The Making of Boy Dust part 2 – drums

So, some idiosyncrasies about recording Roland Vdrums or whatever they are.


Snare – When recording we mostly went for a high pitched ka-doing type of snare drum – we were thinking pop I guess, and overall something a bit different from “You Can Have It All”. Later on I supplemented or replaced this with lower pitched samples mixed in, mostly done with either Drumagog or Reaplacer. I bought the “pop sticks” sample set from, who are in fact based in Auckland. US$20, pretty good value. I tried to keep some of the ka-doing and hit variation if I could while adding a bit off beef and acoustic sound to it.


Kick – I had some real challenges with some of the kicks. “Find You” and “Dotted Line” for example are radically different from what they started out as. The kick samples from Matts kit were every bit as susceptible to inconsistent hits as a real kick, and changed their tone and size according to how hard Matt hit them. Although it seemed to have plenty of weight at the the time, I think this was largely due to Matts boombox, which was our, err, monitoring system. I think this also gives a kind of buffer when playing, and you kind of fool yourself that you’ve got a good, consistent, big sound when maybe you haven’t. In retrospect, we should have listened more closely at tracking time and got it more consistent. There is only so much you can do with eq, compression…the real rescue package in some cases was “transient designer” type VST’s, which kind of let you slide the click around relative to the thump. This is CPU heavy stuff, and I was running out of it towards the end of mixing so struggled to run samples in real time + compresser + eq + saturation + transient designer + reverb. I had to listen to a bit, make a decision, then bounce the track, hoping it would be ok for the duration of the song. Repeat if not. Not surprisingly this really slowed mixing of some songs down! By the end I think I was losing the plot a bit, so for example the kick/bass guitar balance on “Dotted Line” (the last song I did) is out of whack.


Cymbals – Matt used quite high pitched samples, and later on Paul decided he wasn’t keen on them. they were kind of wussy splash instead of manly crash. I figured this was a low priority – it hadn’t bothered me or anyone else – so left it right to the end. The last thing I did was go through every song, and where I could, replace Matts crashes with lower pitched samples. Very boring job, luckily not possible on everything! (This maybe is where the midi tracks would have been useful if I had figured out how to use them). I would rather have got Matt to redo them with real cymbals, but one of the disadvantages of the virtual band is that this wasn’t possible. My neighbourly drummer Myles Allpress (whom I played with in the Broken Heartbreakers) was too busy with a young family. I was/am concerned that it would all sound too samey and mechanical, so tried to mix up the sounds and vary the volume. I figure only aficionados will notice…..


Toms and hats – sounded fine so weren’t changed much.


Overall – Maybe because of the assembly of different samples and the absence of spill, I sometimes found it hard to make the drums hang together as a kit. I used a fair bit of Variety of Sound‘s Ferric TDS VST to dirty up the drum sounds. For reverbs I used VoS Epicverb and VallhallaDSP‘s ValhallaRoom, and usually the drum bus was compressed and/or had another dose of FerricTDS. EpicVerb can be very handy for adding a bit of room without really sounding like reverb. The snare on “The Healing” has a slapback echo fromthe free ValhallaFreqEcho, which I like a lot, it’s my goto delay. The drums on “Hot Air” I think have too much reverb, if I had another chance I’d wind that back.

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