A profound statement. Here’s another: most musicians like the idea of being in a band far more than the work involved in being in one.
Many artists have gone through our studio doors, including this caricature of a drummer, a nightmare recording client: his first request, having arrived hungover an hour late without a kit or even a pair of sticks, is for the password to the wifi so he can go on Facebook while we should be making a record. It quickly transpires that he has arrived with unrehearsed half ideas. It’s a chore for him to have to play until it’s right. He can only play what he brought in. If it doesn’t work, he gets the hump and refuses to play anything suggested on the spot, let alone invent anything of his own. Which is just as well because he can’t physically do it any better or differently anyway.
His banter in between the thirteen relatively pointless takes it takes him to perform his song is about how [name of successful band] is shite and he can’t believe why AutoTuned talentless wankers dominate the airwaves. All the while he can see the engineer painstakingly piecing together four bars of passable groove from small increments of very bad out of time and inconsistent playing. Miraculously it ends up sounding good.
Hooray for Protools? I’m amazing, me. And Coldplay are still fooking shite. Right, are we done? Can I leave now?
A small caveat. This guy is not a real person, but an amalgamation of real persons.
Working with Donavan Hepburn, a professional drummer of exceptional employability, on a record we produced was a very different experience. Donavan arrived early and was quickly ready to play, having set up his exquisitely maintained and tuned kit. He had learned the song inside and out before coming in. He did a perfect take. We didn’t have a lot to add. He suggested another alternative vibe. It was just as good. We thanked him and said it’s done. No more than an hour of time had passed.
Donavan then volunteered to go back in again to give us sample hits of his drum kit. Then he came out and praised the song. He hadn’t written it, but boy did it make the writer in the room feel great about the track. He then double checked to make absolutely sure we had what we needed. Then he left saying how wonderful it had been to work in such a great studio with such top people.
That night he texted to me to say how much he had enjoyed the session and that he would be visiting our hood in the morning and wouldn’t mind at all popping in to do any bits that needed doing. Some percussion, maybe.
A few days later he called to ask to hear the “great song we were working on”.
I love it when that happens.