Making it so people can still feel the pulse is the challenge. I’m not one of these guys that likes to get so far out that nobody knows where one is. There may be instances where there is value to that but I like to keep the pulse pretty obvious so people can groove. Play across the bar, but keep the band together. You gotta’ be able to make them dance. (Read interview)

Here’s a video of Danny explaining counting and playing in 19/8:

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New from the Nashville Sampling Co.

COMING OCTOBER 8

You may recall our friend Garrett Goodwin from an interview I wrote for Drumhead magazine: Garrett Goodwin. Garrett is the drummer for Carrie Underwood. He also has a new venture called the Nashville Sampling Company, an extraordinary company run by extraordinary people. Partnering with Justin Miller, composer, producer, and owner of Yellow Hammer Studio in Nashville, the goal of the company is to help grow talented musicians’ franchises and to create libraries capable of replicating the sounds heard on today’s top charts. NSC products are also meant to accelerate workflow, giving you instant access to all of the core mixing and processing tools right in the box. Like a demo you heard on their site? Within the browser of each product, you can instantly recall the sound you heard in the demo, allowing you to focus on creating, not mixing.

NSC’s latest product features our best friend Rich Redmond. Rich has become one of Country Music’s foremost drummers in the past decade, winning Modern Drummer’s “Country Drummer of the Year.” Redmond’s signature sound can be heard on countless Jason Aldean singles, as well as many other top Nashville recording artists’ hits.

Recorded at Black River Entertainment’s Ronnie’s Place, this 37 GB library features Rich’s best DW drum kits, as well as an array of microphone positions, dynamic layers, and mixing controls to achieve a Class-A drum sound for music productions in Country, Rock, Pop, Metal, and any other genre requiring high quality, dynamic drum sounds.

Painstakingly recorded and edited over eight months, this drum pack is their biggest and most complete product by far. This is also their first library to join the roster of Native Instrument’s Kontakt Player, allowing users without KONTAKT 5 to use these drum sounds.

For more information visit: https://www.nashvillesamplingco.com/

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First Cymbals?

Who remembers their first set of cymbals? I do. You can probably tell from my photos that I play Meinl cymbals but I started out using Paiste. My first drum set was a Pearl Export kit. When my parents gave it to me as a Christmas gift it was missing the cymbals. A couple weeks later my father and I went down to the local drum shop to pick out my cymbals. Dave, the guy behind the counter, recommended a set of Paiste 505s as they were a great starter set at a nice price. I selected a 14” set of hi-hats, a 16” crash cymbal and a 20” Ride. Later on I got an 18” crash. I remember staring at the green logo on the way home from the shop. When I got them home I was ecstatic because I could play my new drum set as it was made to be played. I didn’t know anything about cymbals at the time. I couldn’t tell you which ones are warm and which ones have the best sustain. All I knew was that they sounded good to me and soon after the other members of the garage band I started. I can still listen back to cassette tapes of our practices and maintain that they sound good. Years later I sold that Export kit and the cymbals that came with it. I still regret that to this day but life changes necessitated the sale. What was your first set of cymbals? How do you feel about them today? Let me know in the Comments below.

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Live Chat

Lately I have been thinking about enhancing the way I communicate on my blog. I am very fortunate, and grateful, for the response I have received that has resulted in thousands of hits each month. The interviews that I conduct are the most popular posts and I will continue to do them as often as possible. I enjoy them just as much, if not more, than the readers. They have provided me with an opportunity to talk one-on-one with my favorite drummers.

As I mentioned before, I frequent several educational blogs that present dynamic ways to convey information. This learning experience resulted in the syllabus that was created to teach my book. Another frequent enhancement used among educators is live video. As you know I use video quite often in my posts but I have yet to implement a live version.

Facebook has a great platform for achieving this. I am working towards presenting a live video chat. It will be linked on my blog for those who are interested but unable to attend. It’s the content that I am not quite sure of. If I do this I want it to be educational. Some live videos are more of an open chat. I want mine to be a learning experience that will generate a conversation. A few years ago I wrote a unique look at Gene Krupa that was published in Drumhead magazine. It’s titled “Sweat Gene Sweat: A look at the king of percussion, and perspiration.” I’m debating whether or not to use it. Once I make a determination I will provide a date and time here. This is new territory for me so please be patient.

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No Kneeling Here

With all of the controversy surrounding the National Anthem and the National Football League, I thought it might be interesting to review the snare drum part to the song. I recall playing this anthem before every football game when I was in the drum line. I have only come to appreciate it in recent years. I did some searching on the Internet. This is the video that best represents the piece as I was taught. Notice how clean the rolls are. I remember practicing them over-and-over-and-over.

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Quoted

I recently discovered that popular music blogs are using excerpts from my interviews in their posts. I don’t mind as they link back to my blog which I appreciate very much. If you come across any quotes from my interviews please let me know. I would like to acknowledge them and ensure that they are linking back to the original posts. Here are the blogs that I am aware of at this time.

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The passing of “Philthy Animal”

The other day I was doing some research hoping to do an interview with “Philthy Animal” Taylor. I was surprised to find out that he had passed away. Taylor was the backbone of the epic and widely influential band Motörhead from 1975–1984 and 1987–1992. During that time he recorded eleven studio albums and four live albums. Although the band had several line-up changes Taylor, Lemmy and Eddie Clarke are considered the ‘classic’ line-up of the band.

Taylor died on November 11, 2015, at the age of 61 after an illness. Liver failure was cited as a cause. Eddie Clarke said of his former band mate:

My dear friend and brother passed away last night.

He had been ill for some time but that does not make it any easier when the time finally comes. I have known Phil since he was 21 and he was one hell of a character. Fortunately we made some fantastic music together and I have many-many fond memories of our time together. Rest in Peace, Phil!

Lemmy told Classic Rock that he was “devastated” to have lost one of his best friends as he also remembered former Motörhead guitarist Michael Burston, who died in 2011.

I’m feeling very sad at the moment, in fact devastated because one of my best friends died yesterday. I miss him already. His name was Phil Taylor, or Philthy Animal, and he was our drummer twice in our career. Now he’s died and it really pisses me off that they take somebody like him and leave George Bush alive. So muse on that. We’re still going, we’re still going strong, it’s just first Wurzel and now Philthy, it’s a shame man. I think this rock’n’roll business might be bad for the human life

Ironically, Lemmy died on December 28, 2015, less than seven weeks after Taylor.

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