Modern Drummer – MARCH 1, 2013
Hello MD readers! Dave Previ here from the band Willamette, a bari-metal band formed in Brooklyn, NY. What? You’ve never heard of “bari-metal”? Where have you been, dude? We’re not talking about hopped-up Morphine (the band)—It’s heavier than that. Willamette is a melodic ride through heavy riffs pushed by rock, punk, and metal beats. The melodies are led by the baritone saxophone and supported by the guitar. These two instruments take solos in many of the tunes, while the bass and drums keep the form. It’s like jazz, in the way that we play through the song forms, but the sounds are more like a medieval execution with a heavy metal soundtrack. It’s crushing, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, we had much fun recording at my friend, and MD managing editor, Mike Dawson’s Elohino Studio. That place is a drummer’s dream. He’s got drums, people—lots of them. Since choosing a snare from his collection is kind of daunting, given the amount of options, Mike handpicked a half dozen that he thought would work for the big sound we were going for. We ended up using an Ahead black-nickel-over-brass snare (more about that later) and a combo of Fibes fiberglass toms (10×14 rack and 16×18 floor) and a 14×24 refurbished WFL mahogany bass drum. “Like punching a slab of meat” is how Mike described that kick drum’s sound, and I couldn’t have been any happier with it. These drums were large and sounded huge. It took me a minute to get used to playing these giant things. I had to adjust some of the beats and licks I had prepared for the session because they weren’t tracking well on the big tubs. I found using single strokes instead of doubles helped us capture clearer sounds. Also, using the double pedal, instead of playing doubles with one foot on a single pedal, helped me achieve a more solid track. The beat for the song “In the Box,” for instance, sounded far better when played with two feet instead of one. I simply couldn’t get a solid double sound with one foot on that 24″ bass drum at that tempo. Switching made a big difference.
The toms were tuned low and had Evans Onyx heads and Killer Rings mufflers on them for extra hugeness. The Ahead snare drum sounded great throughout the whole recording session. The TightScrew tension rods on that drum have a narrow strip of nylon running the length of the rod, which keeps the lugs from slipping. We did nine tracks with this one drum and barely messed with the tuning. I usually don’t get through more than two songs without that happening. Amazing!
Please check out the Willamette album on iTunes, Spotify, or on Facebook (facebook.com/willamette). The record-release shows will be announced via social media, and we would love for you to come to a show. Thanks for reading and keep on rockin’.